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Hebrews 11:20-By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future.

We’re still in a series on faith from Hebrews 11. We’re looking at each person who was commended for their faith, and next in line is the Old Testament character, Isaac. So, today isn’t going to be your typical Mother’s Day message. Isaac’s wife, the mother of Jacob and Esau, is going to get mentioned, but not necessarily as an example of a wife and mom we should aspire to emulate.

When I looked to see who was up to bat next in our people of faith series, and saw that it was Isaac, and saw that there was only one verse about him in Hebrews 11, I thought, “How am I going to prepare an entire message from one verse?” Well, of course, there is more to Isaac’s story than one verse, so I got to reading in Genesis to refresh my mind on the life and times of Isaac, and God helped me see why Isaac made it in the list of those who exercised a faith that could be commended.

When he was 40 years old, Isaac married Rebekah. She was having difficulty conceiving a child, and Isaac prayed to the Lord for Rebekah to be able to conceive. God doubly blessed them with twins. The pregnancy was turbulent at one point as she felt the babies jostling or fighting with each other in her womb and she even asked, “Why is this happening to me?” She didn’t know she was having twins.

Rebekah had a prayer life as well and she went to the Lord to ask what was going on. God said to her, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated. One people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.” Genesis 25:23 (Remember that last phrase. The older will serve the younger.”

That prophesy from God was telling and unusual. In it, He declared a departure from cultural norms. In ancient times, the older brother never served the younger brother. It was always the other way around. I have to believe, based on how the rest of the story unfolds, that Rebekah shared the prophecy she received from God with her husband. I believe he knew what God had said about the older son serving the younger one.

The story goes on to tell us that when it was time to give birth, the first twin to come out was red, and his whole body was like a hairy garment. Esau came out looking unusual, right? He wasn’t the soft and smooth infant we expect when we think of a newborn. He came out like a wooly mammoth, y’all.

After he was born, the younger brother came out, only he came out with his hand grasping or yanking on Esau’s heel. They had battled for position even from the womb.  He was named Jacob.

Well, the boys grew, and they were very different. Esau was “a man’s man.” He was a skillful hunter, a man of the open country, the Scripture says. He was his dad’s favorite. Jacob was a mama’s boy and a homebody. So, Isaac favored Esau. Rebekah favored Jacob. She would have been all for Jacob having the elevated status that God had declared.

Isaac and Rebekah prospered. They became wealthy. In fact, in Genesis 26, we read that they became very wealthy. Verse 14 says Isaac had so many flocks and herds and servants that the Philistines envied him and messed with Isaac’s family’s wells. They stopped them all up with dirt. They saw Isaac as a great threat. At one point, King Abimelek told Isaac he needed to move. He had become too powerful. Abimelek was afraid Isaac would overthrow him.

Isaac actually moved and where he landed was a place his father, Abraham, had previously been. Remember, even growing up, he lived in tents, never occupying the Promised Land or settling in one place, so moving and starting over was something he knew well. As he relocated, he was able to reopen the wells that had been dug in the time of his father. There is a sermon there that I don’t have time to develop. Let me just challenge every parent who is raising children right now to dig the kind of wells, spiritually speaking, that their children can drink from for years to come!

Isaac knew God. Remember, this is the guy who saw the angel of the Lord stop his dad from killing him. He saw God provide the ram in the thicket. He had been strapped to the altar of sacrifice because of his dad’s complete faith in God. How that encounter would have shaped his faith.

Chapter 26 goes on to detail how God reiterated his covenant with Abraham to Isaac and how Isaac built an altar to God and worshiped God.  People from other nations saw how the Lord was with Isaac.

Well, Isaac grew old, as we all do. His eyes were weak, Genesis 27:1 says, and he couldn’t see. He knew his time to depart from earth was growing close, and he needed to offer the customary blessing over his firstborn son and then over his other son. He planned to bless Esau, the hairy first-born. This was going to be an act of his will, the execution of a decision he was making. He knew what God had said before the twins were born, but he loved Esau and planned to give him the firstborn blessing. Isaac sent Esau out to kill some game and prepare it for him so that they could have a “blessing meal” of sorts.

Let me remind you again of our text for this morning.  Hebrews 11:20-By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future. How does Hebrews 11 hold Isaac up as a person of faith if he is planning on going against what God had declared? Hold on to that question.

Rebekah overheard the plan. Remember, she favored Jacob. She also had received that prophetic word about the older brother would serve the younger brother. That sure sounded good to her. She wanted Jacob to rise to the top.

She knew she could take advantage of Isaac’s blindness and devised a scheme for the younger son to receive the blessing that Isaac had purposed to give to the older one.  She told Jacob to just go out to their flock of goats and kill them. He wouldn’t have to hunt for anything. He probably wouldn’t have known how. He wasn’t the hunter. He was the homebody. So, she told him to take the shortcut of just killing some of their flock.  She even prepared the food for him to take into Isaac. 

To ensure that Isaac wouldn’t suspect he was talking to the wrong son, Rebekah dressed Jacob in Esau’s clothes and she covered Jacob’s hands and the back of his neck with the goatskins. Esau must have been one very hairy dude if it took animal skin to fool Isaac. That’s a lot of hair! They should have named him Chewbacca instead of Esau. Just saying. Jacob, wearing his disguise, took the food to his dad and claimed to be Esau.

Isaac suspected something wasn’t quite right. The voice sounded off, so he asked his son to come close enough for him to touch.  Oh, touching the child during the giving of the blessing was customary, but Isaac actually said, “Come near so I can touch you to know whether you really are my son Esau or not.”

Genesis 27:22, Jacob went close to his father Isaac, who touched him and said, “The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau,” so he proceeded to offer Jacob the blessing meant for Esau. He hesitated for a second and asked one more time, “Are you really my son Esau?” Jacob said, “I am.” They ate together and then Isaac asked his son to come close.

Genesis 27:27-29- 27 So he went to him and kissed him. When Isaac caught the smell of his clothes, he blessed him and said, “Ah, the smell of my son is like the smell of a field that the Lord has blessed. 28 May God give you heaven’s dew  and earth’s richness— an abundance of grain and new wine. 29 May nations serve you  and peoples bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may the sons of your mother bow down to you. May those who curse you be cursed and those who bless you be blessed.”

What a blessing! It was packed with incredible promise and prosperity. Isaac thought he had done what had been in his heart to do, what he had planned to do, what he had purposed to do, but after Jacob left his presence, in walked Esau. He was back from hunting and cooking a meal of his own for his father, and it caught Isaac by total surprise to the point where he asked Esau, “Who are you?” Esau had to be totally confused. He said, “I am your son, your firstborn, Esau.”

Genesis 27:33ff: 33 Isaac trembled violently and said, “Who was it, then, that hunted game and brought it to me? I ate it just before you came and I blessed him—and indeed he will be blessed!

Here is the faith part. Why do you think Isaac trembled violently? When he realized Jacob and Rebekah had tricked him, do you think he just trembled because he was angry? No, this wasn’t a fit of rage.  I mean, no blessing, no contract would be binding if it had involved deception. He could have called Jacob back in and revoked the blessing he had given him. Maybe he could have cursed Jacob even as he revoked the blessing.  But no, he didn’t do that.

In that moment, Isaac realized that his will had not been God’s will. His desire to bless his eldest son was not the plan of God. His decision to do what he wanted hadn’t been what God had declared.  This was a lightbulb moment of faith for Isaac.  Though he had acted in faith at other times in his life, though he had let God be God in other circumstances, he had acted according to his will in this instance.  Isaac realized that even though he had messed up, God still had His way, and his statement of faith is subtle, but profound. “Indeed, he will be blessed.”

Isaac had resisted God regarding the plan for the two boys, and in that moment, he acquiesced. He didn’t try to reverse what God had clearly done. I know the deception, trickery and disguise bit makes it hard to see this as the hand of God, but God works in all things, even in our foolishness, to work out His will. In that moment, Isaac made a faith decision to trust the will of God over his own wants.

And that’s why he made the Hall of Faith. People of faith yield to the will of God even when it is difficult to do. It hadn’t been easy for his father, Abraham, to trust the will of God when he had been asked to sacrifice his son. It wasn’t easy for Isaac to give up the pictured future he had for Esau and instead to allow God to choose to bless Jacob in that way.

How many years had Isaac been preparing the speech for Esau that he had wound up giving to Jacob? Even though he knew what God had said about the older son serving the younger, how many times did he think, “I’ll never let that happen?” He had been determined to do his will in the matter, but in the end, God had the final say. And in a moment of faith that God knew better, Isaac stood down.

People of faith yield to the will of God even when it is difficult to do. Listen, there are times in your life when you are going to have to say, “God, I thought I knew the way, or God I had given my heart to a certain direction” or “God, I was committed to what I was convinced was best for my life, but in the end, You are in control. You have knowledge I don’t have. You have a perfect plan that I cannot always see. You have a will the supersedes the steps I have taken, and I yield to your authority and sovereignty in my life.”

Isn’t that what Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane when He prayed that the Calvary experience, the Cross, could be taken off of the table? Jesus quickly came to the point where after He expressed His will to the Heavenly Father in prayer, He then prayed, “Yet not my will but Yours be done.” “Have Your, way, God,” is always an expression of faith. Sometimes I think we are hesitant to add, “If this is your will, God” to our prayers because we think that somehow waters down our faith to believe God for whatever we are asking. No. I believe it only enhances and fortifies our faith because it’s only faith when it is characterized by total humility and a willingness to surrender to God.

Yielding isn’t easy for us. Some of us are really strong-willed Children of God. Maybe sometimes we think we are fully surrendered, but like Isaac, we get to the end of our lives and find out we hadn’t fully given our will up and given ourselves over to God’s plans.

Have you ever found yourself in conflict with the will of God? Have you ever argued with God about the path He told you to take? It is impossible to express faith in God without accepting His will for our lives. Do you believe that God knows what He is doing?

In Isaiah 45:9 we read, “Woe to those who quarrel with their Maker,   those who are nothing but potsherds   among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter,   ‘What are you making?’ Does your work say, ‘The potter has no hands’?

Do our actions suggest that we trust ourselves over God? Do we trust God to be the  Potter only in the little moments, the ones we see as insignificant, but take charge in what we think are the critical points? At some point, as we mature in our faith, we need to stop asking, “God, what are you doing?” in an accusatory way and start asking, “God, what are you doing so that I can cooperate with Your plan?” We cannot fight with God about His plans and walk by faith at the same time.

Perhaps you need to settle something this morning. Perhaps you need to settle that God is trustworthy. Isaac had an earthly perspective. His plan was culturally accepted. He was just following protocol. It was the older son who always received the double blessing. Was he really doing anything wrong? His plan was clouded by his feelings. He loved Esau over Jacob. I know that isn’t good parenting, but it isn’t his parenting, but his faith that we are examining this morning.  What Isaac had to settle in the moment when he had released his blessing over what he perceived to be the wrong son, he had to trust that God had chosen Jacob. He had to rest in the reality that God is omniscient. He is all-knowing, and His knowledge is perfect. Because God sees the end from the beginning, that means every decision He makes is clear and right.

We may pray for a healing or a new job or a change in our relational status or for a friend that is going through a rough time, and we may pray in faith to the best of our earthly ability, but at some point, we have to trust that God sees a bigger picture than we do. If God answered our prayers exactly the way we prayed them, what role would God be playing in our lives? What would that say about our knowledge versus God’s? That we know best? That we know how every story should end?

Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways submit to him, and He will make your paths straight.”

When God moves in a different way from what seems desirable to you, trust Him.

A “no” from God means He has a greater “yes” for you down the road. The 12 tribes of Israel descended from Jacob. When Isaac thought he was blessing Esau, God was blessing Jacob because He was working out His sovereign will and plan.

Faith submits. Faith yields to the greater plan of God. Isaac chose Esau, but God chose Jacob. By faith, Isaac accepted God’s choice. I don’t know all the reasons why God chose Jacob instead of Esau to receive that blessing, but because chose him, it was the right decision, and in faith, Isaac yielded to God. God has a perfect, righteous reason for every decision He makes. Our ability to yield to Him in moments when we would want to make a different decision is where faith comes in.  We either trust Him or we don’t.

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