That which we do to others, whether it be good or evil, will surely react upon ourselves, in blessing or in cursing. Whatever we give, we shall receive again. The earthly blessings which we impart to others may be, and often are, repaid in kind. What we give does, in time of need, often come back to us in fourfold measure in the coin of the realm. But, besides this, all gifts are repaid, even in this life, in the fuller inflowing of His love, which is the sum of all heaven’s glory and its treasure. And evil imparted also returns again. Everyone who has been free to condemn or discourage, will in his own experience be brought over the ground where he has caused others to pass; he will feel what they have suffered because of his want of sympathy and tenderness.
~ Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 136
The old man fumbled around in near blackness, though the sun
was high. He could hear the breathing of his two favorite grandsons, and smell
the sharp odor of sweat mingled with perfumed cones of spice, probably already
melted and running down their hair in the oppressive heat. With a little
effort, his searching fingers found the two boys, groping up to touch their
faces. Placing his palms on their foreheads, he took a deep breath.
“Abba?” His most beloved son interrupted him. “I think
you’ve made a mistake.” The tall, muscular man gently grasped his father’s
wrists and tried to uncross them. “Manasseh is on your right side. He’s the
oldest. Your right hand should be on his head.”
It shattered the old man’s heart to deny his son anything. For
decades he had mourned his son’s death, only to find him alive—and the second
most important man in the world. He would have given anything to grant his boy
this request. Anything, except to betray the God who had become dearer to him
than his own life. For some time he’d known this would happen, and now the test
“I cannot.” The words seemed to hang in the air. He was
almost glad he couldn’t see…see the hurt, the disappointment, maybe even anger,
on his son’s face. “Manasseh will be great.” He paused, feeling as if his heart
was being ripped out. “But Ephraim will be greater still.”
Tears fell unheeded from his faded brown eyes. So this is what it was like, he thought.
This is what my own abba went through.
* * *
The message had
come from an unlikely source. A woman, long barren, and now burgeoning with
twins, cried to God for answers. Why did the two babes within her struggle
constantly, as if at war with each other? None of my own babies were exactly
comfortable, but Tiggy was by far the worst. About 2 months before she was due,
she took one foot and wedged it under my ribs…and just left it there. Day and
night, no matter how I wiggled and pushed, that foot stayed right there. Day
after day, week after week. My ribs were bruised and sore. I could hardly stand
After a month
of torture, she finally decided to move. Shifting position, she shoved her
other foot up under the ribs on my other side and left them there. That time, I
had no relief until she was born. There was only one of her, and I can’t even
imagine what it would have been like if she had someone in there to wrestle
It must have been
truly terrible for Rebecca, because God took the time to answer her personally.
“There are two nations warring in your womb,” He said. “One will be greater,
and the oldest twin will be a servant to the youngest.” When the oldest son was
born, even hairier than Tiggy, the younger twin, still unborn, reached out and
grabbed his brother’s heel. It was as if he already coveted his sibling’s place
till the twins were grown. Isaac, their father, knew it was time to pass along
the birthright and the accompanying blessing, which traditionally was passed to
the oldest son of each generation. The wealth alone was impressive. The oldest
would receive a double portion of their father’s worldly possessions. As far as
honor, whoever got the blessing would be an ancestor of the Messiah. And on a
spiritual level, they would be the leader of worship for their entire family
hairy, (at least Tiggy eventually grew out of it), was a hunter and wild
outdoorsman. No surprise, he was his daddy’s favorite. Jacob preferred to stick
closer to home, take care of the sheep, and steal his mother’s heart. He
considered himself to be entitled to the birthright, not only because of the
prophecy given to his mother before his birth, but because he played swapsies
with Esau—the birthright in exchange for a bowl of hot, juicy lentils.
familiar story of trickery and deep betrayal, we find the blind, elderly father
groping for some evidence that his favorite son is really before him, ready to
receive his blessing. Jacob, wrapped head to toe in goat hair (Esau must have
been REALLY hairy!) and completely lacking any faith that God will work out His
own will, intercepts the blessing Issac meant for his eldest.
of Rebecca and her son had worked, but at what cost? Surely Jacob didn’t really
think he could just pilfer the birthright blessing and ride off into the
sunset? If he did, he was in for a sad disappointment, as this rash and
dishonest act would have consequences that rippled through the rest of his
First, he had
to flee the wrath of his brother, who threatened to murder him for what he’d
done. Then, his dear mother died long before he was ever able to return home.
And once he finally did start back, with all his wives, concubines, children,
flocks, and herds, he received the terrifying news that Esau and an army were
coming to kill him. That long, dark night, as he wrestled with the Angel, one
of the bitterest thoughts must have been that his own impulsive sin had brought
this danger down upon his family. If he lost his loved ones, he had no one to
blame but himself.
Once he became
buddies with Esau, (“twinsies”, as Tiggy would say), and settled back in the
land of Canaan, he probably thought that the whole sorry chapter in his life
was over and done with. But God had other plans.
was truly sorry for his sin, and God had completely forgiven him, he still
needed more. In order to complete the beautiful character that God wanted to
give him, he needed one final test. At the end of his life, at a time when he
wanted nothing more than to rest and enjoy his time with the long-lost Joseph
and tons of adorable grandchildren, he faced one final test.
He had to
helpless, dependent on the love and care of his sons. And, when it came time to
pronounce the blessing, he had to once again turn tradition upside down. Once
again, the desires of a favorite son were involved. And once again, the
youngest was to receive a blessing that should have gone to the oldest.
Praise God, he
passed the test! But it must have been far from easy. Even more than the test
itself was the knowledge of all that his father had suffered, all that his own deception
and betrayal had put him through. Then, and only then, could he be at rest.
probably a very good reason why Isaac had to face the same test as his father,
Abraham. Both failed to trust God to protect them, and both trotted out
identical lies calling their wife their sister. (In Abraham’s case, this was at
least half-true, but nobody was amused.) Could Isaac have been judgmental of
his father’s error, and the only way to help him was for him to realize that he
was vulnerable to the same temptation?
What about you
and me? Problems and heartbreak will often come our way. Many are simply
because we live in a sinful world. But it’s at least worth a moment to consider
whether there is a deeper lesson to learn. If so, it’s not a sign of God’s
disfavor, but of His abiding mercy.
It is the love of God toward us that has decreed this. He would
lead us to abhor our own hardness of heart and to open our hearts to let Jesus
abide in them. And thus, out of evil, good is brought, and what appeared a curse
becomes a blessing.