Stealing the Blessing

Read: Genesis 27:1-45

The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau. (v. 22)

This story is as iconic as any in the Bible, yet I cannot say that there is any easy-to-apply moral or theological lesson in it. What’s going on when Jacob, with his mother’s help, tricks his father? Jacob upsets the traditional rules (primogeniture) that favored older children. As a result, he got Isaac’s blessing (which seemed to be irrevocable) but also had to run away from his angry brother Esau. What sort of blessing is this? The incredible irony of the blessing simultaneously being a curse has captivated human minds for thousands of years.

On the surface this story does not tell us much about God. There is no parallel between God and Isaac—God is not a blind old man easily deceived. The story does tell us several unpleasant things about human nature. Parents can have favorite children, and a mother’s favorite is not likely a father’s favorite. People calculate inheritances and move surreptitiously to claim wanted things before their siblings have a chance. Family relationships are complex, and both our words and our actions have enormous power and consequence.

Is this any way to start a religion? Are these the kind of people God should be associating with? I said this story doesn’t say much about God on the surface. But when we dig deeper, and consider the questions I just raised, the story does say volumes about God, and about grace, and stands as a sign of hope for us all. —Jeff Munroe

As you pray, reflect on the wonder of grace.

About the Author

Jeffrey Munroe is the Executive Vice President of Western Theological Seminary and, in addition to being the author of the best-selling book Reading Buechner: Exploring the Work of a Master Memoirist, Novelist, Theologian, and Preacher, is also a poet, blogger, and essayist. His work has appeared in Christianity Today, The Christian Century, US Catholic, and The Reformed Journal.

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