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Identity Theft

Genesis 27:1-36a (CEB)

When Isaac had grown old and his eyesight was failing, he summoned his older son Esau and said to him, “My son?” And Esau said, “I’m here.”

He said, “I’m old and don’t know when I will die. So now, take your hunting gear, your bow and quiver of arrows, go out to the field, and hunt game for me. Make me the delicious food that I love and bring it to me so I can eat. Then I can bless you before I die.”

Rebekah was listening when Isaac spoke to his son Esau. When Esau went out to the field to hunt game to bring back, Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “I just heard your father saying to your brother Esau, ‘Bring me some game and make me some delicious food so I can eat, and I will bless you in the LORD’s presence before I die.’ Now, my son, listen to me, to what I’m telling you to do. Go to the flock and get me two healthy young goats so I can prepare them as the delicious food your father loves. You can bring it to your father, he will eat, and then he will bless you before he dies.”

Jacob said to his mother Rebekah, “My brother Esau is a hairy man, but I have smooth skin. What if my father touches me and thinks I’m making fun of him? I will be cursed instead of blessed.”

His mother said to him, “Your curse will be on me, my son. Just listen to me: go and get them for me.” So he went and got them and brought them to his mother, and his mother made the delicious food that his father loved. Rebekah took her older son Esau’s favorite clothes that were in the house with her, and she put them on her younger son Jacob. On his arms and smooth neck she put the hide of young goats, and the delicious food and the bread she had made she put into her son’s hands.

Jacob went to his father and said, “My father.” And he said, “I’m here. Who are you, my son?”

Jacob said to his father, “I’m Esau your oldest son. I’ve made what you asked me to. Sit up and eat some of the game so you can bless me.”

Isaac said to his son, “How could you find this so quickly, my son?” He said, “The LORD your God led me right to it.”

Isaac said to Jacob, “Come here and let me touch you, my son. Are you my son Esau or not?” So Jacob approached his father Isaac, and Isaac touched him and said, “The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the arms are Esau’s arms.” Isaac didn’t recognize him because his arms were hairy like Esau’s arms, so he blessed him.

Isaac said, “Are you really my son Esau?” And he said, “I am.”

Isaac said, “Bring some food here and let me eat some of my son’s game so I can bless you.” Jacob put it before him and he ate, and he brought him wine and he drank. His father Isaac said to him, “Come here and kiss me, my son.” So he came close and kissed him. When Isaac smelled the scent of his clothes, he blessed him,
“See, the scent of my son
is like the scent of the field
that the LORD has blessed.
May God give you
showers from the sky,
olive oil from the earth,
plenty of grain and new wine.
May the nations serve you,
may peoples bow down to you.
Be the most powerful man among your brothers,
and may your mother’s sons bow down to you.
Those who curse you will be cursed,
and those who bless you will be blessed.”

After Isaac had finished blessing Jacob, and just as Jacob left his father Isaac, his brother Esau came back from his hunt. He too made some delicious food, brought it to his father, and said, “Let my father sit up and eat from his son’s game so that you may bless me.”

His father Isaac said to him, “Who are you?” And he said, “I’m your son, your oldest son, Esau.”

Isaac was so shocked that he trembled violently. He said, “Who was the hunter just here with game? He brought me food, and I ate all of it before you came. I blessed him, and he will stay blessed!”

When Esau heard what his father said, he let out a loud agonizing cry and wept bitterly. He said to his father, “Bless me! Me too, my father!”

Isaac said, “Your brother has already come deceitfully and has taken your blessing.”
Esau said, “Isn’t this why he’s called Jacob? He’s taken me twice now: he took my birthright, and now he’s taken my blessing.”

July 22-23, 2017
Genesis 27:1-36a
“Identity Theft”

We continue our July series of hearing from the Old Testament stories of our faith about the lives of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, some of our ancestors in the faith. Today, we move into the 27th chapter of Genesis. This intriguing story has much to teach us just by hearing it. I’m going to read this Old Testament story and then tie back into the story after we have heard Carrie Anciaux share her story of faith with us.

Before I tell this story, let me bring us up to speed on where we are at in the sequence of events. Remember, God had promised to give Abraham a son and many descendants through which all the nations of the world would be blessed. That son was Isaac, whom we heard about a few weeks ago as a young boy nearly sacrificed to God by his father, Abraham.

Last week, we heard about the grown man Isaac, who married Rebekah in an arrangement made by his father. After years of being unable to have children, Isaac and Rebekah had twin boys, Esau and Jacob, who struggle in their mother’s womb and are born struggling with one another. In fact, Jacob is born just after Esau and is born grabbing his brother’s heal. Jacob’s name means deceiver or trickster and he lives up to that throughout his life

We also learned last week that the parents, Isaac and Rebekah had favorites. Esau was his father’s favorite son and Jacob was his mother’s favorite. In last week’s story, Jacob makes clear his deceitful nature by manipulating the firstborn birthright from his brother, Esau with a bowl of stew. The firstborn birthright meant inheriting the majority of his father’s wealth and property, which in turn meant security and status for the future.

Jacob may have had his brother’s promise of the birthright, but he still needs the spoken blessing of his father to seal the deal. Jacob was born grabbing and now he is about to grab the blessing from his dying father…and that is where we enter the story today.

(Read Genesis 27:1-36a)

Fear can be controlling; especially fear of the unknown. Carrie shared about the storms of fear hitting hard when a diagnosis of cancer came. When we set her story alongside our Old Testament story, we can see fear in both.

In our story from Genesis, Jacob and his mother Rebekah experienced fear of an unknown future if Jacob did not secure the verbal birthright blessing from his father Isaac. But, their fear was selfish and self-centered. Jacob and his mother let fear erode their faith until it became scheming, deception and manipulation that further divided their family. They had also lost perspective and were no longer listening to God or trusting in God’s goodness.

In our Genesis story last week, the twins Esau and Jacob were struggling within their mother before they were born. Rebekah’s response to that situation was a faithful one…she sought out God in prayer. But now when challenge and struggle and fear come in life there does not seem to be any seeking of God or hope in God.

In the challenge, struggle and fear Carrie and her family are experiencing, they have held to faith and community and hope in God and that response has led to a strength of faith.

Perhaps one of the questions that comes out of both stories we have heard today is, are we trying to control and manipulate things in our lives, especially when the storms of fear come, instead of waiting on God?

I will end by saying that today’s Old Testament story is perhaps one of the first documented cases of identity theft…Jacob stealing the identity of his brother Esau by literally stealing the look, the feel, the smell, and the skills of his brother, and then stealing the firstborn blessing. Identity theft, whether in the 21st century or in the ancient world, is about scheming and deception and stealing, to get something that belongs to someone else. And I think what it really comes down to is that people who steal another person’s identity to get what they have, are living out of fear in their own lives…fear of not having enough; fear of not being cared for; fear of not being blessed.

We all long for blessing and some do not care how that blessing is obtained.

Carrie has not allowed cancer or the fear that surrounds a diagnosis of cancer to steal her identity of who she is as a child of God. As people of faith, we have all been given the firstborn blessing of Christ Jesus and with that blessing come responsibility and opportunity to bless others.

May we learn from both stories we have heard today…may we have the confidence to trust and hope in God. And when the storms of fear hit hard in life, may we push fear aside and know that hope and blessing lives within us…not because of who we are, but because of who God is.

Thanks be to God.
Amen.