Why did Isaac still bless Jacob after he lied?

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By BibleAsk Team


The narrative of Isaac’s blessing to Jacob in the book of Genesis (Genesis 27) unfolds amidst a complex web of familial relationships, deception, and divine providence. In this account, the patriarch, nearing the end of his life, intends to bestow his blessing upon his elder son, Esau. However, through the cunning deception orchestrated by Jacob and his mother Rebekah, Jacob receives the blessing instead.

Despite the discovery of Jacob’s deceit, the patriarch does not retract the blessing but acknowledges the divine hand in its bestowal. This essay aims to explore the reasons why the patriarch chose to uphold his blessing to Jacob despite the circumstances, drawing insights from the New King James Version (NKJV) of the Bible and examining the theological and familial dynamics at play.

Contextual Background:

The story of Isaac’s blessing to Jacob is situated within the broader narrative of the patriarchal family of Abraham. Isaac, the son of Abraham and Sarah, is depicted as a patriarchal figure who plays a pivotal role in the transmission of God’s covenant promises to his descendants. As this patriarch approaches old age and his eyesight fails, he seeks to confer his blessing—a significant inheritance and spiritual legacy—upon his favored son, Esau, the elder twin born to him and Rebekah.

However, Rebekah, aware of God’s prophetic promise that the younger son, Jacob, would inherit the blessing (Genesis 25:23), conspires with Jacob to deceive Isaac and secure the blessing for Jacob instead. Disguised as Esau, Jacob presents himself before his father, who, though initially skeptical, ultimately blesses him with the dew of heaven, the fatness of the earth, and dominion over his brother (Genesis 27:27-29).

Reasons for the Blessing:

  1. Divine Will and Providence: Despite the deception perpetrated by Jacob and Rebekah, the patriarch comes to recognize that God’s sovereign will overrides human schemes and manipulations. In Genesis 27:33, after realizing that he has blessed Jacob instead of Esau, the patriarch trembles exceedingly, acknowledging that Jacob has received the blessing by divine decree: “Yes, and he shall be blessed.”
  2. Confirmation of Prophecy: The patriarch’s decision to uphold the blessing to Jacob aligns with God’s earlier revelation to Rebekah regarding the destiny of her sons. In Genesis 25:23, God declares to Rebekah that “the older shall serve the younger,” indicating that Jacob, the younger twin, is chosen to inherit the covenant blessings and birthright. The patriarch’s blessing to Jacob serves as a confirmation and fulfillment of this divine prophecy.
  3. Recognition of Esau’s Disqualification: Despite Esau’s rightful status as the elder son, his actions and character traits throughout the narrative disqualify him from receiving the blessing. Esau’s indifference toward his birthright (Genesis 25:29-34) and his marriage to Canaanite women (Genesis 26:34-35) reveal his disregard for the covenantal heritage and spiritual values cherished by his forefathers. The patrirach, aware of Esau’s shortcomings, may have discerned that Jacob was more suitable to carry forward the lineage of faith and obedience.
  4. Preservation of Family Harmony: The patriarch’s decision to maintain the blessing to Jacob may also reflect his desire to avoid further discord and division within the family. Despite the initial deception and Esau’s subsequent anger and desire for vengeance (Genesis 27:41), the patrirach seeks to uphold the integrity of the family unit and maintain a semblance of peace and reconciliation among his sons.
  5. Reaping the consequences: The members of the patriarch’s family each does something wrong, and each is responsible for his actions and does reap the consequences of his wrong action. Rebekah and Jacob who plan the deception are forever separated from each other. Rebekah has to send her favorite son away from his father’s house to escape Esau’s revenge and anger. Jacob has to flee in a hurry to a strange land away from home being poor and without resources. He has to suffer for deceiving his father and Esau for 20 years in the land of exile. And he too is repeatedly deceived by his own father in law. As for the patriarch, he is rebuked for insisting on favoring Esau and approving his godless conduct in spite of the clear will of God. For his favoritism to Esau, the patriarch is separated from Jacob.
  6. Submission to God’s Sovereignty: Ultimately, the patriarch’s decision to honor the blessing given upon Jacob underscores his submission to God’s sovereignty and providential purposes. Recognizing that God’s plans transcend human understanding and human schemes, the patrirach acknowledges the divine hand at work in the unfolding events of his family’s history and entrusts the future to God’s care and guidance.
  7. The Fulfillment of Prophecy: The predictions of the patriarch concerning Jacob and Esau constitute a prophecy and is correctly fulfilled. “By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come” (Hebrews 11:20). Though the patriarch is deceived when he blesses Jacob, what he says is still inspired by God, and it comes to pass (Genesis 27:33). Through all human plans, the purpose of God is still done without change because He “works all things according to the counsel of His will” (Ephesians 1:11). This doesn’t mean that God approves the act of deception, for God is not dependent upon the methods used by man in order to accomplish His will. God does not plan the act of deception, He simply overrules it. The blessing comes to Jacob, not because of his deception, but in spite of it.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, the patriarch’s decision to uphold his blessing to Jacob despite the circumstances surrounding its bestowal reflects a complex interplay of divine providence, familial dynamics, and theological significance. Through the patriarch’s recognition of God’s sovereignty, confirmation of prophecy, and acknowledgment of Esau’s disqualification, the narrative underscores the overarching theme of God’s faithfulness in fulfilling His covenant promises.

Despite the deception and human frailty evident in the story, God’s purposes prevail, and the patriarchal figure, submits to the divine will. As believers, we are reminded of the enduring faithfulness of God and His ability to work through imperfect human vessels to accomplish His redemptive purposes. The patriarch’s blessing to Jacob serves as a testament to the sovereignty of God and the unfolding drama of salvation history within the context of familial relationships and divine revelation.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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