“By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.”
– Hebrews 11:20
We almost always judge God’s providential acts wrongly. We almost always mistake evil for good and good for evil. We almost always mistake God’s curse for his blessing and God’s blessing for his curse.
Without question, the countless evils that befall our nation and the other nations of the world in these dark, dark days are displays of the providential judgments of God upon a generation that has persistently turned his back upon him and despised him. Let us be warned. These things are but a foretaste of things to come. Indeed, they are but a foretaste of that great and terrible day when God shall bring us all to stand before his bar.
Yet, we must never imagine that God’s providential acts of judgment upon this nation or any other are acts of judgment against his own elect. Those things that appear to the natural mind to be God’s judgments are, in reality, God’s blessings upon his own; and, more often than not, those things that appear to the natural mind to be God’s blessings upon unbelieving people are acts of divine judgment against them. It is written, "There shall no evil happen to the just: but the wicked shall be filled with mischief" (Pro. 12:21) God always does good for his own (Jer. 32:38-42; Isa. 3:10), giving them grace they do not deserve, and always brings judgment upon the wicked, giving them their just reward (Isa. 3:11). Even when it appears that he is blessing them, “it is that they shall be destroyed forever” (Ps. 92:7).
When David thought on these things, he wrote, “Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction. How are they brought into desolation as in a moment! They are utterly consumed with terrors!” (Ps. 73:18-19).
The Holy Spirit tells us that Isaac blessed both his sons, Jacob and Esau, concerning things to come by faith. The blessing of Isaac upon Esau was, in reality, the curse of God upon him. God gave him all that his heart desired of this world. He was “blessed” as the world would say, in health, prosperity, power, influence, and family; but God had set the world in his heart, and that reprobate man whom God hated was and is forever cursed by his blessings (Ecc. 3:9-11).
Isaac knew that was what he was doing by the blessing he pronounced upon Esau. He knew God had justly rejected his beloved son. When the old patriarch was dying, he acted in faith, bowing to the will of God. Esau was cursed, though he appeared to be blessed. It looked like God loved Esau, though he hated him.
Jacob was blessed, though he appeared to be cursed. It looked like God hated Jacob though he loved him. Jacob’s life, to all outward appearance, seems to have justified his cry, “all these things are against me” (Gen. 42:36). In reality, though all the things he experienced, bitter and painful as they must have been, were working together for his everlasting good.
When Isaac was about to die he called Esau and told him to go out, kill a deer, and make a batch of his favorite stew, and promised when he returned that he would pass along to him the patriarchal blessing, the blessing of God’s covenant. But Esau had already sold his birthright and the blessing of it to Jacob.
Rebekah overheard the conversation between Isaac and Esau. Therefore, she called Jacob and urged him to pretend to be Esau that he might deceive Isaac into blessing him instead of Esau. Because Isaac was an old man and nearly blind, their scheme worked. By the time Esau returned to Isaac, Jacob had already obtained the blessing.
Esau was so angry that he swore he would kill Jacob as soon as Isaac died. So Jacob fled from his brother and took refuge under the roof of Rebekah’s brother, Laban. Laban may have been the only man living more conniving than Jacob; but that is another story. Jacob spent fourteen years serving his uncle Laban, married his daughters Leah and Rachel, and was greatly blessed of God in everything he touched. The Lord gave him a huge family, tremendous herds of sheep and cattle, and great wealth.
After serving Laban for twenty years, Jacob said, “I’ve had enough of this” and resolved to return to the land of his fathers. Always the schemer, on his way home, he began to make plans to appease Esau. He sent huge presents, one on the heels of another. Yet, when he heard that Esau was coming with four hundred men to meet him, he was scared to death. When the two brothers finally met (Gen. 33:1-11), Esau said to Jacob, “I have enough.”
Both Esau and Jacob declared themselves content with that which they possessed. What a rare sight this is. Seldom do we meet any who are content, who have enough to satisfy them. But here are two men who were content. More than that, these two men were brothers. Yet, the only thing in the characters of these two men, which they had in common, was the fact that they were content with what they possessed. In every other way, these two brothers were as unalike as two brothers could be.
But the words that Jacob used when he said, “I have enough,” and the words Esau used were completely different. When Jacob said, “I have enough,” he was referring to much more than his earthly, material riches. In fact, those things really had nothing at all to do with what he was talking about. Jacob said what Esau could never say. He said what every true believer can and should say; but it was something the unbeliever can never say. Jacob said, “ I have all things” (Gen. 33:11). Truly, that person who has all things has enough! Esau had the world, and was content with it. Jacob had Christ and, having Christ, had all things; and he was content.