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Lesson 10: The Price of Duplicity *

Introduction: How many times does it seem like God needs a little help to get those things done which you know He needs to do right now? So far in the story of Abraham and his descendants, we have seen what kind of trouble that kind of attitude can create. This week we study two different approaches to "assisting" the will of God. Let's dive into our study and learn more!

  1. Twins!

    1. Read Genesis 25:19-21. God had made a promise to Abraham that his descendants would be a great nation. God led in the selection of Rebekah to be Isaac's wife (Genesis 24). Why should Isaac face the problem of a childless wife?

      1. How did Isaac face this problem? (He prayed to God to fulfill His promise.)

        1. Is the "family" making progress in trusting God? (The solution his mother had for the problem was for his father to take another wife. Isaac does not do that, he goes to God and asks for his help.)

    2. Read Genesis 25:22-23. What tempers the joy of this pregnancy for Rebekah? (It seems that something is wrong.)

      1. To whom does she turn for help? (God.)

      2. Notice what God told Rebekah about the future of these two boys. How does this compare with the normal order of things? (It is the opposite, as we will see. Normally, the first-born is the one entrusted with leadership.)

      3. Why do you think Rebekah had two sons? (If you read Genesis 25:26 you will see that Isaac was married for twenty years before he had a son. He spent twenty years praying. God is making up for a lost time.)

      4. What does Genesis 25:22-23 suggest about abortion? (God knows the unborn child.)

    3. Read Genesis 25:24-28. As people get older, food seems to be more important to them. Do you think it is just food that causes Isaac to prefer Esau? (He has a "rough and ready" son who accepts the challenge of the hunt and is successful. His other son hangs around the house with mom. Isaac's preference is not so difficult to understand. Neither is Rebekah's preference.)

      1. Should parents prefer one child over the other? (My parents made it a high priority not to show a preference between my brother and me. My father had not been the favored child and my mother thought her father favored his dog over her! When they married they determined they would show no preference.)

        1. Did Rebekah have an excuse for her preference because of what God had told her about the future of the two boys?

  2. Birthright

    1. What is the birthright? (Read Genesis 27:28-29. This is the blessing normally given to the son born first. Read also Deuteronomy 21:15-17.)

      1. How much importance would you attach to such a blessing?

    2. Read Genesis 25:29-34. Which son shows a greater character defect? (I vote for Jacob as having the greater character defect. He was not kind, he was not generous, and he was overreaching to obtain something that was not his. Esau's defect was not valuing what he had.)

      1. What do you think the Bible means when it says Esau "despised" his birthright? (Read Hebrews 12:16. Hebrews reveals that I understated the defect in Esau's character. He doesn't care about the birthright because he doesn't care about God.)

        1. Does the birthright have a spiritual dimension?

  3. More Conniving

    1. Read Genesis 27:1-4. Why didn't Isaac just give the blessing right there? Why is a meal involved? (When you think about religious ceremonies in the Bible, they often have a connection to eating and drinking. For example, consider communion.)

      1. Re-read Genesis 25:23. Do you think Isaac was unaware of what God had said?

    2. Read Genesis 27:5-10. Is this the way you would have reacted? If not, what would you have done? (They could have had a family meeting where they reviewed what God had told Rebekah and the "deal" that Jacob and Esau had reached on the birthright. Read Genesis 26:34-35. I would have thrown into the argument the problem with Esau having irritating Hittite wives.)

      1. Was it possible to give the younger son the birthright? Was this something that could be discussed? (Read 1 Chronicles 5:1 and Genesis 48:17-19. This, plus what had happened to Ishmael, shows that giving the blessing to the first born was not an inflexible rule.)

    3. Read Genesis 27:11-13. What concerns Jacob the most? (Being caught.)

      1. How about you? Is that your greatest concern about sin?

      2. Is there any way that this scheme will not be found out? (This is what amazes me. There was no way this would not be found out - and soon!)

    4. Read Genesis 27:14-20. How many lies do you find in these verses?

      1. Which lie troubles you the most? (It is one thing to lie, but I think it is worse to knowingly take God's name to bolster your lie. He did not need to mention God in this lie. Notice that he refers to his father's God, not his.)

    5. Read Genesis 27:21-25. Isaac has doubts: the timing is wrong, the voice is wrong, things are just not right. Why didn't Isaac call in some third person to confirm who was about to be blessed?

    6. Read Genesis 27:26-27. What convinced Isaac that this was Esau? (He smelled like Esau because of the clothes.)

      1. What comes to mind when you think about this kiss? (Judas.)

    7. Read Genesis 27:28-29. How much authority does Isaac have in giving this blessing? Would God provide Jacob the blessing even if it was procured by fraud?

    8. Read Genesis 27:30-37. The fraud is almost immediately discovered. What is the answer to the question about whether a blessing procured by fraud will be honored?

      1. Does this show that crime pays? We should help God by all means necessary? (The New Bible Commentary points out the terrible consequences that flow from the trait of dishonesty. Jacob left and he never saw his mother again. ( Genesis 27:13 was thus fulfilled in part.) Later, Jacob's father-in-law, Laban, cheated Jacob out of seven years of labor and gave him a wife he did not want. This deception caused a life-long problem for Jacob and resulted, in part, in Jacob being deceived about the fate of his son, Joseph. Just as Jacob used a goat to fool his father, so his sons used goat's blood to fool him about Joseph. Life is better and easier if you are honest.)

      2. Look more closely at Genesis 27:36. Are Esau's charges true? (Just the opposite, his knowing "trade" of his birthright arguably entitles Jacob to the blessing.)

    9. Read Genesis 27:41-46. Who is Rebekah referring to when she speaks of losing "both of you in one day?" (Isaac and Jacob.)

      1. What kind of life does Rebekah have in the future? (No doubt Isaac and Esau know she was part of this deception. Esau's Hittite wives, who are already a problem, will be even worse when they think they are poorer because of the deception.)

      2. Is Rebekah still misleading Isaac? (She tells him Jacob needs to leave to get a wife, not to avoid being killed by his brother.)

    10. Read Genesis 28:1-5. Isaac is not deceived now. Why does he repeat the blessing? (Two things. I think he realizes that God had in mind for Jacob to have the birthright blessing. He also believes the blessing to be irrevocable.)

    11. Friend, our study this week confirms again that when God promises us something, we do not need to "assist" Him in getting the job done with dishonest acts. God calls on us to trust and obey Him. Will you answer that call?

  4. Next week: Jacob Becomes Israel.
* Copr. 2006, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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