Sunday, 11 November 2007 00:00

How to Receive the Father's Blessing: Clothed in the Garments of Another

Genesis 27:1-29 (ESV)

When Isaac was old and his eyes were dim so that he could not see, he called Esau his older son and said to him, "My son"; and he answered, "Here I am." He said, "Behold, I am old; I do not know the day of my death. Now then, take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me, and prepare for me delicious food, such as I love, and bring it to me so that I may eat, that my soul may bless you before I die." Now Rebekah was listening when Isaac spoke to his son Esau. So when Esau went to the field to hunt for game and bring it, Rebekah said to her son Jacob, "I heard your father speak to your brother Esau, 'Bring me game and prepare for me delicious food, that I may eat it and bless you before the LORD before I die.' Now therefore, my son, obey my voice as I command you. Go to the flock and bring me two good young goats, so that I may prepare from them delicious food for your father, such as he loves. And you shall bring it to your father to eat, so that he may bless you before he dies." But Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, "Behold, my brother Esau is a hairy man, and I am a smooth man. Perhaps my father will feel me, and I shall seem to be mocking him and bring a curse upon myself and not a blessing." His mother said to him, "Let your curse be on me, my son; only obey my voice, and go, bring them to me." So he went and took them and brought them to his mother, and his mother prepared delicious food, such as his father loved. Then Rebekah took the best garments of Esau her older son, which were with her in the house, and put them on Jacob her younger son. And the skins of the young goats she put on his hands and on the smooth part of his neck. And she put the delicious food and the bread, which she had prepared, into the hand of her son Jacob. So he went in to his father and said, "My father." And he said, "Here I am. Who are you, my son?" Jacob said to his father, "I am Esau your firstborn. I have done as you told me; now sit up and eat of my game, that your soul may bless me." But Isaac said to his son, "How is it that you have found it so quickly, my son?" He answered, "Because the LORD your God granted me success." Then Isaac said to Jacob, "Please come near, that I may feel you, my son, to know whether you are really my son Esau or not." So Jacob went near to Isaac his father, who felt him and said, "The voice is Jacob's voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau." And he did not recognize him, because his hands were hairy like his brother Esau's hands. So he blessed him. He said, "Are you really my son Esau?" He answered, "I am." Then he said, "Bring it near to me, that I may eat of my son's game and bless you." So he brought it near to him, and he ate; and he brought him wine, and he drank. Then his father Isaac said to him, "Come near and kiss me, my son." So he came near and kissed him. And Isaac smelled the smell of his garments and blessed him and said, "See,( the smell of my son is as the smell of a field that the LORD has blessed! May God give you of the dew of heaven and of the fatness of the earth and plenty of grain and wine. Let peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may your mother's sons bow down to you. Cursed be everyone who curses you, and blessed be everyone who blesses you!"

In Old Testament Israel it was the responsibility of the father to pronounce upon the firstborn son a blessing before the father died. This is called the birthright of the eldest son. It made the eldest the priest of the home, in charge of spiritual matters, and promised a double blessing (inheritance, land, etc.). When it came time for Isaac to give the "blessing," Jacob stepped into the tent, dressed as Esau, to obtain the blessing. There are many ways this story can be taken, but ultimately I believe it illustrates the doctrine of substitution.

  1. The blessings of the father came because of the merits of another.
    Jacob covered himself with "the garments of Esau." He made his arms "hairy" like Esau's. He stood before his father not on his own merits, but "in Esau." This is what it means to be "in Christ." We come before the Father based not upon our own acts of righteousness or goodness, but "in Christ." In Ezekiel 16 God indicates that His bride was devoid of personal righteousness by saying "you were naked and bare" (v.7). But He states that He has covered her nakedness with His own garment of righteousness "so I spread My wing (Heb. "The corner of My garment") over you and covered your nakedness" (v.8). And He emphasizes that He has covered her with righteousness from "the sole of her foot (v.10) to the crown of her head" (v.12), and with a garment of righteousness for every part of her body. He concludes: "You were exceedingly beautiful, and succeeded to royalty... your beauty... was perfect through My splendor which I had bestowed on you" (v.14). What a beautiful description of you.

  2. The blessings of the father are never revoked because of the father's word.
    When Isaac discovered that Jacob had received the blessing instead of Esau, he didn't revoke the firstborn blessing he gave to Jacob. It was irreversible. So it is with the person found in Christ. You are not "in Christ" then "out of Christ." The blessings of Christ are received by faith, but the giver of both the blessings and the faith is God. "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life" (John 5:24). There will be doubts. There will be fears. But God is faithful to His Word in Christ. They overcame the accuser of the brethren "by the word of their testimony and the blood of the lamb" (Revelation 12:11). Confession and faith—transparency and trust.

  3. The blessings of the father are found only in the Son whom He loves.
    This is what is called the exclusivity of the gospel. Jesus said, "No one comes unto the father, but by me" (John 14:6). The Psalmist said, "Kiss the Son, lest He be angry... blessed are they that put their trust in Him" (Psalm 2:12). There is no hope, no salvation, no real, eternal blessings apart from a relationship with Jesus Christ.

"Anybody who has studied the world religions knows they cannot all be right because they totally contradict each other. They are mutually exclusive, and that's why I'm going to bet my life on one of them because I cannot bet my life on all of them. And I think the stupid thing is not to make a bet. An evangelical believes Jesus is who he claimed to be." (Rick Warren)

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