The Bible is about an amazing collection of people and their stories. When you read it, you read about people just like you – people who have fears, doubts, insecurities, and failures. You read about people who lie, cheat, steal, and deceive.
Rebekah is one of these people. She loved her younger son Jacob so much she was willing to do whatever it took to make sure he received the blessing of his father Isaac. She encouraged and pushed Jacob through the process of deception. There are several things that Rebekah does in Genesis 27 that point us to tricks the enemy uses on us to persuade us away from God and His truth.
- He looks for and finds an area of weakness. In Genesis 27:1a, he uses Isaac’s increasing age and dimming eyesight to set the scene for Rebekah. Isaac is limited in the senses that still work, so it is the perfect open door to manipulate him.
What’s an area of weakness for you? Are you emotionally driven? Do you like to talk, gossip, or complain? Are you stingy with your money? Are you holding onto hurts from the past that cause you to be cold and distant around people? Examine yourself and search your heart to find areas where the devil can easily overtake you. Give each area to God.
- He waits for an opportunity or open door. Isaac had asked his older son Esau to fetch some game and make him some stew. In Genesis 27:5a, Rebekah overhears him send Esau away, and her mind begins to turn with a plan to trick her husband. She quickly approaches her son Jacob, her favored son. And so her plan begins to form.
There was already trouble brewing, since each parent had a favorite child. In verse 5 it says “…Isaac spoke to Esau his son” and verse 6 says “Rebekah spoke to Jacob her son”. There was already tension and possibly animosity among the family because of this idea of the favored child. With one parent visually challenged and one child away hunting, what a perfect opportunity for the other parent to step in and push her favorite child toward God’s blessing. It wasn’t his fault he was born second, so why should he be deprived?
So why not sneak around? Why not eavesdrop on your husband? It seems like a pretty dysfunctional marriage, where they have drawn a line and chosen favorites. Did they ever sit down and talk? Were they ever on the same team and wavelength? Perhaps not, since they are living by extremes at this point. Extremes which become evident by Rebekah’s sneaky behavior.
What behavior do you have in your life that is extreme? That is too far out there? That hurts people? That isn’t right? Are you emotionally driven and tend to overreact? Are you vocally silly and tend to tease too much? Are you always angry? Are you critical of everyone and everything? Any of these areas you can identify are just the invitation the devil needs to invade your life – to effect your thinking, your moods, your words, and your actions. He’s waiting for any open door and any foothold you give him.
- He makes himself appear like God and supersedes God’s word as your authority. As soon as Rebekah has overheard Isaac send Esau away, her mind begins to scheme. She immediately gets busy putting her plan into action. And it starts with getting her son Jacob on board. To do so, she needs to convince him to “obey my voice according to what I command you” (Genesis 27:8) instead of listening to his common sense or the leading of God.
How easy it is for us to try to ignore or override the voice of God. Don’t we all want to go our own way and do what makes us feel good? And don’t we do a great job justifying why it’s OK? Rebekah didn’t hesitate to make herself THE voice in Jacob’s life, drowning out the discerning voice of God he may have heard. She may have talked herself blue in the face to make sure Jacob heard only her.
But God tells us in John 10:27 that any follower of His knows His voice (“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me”). They know what He has declared to be right and wrong and carefully consider their actions before moving. They don’t try to justify their behavior or qualify their actions. Because they know better than to make themselves their own god (Romans 1:18-23). It doesn’t work. It won’t make them happy. It will have unpleasant consequences.
So in what area are you listening to your emotions instead of God? In what area are you allowing yourself to make the final decisions instead of asking God the better way? Stop allowing yourself to supersede God’s authority in your life.
- He plants his lies in our heart and mind. Once he has a foothold, he will push and shove and wiggle his way until he takes up all the space that should belong to God. He starts with a seed of doubt or deceit and grows it quickly and effectively. Once Rebekah knew she had Jacob listening, she was quick to put her plan into action. She knows she has convinced Jacob almost completely to go along with her, so now she pushes him to move. In Genesis 27:9-10, she tells Jacob to bring her two goats that she will prepare for him to bring into his father. Now Jacob has to get physically involved in the deceit, and to his credit he does at least pause for a moment.
Half truths and untruths are constantly hurled at us. They come at us from every direction and at every opportunity. And every one of them is a lie the devil wants us to swallow and accept without question. He wants us to believe things about ourselves that don’t line up with God’s truth. He wants us to believe we deserve less than God’s best and will never be worthy of God’s grace. When God says just the opposite.
So these wrong messages are constantly attacking us and trying to penetrate our truths. All these need is one crack, one doubt, one second of disbelief to get in and take hold. And then become the weed that spreads quickly and with abandon in our soul, choking out the truth. So what do you do to combat these things?
- He rejects any objections and doubts you have. Jacob does pause for a moment when he hears his mother’s plan to send him in as his brother Esau. Why? Because Esau was a hairy man, and Jacob was not (Genesis 27:11). Apparently not because of any moral compass or godly intervention. But because he was scared of getting busted – “Perhaps my father will feel me, and I shall seem to be a deceiver to him; and I shall bring a curse on myself and not a blessing.” (Genesis 27:12). So Rebekah steps up again and silences Jacob’s objections. She tells him “Let your curse be on me, my son; only obey my voice, and go, get them for me” (Genesis 27:13).
The devil is quick to silence your doubts and smother your questions. He doesn’t want you to linger you very long on your hesitations, as that gives you time to consider the truth and use it to overwrite his lies.
Because he wants us to be like Jacob. He wants us to just consider how we can get away with it without getting caught. He wants us to think only of ourselves and our happiness. He doesn’t want us to consider right and wrong and other people. So he is our Rebekah, standing there telling us everything will be alright if we just follow his leading and trust him.
But that doubt is there for a reason. That doubt is the Spirit of God trying to guide you in the right direction. Trying to tell you the way God prefers you go. So how do you deal with doubt? What is your normal first reaction? Do you do what Paul commands in Ephesians 6:13, “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand”?
- He covers the truth of God with his lies. If there is any kernel of the truth left in your consciousness, the devil will be quick to cover it and squash it. He doesn’t want it growing into anything that will contradict the plans he has to destroy your life. Rebekah does this in Genesis 27:15-16 by covering Jacob in Esau’s clothing and the hides of goats. The tent-dwelling cook has now physically been transformed into the hunter. Enough to bypass the limited sensibility his father has. Because if he touches or smells his clothing, hands, or neck, Jacob is Esau. Then she sends Jacob in to meet his father as his brother Esau. Will the deception be successful?
Jacob appears to have no hesitation at this point to be included in the deception. After all, he’ll come out pretty well if he succeeds. It doesn’t matter that it won’t be honest, right, or natural. Because Jacob will benefit. At least I assume this is how he justified it.
How do you normally respond to the pressure to conform? Do you allow yourself to be a fully willing participant? What “clothing” are you putting on to cover up the sin in your life? There should always be a piece of your soul that reminds you that those sinful choices aren’t the best option for you because they don’t fit who you are as a child of God.
- He replaces the truth of God with his lies. So Jacob is adorned as Esau, and he enters his father Isaac’s tent. He presents himself as Esau in Genesis 27:19. He even has a response for when Isaac questions how quickly he returned – “Because the Lord your God brought it to me” (Genesis 27:20). So now Jacob is all in. The lies have started, and he is fully involved in the deceit. Could he still back out at this point? Sure. It would be the right thing to do. But he has now become the lie, and it appears he intends to follow through.
How quick are you to say “Lord Your God” instead of “Lord My God”? Because if we own Him and admit relationship with Him then we have to follow Him, obey Him, and seek Him. Jacob didn’t have a relationship with God, and he made it clear to his father that his God wasn’t his God. Do you distance yourself from God because you know you would have to act differently? Think differently? Take responsibility?
How have you distorted God’s Word to suit your desires? How have you made your own way right around His truth? Was it successful?
- He distorts (confuses) your perspective so you see what he wants you to see. Jacob is now fully involved and standing the tent. He is saying “I am Esau” to his blind and aged father, hoping he is physically disabled enough to believe him. Despite his failing health, Isaac has one sense that still works and should give him clarity – his hearing. When talking to Jacob, Isaac realizes that “The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau” (Genesis 27:22). But he allows his other lesser functioning senses to convince him.
At this point in the story, we want to ground Jacob, send Rebekah to therapy, and shake Isaac. He has indicators of the truth, but he doesn’t stop to consult God or ask for His guidance. He allows his overwhelmed senses to be his guide, and because they are confused by conflicting information, the evidence of truth is distorted. Isaac wants to be with Esau, so he slowly convinces himself that he is with Esau. Despite the voice he hears that belongs to Jacob. If I could intervene at this point, I would tell Isaac to STOP and pray. To listen to that voice of dissidence that is contradicting what he feels.
But don’t we sometimes want the truth to be the lie? Don’t we sometimes readily allow ourselves to believe the distorted and deceptive “truth” presented to us because it is want we want? But that’s not how God wants us to respond. We need to have a plan and a strategy to deal with conflicting information in our lives. We need to be able to silence all the voices except the whisper of God and discern His truth.
- He assures and reassures you so you believe his lies. Isaac still had one shred of lingering doubt, so he asks a second time “Are you really my son Esau?” to Jacob (Genesis 27:24). He probably ran through all his questions while he ate of the stew. He might have wrestled with God or prayed about whether he was being silly and overreacting. He might have argued with himself that his hearing was failing just as his other senses were. Who knows what went through Isaac’s mind as he was eating and drinking. But he was definitely considering his options, to assure himself that Jacob was really Esau.
Yet despite any assurance he had, there was still that one remaining seed of doubt. Surely Esau couldn’t project Jacob’s voice, so maybe, just maybe, it was Jacob pretending to be Esau. But how could he find out without being obvious? And then it hit Isaac – “Come near now and kiss me, my son” (Genesis 27:26) he asks. Because he knew in kissing him he would be close to his sensitive neck area. Jacob wouldn’t have been smart enough to mask that area, right?
Are you listening to that one last shred of doubt? Are you stopping to ask God the right way to go? Or are you giving in and allowing that doubt to overshadow everything else?
- You finally believe the lie without question because all lingering doubts have been laid to rest. One shred of doubt, and Isaac ignored it. He has Jacob come near again, and he sense of smell convinces him once and for all that he is dealing with Esau. Genesis 27:27 says “he smelled the smell of his clothing, and blessed him”.
The thing Jacob wanted he got. And it only took deceiving his father and betraying his brother to do it. For in Genesis 27:28-29 he gets the provision and providence of God’s blessing, the same blessing given to his grandfather Abraham in Genesis 12:3. What’s truly significant – and perhaps points to one last lingering shred of doubt – is that Isaac never mentions Esau by name in the blessing. He does not call out a personal name at any time.
So the question for Jacob at this point would be “was it worth it?”. He deceives his father, who is heartbroken when he finds out. He deceives his brother, who is angry and swears his death when he comes back. And as a result, he has to flee to his mother’s family and leave everything he knows. And then we would turn to Rebekah and ask her “was it worth it?”. Because now her family is torn apart, her husband and elder son will be furious with her, and she has lost her favored son.
Because no one hesitated. Because no one heeded that warning voice of God in their spirit. Because no one stopped to pray. Because everyone was self involved and self focused.
Yes, God’s sovereignty was at work, since the blessing was technically Jacob’s anyway at this point (Hebrews 12:17). God had a plan for Jacob, a big plan with a providential future. God planned to take the cheater and turn him into a sold-out believer. But it didn’t have to play out like this, with deceit and lies. It didn’t have to destroy a family. It wasn’t supposed to be in Rebekah’s timing.
It all started with sin. God warned Cain (and us) that sin wants to control us (Genesis 4:6-7).
Once you are willing to do a little wrong, the door is open and the enemy is ready to charge through. He’s waiting for any opportunity to pierce your armor and take control of your thoughts, your emotions, your actions, and your love walk. He won’t miss a beat, and he’s watching and waiting for you to open the door.
It only takes one. One moment of disobedience. One moment of doubt. One moment of self involvement. One moment of self importance. One moment of anger. One moment of hesitation. One moment of not praying. One moment of over-questioning. One moment of not questioning. One moment of not seeing God’s goodness. One moment of focusing on the bad and the wrong.
So now we ask a few hard questions:
- How far are you willing to go to get your way?
- How easily can you convince others to go along with your plans?
- How quickly are you obedient to follow God?
- Does your obedience have conditions or limits?
- How easily are you distracted from seeking God?
- Do you have a dim or limited vision of God’s goodness?
- How is your sin giving the devil an opportunity in your life? How does it effect your thinking, your attitude, and your emotions?
- Are you always looking out for yourself, even if it means hurting someone else?
- How often do you think you know better than God? How does that turn out?
- How often do you try to trick or deceive God? How does that turn out?
Jesus warns us in Matthew 26:41 to “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
So we should be on constant guard for ourselves and because of ourselves. We don’t always have our best interest at heart, and we can unintentionally hurt people in our pursuit of the good life.
Because we don’t want to be a Rebekah. We don’t want to cheat, lie, and steal to get the better deal. We don’t want to lead people down the path of destruction to make ourselves happy.
Because we don’t want to be an Isaac. We don’t want to be easily manipulated and deceived. We don’t want to be an easy target for people’s whims. We don’t want to ignore that one element of truth screaming at us to listen.
Because we don’t want to be a Jacob. We don’t want to be the pawn in someone else’s games and schemes. Because we shouldn’t be easily persuaded to do something that pricks our conscience. Because we don’t want to live only in the moment without faith for the future.
We want to be people who passionately, personally, and regularly pursue God and His will for our lives. Without our manipulation, our help, and our input. Because doesn’t our Father know best?
Marie Fremin. 4/8/15, 12/27/15