Genesis 27-28: God is Not a Concept

When you learned for the first time about God’s omnipresence, how did it affect you?  For some people they realize that because God is omnipresent, they don’t have to be lonely.  For others omnipresence means that they don’t need to be afraid.  For me, the reality of God’s omnipresence has become a tremendous motivator for personal holiness.  The word omnipresence simply means that God is everywhere.  Because the word has been used so often and for so long, it can become too familiar.  Probably most of us have found ourselves thinking of God more as a concept than as a person.  We make it a point to defend belief in God in the public square and we love to argue about the kind of God we will believe in and the kind we won’t.  Yet, somewhere in the middle of all of this, it is very possible to forget that God is a living being “who sits enthroned above the circle of the earth.” I think this is why it bothers many of us so little when God’s name is profaned as it is very difficult to offend a concept.  

 

In our reading today, we notice as we enter this text that we are introduced to a set of people living during a particular time who genuinely respected the power and the presence of God.  In fact, they respected his power and his presence so much that they were willing to risk their own lives and their own futures in order to gain his blessing. 

 

In chapter 27, we notice that Isaac is moving toward the end of his life and it is now time for him to give his blessing.  For many of us we wonder what the big deal was about this blessing that Isaac was about to give. As we already discovered in chapter 25, Esau had already traded his inheritance for a big bowl of soup.  The birthright was worth two thirds of the inheritance and the son who received it was to take the place as spiritual leader and patriarch of the family.  Esau “despised” his birthright so he sold it very easily to Jacob knowing that having a third of his father’s estate would still have made him a very rich man and one free of all the responsibility that the birthright required. 

 

Yet, in this chapter we don’t know if Esau is beginning to mature but we find out that the blessing was something that Esau really wanted.  The blessing would be a prophesy from God for his life that his father would bestow upon him and this promise would follow him and his children’s children.  As the reading shows, Jacob and his mother Rebekah set up a covert operation and literally stole the blessing from Esau.  God’s promise that the older would serve the younger became enshrined the moment that Isaac prayed this blessing upon the head of Jacob.   While there are aspects to this that are hard to understand, there is one thing we do understand: these people actually believed that God would fulfill whatever blessing was pronounced on each of the boys.  They understood that God himself was behind the blessing that they would receive.  The power of the blessing did not come from Isaac bu from the God who inspired him to say what he said.  This is why the blessing could not be changed once everyone realized that Jacob had deceived his brother.  God was ultimately behind Isaac’s blessing of Jacob and he was also the one who determined what Esau’s future would be as well.  Isaac did not refrain from blessing Esau because he didn’t want to but because he couldn’t.  His blessing was from the God who was present, not from his own imagination.  While, ultimately, this circumstance seemed to be manipulated by Jacob, it was ultimately God’s will that prevailed.  Once again, the money issues had already been decided, but it was God’s blessing for the future that was really sought and it was when Esau felt as though God’s blessing had been stolen from him and his posterity.  Because of this Esau was now ready to do Jacob in. 

 

Jacob and his mother Rebekah had some advance warning on the intention of Esau so Jacob was sent off to the home of Laban his uncle (Rebekah’s brother), in order to find a wife.  On his way he stopped at a place in his travels for the night called Luz.  When he drifted off to sleep, he had an amazing dream in which he saw angels traveling up and down a ladder between earth and heaven.  At the very top of this stairway was God himself and in the dream God reaffirmed the promise that he had made to Abraham and to Isaac.  When Jacob awoke from his dream he named the place “Bethel”. The name is very interesting as the word “beth” in Hebrew means house and “el” is one of the words for God.  In other words, he named the place “house of God.”  After this experience Jacob’s relationship with the Lord took on more significance and with it came a growing realization of God’s continual presence in his life.  “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father’s house, then the LORD will be my God and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s hose, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.”  It is amazing here that while Abraham walked with God and Isaac walked with God, Jacob still hadn’t made up his mind about whether he was going to walk with God.  Yet, this experience was one in which God demonstrated his abiding presence through the dream would become the beginning of a deep work of grace in the young patriarch’s life.

 

So where are you in your walk with Jesus Christ?  Is he real or is he a concept for you?  When you are tempted to sin, do you remind yourself that he sees exactly what you are doing?  When you discuss him and what he does, do you talk like an impartial observer who is judging between the merits of various ideas? Are you passionate about the idea of God or are you passionate about God himself? Ecclesiastes 5:7 became my life verse as I began to grow in my understanding of God’s omnipresence and this doctrine’s practical application to my life, “much dreaming and many words are meaningless. Therefore, stand in awe of God.”  Isaac, Rebekah, Esau and Jacob all realized what was at stake when it came to God’s blessing.  God was real for them, not as a concept but as a mighty and holy being who is the true king of the universe.  If every Christian would begin to really interact with God, as he is, the world will be turned upside down.  God is not a concept . . . he is a person; may we all live in continual awe of him for he is worthy and he is ever-present.

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2 Responses to “Genesis 27-28: God is Not a Concept”

  1. Derek Taylor Says:

    Since we started reading about Abraham and Job’s direct communication with God, I’ve been thinking – and praying – about this idea a lot. It really made me wonder, shouldn’t we in the age of the new covenant have at least as much of a sense of God’s presence as Abraham and Moses did? I’ve also been thinking about how these encounters with God shaped these men’s lives. They were never the same.

    I’ve been thinking about how easy it is for me to pray as if God is a concept – to believe that He theoretically hears my prayers and may answer, but that my prayers go through a series of channels, almost like submitting paperwork to a big beauracracy. This has caused me to see that my thinking is totally wrong – I want to relate to God the way these men did – and like Jesus taught His disciples to – approaching him as “Abba (Father)”. I’ve heard that this was quite a shocking thing for the Jews to hear, that God wants to be approached in such intimate terms.

    I just wanted to share this, because reading through Job and Genesis is really having an impact on my prayer life. I’m in search of a more relational prayer life – not an “experience”, mind you- but a greater closeness with our Lord. In the process, I’ve discovered a new freedom to be honest with God about my shortcomings and to tell Him of my desperate need for Him, in more specific ways. And I have also experienced His presence in a more tangible way than I have in years.

  2. Bruce Smith Says:

    Thanks for your comment Derek. It is amazing how often those of us in ministry can divorce the living being from our idea of God. Personally, I have made the same mistake. In fact, making a change when I realized this led to a great awakening in my own walk with God. I really appreciate hearing about the work that God is doing in your life.

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