These three chapters of Genesis recount the family sagas of Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob and Esau. We find unexpected lies and deceits as Esau despises his birthright and sells it to his younger brother, Jacob, for a lentil stew. Isaac deceives Abimelech, king of the Philistines, saying his wife was his sister to save his own life. Jacob deceives his brother Esau a second time under the instruction of his mother to receive his father’s blessing before he dies.
Surprisingly, we also find God speaking in between events. First to answer Rebekah’s cry for help as twin sons battle inside her womb. Then telling Isaac to settle in Gerar despite the famine and not descend to Egypt, while reconfirming the oath He swore to his father Abraham. In Beersheba, he appeared again to Isaac telling him not to be afraid, He would bless him, favour him and multiply his descendants.
Could these family events have occurred differently? To answer that question we must first understand: what was God’s perspective compared to that of this family that led them to deceive, lie and sin?
Looking closer at the first of three events: God revealed His perspective to Rebekah that two nations were in her womb and the older would serve the younger. However, was this to come about because Esau thought he would die of hunger and so have to despise his birthright? No. Esau’s perspective was myopic, he could not see past his hunger. Did he cry out to His Creator in his time of need? Did he forget who had given him his birthright? He took matters into his own hands.
In the second example, Isaac deceives Abimelech, king of the Philistines, saying his wife was his sister because he feared they would kill him. Wait. God had just told him 3 verses earlier His perspective: he would multiply his descendants and give them the land! Isaac had shifted his perspective from God’s promises covering his lifelong destiny. It was this pagan king who had greater fear of God and realised if he sinned, by taking Isaac’s wife, he could bring on himself a lifelong curse. He did not think of the immediate pleasure or fix his eyes on Rebekah’s great beauty. His fear of God saved his life – he saw it from God’s perspective!
Lastly, Rebekah instructs Jacob to deceive his father by pretending to be Esau. This time Jacob sees from God’s perspective (27:11) and disagrees with his mother’s plan because he would inherit a curse if his father found out. Rebekah takes the curse upon her and takes matters into her own hands. She later has to send Jacob away to save him from Esau’s death threats because of her actions.
God’s perspective is his promises for our future – “plans of good and not evil to give us a future and a hope” (Jer 29:11). His word stands and will be fulfilled because of our obedience, not from our lies, deceit or taking matters into our own hands. Our perspective must shift from the immediate and myopic need to His long-term promises that stand forever.
For Israel today, their victory and survival until the end, as God’s chosen people and chosen land, has already been foretold thousands of years ago in the Bible. We must pray they can see from God’s perspective, His promises, that will stand against any threat. Just as David Ben Gurion, then head of the de facto Zionist government in Palestine, said before the Peel Commission of 1936 when asked to identify the basis of the Jewish claim to the land. He replied: ”The Bible is our mandate.”
The European Coalition for Israel is a unique grassroots movement, which is seeking to promote better relations between Europe and Israel through advocacy and education. More information: www.ec4i.org
Header image: lookout point by Amanda Tipton