Deception – Genesis 27

Have you ever been deceived? Have you deceived someone else? In literature and in history there are many stories of deception. Here are a few examples:

The Last Leaf (O. Henry)

In this short story, a woman suffering with pneumonia and close to death
believes that she will die once the last leaf drops from a vine tree outside
her window. However, she gets saved by an artist who braves a storm a
whole night to paint a leaf on the wall – a leaf that will never fall.
Unfortunately, the artist dies due to pneumonia but not before creating his
masterpiece that he had always dreamed about and more importantly,
giving a hope to the woman to survive.

Romeo and Juliet (William Shakespeare)

Juliet fakes her death to avoid marrying Paris. However, this one doesn’t
have a happy ending. Romeo kills Paris when he encounters Paris who
had come to mourn Juliet; then he kills himself. Finally, Juliet awakens
only to find Romeo dead and stabs herself with his dagger.

Iliad (Homer)

The Trojan horse is a tale from the Trojan War about the subterfuge that the
Greeks used to enter the city of Troy and end the conflict. After a fruitless
10 – year siege, the Greeks constructed a huge wooden horse and hid a
select force of men inside. The Greeks pretended to sail away and the
Trojans pulled the horse into their city as a victory trophy. That night the
Greek force crept out of horses and opened the gates for the rest of the
Greek army, which had sailed back under the cover of night. The Greeks
entered and destroyed the city of Troy, decisively ending the war.

All of these stories of deception are fascinating, but one of the greatest stories of deception of all is the one we find in the historical account of Jacob and Esau. Genesis 27 records the deception of a mother and a son. Who are their victims? Their own family, a husband, a father, a son, and brother. Philosopher George Santayana called the human family “one of nature’s masterpieces.” If that’s true, then many of these masterpieces have become nothing but pieces because they forgot the Master. Genesis 27 describes such a family.[1]

As we study Genesis 27, let us look at each of the characters involved in this historical account of deception.

Isaac (v. 1-4). When I was a student at Piedmont Bible College (now, Piedmont International University), Dr. Howard Wilburn was the president of the school. At the end of each semester he would remind the students: “Remember, whose you are.” How often we forget who we belong to! How often we forget who we are! Isaac was one that forgot who he was and who he belonged to. On his death bed, he was well aware of the issues facing his family. He knew there were things that needed to be corrected. Yet, all he cared for was a good meal from his favorite son. Isaac may have started out his life on the right track, but he did not finish very well. Nick Saban, arguably one of the greatest coaches of all time, constantly encourages his players and his staff to finish. The game is not over until the last second ticks off the clock. When you let down you guard, when you become complacent, when you get to the point of not caring; that is when you will fail. You must keep your eye on the ball. You must stay focused. As Christians, our work on this earth is not done until God calls us home through death or until the trumpet sounds. Even when we get to the end of our life on earth, God can still use us. We can still make a difference for His kingdom. Isaac lost his focus, which led him to being deceived. Don’t lose your focus. Keep your eyes on Jesus. Do not allow yourself to be deceived.

Rebecca (v. 5-17 ; 42-46). Talk about deception! It reminds me of the poem that reads: “O what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.” The more deception takes take place the deeper it goes. If you tell a lie and then cover it up with another lie, it never ends. Lies and deception will continue to mount and cause all kinds of harm and heartache. Notice some of the things that Rebecca does: she eavesdrops on someone else’s conversation, she encourages her son to lie and deceive his father, she goes to great lengths to engage in trickery, and she makes plans to help Jacob escape and to cover up her own deception. Most of us have not engaged in deception as deep and tangled as Rebecca. However, all of us from time to time have been deceptive in trying to get what we want. Even the smallest of deceptions can lead to a trap that we can never escape from.

Jacob (v. 18-29). Jacob began as a pawn in this story. He could have been the better man and stood for what was right. Yet, by his own choice he acted upon his mother’s suggestions of deception. The deeper Jacob goes the greater the tangled web is weaved. The thing we need to understand is that, once we are involve in deception, it is very difficult to get out of it. It reminds me of the deception of politicians. There is something about being in the public’s eye that corrupts a man. How often we have seen government officials engage in one lie after another. Often times it is not a blatant lie, but, it is twisting the truth to get one’s way. Sadly, this scenario is played out over and over in families, business, government, and even in the church.

Esau (v. 30-41). Warren Wiersbe writes: “Esau tried to repent, but his own heart was too hard; and he couldn’t change his father’s mind. Esau’s tears were not tears of repentance for being an ungodly man; they were tears of regret because he had lost the covenant blessing. Esau wanted the blessing but he didn’t want to be the kind of man whom God could bless! We may forget our decisions, but our decisions don’t forget us.”[2] It would be easy for us to look at Esau as the victim in all of this. However, Esau is far from innocent. Esau was not a very godly man. Remember the two Hittite women Esau married? Esau made some very poor and selfish decisions in his life and now he is paying for it. An important lesson for us to learn here is that ‘decisions determine destiny.’ The choices you make today will affect the kind of person you are and the circumstances you find yourself in the future.

You can never win with deception. We must make sure that every decision we make comes from prayer and seeking the will of the Lord. If ever we find ourselves in the web of deception, we must quickly repent and turn to the Lord, for only He can untangle the messy webs we weave.

[1] Wiersbe, W. W. (1997). Be authentic (p. 24). Colorado Springs, CO: Chariot Victor Pub.

[2] Wiersbe, W. W. (1997). Be authentic (p. 30). Colorado Springs, CO: Chariot Victor Pub.

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