1. A STEP THAT REVEALS THE HEART
a. Much to his parents’ sorrow, what action of Esau further revealed his continued lack of interest in the things of God? Genesis 26:34, 35.
“Ever subject to mere outward and earthly attractions, Esau took two wives of the daughters of Heth. They were worshipers of false gods, and their idolatry was a bitter grief to Isaac and Rebekah. Esau had violated one of the conditions of the covenant, which forbade intermarriage between the chosen people and the heathen.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 179.
b. How are God’s people today likewise warned against marrying unbelievers? 2 Corinthians 6:14, 15.
“To connect with an unbeliever is to place yourself on Satan’s ground. You grieve the Spirit of God and forfeit His protection. Can you afford to have such terrible odds against you in fighting the battle for everlasting life?”—Messages to Young People, p. 441.
“The man who yields to impulse and his own unconsecrated passions and selects an unbeliever for his wife, yielding up the claims of God, promising to give up the Sabbath if she will marry him, takes a step that will bring unhappiness into his family. He sells his birthright for a mess of pottage.”—Manuscript Releases, vol. 10, p. 192.
2. STUBBORN PLOTTING
a. After Isaac became old and his eyes were dim, what plan did he have with regard to Esau? Genesis 27:1–4.
“Isaac was still unshaken in his determination to bestow upon [Esau] the birthright. The reasoning of Rebekah, Jacob’s strong desire for the blessing, and Esau’s indifference to its obligations had no effect to change the father’s purpose.
“Years passed on, until Isaac, old and blind, and expecting soon to die, determined no longer to delay the bestowal of the blessing upon his elder son. But knowing the opposition of Rebekah and Jacob, he decided to perform the solemn ceremony in secret. In accordance with the custom of making a feast upon such occasions, the patriarch bade Esau, ‘Go out to the field, and take me some venison; and make me savory meat, . . . that my soul may bless thee before I die’ [Genesis 27:4.]”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 179.
b. What plan of Rebekah was to counteract that of Isaac? Genesis 27:5–10.
“Rebekah divined [Isaac’s] purpose. She was confident that it was contrary to what God had revealed as His will. Isaac was in danger of incurring the divine displeasure and of debarring his younger son from the position to which God had called him. She had in vain tried the effect of reasoning with Isaac, and she determined to resort to stratagem.
“No sooner had Esau departed on his errand than Rebekah set about the accomplishment of her purpose. She told Jacob what had taken place, urging the necessity of immediate action to prevent the bestowal of the blessing, finally and irrevocably, upon Esau. And she assured her son that if he would follow her directions, he might obtain it as God had promised.”—Ibid., p.180.
c. How did Jacob respond to his mother’s idea? Genesis 27:11, 12.
“Jacob did not readily consent to the plan that [Rebekah] proposed. The thought of deceiving his father caused him great distress. He felt that such a sin would bring a curse rather than a blessing.”—Ibid.
3. A CURSED BLESSING
a. Despite Jacob’s reluctance, what did his mother insist regarding her plan for him to get the birthright? Genesis 27:13, 14.
“[Jacob’s] scruples were overborne, and he proceeded to carry out his mother’s suggestions.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 180.
b. Describe how the scheme was carried out. Genesis 27:15–19.
“It was not [Jacob’s] intention to utter a direct falsehood, but once in the presence of his father he seemed to have gone too far to retreat.”—Ibid.
c. What was the result? Genesis 27:20–29.
“[Jacob] obtained by fraud the coveted blessing.”—Ibid.
d. What happened when the real Esau arrived? Genesis 27:30–33.
“No sooner had Jacob left his father’s tent than Esau entered. Though he had sold his birthright, and confirmed the transfer by a solemn oath, he was now determined to secure its blessings, regardless of his brother’s claim. With the spiritual was connected the temporal birthright, which would give him the headship of the family and possession of a double portion of his father’s wealth. These were blessings that he could value.”—Ibid., pp.180, 181.
e. What would be Esau’s future and how did he react? Genesis 27:34–40.
4. SEEING A HIGHER PERSPECTIVE
a. Although all had assumed that Isaac’s death was fast approaching, how can we see that many years would pass before he actually died? Compare Genesis 25:26; 35:28. What should we all learn from this?
“Jacob and Rebekah succeeded in their purpose, but they gained only trouble and sorrow by their deception. God had declared that Jacob should receive the birthright, and His word would have been fulfilled in His own time had they waited in faith for Him to work for them. But like many who now profess to be children of God, they were unwilling to leave the matter in His hands.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 180.
b. What does God say about deceit, even when we’re tempted to think it is for a worthwhile, justifiable purpose? Psalm 101:7; Proverbs 20:17.
c. What should we glean from Rebekah and Jacob’s mistake? Luke 21:19.
“Instead of trusting in God, the disposer of events, [Rebekah] manifested her lack of faith by persuading Jacob to deceive his father. Jacob’s course in this was not approbated by God. Rebekah and Jacob should have waited for God to bring about His own purposes, in His own way, and in His own time, instead of trying to bring about the foretold events by the aid of deception. If Esau had received the blessing of his father, which was bestowed upon the firstborn, his prosperity could have come from God alone; and he would have blessed him with prosperity; or brought upon him adversity, according to his course of action. If he should love and reverence God, like righteous Abel, he would be accepted, and blessed of God. If like the wicked Cain he had no respect for God, nor for His commandments, but followed his own corrupt course, he would not receive a blessing from God, but would be rejected of God as was Cain. If Jacob’s course should be righteous; if he should love and fear God, he would be blessed of God, and the prospering hand of God would be with him, even if he did not obtain the blessings and privileges generally bestowed upon the firstborn.”—Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, p. 115.
5. ESCAPING THE WOE OF ESAU
a. How are we warned to escape the woe of Esau? Hebrews 12:14–17.
“The circumstances of Esau’s selling his birthright represents the unrighteous, who consider that the redemption purchased for them by Christ of little value, and sacrifice their heirship to Heaven for perishable treasures. Many are controlled by their appetite, and rather than to deny an unhealthy appetite, will sacrifice high and valuable considerations. If one must be yielded, the gratification of a depraved appetite, or the high and heavenly blessings which God promises only to the self-denying and God-fearing, the clamors of appetite, as in the case of Esau, will generally prevail, and for self-gratification, God and Heaven will be virtually despised. . . .
“Especially will the corrupt passions control the mind of those who value heaven of so little worth. Health will be sacrificed, the mental faculties enfeebled, and heaven will be sold for these pleasures, as Esau sold his birthright. Esau was a reckless person. He made a solemn oath that Jacob should have his birthright. This case is left on record as a warning to others. As Esau learned that Jacob had obtained the blessing which would have belonged to him, had he not rashly sold it, he was greatly distressed. He repented of his rash act, when it was too late to remedy the matter. Thus will it be with sinners in the day of God, who have bartered away their heirship to heaven for selfish gratifications, and hurtful lusts. They will then find no place for repentance, although they may seek it, like Esau, carefully and with tears.”—Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, pp. 116, 117.
b. What, then, should be our solemn pledge? 2 Corinthians 7:1.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Why does God expressly forbid marrying an unbeliever?
2. In what sense did Rebekah reveal strong spirituality yet weak faith—and in what areas of my life might I be in danger of doing the same?
3. What first step of Jacob snagged him in an impossible snare?
4. Why is the saying “The end justifies the means,” wrong in God’s sight?
5. Why is appetite such a decisive factor in Christian victory?