February 11, 2019

You Can't Earn It

Genesis 27:30–46

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30 As soon as Isaac had finished blessing Jacob, when Jacob had scarcely gone out from the presence of Isaac his father, Esau his brother came in from his hunting. 31 He also prepared delicious food and brought it to his father. And he said to his father, “Let my father arise and eat of his son's game, that you may bless me.” 32 His father Isaac said to him, “Who are you?” He answered, “I am your son, your firstborn, Esau.” 33 Then Isaac trembled very violently and said, “Who was it then that hunted game and brought it to me, and I ate it all before you came, and I have blessed him? Yes, and he shall be blessed.” 34 As soon as Esau heard the words of his father, he cried out with an exceedingly great and bitter cry and said to his father, “Bless me, even me also, O my father!” 35 But he said, “Your brother came deceitfully, and he has taken away your blessing.” 36 Esau said, “Is he not rightly named Jacob?1 For he has cheated me these two times. He took away my birthright, and behold, now he has taken away my blessing.” Then he said, “Have you not reserved a blessing for me?” 37 Isaac answered and said to Esau, “Behold, I have made him lord over you, and all his brothers I have given to him for servants, and with grain and wine I have sustained him. What then can I do for you, my son?” 38 Esau said to his father, “Have you but one blessing, my father? Bless me, even me also, O my father.” And Esau lifted up his voice and wept.

39 Then Isaac his father answered and said to him:

  “Behold, away from2 the fatness of the earth shall your dwelling be,
    and away from3 the dew of heaven on high.
40   By your sword you shall live,
    and you shall serve your brother;
  but when you grow restless
    you shall break his yoke from your neck.”

41 Now Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father had blessed him, and Esau said to himself, “The days of mourning for my father are approaching; then I will kill my brother Jacob.” 42 But the words of Esau her older son were told to Rebekah. So she sent and called Jacob her younger son and said to him, “Behold, your brother Esau comforts himself about you by planning to kill you. 43 Now therefore, my son, obey my voice. Arise, flee to Laban my brother in Haran 44 and stay with him a while, until your brother's fury turns away—45 until your brother's anger turns away from you, and he forgets what you have done to him. Then I will send and bring you from there. Why should I be bereft of you both in one day?”

46 Then Rebekah said to Isaac, “I loathe my life because of the Hittite women.4 If Jacob marries one of the Hittite women like these, one of the women of the land, what good will my life be to me?”


[1] 27:36 Jacob means He takes by the heel, or He cheats
[2] 27:39 Or Behold, of
[3] 27:39 Or and of
[4] 27:46 Hebrew daughters of Heth

You Can't Earn It

Key Verse | Genesis 27:31

He also prepared delicious food and brought it to his father. And he said to his father, "Let my father arise and eat of his son's game, that you may bless me."

Bio | Neil Monroe

Hi there. My name is Neil Monroe, and I have the opportunity to serve on staff at Watermark as a Resident in the high school ministry! I graduated from the University of Kentucky (Go, Cats), I love football at any level, and food is my love language. I'm passionate about seeing students be known and accepted, taught about Jesus, and challenged to grow!

Central Truth

The day is coming when those that devalue the blessings of God and sell their title as His children for short-term pleasures will, in vain, be desperate for them.

Devotional | Genesis 27:30–46

As humans, we tend to think of ourselves first. What do I want to eat? Where do I want to go? When will I be blessed? It's all about us, all the time. I know the...

As humans, we tend to think of ourselves first. What do I want to eat? Where do I want to go? When will I be blessed? It's all about us, all the time. I know the things I'm doing are wrong, but who cares, I'll clean myself up later. We may not directly say this, but our actions tend to show it.

Just two chapters back, we saw Esau make a decision that set the stage for our story. He forfeits who he is called to be for a bowl of soup:

"Jacob said, 'Sell me your birthright now.' Esau said, 'I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?'" (Genesis 25:31-32)

If you're like me, you look at this and are dumbfounded. Esau, you traded the inheritance of having an abundance of land, being a great nation, and being blessed beyond all measure (see Genesis 12:2-3) for a bowl of vegetable soup? Yet we do this every day. We say things like:

  • "Sex outside of marriage isn't that big of a deal."
  • "I can stop drinking/doing drugs whenever I want."

And then, like Esau in Genesis 27:31, we try to work our way back. We try to prove to our Father that we're good enough.

  • "Hey God, look at what I did, bless me!"
  • "God, where is my spouse, bless me!" 

We're missing the point. We're trying to win favor with a God that already loves us more than we could ever imagine.

"But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God." (John 1:12)

Christianity is not about how to clean yourself up and earn a blessing. "Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you." (James 4:8a) The greatest blessing you could ever receive isn't a husband, the best job, a house on the corner with a white picket fence, or even a bowl of soup.

The greatest blessing you could ever receive is that which you have been freely given through your Heavenly Father. Stop hunting and start trusting.

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Discussion Questions

1. Are there things in your life that you're trading for the blessing of having an abundant life in Christ?

2. Who is someone that you can confess to and be held accountable?

3. What are some truths in Scripture about who God says you are that can serve as a reminder of why you'll never earn His love?

8 Comments available

Linda Green 5 months ago

Great devo- so easy to be shortsighted when we climb up on God’s throne. Thanks for pointing us to what matters most.

Ricardo Garcia 5 months ago

Q1. I used to always think in the way of “God will forgive me one more time after I sin again” but throughout learning about his scripture, and how to live life accordingly, I have found myself strong enough in times sin surrounds me, which has led me to live the God-like way. However, I keep fighting those urges that lead me to thinking “God will forgive me one more time after I sin again”

Michael Scaman 5 months ago

Lack faith as well on Esau’s part. The blessing was Jacob would rule over Esau but Esau plotted to kill him and thwart the blessing from happening?

Like Herod (ironically related to Esau), Herod tried to thwart a prophesy (in Herod’s case - a ruler being born in Bethlehem). Neither Herod or Esau succeeded.

greg jones 5 months ago

I’ve known a few kids over the years. A few I might describe as a little Abraham, very few, and none of my own. They’ve mostly been a Esau, or a Jacob, Rebekah, and Isaac.

The kids I’ve known, like these characters, are who God is using to tell a story. The story is about who God loves. Sometimes I confuse that with the story being about who is a good example and who is a bad example. It’s one thing to read a story that way it’s quite another to read a person that way.

Great points in the devotional today.

Michael Scaman 5 months ago

What God told Rebecca about the struggle of the twins becomes like Isaac’s blessing. Did Rebecca ever explain to Esau or Jacob what God told her about the two twins?

Herod as an Idumean came from Esau (the cliffs of Petra are even reddish like Esau). When Jesus was born, Herod (Esau’s descendant) ruled and had a get-a-way palace near Bethlehem. The struggle of the twins still going on in Jesus day. In the end Herod would not be the ultimate ruler… Jesus would be.

see the video “In the shadow of Herod” by Ray Vanderlaan https://www.thattheworldmayknow.com/in-the-shadow-of-herod-article A series made by Focus on the Family in the 90’s

Sue Bohlin 5 months ago

Thanks, Neil!

Since I am speaking to a MOPS group this morning on the lies we tell ourselves, I see it all over today’s passage. Esau complains that Jacob had taken away his birthright, when he had despised his birthright (Genesis 25) and willingly gave it away for a bowl of stew. Rebekah tells Jacob to flee until Esau’s anger abates and he forgets what his brother did to him. Riiiiiiiiiight, like THAT’S going to happen! Rebekah complains to Isaac that she “loathes her life” because of Esau’s Hittite wives (drama queen much?). And her life would be worthless if Jacob married one of them (manipulation queen as well).

What’s missing in the story is any place where the Lord is invited into the situation. I wonder if He sat on His throne going, “Hel-LO?? Remember Me? The giver of all the blessings you guys are fighting and deceiving over?”

Hope Harris 5 months ago

Esau demonstrates to me what it is like to forfeit the will of God by surcoming to meet his immediate needs, wants and desires (a bowl of stew.) To the promised blessing of his future.

Birthright for instant gratification! Yikes.

Commentator David Guzik states this: “In this tragic story, everyone lost. Each of the main characters – Isaac, Rebekah, Esau, and Jacob – schemed and maneuvered in human wisdom and energy, rejecting God’s word and wisdom. Nevertheless, God still accomplished His purpose. The tragedy was that each of the participants suffered, because they insisted on working against God’s word and wisdom.”

Hugh Stephenson 5 months ago

The craziness in this passage is that God continues to bless these four people despite their rebellion. Once again, God shows His faithfulness. Only through His grace could Isaac, Rebekah and Jacob carry the promise as there is clearly no merit.

Also, God shows me how a passive man who is ruled by emotion can sow chaos & disfunction. I know this truth all too well. Even so, in verse 33 Isaac’s violent trembling seems to reflect his acceptance of God’s will as does his “blessing” of Esau in verses 39-40.

Throughout, God shows His justice as the consequences of sin are not removed even though the blessing is retained.

Since 2013 I have seen immense blessings in my life. Each of them comes from surrendering my will to His. Even so, God doesn’t remove the consequences of my sins either. Yet, He is redeeming each and every one.

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