Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your firstborn. I have done as you told me. Please sit up and eat some of my game, so that you may give me your blessing.”
Sometimes I wonder if I’m a ‘needy’ person. I do like it when I’m affirmed in what I’m doing. In my day job I appreciate when someone says to me, “you did really well today, Simon, well done!” I like it when someone tells me how much they’ve enjoyed reading one of my books. I take great delight when I’ve had people round for dinner and on their way out they tell me what a great evening they’ve had. I guess it’s always nice to be affirmed. We live in quite a cynical world, so it’s good when people make the effort to say something positive about you.
Today in our Daily Readings we move from Luke’s Gospel back to Genesis, and we pick up the story at quite a tricky point. Isaac, the son of Abraham, is close to death, and realising this, he wants to bless his eldest son, Esau. Abraham had, of course, received a blessing from God himself, a blessing that would continue down the family line. No doubt Isaac thinks that blessing Esau is particularly important, a continuation of God’s blessing on his own father. Isaac is deceived by Jacob, however, who with the assistance of his mother, Rebekah, dresses up as Esau. Our key verse today comes at the point when Jacob seeks to deceive his father, by telling him that he is Esau, and asks for his blessing. It is clear that Jacob wants his father’s blessing very much. He needs his father’s affirmation.
As we read these verses, it can be very easy to judge Jacob for his deceitfulness, but I wonder how many of us act in exactly this way every day? We might pretend to be someone we’re not, by acting out a role, at work. We might consciously alter our personality in order to charm someone we meet. We might go to church trying to portray ourselves as outstanding Christians, knowing full well that it’s been months since we’ve picked up our Bibles, weeks since we prayed, and we have a particularly unrepentant attitude to our sin. When we live our lives like this, are we really any different to Jacob as he seeks to pull the wool over the eyes of his dying father?
Let’s pray today that we would be authentic in how we live our lives. Let’s ask God for forgiveness for when we’ve not been open and honest about our own failings and have tried to deceive people around us. And let’s ask God to bless us for who we are as we strive to live lives that honour him.