I. GOD REPEATS HIS LESSONS that they may make the deeper impression. The intention of the record is to preserve a certain line of Divine guidance. Isaac trod in the footsteps of Abraham. We have Isaac's wells, oaths, feast, Shebah - all following close upon those of the preceding generation.
II. The SAME PRESERVATION OF THE COVENANT RACE in the midst of heathens confirms that covenant. The same lesson of special providential protection and blessing is thus repeated and enforced. Again the same contrast of man's infirmity with God's unchangeableness. The perversity of the fleshly-minded man forming a marriage connection with heathen people, and bringing grief of mind to his parents, reveals the distinctness of the world from the kingdom of God. - R.
1. Faith pursueth God's oracle through the worst of difficulties and fears.
Upon me be thy curse, my son.
I. The OBJECT which she had in view. She wished the blessing to go, not to Esau the first-born, but to Jacob, her younger son. And what, may we ask, was the reason of this preference? Did she love Jacob best? It is probable that she did. But Rebekah might have another motive for wishing that the blessing should be given to Jacob. She knew that he was fittest for receiving it. She knew that he highly valued it, not merely for the sake of any worldly benefit annexed to it, but on account of the spiritual promises contained in it. Esau, on the contrary, had repeatedly shown the greatest contempt for the blessing and its promises. But even this reason, however sufficient it might have been, was not, we may conjecture, the chief motive by which Rebekah's mind was influenced. She had a still stronger reason for wishing to defeat her husband's purpose. She felt assured that in this design he was opposing the will and purpose of the Almighty. Her desire, then, was good, and her attempt praiseworthy. The end which she proposed to herself was to prevent her husband from acting contrary to the divine will, and to assist in turning the blessing where God intended it should go. So far, then, as the object which she had in view was concerned, far from finding any thing to blame, we see much to commend. It sprang from her faith and piety, and showed her zeal for the glory of God. Let us consider.
II. The MEANS which she used for attaining this object. Here we are forced to withhold our commendation; nay, we must go farther, we must positively condemn her conduct, and declare it to have been utterly without excuse. We say nothing of the probability which there was of a discovery, and of the dangerous consequences which might have followed. Admitting that a discovery was very unlikely to take place; admitting that her plan was most wisely laid, with every prospect of success; yet of what kind was her wisdom? Was it that wisdom " which is from above, and which is first pure, and then peaceable, full of good fruits, and without hypocrisy"? Or rather, was it not that wisdom" which descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish"? (James 3:15, 17.) Was it that wisdom which our Lord prescribes when he says, "Be ye wise as serpents, and harmless as doves"? Or rather, was it not the crooked policy of the old Serpent, who is a liar and the father of lies? Rebekah, indeed, could not but know that to impose on her husband by means of his infirmity, and to tempt her son to the commission of falsehood and deception, were acts which in themselves were highly sinful. What may we suppose, then, were the arguments by which she would probably defend and even justify her conduct? She would say to herself, "I am placed in very extraordinary circumstances. Here is Isaac about to act in direct opposition to the Divine Will. Here is the blessing, which God has designed for Jacob, on the point of being given to Esau. Is it not my duty to prevent the purposes of the Almighty from being defeated? Though the means to which I may have recourse are such as on a common occasion might not be lawfully used, yet does not the necessity of the present case allow and even require me to use them?" But how vain and false would such reasoning be! What permission had Rebekah received "to do evil, that good might come"? Her duty was to be learned, not from the purposes, but from the precepts of the Almighty. Did she suppose that God could not complete His designs without her committing sin in order to fulfil them? Or, did she think that sin would not be sin, because she dressed it in this specious covering? In all cases the Law of God is to be our rule. In no case can we claim the privilege of setting it aside. Rebekah's sin, however she might excuse it to herself, was sufficient to have ruined her soul; and unquestionably, unless through God's grace she had afterwards repented and obtained forgiveness, it would have ruined her soul. Such is the case with every sin. Whatever good may come of the evil which we do, that good will not excuse the evil, nor make it less. But it may be further said, "Rebekah's plan succeeded. Jacob, by his deception, obtained the blessing; and thus God, by making the means successful, showed that He approved them." It is true that God permitted Rebekah's plan to be successful; but it does not therefore follow that He approved it. Indeed, it is utterly impossible that He could approve falsehood in any shape or in any case. He permitted it to be practised, and He overruled it for the fulfilling of His own purposes; but this is a very different thing from approving it. Nay, if we attentively examine the whole matter, in all its effects and consequences, we shall discover clear marks of God's displeasure against both her and Jacob for their parts in this transaction. Sin ever brings along with it shame and sorrow, and those who permit themselves to do evil that good may come will surely in the end deplore their worldly wisdom and presumptuous conduct. It may yet, however, be further asked, "What ought Rebekah to have done? Was she, knowingly, to have let her husband act contrary to the Divine intentions, without endeavouring to prevent him? Was she to have taken no steps in order to have procured the blessing for Jacob? "I answer, there were means which she might lawfully have used for the attainment of her end; and to these she ought to have confined herself. She should have reasoned the mutter with Isaac. She should meekly have pointed out to him the mistake which he was on the point of committing. She should have reminded him of the revelation which God had given of His will in this affair; and thus, by persuasion and argument, she should have endeavoured to turn him from his purpose. There is reason to think that such a conduct would probably have succeeded. Isaac, when he afterwards discovered what had been done, appears to have suddenly recollected himself; and, shuddering at the danger from which he had escaped, in a very striking manner, confirmed the blessing to Jacob: "Yea and he shall be blessed." It is, therefore, likely that he would before have yielded to a mild remonstrance, affectionately urged. At any rate, Rebekah should have added also to it strong faith and fervent prayer. These are the weapons of our warfare.
(E. Cooper, M. A.)
2. Fleshly passion may mix with faith in its strongest operations.
3. Affection may make mothers adventure to bear a curse for their sons.
4. Natural affection may be instant to have things done irregularly upon a ground of faith.
(G. Hughes, B. D.)
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