Saturday, August 1, 2015

Esau: The scented son

As his father blessed him, Jacob exhaled slowly. He relaxed. "That was a close one," he thought to himself.

His mother's plan had been a good one. The clothes, goat skins, and recipes had all made him appear to be his brother. But he hadn't thought to disguise his voice? Stupid! All that preparation was almost wasted the moment he opened his mouth.

His father, who was obviously suspicious, had called him over. Jacob had obeyed. There was nothing to be gained from running away at this point. His father had reached out and grabbed his hands. Isaac felt them. Then he had said: "The voice is the voice of Jacob, but those hands are the hands of Esau." Jacob had given thanks that his father's eyesight had declined. He had then closed his own eyes as his father proceeded to bless him.

He assumed that the worst was now over. But then the old man asked, "Are you my son Esau?" Jacob steeled himself and replied, "I am." "Well, then bring me the food so that I may eat it and bless you."

"WHAT!?! No, no, no, no, no!" he thought to himself. "I thought this was done!" He tried to keep his hands from shaking as he brought the food to his father. He silently prayed that the inside of the goat would be as successful at deceiving his father as the outside had been.

They ate in silence. Seemingly interminable silence, as far as Jacob was concerned. He was silent with fear. Isaac, although he seemed to be enjoying his meal, seemed unsettled as he ate.

When he was finished, and the food was taken away, Isaac spoke: "Come here, my son. Give your father a kiss."

Jacob stood. He approached his seated father and leaned down to kiss him. As he did so, Isaac grabbed him firmly by the shoulders and pulled him closer. Unbalanced, he would have fallen had his father not had such a strong grip on him.

Jacob proceeded to place a kiss on his father's cheek. Isaac, in turn, gave him a kiss of his own. He then inhaled deeply. Jacob found this action oddly frightening. Seemingly satisfied, Isaac released him and allowed him to again stand.

Isaac smiled as he placed his hand on the son —believing him now to be the son that he loved— and proceeded to bless him. He began, "The smell of son is like that smell of a field that the Lord has blessed!"

Esau was the firstborn. The Bible tells us that he was a man of the field, a skillful hunter. It also tells us that he was his father's favorite, the beloved son. So, as Isaac grew older, and his eyesight failed him, he decided that it was time to bestow the customary blessing on his eldest.

He instructed Esau to hunt and then prepare him a meal so that he could receive his father's blessing. Rebekah, who overheard this exchange, then devised a plan whereby her favorite of the two sons —Jacob— would receive that blessing. They dressed him in Esau's clothes, covered his hands and neck with goat hides, and then sent him in with a meal — all steps designed to deceive Isaac.

Each of their techniques worked to some degree; however, it was Esau's clothes that finally convinced Isaac to unleash his full blessing. Jacob smelled like Esau. As he leaned in to kiss his father, he carried the scent of the beloved son. The start of Isaac's blessing makes it clear that this was the factor that finally settled the son's true identity in his mind.

Like Jacob, we dare not approach God the Father smelling like ourselves. There is no blessing for us. But when we approach God clothed with the scent of His dearly beloved Son, we receive spiritual blessings to which we are not naturally entitled. God treats us, in effect, as if we were His Son.

God is not hoodwinked like Isaac was. Yet Paul makes it clear that scent again plays a factor. He writes to the Corinthians to tell them that "our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God." Because we bear the smell of Christ, God chooses to treat us and bless us as His only beloved Son.

(Genesis 27, 2 Corinthians 2:15)