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Isaac and Jacob The Gospel in the Old Testament. The Problem with Partial Obedience Lesson 5 October 31, 2010. Outline. Facing Esau ( Gen 33) Making restitution to Esau Esau warmly receives Jacob Jacob refuses to live side-by-side Settling in Shechem ( Gen 33, 34)

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isaac and jacob the gospel in the old testament

Isaac and JacobThe Gospel in the Old Testament

The Problem with Partial Obedience

Lesson 5

October 31, 2010

  • Facing Esau (Gen 33)
    • Making restitution to Esau
    • Esau warmly receives Jacob
    • Jacob refuses to live side-by-side
  • Settling in Shechem (Gen 33, 34)
    • Jacob does not go directly to Bethel
    • The danger of compromise
    • The path to compromise
    • An inappropriate response

Heb 12:5, 6, 11 - “’My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives’…For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

“As we have followed the Holy Spirit’s record of Jacob’s life we have marveled again and again at the matchless patience of God in His dealings with one so intractable and unworthy. Surely none but the ‘God of all grace’ (1 Peter 5:10) would have borne with such a one so long…How are these afflictions to be viewed: as marks of the Divine anger or as judgment from God? No, God does not act in that way toward His own. ‘The Lord disciplines the one he loves.’ Even afflictions are among his love-gifts, sent in faithfulness, sent for our blessings, sent to exercise our hearts, sent to wean our affections from things of earth, sent to cast us more upon God that we may learn His sufficiency by experience. The losses that Jacob suffered and the trials he was called upon to meet were among the ‘all things’ that worked together for his good. God’s disciplinary dealings with our patriarch do not immediately yield the peaceful fruit of righteousness — that comes ‘later.’” (“Gleanings from Genesis”, by AW Pink, p. 321, 322)

facing esau making restitution to esau
Facing EsauMaking Restitution to Esau

Gen 33:1 - “And Jacob lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, Esau was coming, and four hundred men with him. So he divided the children among Leah and Rachel and the two female servants.”

  • Jacob faces Esau without fear after he had met with God
  • Jacob bows seven times to Esau - submission
  • Jacob gives gifts to Esau – God’s gifts to Jacob really belonged to Esau as part of the blessing

“Giving Esau these gifts represented for Jacob nothing less than a reversal of a life of stealing from his brother…bowing down to Esau seven times represented a reversal of the blessing he had illegitimately received from his father in Genesis 27:29 ‘Be lord over your brothers, and may your mother's sons bow down to you’. Jacob was demonstrating by his deeds that he was truly repentant for what he had done.” (“Living in the Grip of Relentless Grace: The Gospel in the Lives of Isaac and Jacob”, by Iain Duguid, p. 121)

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Facing Esau Esau Warmly Receives Jacob (1 of 2)
  • Esau embraces Jacob

Luke 15:20-24 - “And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.”

“More deeply affecting words than these, perhaps, were never written…They teach how infinitely willing He is to receive all who come to Him, and how complete, and full, and immediate is the pardon which He is ready to bestow…Let this boundless mercy be graven deeply in our memories…May we never forget that He is One ‘that receives sinners.’ With Him and His mercy sinners ought to begin, when they first begin to desire salvation. On Him and His mercy saints must live, when they have been taught to repent and believe.” (“Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, V II”, by J C Ryle, p. 184,5)

facing esau esau warmly receives jacob 2 of 2
Facing Esau Esau Warmly Receives Jacob (2 of 2)
  • Esau responds to Jacob’s ‘my lord’ with his own ‘my brother’
  • Jacob explains that the gifts were part of the blessing (v 11)
  • There is a great difference between Jacob and Esau in describing that they each had what they needed
  • Jacob – I have enough because God has been gracious to me
  • Esau – I already have plenty – he had managed well without God’s blessing

“Jacob mentioned God three times in their conversation, while Esau didn’t mention him once…Through the tangled course of life, Jacob had come to realize that the blessing he had experienced was not the result of his cleverness and scheming but of God’s graciousness to the undeserving. Esau never learned that lesson…If God is the central reality of your life, then things become merely a means of serving God. Righteousness – obeying and pleasing God – becomes the end.” (“Living in the Grip of Relentless Grace: The Gospel in the Lives of Isaac and Jacob”, by Iain Duguid, p. 123)

  • Jacob used the gifts that God had given him to serve God by rebuilding his relationship with his earthly brother
facing esau refusing the invitation to live side by side
Facing Esau Refusing the Invitation to Live Side-by-Side
  • Esau invites Jacob to come and live with Him in Seir
  • Jacob was right in not living side-by-side with Esau outside the promised land – God instructed Jacob to return to the promised land
  • Jacob, however, is not completely honest with his brother and leaves the impression that he will soon join him in Seir.
settling in shechem jacob does not go directly to bethel
Settling in Shechem Jacob Does not go Directly to Bethel

“Jacob had camped near the Canaanite city of Shechem and he remained there for a considerable time. Isaac had never settled in that area and Abraham had moved on quickly from Shechem to the Bethel. This, along with Jacob’s own experience at Bethel, should have encouraged him to move on. Instead of making his way to Bethel,only about another day’s journey, he settled for the quiet life. The area was a good place to do business. He would have found the lush pastures around Shechem very tempting…Jacob forgot his calling to be a stranger and pilgrim. We can, as Christians, get so caught up with making money, setting up lovely homes and enjoying the benefits of this life that we lose sight of the fact that ‘Our citizenship is in heaven.’” (“The Book of Origins: Genesis Simply Explained”, by Philip Eveson, p. 443)

  • Jacob does build an alter to God, even if it is the wrong place

“Almost obedience is never enough…Nothing short of full obedience is required. We all know that. So why is it, then, that we are so like Jacob, inclined to settle for a halfway house instead of going all the way home to God? Why is it that so often we need a crisis in our lives to move us that short step from almost obedience to full obedience?” (“Living in the Grip of Relentless Grace: The Gospel in the Lives of Isaac and Jacob”, by Iain Duguid, p. 127)

settling in shechem the danger of compromise
Settling in Shechem The Danger of Compromise

“No sooner is Jacob back in the Promised Land than danger arises, the danger of compromise. In order to see the significance of this lesson, we need to remember the audience for whom this story was first written. It was written for the wilderness generation under Moses, those who were about to enter the Promised Land…As long as we live on this earth, our lives must continually be marked by watchful pilgrimage. We can never feel that we have arrived or that we can settle down and retire. We need to be pressing on continually toward the mark of full obedience.” (“Living in the Grip of Relentless Grace: The Gospel in the Lives of Isaac and Jacob”, by Iain Duguid, p. 133)

  • Even though Jacob had erected an altar to “the God of Israel” at Shechem, God had revealed himself to Jacob as the “God of Bethel”
  • So God moves Jacob’s heart to full obedience by allowing Jacob’s compromise to bear it’s own fruit
  • Sometimes the consequences of sin affect entire families, including children (divorce, suicide, theft…)
settling in shechem the path to compromise 1 of 2
Settling in ShechemThe Path to Compromise (1 of 2)
  • Jacob’s daughter decides to go into the community and meet some of the women
  • She is seen by the local leader’s son who defiles her. He then desires her to be his wife.

Gen 34: 8-12 - “But Hamor spoke with them, saying, ‘The soul of my son Shechem longs for your daughter. Please give her to him to be his wife. Make marriages with us. Give your daughters to us, and take our daughters for yourselves. You shall dwell with us, and the land shall be open to you. Dwell and trade in it, and get property in it.’ Shechem also said to her father and to her brothers, ‘Let me find favor in your eyes, and whatever you say to me I will give. Ask me for as great a bride price and gift as you will, and I will give whatever you say to me. Only give me the young woman to be my wife.’”

  • The son appears genuinely repentant and wants to makes restitution (as Jacob had done with Esau), but the man’s father offers a compromise Jacob cannot accept.
settling in shechem the path of compromise 2 of 2
Settling in ShechemThe Path of Compromise (2 of 2)
  • Hamor offered far more than a marriage with a repentant son – it was the temptation of possessing the land through intermarriage

“In the process, the opportunity for them to be a blessing to the nations around them might have been real. They could have told Hamor and Shechem of their God and his promise and how crucial that promise was to their self-identity as a people. They could have perhaps even invited Shechem to become a worshiper of their God and to be incorporated into his people by faith. Although God’s people were not to intermarry with pagans, the door was always open to pagans to leave their prior allegiances and become part of God’s people, as the examples of Rahab and Ruth later demonstrated. This could have been an…opportunity for Jacob to share from his experience the good news of the grace of their God and the forgiveness he offers to sinners who come in repentance and faith.” (“Living in the Grip of Relentless Grace: The Gospel in the Lives of Isaac and Jacob”, by Iain Duguid, p. 138)

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Settling in ShechemAn Inappropriate Response (1 of 2)
  • Instead of responding with the message of God’s grace, Jacob’s sons deceived Hamor to enable them to massacre the men of the city.
  • Jacob’s children had seen deception at work for many years by both their father and grandfather
  • They also failed to see that an internal change was required to become part of the covenant family – they asked for external change
  • Hamor convinced the men of the city to accept circumcision solely on the basis of economic benefit – neither saw circumcision as something special.

“Such an attitude may be what we would expect from pagans, but what a sad commentary this is on the spiritual state of Jacob and his family. Up until now they had apparently made no efforts to share their faith with the Shechemites so that they might appropriately be circumcised and become part of the covenant community…they offered to become one nation with the Canaanites, not on condition that the Canaanites shared their faith but on condition that the Canaanites shared their religious practices. Is that not also a danger of the contemporary church?” (“Living in the Grip of Relentless Grace: The Gospel in the Lives of Isaac and Jacob”, by Iain Duguid, p. 140)

settling in shechem an inappropriate response 2 of 2
Settling in ShechemAn Inappropriate Response (2 of 2)
  • Jacob’s other sons participate in looting of the Shechemite possessions
  • Jacob does not express moral outrage over his son’s sins, he only worries about how it will affect his relationship with other Canaanites.
  • The brothers justify their sin – “Should he treat our sister like a prostitute?”; Jacob appears to accept their excuse.

“Neither the way of pragmatic softness nor the way of moral hardness solves the problem of sin…One way destroys the sinner; the other way treats too lightly the sin…Is there a way that treats the awfulness of sin with appropriate seriousness yet still reaches out and redeems the sinner? Indeed there is…A sinless sacrifice, one without spot or blemish, must be put to death in the place of the sinner. For Jacob, when he finally stood before the altar at Bethel, the substitute was a lamb…So also for us, God has provided a lamb, Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God without spot or blemish, was offered up for us on the cross…It is a method so complete that it can deal with your sin and my sin too, no matter what you may have done. No one is beyond the reach of redemption.” (“Living in the Grip of Relentless Grace: The Gospel in the Lives of Isaac and Jacob”, by Iain Duguid, p. 144)


“I have seen the purity and beauty of thy perfect law, the happiness of those in whose heart it reigns, the calm dignity of the walk to which it calls, yet I daily violate and contemn its precepts. Thy loving Spirit strives within me, brings me to Scripture warnings, speaks in startling providences, allures by secret whispers, yet I choose devices and desires to my own hurt, impiously resent, grieve, and provoke him to abandon me. All these sins I mourn, lament, and for them cry pardon. Work in me more profound and abiding repentance; Give me the fullness of a godly grief that trembles and fears, yet ever trusts and loves, which is ever powerful, and ever confident; Grant that through the tears of repentance I may see more clearly the brightness and glories of the saving cross.” (“Valley of Vision: Puritan Prayers and Devotions”, p. 124, 125)