Monday, August 31, 2009

Isaac Makes a Request of Esau -- Genesis 27:1-4


Now it came about, when Isaac was old and his eyes were too dim to see, that he called his older son Esau and said to him, "My son." And he said to him, "Here I am." Isaac said, "Behold now, I am old and I do not know the day of my death. "Now then, please take your gear, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me; and prepare a savory dish for me such as I love, and bring it to me that I may eat, so that my soul may bless you before I die."

Isaac is now old and his eyesight is failing. Our senses have a way of doing that as we get older. For many, it is loss of vision. Perhaps for even more it may be our hearing that fades. Seldom is it our sense of smell, touch, or taste or if it is, these fail in a much less noticeable manner. Others of us will be hit with the loss of memory or the ability to think straight. I remember several times in my life being involved in a discussion as to which faculty one would rather lose if one had to lose any. For me, I still think it is the sense of hearing. While there are still many melodious sounds to hear, like birds and sound of cascading water and the comforting words of loved ones, the overwhelming ‘noise’ of this modern world I can do without. The words of loved ones can be written down on paper or like love letters in the sand, or etched with their fingers on my open palm as little children do with their mothers. And the beauty left to see in the world, as God created it, is still so great.

So recognizing his age, Isaac calls his eldest son, Esau, to come to him. We should point out here that sometimes we think we are going to die. One meaning of the Hebrew word used here for age is that of “showing great age visibly”. Yet, God may well have plans for us to live a long time. He does not want us to give up for the timing of our deaths is in his hands, not ours. Earlier today I read about a study that indicates Christians and their families do more in terms of delaying death during terminal illnesses than those that have no particularly strong faith beliefs. It is possible that our belief in the dignity for live gives us an instinct to fight for it, even to the point of resisting death to the extent possible, and leaving the timing of its actual arrival totally in the hands of God, despite all we may try to do.

Isaac calls Esau even though Esau and his wives were a sense of sorrow to Isaac and Rebekah, Isaac still held on to the tradition of the rights of the “firstborn”. These were both the ‘birthright’ and the ‘blessing’. Remember that Esau had sold his birthright to Jacob by now. And like a good son, Esau replies, “Here I am.” Regardless of how he felt about his parents, Esau knew what was expected of him as both a son and the eldest. He knew this time of blessing was coming.

Isaac explains to him why he called him, telling him that he was old and could die at any time and then proceeds to make a request of Esau. He tells him to get his hunting bow and some arrows and go hunting some game for Isaac. Then he asked Esau to prepare a tasty meal for him with whatever he caught and to take it to him so Isaac could eat it. Once he did that, he would then bless Esau with the blessing bestowed upon the eldest son, and then die.

There is a phrase there that we should not miss and it is, “a savory dish for me such as I love”. The request was specific. Isaac asked for something to be done with excellence, especially for him, and it was to be something that Isaac loved. I believe there is inherent in a parent, especially as one approaches the end of their life, the desire to see some evidence or assurance of their offspring returning the feeling of love and care that they have had for all these years from the parent. Such was Isaac’s desire. Such is the desire of all of us who have children. As I write these words, I have the satisfaction of knowing how my wife, children, and I took care of my father in the later part of his life until he died in his early nineties. This morning my wife is out taking her mother shopping and to the drugstore as it is senior’s day where she can get great discounts for the items she needs. My wife and I consider ourselves already blessed in a very special way that is rare these days in North America. We just recently moved into a new home that our second daughter’s family and us built together and this morning as I work on my devotions in my study, Esther made and brought me a savory breakfast, just for me, and such as I love. That is my particular joy of living, to the best of my ability, in obedience to what I believe God wants for me. Your experience and circumstances may be different. You may not be able to move in with your children and grandchildren. God may have for you a very different way of interacting with them so that in some manner (perhaps a special trip together, or by their providing for you in some other means), He will see to it that you get your “savory dish, just for you, and the way you will appreciate”.

And when that happens, your “soul will be able to bless them” as Isaac intended to bless his first-born, Esau.

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