Day 19

The Stolen Blessing

from the Genesis reading plan

Genesis 27:1-46, Genesis 28:1-22, Psalm 121:5-8

BY Claire Gibson

This morning, I opened up Facebook to discover that a celebrity picked my friend’s book for her highly influential book club. Rather than experience a surge of excitement for my friend, I felt the sinking pull of sadness. I didn’t even pause for a moment to feel happy for my friend; instead, I rushed to despondency, dejection, defeat. One question screamed loudly, over and over again in my mind: Why not me?

People have plenty of conversations these days about the dangers of comparison, but I rarely hear the “j” word: jealousy. Jealousy is dirty. It’s dark and venomous and seeps into my consciousness like poison. In those moments, I’m not just wishing I had it better; I’m wishing that the other person had it worse. Yikes. I try to swallow the sadness—I leave a comment, I say congratulations—and I mean it… eventually. But my initial reaction isn’t charitable or kind.

My heart’s natural posture isn’t to hope for the blessing of others; it’s to hoard every good thing for myself. I have to keep that ugly truth in mind as I read today’s passage. I’m not all that different from Jacob. And if I had the chance to skew my future for the better, I might just put on some goatskins too.

The rivalry between these brothers, stoked by the favoritism in their parents, creates a toxic ripple effect that flows out for many generations. In yesterday’s reading, Jacob entrapped Esau, and Esau stupidly traded his birthright for a bowl of soup. In today’s passage, Jacob schemes with his mother Rebekah to steal even more from Esau: his father’s blessing. Words are powerful, but these aren’t just words. When Isaac speaks a blessing over Jacob, he’s passing along a divinely ordained covenant with Yahweh. He’s telling the family secret. He’s bringing Jacob into the Abrahamic covenant, and essentially saying, “Through your family, God will redeem the world.”

I have to wonder why Rebekah was so adamant that Jacob become the favored, blessed son. Maybe Esau was not that bright? We know he traded a huge inheritance for a bowl of soup. We’re told his wives were a thorn in Rebekah’s side. Maybe she saw that Esau’s poor choices could negatively impact the future. But no matter what her reason for favoring Jacob, her methods to secure his position were totally wrong. She offers no directness, no honesty. She initiates no difficult conversations. Her only tactics are manipulation and deceit.

The Bible is full of humans, not heroes. And yet, God still fulfills His promises to His people. Despite the fact that Jacob is a master manipulator, God continued to work out His plan through these sinful people, moving history ever closer toward a Savior who could save us from our jealousy, our deceptions, our fears.

Jesus lived a perfect life. He didn’t have to scheme to receive anything, because He created everything. And yet, for the joy set before Him—including an eternity spent with you and me—He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2; 1:3). And now, we have a brother in heaven. And He is the best brother, because He wants to share the gifts of His family with us (Romans 8:16–17). He hoards nothing.

Even when I am faithless, He is faithful. Even when I am jealous, He is there, ready to forgive and put salve on those self-inflicted wounds. Even when I scheme to build my own earthly kingdom, Jesus gently turns my eyes back to the city with eternal foundations—the one built by God, and shared with me (Revelation 21:7).

Post Comments (37)

37 thoughts on "The Stolen Blessing"

  1. Ashley Thomas says:

    I grew up very poor, and jealousy ruled my early life. It was nearly all I felt, even towards family, like my cousins. All I could see was what I did not have. Now that I’m in my late 30s, I see how blessed I am. I thank God daily for the life that I have, even though it isn’t picture perfect. Certainly, I do occasionally get jealous or envious still, but it doesn’t rule my thoughts.

  2. Traci Gendron says:

    I have had this on my wall for years. “When we face struggles, we often wonder, Why? Years from now, though we may realize that it was those struggles that taught us something we could not have otherwise learned—that there was a purpose in our pain.” 2corinthians 1:5 We share in the many sufferings of Christ. In the same way, much comfort comes to us through Christ.

    Today’s reading you realize to trust God & not scheme or force things.

  3. Jennifer Anapol says:

    This devotional reminds me today that God is in control. We don’t need to scheme and manipulate our situations to make a certain outcome happen. There have been so many times in my life when I have just left things alone and God has worked it out naturally in his own timing. May we be patient to listen and be aware of God’s perfect timing.

  4. Anja Etwal-Nielsen says:

    Thank you, Claire for you commentary. I love them all, but this one indeed I need today. It will really help me move forward in some difficult areas in my life at the moment.

  5. Erika Estrada says:

    Hey ladies, I am still trying to figure all this out. I have been in Christ now for almost 10 years. And I am just getting started. Sometimes I feel like I am understanding the Word wrong but than I get on here and bam! It was exactly as how my heart ❤️ interpreted. Thank you ladies!!

  6. Julie Huffman says:

    I look at this as Rebekkah, right or wrong, was making sure that God’s will was being followed. Her husband was literally and figuratively too blind to see Esau for what he really was.

    Jacob, didn’t immediately join Rebekkah in her plan of deception. He even questioned her about the plan working, and had to be told twice to follow her commands.

    Let’s look at Esau and Jacob:

    Esau was a hunter. Jacob was a tent dweller. He is described as being quiet or plain. However, if you do a bit of research the word “quiet” is used elsewhere to mean blameless, undefiled. It is the same word to describe Job as being blameless, as is Noah.

    Esau cared very little for his heritage. He wanted instant gratification. He could have easily prepared something for himself. I seriously doubt he was so exhausted that he couldn’t get up and get himself a bowl of food–or that he was even “starving” (how many times do we say those very words we we have missed only one meal? Jacob did not coerce him. He did not manhandle him. He saw an opportunity and took it. It was Esau’s fault for not having a bit of self-control.

    (The Bible does not condemn or say anything negative about Jacob gaining Esau’s birthright. In fact, it says that “Esau despised his birthright.”

    When Esau was forty years old, he took two Hittites to be his wives, and “they made life bitter for Isaac and Rebekah.” Then he later married a daughter of Ishmael, knowing how it went against Isaac.

    (Jacob on the other hand obeyed Isaac’s command to marry within the family.)

    Esau plays the victim card when he claimed that Jacob had cheated him out of his birthright. Jacob didn’t cheat him at all! Esau very willingly gave up his birthright because again, “he despised it.”

    God does not condemn Jacob, nor does he give consequences to Rebekkah, as he did Sarah when she took matters into her own hands.

    The Jewish people regarded Esau as being godless (Hebrews 12:16)

    What about Jacob’s name? It has been said that it means deceiver or cheat. When Esau came out of the womb what was distinguishing about him? He was hairy! And so he was named Hairy! What about Jacob? He was hanging on to his brother’s heel. So he was named heel grabber! It was Esau who turned heel grabber into the name “cheater.” Jacob had not been referred to being a cheater until then. It’s like Esau throwing his temper saying, “You’ve always been after me, Jacob, ever since you grabbed my heal at birth.”

    Esau wasn’t even upset that he gave up his birthright, presumably because he always thought he’d get the inheritance. It wasn’t until he lost his inheritance that Esau all of a sudden declared that he had been swindled.

    Because of Esau and his declaration that his brother is a cheater Jacob’s name has been tarnished for years and years. No doubt this would please Esau greatly.

  7. Nancy Singleton says:

    I had the bittersweet joy of spending each of my parents last moments on this earth with them: singing hymns, speaking words of love & scripture, of our shared faith in the Lord & our eternal security. Though they each expressed regrets for shortcomings, it became a time of shared forgiveness, as I also confessed my own shortcomings, & yet praise for the time we’d had to make amends & share our faith walks. It was truly a time of blessing, for which I remain grateful. Thank you Lord!

  8. Mari V says:


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