Jacob steals the birthright from Esau today. Verse 30: “As soon as Isaac had finished blessing Jacob… his brother Esau came in from his hunting.”
Jacob prepares a savory meal, so that Isaac may bless him. In his confusion, Isaac asks, “Who are you?” Ultimately, the jig is up! Isaac and Esau realize they have been deceived by Jacob.
This story is trickery, and what is frustrating about it is that God seems to bless that too! I want to scream from a mountain, “Just take it back, Isaac! Take back the blessing! Jacob lied! He betrayed you! Don’t leave him with blessing! Leave him with a curse!”
But no. There are some things that can’t be recalled. When it happens, it happens. Nothing can recall it. Part of the story’s message is that: Nothing can change the facts of the past. Words go out like arrows and cannot return. This is the power of blessing (and of curse).
What a dark story of betrayal, lying, and conspiracy. As we know, this will inevitably lead to suffering and alienation. Terrible consequences will split this family apart.
As a chaplain, I saw first-hand the power of blessing. Each of us carries with us the power to bless or curse, to accept or deny those who come in our path. I reminded the Deacons of this at our retreat this past month, “When you walk into a hospital room, you are no longer just that person’s friend, but a representative of Almighty God, and of the church. You carry with you the powerful story of the church – to bless, to heal, to comfort.”
Certainly we know the standard of blessing and acceptance that Jesus set. And when I walk into a hospital room, or into a community event, or into a store, encountering strangers, I have to remind myself: God has given me the power to love and bless, or turn from this person. The burden is on.
Are our families any different? Is being part of the family of God – our church family – any different? This is the faulty human vessel that God is using to show God’s intention for blessing. At times it seems messier than we might imagine. God even uses crooked people and devious ways to bring about the divine blessing. In fact, none of us are perfect. We are all trying our best (well most of us).
Jacob and Esau isn’t the kind of story or the kind of people we think of when we imagine the righteous people of God. But this is what God uses. This is God’s story. This is the way God brings new blessing to the earth. A PG-13 version at least. The squeamish and scrupulous better change channels.
And the imperfection of blessings is our birthright as well. So it is to be human.