The Strange Case of Isaac's Faith-filled Blessings (Hebrews Sermon 53 of 74)
January 15, 2012 | Andrew Davis
Prophecy, Blessing of Abraham
The Necessity of Preparing for Death
There has been a change of plans. God changed my plan this morning. There is no way I can preach on three patriarchs in one sermon. It can't be done. And so there I am humbled in front of you to have planned to do so and I will not do so. I'm doing that, just telling you that for your own good, so you don't freak out at noon when I'm still just halfway through Isaac, and you wonder, how long are we going to be here today? We haven't even touched on Jacob, yet, and then there's Joseph to come after that. So we're only going to focus on one verse, verse 20, and we're going to find in that one verse all the challenge we need, frankly. It's amazing how quickly we can read scripture and just go right over a verse like Hebrews 11:20 and not see anything in it. We're just in the middle of the faith chapter, we're in this rhythm of by faith, by faith, by faith. And we're expecting more good stories of faith, and the heroes of the men and women of old and all the great things that they did. And so, by faith, Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future, just kind of flies right by and it's like, "Oh, isn't that wonderful?" But God arrested me with this verse, slowed me down, stopped me and said, "There's more here than you think there is." And the more that you look at it, the more mystery and the more challenge and the more trouble comes out of it.
So frankly, in order to get the full benefit you really should look at Genesis 27. You can keep your finger in Hebrews 11, but I'm not going to be doing a lot of Exegesis from Hebrews 11:20, but most of the ideas from Genesis 27. And what we have in Hebrews, 11:20, 21 and 22 is we have, in effect, I get the picture in my mind of a painting done by Norman Rockwell of three boys dressed up in baseball garb. And they're looking through a peephole in an oak fence at a baseball game. And they're just looking through the knot hole. They haven't paid their ticket price, but they don't need to, because they're looking through this peephole at the game. And that's what Hebrews 11:20, 21 and 22 has us do. We're looking through three peepholes at three patriarchs, and specifically at their deathbed experiences, and so their deathbed is also a peephole through which we're looking at their whole lives. And with Isaac, Jacob and Joseph, you're really looking at effectively half of the book of Genesis. And it's not my purpose here to give a careful exegesis of all of that. What I want to try to do is understand what the author to Hebrews was intending in giving us these three peepholes, these three trips, really as I said, to the deathbeds of Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. Why did he choose to bring us there? And this is going to be, I think, a little more poignant next week.
But God, I think... Or next time that I preach, God I think is bringing us to the deathbed as He was bringing the Hebrew Christians to the deathbed, because he's wanting to clarify, to make very intense for them and for us that this world is not our home, that we are merely aliens and strangers here, that we need to prepare to die. We need to be ready to just move through this world and on into the next world, because Hebrews has told us, it is appointed to each one of us to die once and after that to face judgment. Some people think it's faithless or somehow weak to prepare to die. We should be at the hospital trusting God for a miracle. God can do anything. Jesus can do anything. He stopped in the little town of Nain, he stopped a funeral procession where a widow was burying her only son and the weeping there was great and Jesus stopped the procession, touching the coffin, He said to this woman, "Don't cry." And He raised her son from the dead. I mean, I can't even imagine what that must have been like. And Jesus can do anything, but His ordinary way is to take us out of this world by means of these diseases and other things.
And we must prepare for death. And so the author to Hebrews brings the Hebrew Christians and us right to the deathbeds of these patriarchs to bring clarity to us, so that we may also see our own deathbeds. Last night, I was putting Calvin to bed and asked me, he said, "Dad, what should my final words be?" So we had a very interesting discussion. I didn't expect that, and I hadn't thought about it. I said, "Well what do you think your final words are going to be?" He asked me, I said, "I don't know. How about 'Father into your hands I commit my spirit.'" He said, "Has that ever been used before?" I said, "Yes, at least once."
But I praise God for the thoughts that were on his mind, and I think they should be on our mind. He wants to bring us to that clarity. We're not going to be here forever. This world is not all there is. And so we have these three deathbed trips, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. And this morning we're going to just look at Isaac.
AW Pink said, "A Christian ought not to be passive in death and die like a beast. No, this is the last time he can do anything for God on Earth, and therefore he's to take a fresh, firm hold on God by faith at that time." I want to prepare you for that, because my theory is that if you are really ready to die, well then you are ready to live well too. The two go hand in hand.
II. The Faith of Isaac at Death: Overcoming Fleshly Dimness
And so we have in Hebrews 11:20, this one verse, "By faith, Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future." Now, what is the trouble with that verse? You might think there's no trouble with that verse. It's a delightful verse, celebrating Isaac's faith, Isaac the man of faith. Yeah, that's true until you remember what we're actually talking about in the verse, and you go back to Genesis 27, and you're brought to Isaac's deathbed, and you remember the actual circumstances that were going on. And then you go back to Verse 20 of Chapter 11 and you say, "I don't see the faith. Where is the faith?"
As a matter of fact, when Isaac was blessing Jacob he thought he was blessing Esau. He was intending to bless Esau. He was at cross purposes with Almighty God. He was out of step with what God was doing. He was being deceived by both his wife and his son. Esau is off happily hunting and about to prepare a meal. The whole thing is screwed up. And so, how can we find faith there? What was the author to Hebrews thinking? Did he forget to read Genesis 27? Is that what goes on? No, not at all. He's looking a lot deeper. And so as I look deeper, I saw more and more and more here that I thought would benefit us. And so we're looking just this morning at Isaac and this one statement.
Now, when we come to Isaac, we come in my opinion, to a spiritual disappointment at one level. I know that Isaac's right there in the middle between Abraham and Jacob, so you have the god of Abraham, and the god of Isaac and the god of Jacob. But Isaac lived the longest of the four major patriarchs focused on in the Book of Genesis. He lived 180 years. But less is known about Isaac's life, by far, than about Abraham, Jacob or Joseph. Some 12 chapters are devoted to Abraham's life, about the same length of treatment for Jacob and Joseph. We basically get, other than some brief mentions in other chapters, we basically get two chapters in Genesis on Isaac, Genesis 26 and 27, and one of them is the focus of our study this morning.
With Isaac then you get less of Abraham's triumphs of faith, and less of Jacob's failures. But the feeling is one of spiritual mediocrity, of to some degree, it seems like an under-achiever, like there was less than there should have been. Isaac began his life as a miracle baby, conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit in the womb of a barren, elderly woman. He is the one, of course, that made that incredible trip up Mount Moriah that we talked about last week. And he was there. He was the one that said, "Here's wood and fire, but where is the sacrifice?" He was the one instructed by the quintessential father of the Bible, Abraham, the father and faith, the father of many nations. And so, he was trained by a godly father, but the life that began so brightly by faith, like so many others after him, fizzled as it went on. And so, I bring you to the complex circumstances that 11:20 is talking about, the blessing of Jacob and Esau, and the story of Genesis 27. It is a very spiritually complex and entangled account the more you look at it, frankly.
John Owen said this, "There is no other story in the scripture, filled with more intricacies and difficulties as unto a right judgement of the things related, though the matters of fact, what actually happen be clearly and distinctly set down. The whole represents unto us divine sovereignty, wisdom and faithfulness, working effectually through the frailties, infirmities and sins of all the persons concerned in the matter."
In other words, what we have is the sovereign plan of God being achieved through four sinners, and none of the four look really, very good in the story. Isaac doesn't look good. Rebecca doesn't look good. Neither do Jacob or Esau. None of them do. There are problems with all four of them.
The Fleshly Dimness of Isaac’s Faith
But let's start with Isaac, because he's the focus; by faith Isaac. And Genesis 27:1, if you're there you can look, if not just listen. It should be taken, I think, more than merely literally. Genesis 27:1 it says, "When Isaac was old and his eyes were so weak that he could no longer see." Just stop there. Isaac's physical blindness is essential to this story, but his spiritual dimness of vision is every bit as essential to the story.
Now, we have been saying that faith is the eyesight of the soul, by which the soul can receive information, insight, light from invisible spiritual realms. It is by faith that we see the invisible. Faith is the eyesight of the soul. And I think when we are told here in Genesis 27:1 that Isaac was so old and his eyes were so weak he could no longer see, there's a symbolic aspect as well. It's similar to when Judas took the piece of bread from Jesus and he went out, it says in John 13:30, "and it was night." I mean, you must know in John's writings, that light and darkness are symbolic and not merely to physical. He wasn't just telling you the time of day when Judas went out. It was the hour of Satan. It was the hour of darkness when Satan's forces were unleashed. And so, I think the same thing's going on here. Dimness of sight in this case is seen to be somewhat of a moral and spiritual issue as well as physical. By contrast, you have Deuteronomy 34, in verse 7, "Moses was 120-years-old when he died." Listen, "yet his eyes were not weak nor was his strength gone."
Do you see the contrast here? Why are we told at the end of Moses' life that his eyes were not weak? Again, I think there's a symbolic contrast here. He was still spiritually vigorous, Moses was. He just was not allowed to go into the Promised Land because God had forbidden him. But with Isaac, I think we have a deeper spiritual problem. Now, what was it? Putting it simply, I think that Isaac had a fleshly love for life that was inordinate and that damaged him spiritually. He loved the things of this world too much, and as a result, his spiritual vision grew dim. In every generation believers are called upon to discipline their fleshly appetites, so that they are not ruled by them. We are not worldlings, whose God is our stomach, like Paul talks about in Philippians. A. W. Pink put it this way. "If we live to eat instead of eating to live, then our spiritual vision is bound to be defective. Discernment is a by-product, the fruit and result of denying of self and following of Christ.”
Spiritual discernment is what we're talking about here, and Isaac compromised his by his love for fleshly indulgence. By contrast, Moses left Egypt, as we'll talk about later in this same chapter, left Egypt by putting to death his love for fleshly comforts and pleasures, the so-called fleshpots of Egypt. He turned his back on it so that he could suffer with God's people and go through the desert with them, and all that. And so at the end of his life his vision was sharp and he knew exactly what God wanted him to do.
Isaac Loved a Good Meal
But as for Isaac, he just simply loved a good meal, and what's wrong with that? What am I talking about? Well, if you look back in Genesis 25:28, a key verse in this whole analysis, Genesis 25:28 says this, "Isaac, who had a taste for wild game, loved Esau, but Rebecca loved Jacob."
So, in other words, in Genesis 25:28, Isaac's affinity for, his love for Esau, was connected to their, I think, mutual love for food, their mutual love for game, for hunting and for a good stew. They shared it in common, father and son. It was the link in their relationship. It really was their relationship, and as a result, Isaac had his affection set on the wrong son. Esau provided Isaac with the meat that he craved. Multiple times in Genesis 27, Isaac's love for that food is mentioned directly. "I will provide... " Or Rebecca says, "I'm going to make food for your father such as he loves." This love that he has, it's highly emphasized actually in the account. So Isaac loved Esau far more than Jacob, and sadly in this regard, there's an awful lot of similarity between Isaac and Esau.
It was Esau, after all, who sold his birthright for a bowl of stew. You remember the story, how he comes in from the field, I guess he hadn't done very well hunting and there's Jacob cooking, and he's making some stew, and Esau is famished, and he says, "Quick, let me have some of that red stew!" And Jacob…who he was, is who he was, he said, "First sell me your birthright?" We'll get to all that, but, "Sell me your birthright?" I mean, what a conniver. I mean, just give the man a bowl of stew. There's no connection between the stew and the birthright. Yeah, until he linked it. And Esau in effect said, "Look, the birthright means nothing to me. I don't care about the birthright. Give me the bowl of stew. Fine. Have the birthright." And the account says, "And so, Esau despised his birthright." In the scripture, it's huge what he did, it's huge.
And so, here we have in this regard at least, like father, like son, a man who just loves a good bowl of stew. And he knows that Esau can get it for him and he sends him off. And so he says in Genesis 27:1 through 4, "When Isaac was old and his eyes were so weak that he could no longer see, he called for Esau, his older son, and said to him, 'My son.' 'Here I am.' He answered. Isaac said, 'I am now an old man and I don't know the day of my death. Now then, get your weapons, your quiver and bow and go out into the open country to hunt some wild game for me. Prepare me the kind of tasty food that I like and bring it to me, so that I may give you my blessing before I die.'"
And so off he goes; off goes Esau. Clearly he intended to give the prophetic patriarchal blessing to Esau and not to Jacob, because he loved Esau and not Jacob, and in this way he was out of step with Almighty God in His purposes. Rebecca knew her husband. She knew the way to His will was through his stomach. She studied him. She knew him. Women study their husbands. They know their tendencies. They know what they like and what they don't like. Isaac's love for stew was uppermost in her strategy to steal the blessing for Jacob, her favorite. And in Verses 5 through 10, Genesis 27.
"Now, Rebecca was listening is Isaac spoke to his son Esau. When Esau left for the open country to hunt game and bring it back, Rebecca said to her son Jacob, 'Look I overheard your father say to your brother Esau, "Bring me some game and prepare me some tasty food to eat, so that I may give you my blessing in the presence of the Lord before I die." Now, my son listen carefully and do what I tell you. Go out to the flock and bring me two choice young goats, so I can prepare some tasty food for your father just the way he likes it. Then take it to your father to eat, so that he may give you His blessing before he dies.'"
Now, this love for the stew, this love for game, was certainly I think in the end, a symbol of a whole life lived pursuing simple earthy pleasures, fleshly taste rather than the things of God. The resulting spiritual dimness was so pathetic that Isaac couldn't tell who was standing right in front of him, until he caught the whiff of his garments. He was like some animal at that regard. "Who is this that's in front of me? The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau." To deceive Isaac of course, Rebecca, had Jacob dress in Esau's clothes and put some goat hair on his arms and the back of his neck. And just, do you see how slimy that whole thing is?
"Hey, let's deceive your father and get from him swindled from him, the prophetic patriarchal blessing." So they dress up and they goes in, and says, "Here's the food you're looking for." "Who is it? "I am Esau your first born." Said Jacob. That's a lie. Later, "Are you really my son Esau?" "I am." Another lie. Just lying lying to their father.
The Purpose of God Revealed to Rebekah
Rebecca wanting him to lie to her husband. Why? What's going on with Rebecca, what's happening with her? Well, you have to go back to the very beginning of Jacob and Esau to understand her, she was barren Isaac prayed concerning his barren wife, God heard and blessed with twins and the twins were inside her womb and they were fighting each other, pushing and shoving. And she wanted to know what's going on and so she inquired of the Lord and God said, to her in Genesis 25:23, "Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated one will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger." So this is a prophetic word. "Before these twins were born," it says, in Romans 9:11-13, Paul takes this statement and lifts it up to the issue of eternal unconditional election, by the sovereign God before the foundation of the world, of two kinds of people, Jacobs and Esaus, and that the election is done before the foundation of the world. "Before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad, in order that God's purpose in election might stand, not by works, but by Him who calls she was told the older will serve the younger. Just as it is written. 'Jacob, I loved and Esau I hated.'" Now listen, you may struggle with Romans 9:11-13, trying to understand what it means, God doesn't struggle, God knows exactly what He means. And I'm telling you, that Isaac and God were out of step with one another, they were at cross purposes. God had chosen Jacob. It was not going to be the God of Abraham, Isaac and Esau, it was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And God had made that choice. And He told Rebecca, He told it very plainly, to her.
Now, Rebecca loved Jacob. I think probably for this reason. Even though Jacob was not the first born, but the second of the twins to be born. But she knew very well that her husband Isaac loved Esau, she knew. And that's inconceivable to me. I know this is reading in the white space, but inconceivable to me that Rebecca didn't tell Isaac what God had said to her. Inconceivable. There's just zero possibility of that. Certainly Rebecca told Isaac what God had said, "The older will serve the younger." But Isaac didn't listen, he didn't believe it, he didn't live according to it. And so, as this thing developed, there's like a cancerous tumor spiritually growing in this family, and it has to do with Isaac's unbelief and Rebecca's quandary, if I could put it that way, "What do I do about this?"
Isaac should have kept his taste under control and he should have inquired of the Lord what His purposes were for the twins, and He would have been told the same thing of that Rebecca was told, but instead they were out of step with one another. Rebecca's spiritual discernment was better, but she had her problems, too. So we go to Genesis 27, to find out what her problems are. And the problems have to do with the statement that we frequently make, the ends don't justify the means. She wants the chosen one, Jacob, to get the patriarchal blessing. Fine, that's good. But what does she do to get it? Lying, deceiving, conniving, manipulating, twisted means. She should have seen the disaster coming. She probably did.
And what should she do about it? Now that's interesting, it's a question that a wife asks, "What should I do if my husband doesn't believe the Word? Well, 1 Peter 3:1-2 tells you what to do if your husband doesn't believe the Word. It says in 1 Peter 3:1-2. "Wives, likewise, be submissive to your husbands so that if any of them do not believe the Word, they may be won over without talk by the behavior of their wives when they see the purity and reverence of your lives." And it gives Sarah as an example of that. So it's not like this is unheard of in that era. She should have seen it coming, but by the time that Isaac is talking to Esau and she's overhearing it's too late at one level, at that point. And she did not have faith enough to trust God for the means not just the end. Pragmatism comes over, the only thing she could come up with was subterfuge. But God ordains, dear friends, both the ends and the means, He ordains where we're going to go and the best way to get there. And God never uses unholy means to get the holy ends. Never.
Now modern readers of the count may in sympathy record say, "What else could she have done? When she overhears that, what could she have done?" I can think of some things. I'll tell you what, let's try the honest approach. Let's try the forthright honest approach. "Okay, we're in trouble, please come with me Jacob. We've got to go talk to your father. He can't give that blessing to Esau, Plead with Him, pray with him, pray for him, whatever." Whatever it takes. Now I think it's already kind of not too late, but definitely very late in the game at that point, it should have been done long before that. Where are you heading in your family, where are your children heading, where are they going, what is the direction we're heading? Husbands and wives, fathers and mothers. Where are you going? Do you want to go where you're going, if not act while you have time. Now, I still think it's never too late in reference to using God ordained means. And so, I would suggest direct persuasion, pleading and prayer, not subterfuge and manipulation and twisted means.
The One Bright Spot: How Isaac’s Faith Triumphed in the End
But there is a bright spot in all of this. It did make it in the Hall of Faith didn't it? Are you wondering now why it ever made it? By faith Isaac blessed Jacob. "Who are you my son?" " I'm Esau." "Okay, here's my blessing." That's by faith, what's happening there? Well, I think you have to keep going in the count to find the faith. No, he didn't know what was happening, Isaac failed to discern that Jacob was lying to him, he ate the stew he craved so much, drank the wine that he brought him. Gave to Jacob, the blessing thinking all the while it was Esau. This is the blessing, "May God give you of heavens due and of the earth richness and abundance of grain and new wine, may nation serve you and people's bowed down to you, be Lord over your brothers and may the sons of your mother about down to you, may those who curse you be cursed and those who bless you, be blessed." That's Abraham's blessing, do you see he's passing it right on to his son. But he thinks it's Esau, he's giving Esau, Abraham's blessing. That's what's going on right there. But as soon as the blessing is done, Jacob leaves, he's received the blessing. Wonder if he felt relief, felt good about it? What does he feel at that moment? But he's been blessed by his blind father.
And a moment later, Esau comes in with another bowl of stew. You know what happens, he says, "Father, sit up and eat some of my game." "Who are you?" "I am your son… your firstborn, Esau." And he begins to tremble, Isaac begins to tremble violently, "Who was it then that came a moment ago and deceitfully stole your blessing?" Listen to this, "And indeed he will be blessed." There's the faith. There's the faith, right there, "Indeed he will be blessed." You know what happened at that moment, the scales came off his eyes and he said, "What have I been doing?" I've been at cross purposes with Almighty God and the blessing that I just gave to Esau was meant for Jacob and God in some inscrutable way, gave it to the one He intended. "Forgive me, God. Forgive me for being so spiritually dense, and so dim that I didn't know what you were doing, I didn't see it clearly, and I didn't act by faith, but now I want to act by faith. So it is Jacob, Jacob is your choice, he is your chosen one not Esau I have been wrong." Esau then of course pleads with Isaac, begging and pleading him with tears. "Bless me too, me too, my father." I mean it's just really a painful scene.
In the next chapter in Hebrews, Hebrews 12: 16 and 17 talks about it, there says, "See [Christian church] that no one is sexually immoral or godless like Esau." I mean, do you hear those words? A godless man was in the tent that day. Godless like Esau, "who for a single meal sold his inheritance right as the oldest son, and afterwards as you know, when he wanted to inherit the blessing he was rejected, he could bring about no change of mind, though he sought the blessing with tears." Now, some people struggle with that repentance aspect and it's difficult to know whether it's his own repentance or Isaac's repentance or God's change of mind that has in mind, I tend to think he's focused on his father there. He's trying to change his father's mind so that in some way, his father will still love him, he's not thinking about God. Cause he's godless. So believe me, the one who wrote Hebrews 11:20, one chapter later, told us exactly who he Esau was.
And so he blessed him in regard to his future too. This time, he knew it was Esau. And he said, "Your dwelling will be away from the earth richness, away from the dew of heaven above, you will live by the sword and you will serve your brother, but when you grow restless, you will throw off his yoke from your neck." And so as a prophet, by the power of God he was able to foresee the future. Now clearly with Jacob and Esau he knew both of their futures as according to the will of God. And so it was going to be Jacob and not Esau, who would be next in the patriarchal line, he would inherit Abraham's blessing. And through Jacob, and not Esau would come the Savior of the world, it would be as a descendant of Jacob, that Jesus would be born.
And so it says in Galatians 3:9, "So then those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith." And you know what's incredible? In Genesis 28, the next chapter, Isaac knew it by now, by this point, he is completely on board. And so as he and Rebecca are sending Jacob away to save his life from what Rebecca's subterfuge has brought on, rage on the part of Esau, murderous rage. And so she says, "Well, lest I lose both of you, in a single day, I've got to send you away." And so Jacob get sent away, but right before you get sent away, Isaac blesses him, Isaac blesses Jacob, knowing it's Jacob, and this is what he says, "May He give you and your descendants, the blessing given to Abraham." It's powerful, by faith, Isaac bless Jacob in regard to his future.
And what is that blessing given to Abraham? It's salvation from sins like this. Doesn't this whole account make you crave for a savior? It's so messy, so much unbelief, so much sin, so much idolatry, and ooh it just makes me crave for Jesus. Amen. Jesus is the blessing given to Abraham, it is through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, that Jesus was born, His human ancestry traced through this Jewish nation, salvation is from the Jews, and by Jesus comes the blessing to the Gentiles of full forgiveness of sins. That's why God brought you here today, to hear about Jesus, not so much about Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob and Esau, to hear about Jesus. Because it is through Jesus that forgiveness of sins, just like this is available, His blood was shed on the cross, He is the Son of God. In the end as I prayed, on judgment day all you will have is Jesus, have Him now by faith. Call on the name of the Lord and He will save you. You can't read this account and say, "Well I thank God that I'm better than Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob and Esau."
That's not what you do with this account, you say. "Oh God, the shame of our hearts, that we can be this way, so come to Christ, trust in Him, and then if I can speak about God's sovereignty, praise God that His sovereign plan cannot be forded by our spiritual dimness or by godless people like Esau, or conniving manipulators like Rebecca or Jacob, who is the same. God's plan can't be derailed, God in some amazing way, in ways that goes so far beyond what we can even conceive, uses this kind of messiness to achieve His sovereign purposes, isn't that incredible. And He is in no way defied by it, ever. So do not command this kind of lying and subterfuge, God's sovereignty over human frailty, His purposes will stand. God will achieve all His purposes and we cannot, no human can derail it.
Can I urge you to maintain your healthy spiritual discernment, to yearn for healthy spiritual discernment, to know by faith, what God is calling on you to do. Philippians 1:9 and 10, "And this is my prayer, that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ." Say, "God give me spiritual eye sight, sharpen my faith, get me in the word God, help me to know what you're doing in the world, help me to know what your purposes are, I want to be on board with what you're doing, please train me, wash me by the word of God, change me and transform me. Renew my mind. So I can discern what you want me to do." Pray for discernment, for yourself, ask others to pray for discernment, for you. So that you're not like Isaac, just blind it seems to what God is doing, in His own family.
We also need discernment for what Satan is doing too, don't we? Paul says in Corinthians, we're not unaware of his schemes. It says in Ephesians 6, "Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power, put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes." His twisted plans. We need discernment to see what the Devil's doing, right? What God is doing and what the devil is doing. Discernment. And friends, we need self-control and lawful pleasures. Amen. There's nothing wrong with a good bowl of stew. God designed food to be delicious, and the more delicious it is, the more dangerous it is to your body. Amen. You know what I'm talking about. First couple of weeks of January, how are you doing with those resolutions? Have you lost the 63 pounds you were hoping to lose in the first two weeks?
The more delicious it is, the more dangerous, the more alluring and enticing. God made it delicious. We are not called onto a life of weird asceticism, where we're not able to eat and drink with thankfulness, the good things that God's given. And as a matter of fact, in the Book of Proverbs, were told in the metaphor of honey, Proverbs 24:13, "Honey is sweet. If you find honey on the comb, eat it my son." What is that? That's God telling you enjoy the good things of life. But you know that's not all that Proverbs says about honey. Proverbs also says in Proverbs 25:16. "If you find honey, my son eat just a little or you'll vomit." The good gifts of life can cause you to a vomit spiritually, if you glut yourself on them, they will damage you spiritually. You we become dim in your sight spiritually, you will lose your way.
1 Peter 4:7, says very plainly, "The end of all things is near, therefore be clear-minded and self-controlled so that you can pray." The end is coming, be sharp in you're thinking, don't eat too much, don't watch too much, don't have too much fun, don't have too much pleasure, you know what I mean? I'm not saying eating and drinking and fun and pleasure are wrong, that's satanic and wrong. But so is the gluttonous indulgence of them, so that our spiritual discernment is gone. We've got to control ourselves, we've got to fast. "All things are lawful for me," Pauls says in 1 Corinthians 6, "but not all things are beneficial. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything." Has anything mastered you? Is anything in charge of you? Your love of sports, has it mastered you? Your love of shopping your love of a hobby your love of vacations your love of food has anything mastered you? If you're wondering, then I would just urge give it up for a while, and see, just see.
And can I speak a word to husbands? Your family needs you to be sharp spiritually, your family needs you to be discerning, to be on board with what God is doing. God may use your godly wife to help you with that, you should listen to her, she's your best counselor in the world as she speaks God's Word and follows you. Proverbs 31, "A wife of noble character, who can find, her worth is more precious than rubies." And so you should listen to her, but ultimately listen to the scripture and through the Spirit, and be discerning. Don't be the last to know, when it comes to spiritual things. You need to be the head and priest of your family. So guard your appetites, your fleshly appetites, so that you can fulfill that role. For yourself, for your wife, for your children.
And can I speak a word to wives? Can we abandon the methodology that Rebecca used here in Genesis 27. The subterfuge and the trickery and the manipulation and the misdirection and all that. It is not godly. 1 Peter 3, tells you what to do if your husband isn't believing the word, follow it, trust it, pray for him, instruct and encourage him, point it out in Scripture, but let him make the decision. Don't do what Rebecca did, did you see the damage that she caused her family by bringing her son in it, that's not what Jacob needed, he was already good at that stuff. He needed to be weaned of, and God did by the way, by meeting Laban, and Laban that's a whole other story. God trained him out of that kind of con artist thing. But women, trust God enough to use biblically ordained means to an end.
And larger, aside from husbands and wives, men and women, pragmatism, the ends don't justify the means, as a pastor, I'm not going to do anything and everything I can do to get this church bigger or more prosperous, that is not true. I'm going to trust the preaching of the Word, I'm going to trust prayer, I'm going to trust the Godly elders that we have, I'm going to trust the ministries of the spirit working here to do what He wants in this church. We're not going with pragmatism. The ends don't justify the means. Okay. So now on to Jacob, what shall we do with Jacob? No, we're not doing that. We'll do that next time. But may God take His blessing and press it to our hearts from this one verse of scripture, Hebrews 11:20, by faith, Isaac blessed Jacob, and Esau in regard of their future. Close with me in prayer.