The audio is here. This is the transcript. Great sermon from Rich!
The story so far:
In the beginning was God. Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The Father sent out his Word in the power of the Spirit to bring order out of chaos, light over darkness. The world was made in and through that person called the Word of God, the earth and all that is in it, climaxing in the making of Man in God’s image.
The man was placed in God’s garden and given a bride. Together, in beautiful loving harmony, they were to work and cultivate this wondrous garden and extend it into a global garden where man and God would dwell together.
But that man made a pact with the Deceiver and decided to overthrow God, to take hold of what God had given him and make it as his own, to rule over the earth but … not under God.
And so Adam is kicked out of the garden, separated from God in body, dead in spirit and subject to decay and despair.
But he is given a promise.
A seed of the woman will come and defeat the Deceiver and his evil ways at great cost to himself, his heal will be bruised as he crushes the Deceiver’s head, but those wounds, would make it possible to bring them back to the garden, back to life, back to fellowship with the Living God. The promised seed will come.
So after Eve gives birth to her first child, she says, behold, with the help of the Lord I have brought forth The Man. She thought her first son was the seed, but he was murdered by his brother, defeated by evil. He was not the seed. The seed is still to come.
They waited for the seed, they hoped in the seed. When will this One Man be born, our hope our salvation? When will he come, the one who will bring us back into the land of the Lord and restore to us the joy of fellowship with the Living God? When will he come?
As each child was born, hope it seems had faded. The work of the serpent grew, evil spread.
But again, from within the darkness and chaos of the fallen world, The Word of the Lord, the second person of God is again sent forth, appearing this time to Abram and He promises that from Abram will come a seed, not seeds Galatians 3:16 but the One Seed who is Christ.
The scattered nations will be rescued, gathered together and restored to the Father in and through the seed, Christ Jesus, the son of Abraham. From Abraham’s seed will come great blessing, he will become a great nation. The seed will come, and he will be from Abraham.
And so the Word of the Lord instructs Abraham to go to a new land, a place of hope, a place of abundance… a garden where God will live with his people.
The gospel promise is renewed.
Abraham rejoiced in this, and he placed his hope and trust in Him, God’s One Word. And so because of his faith in Christ, he is given the righteousness of God.
Abraham then travels to this promised land, the place which would be the venue for all God’s dealings with humanity for generations to come. And there he started to bear children.
Like Eve, Abraham had high hopes for his son. A promised child is brought forth, Isaac. His beloved son. From this one, the seed will come.
But the Word of the Lord is sent again to Abraham and says that this promised son must be offered to death. The one from whom the seed will come, his beloved son must be offered to the dark and ravenous jaws of death.
Abraham obeys, but at the last moment, the Divine Lord, the Word who is eternally sent by the Father, the Angel of the Lord, intervenes and provides a substitute, death for life.
And that place, the place where the temple would one day stand in Jerusalem, where lambs would be repeatedly scarified, and where the Lamb of God, the eternal Word of the Father, the Angel of the Lord himself, the One Seed Jesus Christ would eventually die - the very same place - so that we might live - this place was called “the Lord will provide”, because at that place it will be provided.
Isaac is restored to Abraham. From the jaws of death Isaac is now alive. He is resurrected, figuratively speaking, but he is not the seed. The gospel is once again renewed – from you and your descendants will come the seed, the hope of nations.
So this Isaac had the weight of the promise on his shoulders. From him the seed would come, the one who would be the sin substitute, whose heal would be bruised as he stamped on Satan’s ugly head as he dies at that place of the Lord’s provision.
So who does he marry? The beautiful Rebekah. But Rebekah was barren. She couldn’t have children. What did you go and do that for Isaac? The seed is supposed to come from you.
Isaac didn’t make the same mistake as his father Abraham did, who tried to get round that kind of biological issue by his own sinful methods. Isaac had learned that particular lesson from his dad and so he prays Genesis 25 and the Lord answers his prayer. Rebekah’s womb is opened and she became pregnant with twin boys.
And this is what sets things up for us tonight. You see, the seed can only come from one of the twins. The promised Messiah can’t come from both lines. God’s choice will be with one of the boys.
Genesis 25:22 The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, "Why is this happening to me?" So she went to inquire of the LORD. The LORD said to her, "Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger."
Esau who came out first would have to serve Jacob. Now there is an interesting little detail at the birth of Esau and Jacob. Jacob reached out and grabbed Esau’s heal.
The two babies were born and it is amazing just how different they were. Esau was a mighty hunter, a man of the open country, red blooded, hairy, brutish type, but Jacob preferred a desk job, back at the tent and he liked to plot and scheme and use people.
Now Isaac, their dad, had a taste for wild game and so unsurprisingly he loved Esau the huntsman more than Jacob the schemer.
Well Esau did indeed end up having to serve Jacob. He returned home after a long time hunting and he was famished. Scheming Jacob decided to use this to his advantage and said, I’ll give you some stew if you give me your birthright.
And so Esau sold his birthright as firstborn to Jacob for a bowl of hot game stew.
And so we come now to Genesis chapter 27. Verse 1
When Isaac was old and his eyes were so weak that he could no longer see, he called for Esau his older son and said to him, "My son." "Here I am," he answered.
Isaac said, "I am now an old man and don't know the day of my death. Now then, get your weapons—your quiver and bow—and go out to the open country to hunt some wild game for me. Prepare me the kind of tasty food I like and bring it to me to eat, so that I may give you my blessing before I die."
So the fact that Esau had sold his birthright and the fact that the Lord prophesied that Esau would serve Jacob seems to have been long forgotten, or possibly just blatantly ignored, as Isaac dictates that the blessing would be conveyed to Esau.
But Rebekah overheard the plan verse 5 and went to Jacob to report on what was happening and to propose a scheme in order to win the blessing for him. Her plan verses 9 and 10 was to take advantage of the old man’s love of a good goat curry and have Jacob take it to him so that he would bless him instead.
Now at this point its not actually possible to see what Rebekah’s motives are. Is she wanting the Word of the Lord to be fulfilled, and so sets about trying to help God out on his way, through her own works?
Well it is a good motive, but her sincerity is sincerely wrong. God’s work is his own.
The other possibility is that she just preferred Jacob and wanted him to get the blessing. Either way, its not good. But Jacob the schemer runs with the plan and because verse 12 he is worried about getting caught, they set about creating this elaborate deception.
They took advantage of Isaac’s weak eyes that we read about in verse 1 and set about deceiving his other senses too. This is the pair of sunglasses and a false moustache moment to eclipse all others.
Jacob would wear some of Esau’s clothes so that he would smell like Esau, he would have some goatskins on his neck and hands so that he felt as hairy as his brother Esau and then he would take the carefully prepared food in, so that his sense of taste told him that it was Esau too.
Jacob was ready now and so he went in vs 19 and said – Hi its me Esau I’ve done as you told me.
That was quick. Isaac was obviously a little suspicious. Ah… yeh, errr… the Lord your God gave me success.
Still slightly suspicious verse 22, sounds more like Jacob than Esau, he beckoned him forward for the hairy hand test, which he passes. He then passes the taste test and, the clothing, the smell test worked too. Isaac was deceived and so he passed on the blessing to Jacob verse 28.
May God give you of heaven's dew and of earth's richness, an abundance of grain and new wine. May nations serve you and peoples bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may the sons of your mother bow down to you. May those who curse you be cursed and those who bless you be blessed."
Its done the blessing is passed on to Jacob. What God had promised before they were born is now confirmed. Esau will bow to Jacob, the older will serve the younger, he will have to submit to the one God has chosen.
However Esau arrived with his freshly prepared meat. Jacob’s scheme has now been rumbled.
Jacob truly was the deceiver verse 36. Jacob means deceiver, the one who grasps the heal. So, right from the womb, he bore the mark of the prince of deceivers, the serpent himself, the one who strikes out at the heal of the promised seed.
But from this devil of a man, Jacob, the promised seed would come. Jesus would take on the fullness of humanity’s wickedness by being born from a wretched line.
Well when Isaac realised what was going on he trembled violently.
Imagine the moment Isaac realises what’s happened. He begins to pale, those weak old eyes widen and his stare is unbroken. His hands grip the ends of the arms of his chair, he is struck with fear. His teeth come together and that old frame begins to shake as he remembers the word of the lord – “the older will serve the younger”.
There is no going back now. Verse 33. I blessed him and indeed he will be blessed! The Lord’s choice cannot be changed or resisted. His election of Jacob as the one who will bear the seed cannot be overcome. What foolishness to think we could thwart the purposes of the Word of God.
Esau begged for a blessing too, but Isaac was committed – Jacob will be blessed. Verse 37 I have made him lord over you and I have blessed him with grain and wine, what can I possibly do for you? What blessing is left?
There really was nothing Isaac could give, he had given it all to Jacob, and so in verse 40 he reminds Esau of what the Lord could give him. He reminds him what the Lord had said about the two boys before even they were born. You will serve your younger brother.
Look back at Jacob’s blessing in verses 28 and 29. All this abundance is Jacob’s but look at the end of verse 29. Those who curse Jacob will be cursed…. those who bless him …will be blessed.
There is your answer Esau – if you want a blessing, serve your brother, bless him and you will get blessing from God.
The Lord’s election of Jacob did not rule Esau out. Esau could have received divine blessing. He could have had a share in the abundance. No he wouldn’t be the father of the promised seed, he wouldn’t be of that line, but he could still share in the blessing that would come from him if he listened to and submitted to the Lord’s election of Jacob.
But Esau wasn’t having any of it. He raged against Jacob verse 41 and sought to kill him. He hardened his heart to the warning about cursing Jacob. All he could think about was his own happiness, his material happiness.
So it was just as Isaac had said – he would live far away from the earths richness verse 39, away from the goodness of heaven above.
He forsook the blessing by refusing to bow to Jacob and so bore the curse. He would throw off Jacob’s yoke – he wasn’t serving his little brother.
What a fearful and cursed thing it is to reject the yoke of the one chosen by the father! It is to chose curse over blessing. It is to chose hell over heaven.
Rebekah got wind of Esau’s plan to kill Jacob and so urged him to flee to her brother Laban until Esau cooled off. And as every good mother does gives him a bit of advice about what kind of woman to avoid while he is away.
So it’s a cracking tale isn’t it. Deception, disguises, family squabbles, honour and goat stew.
But how does it apply to me and to you?
Is the lesson here about family unity? Do what you can to keep everyone together.
Is the lesson here about anger? Don’t make hasty decisions in your anger.
Is the lesson here about going after worldly pleasures – filling your belly and your life with the things you want at the expense of God’s people?
Is the lesson here about lying? Don’t lie and deceive.
Is the lesson here about breaking one law to fulfil another – taking shortcuts? You think your motive is good, serving the church perhaps… but are you methods right? Are you seeking the best for city evangelical church, but going about it in a disruptive and divisive way? Is that the lesson here?
Well there is instruction and wisdom there, and it kinda speaks for itself doesn’t it. But it isn’t the overall message of this story.
I believe that the message of this chapter within its context is God’s election. God’s election.
Now this is a topic I know people don’t really like. It’s like talking about death or politics at the dinner table. It’s a sure fire way to start a bun fight. So what I need here is a cake proof screen in front of the pulpit cause we are going to have a stab at it anyway cause it is a central truth in scripture and it is central to this passage.
The fact that God the Father has promised that his Son would be born of a woman, to bring salvation and blessing to a lost world, means that he has to chose a family line for him. That is the very simple reason why Jacob is chosen. He will bear the seed, the seed will be descended from Jacob and not Esau.
Did you get that? If you get nothing else from the next five minutes, get that at least.
The Lord elects Jacob simply because the seed, the messiah has already been chosen and promised – that is why he is elect – because Christ has first been elected. Remember that at least.
As the apostle Paul says in Romans 9 verse 11, God chose Jacob so that his purpose in election might stand. Christ Jesus is God’s choice in human flesh.
Now there are a load of issue that could come up and are related to this and I’d be a fool to think I could knock this issue on the head in five minutes. But I am convinced that to unravel this we need to start and finish in our thinking with Christ.
Ok Rich, that is what this is about – I’m with you on that, but what does it have to do with me, sitting here in this chair, in this church in 2010?
Well firstly, if you are Jewish, then rejoice, you have royal status. Jesus is literally your flesh and blood relative, but as the passage suggest in verse 29, you must bow to God’s election of Christ Jesus. Jacob who was later called Israel, is lord over all nations, but he is also lord over his flesh and blood relatives - you. You must bow too. Only then are you truly of Israel, only in Christ The offspring, can you be Abraham’s offspring.
For the majority of us here though, there are two responses.
Firstly, if you are not yet a believer, then can I urge you… look at the world outside. It’s descending into deeper chaos, more violence, more greed, and more evil.
Jesus Christ came to put right, what for thousands of years we’ve failed to do, and he did it. It is done – Christ did it, he put it right with God because he was chosen to do the work of reconciliation, not you or me.
And this evening he makes you an offer. Trust him, walk with him and he will include you into his kingdom where there is hope, where there this reconciliation, where there is change, where there is life.
Be joined to Christ Jesus – receive the truth here, that He is the One elected and sent, to save you from your sin and bring you into that wonderful relationship with the living God to restore paradise lost. Turn to Christ.
Well, if you have trusted in Christ, then what? What does it matter to me that God chose Jacob and not Esau?
Two things. Fear and assurance. Fear and assurance.
Most Christians I know fear God’s election. It sews doubt in people’s hearts, or resentment. Am I elect? Is my husband elect? Are my children elect?
Is that you tonight?
Now don’t worry if you don’t get that, if you don’t follow me – ignore the next few minutes.
But there will be some here asking that question – wondering if the Father has chosen them to be his.
I want to gently and respectfully suggest that our fear comes because we are coming at this from the wrong end.
We tend to think that election is all about us, am I elect? I don’t know. And that is where the fear comes from. But its not about us, it is about Christ. Scripture wants you to know that Christ has been chosen, Christ is has been elected to be the champion of salvation.
When we start answering the question “why aren’t more people saved”, by talking about the Father’s election, then of course we are going to end up in a place of fear.
If the reason for a person’s unbelief, is the election of the Father, then we are right to be scared. But I don’t think that is the right answer, or even the right question.
Being elect is not like having a winning lottery ticket. The Father has only made one choice, and that is in Christ Jesus. Christ Jesus is God’s choice in human flesh, not Rich Owen – thank God, and not you.
We are chosen because Christ is chosen, we are elected because Christ is the Elect One of the Father, chosen before the foundation of the world to be it’s Lord.
So run to Jesus, become one of his children, stand in his election – then you know you are elect. You don’t need to be scared by this.
So if you find yourself asking that question – am I elect – then ask yourself – why am I asking that question?
Assurance? Yeh? Is that why?
If I ask that question for assurance, then I’m looking for assurance outside of Christ - in my own flesh. Its not all about me! It’s the wrong question because assurance is not found within me, but in Christ. Christ Jesus is God’s choice in human flesh.
I should ask the question – is Christ elect? And I go to scripture and see that all the purposes and promises of the Father find their yes and Amen in Christ Jesus (2 Cor 1:20).
Christ Jesus is God’s choice in human flesh - trust him and see full assurance. Run to Jesus, become one of his children, stand in his election – then you know you are elect
The Father has desired that fallen humanity should be rescued. He loves this broken world, de desires to have that fellowship with us and to restore paradise on Earth.
He is moved in his heart so much that he sends forth his one and only Son, the eternal Word that whoever would believe in him would not perish but have eternal life, and be restored. Jesus is the promised seed.
I’ll end with a quote from Spurgeon.
So you ask if you are …elect, you ask what you do not know. Go to Jesus, just as you are in all your guilt. Go straight to Christ and hide in His wounds, and you shall know your election. The assurance of the Holy Spirit shall be given to you, so that you shall be able to say I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.
Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.