READ AT BEGINNING OF SERVICE:
Proverbs 23:22-25 (NIV)
22 Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old. 23 Buy the truth and do not sell it; get wisdom, discipline and understanding. 24 The father of a righteous man has great joy; he who has a wise son delights in him. 25 May your father and mother be glad; may she who gave you birth rejoice!
Genesis 27:25-34 (NIV)
25 Then he said, “My son, bring me some of your game to eat, so that I may give you my blessing.” Jacob brought it to him and he ate; and he brought some wine and he drank. 26 Then his father Isaac said to him, “Come here, my son, and kiss me.” 27 So he went to him and kissed him. When Isaac caught the smell of his clothes, he blessed him and said, “Ah, the smell of my son is like the smell of a field that the LORD has blessed. 28 May God give you of heaven’s dew and of earth’s richness– an abundance of grain and new wine. 29 May nations serve you and peoples bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may the sons of your mother bow down to you. May those who curse you be cursed and those who bless you be blessed.” 30 After Isaac finished blessing him and Jacob had scarcely left his father’s presence, his brother Esau came in from hunting. 31 He too prepared some tasty food and brought it to his father. Then he said to him, “My father, sit up and eat some of my game, so that you may give me your blessing.” 32 His father Isaac asked him, “Who are you?” “I am your son,” he answered, “your firstborn, Esau.” 33 Isaac trembled violently and said, “Who was it, then, that hunted game and brought it to me? I ate it just before you came and I blessed him–and indeed he will be blessed!” 34 When Esau heard his father’s words, he burst out with a loud and bitter cry and said to his father, “Bless me–me too, my father!”
Fatherhood has changed a lot over the years. I heard this past week about a father being asked who was in charge at his home. He answered, “Well, my wife bosses the children. My children boss the dog & cat, & I can say anything I want to the geraniums.
Fatherhood may have changed a bit in our society, but I don?t think God?s perception of what the father is to be & do has changed.
So this morning, we are looking at the 27th chapter of Genesis. Here we have the story of Isaac bestowing his blessing to Jacob. Of course, the blessing was intended for the oldest son, Esau. But through deception the blessing was given to Jacob instead.
As you may remember, Isaac & Rebecca had twin sons, Esau & Jacob, who were not anything alike. Esau was an outdoorsman with hairy arms & hands & he loved hunting & fishing. Jacob was more of a homebody, & spent a lot of time with his mother.
Now in this story we learn that their father, Isaac, has grown old & blind, & he decides it is time to pass on the blessing to his oldest son.
A Jewish father?s blessing was a formal passing on of the father?s honor & authority to his oldest son. And since the oldest son was assuming the leadership responsibilities of the family or tribe, he also received a double share of his father?s possessions. So the bestowing of the blessing was a very important event indeed.
In vs?s 2-4 Isaac tells Esau, “I am now an old man & don?t know the day of my death. Now then, get your weapons – your quiver & bow – & go out to the open country to hunt some wild game for me. Prepare me the kind of tasty food I like & bring it to me to eat, so that I may give you my blessing before I die.”
So Esau leaves, & while he is gone, Rebecca seizes the opportunity to secure the blessing for Jacob, who was her favorite. She quickly prepares some tasty food & tells Jacob to put on Esau?s best clothes. To help fool blind old Isaac, she puts goat skin on Jacob?s hands & arms to make them feel hairy. Then she sends him in with the food to ask for the blessing.
Listen to vs. 19, “Jacob said to his father, `I am Esau, your firstborn. I have done as you told me. Please sit up & eat some of my game so that you may give me your blessing.?”
Isaac was suspicious because Jacob?s voice didn?t sound like Esau?s. So he asked, “How did you find it so quickly, my son?” Jacob replies, “The Lord your God gave me success.”
Then vs. 21, “Isaac said to Jacob, `Come near so I can touch you, my son, to know whether you really are my son Esau or not.? Jacob went close to his father Isaac, who touched him & said, `The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau.? He did not recognize him, for his hands were hairy like those of his brother Esau; so he blessed him.”
Now the blessing that was given is found in vs?s 27-29. “So he went to him & kissed him. When Isaac caught the smell of his clothes, he blessed him & said, `Ah, the smell of my son is like the smell of a field that the Lord has blessed. May God give you of heaven?s dew & of earth?s richness – an abundance of grain & new wine.
“May nations serve you & peoples bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, & may the sons of your mother bow down to you. May those who curse you be cursed & those who bless you be blessed.”
After he received the blessing from his father, Jacob left. Shortly after, Esau came in with the game that he had killed & prepared, & was ready to receive his father?s blessing.
Listen to vs?s 33-34. “Isaac trembled violently & said, `Who was it, then, that hunted game & brought it to me? I ate it just before you came & I blessed him – & indeed he will be blessed!? When Esau heard his father?s words, he burst out with a loud & bitter cry & said to his father, `Bless me – me too, my father!?”
Dr. Gary Smalley wrote a book entitled, “The Blessing.” In it he examines the blessing that Isaac bestowed upon Jacob & he says, “The blessing contains 4 ingredients that ought to be present in every home today. And when those 4 ingredients are present, & practiced consistently, then our children grow up solid, secure & confident of themselves, able to go out into the world & function normally.”
But if those ingredients are absent in the home, then too often the child ends up like Esau, steeped in bitterness & anger.
So let me share with you today the 4 ingredients of Isaac?s blessing.
I. THE FIRST INGREDIENT WAS A MEANINGFUL TOUCH
“The first ingredient,” Dr. Smalley says, “was a meaningful touch.” Notice vs. 22, “Jacob went close to his father Isaac, who touched him.” Vs. 26 says, “Then his father Isaac said to him, `Come here, my son, & kiss me.”
Now this is not an isolated incident in scripture. Almost every time a blessing is bestowed in Hebrew culture, it involves touching – the laying on of hands, a kiss, an embrace – something that conveys acceptance & love.
The 10th chapter of the Gospel of Mark says that people brought children to Jesus so that He could touch them. Jesus took them & placed them on his knee, & laid His hands upon them, & the scripture says, “He blessed them.”
Jesus knew exactly what children need to feel loved & accepted. So He touched them & blessed them.
It?s important to do that in our homes, too. When children are very small you can?t communicate love with words because they don?t understand words yet. But the best way to communicate love to a very small child is to demonstrate it by touching them, cuddling them, & holding them close.
Jacob was 40 years old when Isaac touched him & kissed him to convey the blessing to him. And no matter the age, I think it is important to continue to communicate love & acceptance & affection in some meaningful way.
The first ingredient of the blessing was a meaningful touch.
II. THE SECOND INGREDIENT WAS A SPOKEN MESSAGE OF AFFECTION & LOVE
The 2nd ingredient was a spoken message of affection & love. Listen as he blesses his son in the last part of vs. 27, “Ah, the smell of my son is like the smell of a field. . .”
Now I suppose that today?s child would not consider it a compliment to be told, “You smell like a field. I just wanted you to know that.”
But to an old outdoorsman like Isaac, who thought he was speaking to Esau, the smell of a field about ready for harvest was a great smell. It was a compliment, a positive message that communicated his love & affection.
You see, too often parents are quick to criticize & remind children of their mistakes. “You dummy, why did you spill the milk?” “You?re lazy.” “You?re too fat.” Words of criticism that really don?t accomplish much. All they do is cause a child to withdraw.
I think there is room for constructive criticism. But it?s more important to communicate love through words that say, “You?re worth something. You?re such a good little boy or girl. I?m glad that God gave you to us. You?re better than any Christmas present I could ever receive. Father?s Day is special just because you?re here.”
Those are words that communicate acceptance & love. And they need to be spoken over & over again, even when our children stumble & fall. Don?t wait until the last minute to do it.
III. THE THIRD INGREDIENT WAS THE ATTRIBUTING OF A HIGH VALUE
The 3rd ingredient of the blessing was the attributing of a high value. Notice what Isaac says in vs. 28, “May God give you of heaven?s dew & of earth?s richness – an abundance of grain & new wine.”
He?s saying, “You?re special, so God will give you the best He has to give.”
We?re constantly being told that we should teach our children to have a good, positive self-image, to build up their self-esteem. So it is important to teach the child, “You?re so valuable that God even came into our world & died on the cross for you.”
But it?s not just by words. We teach high value in a number of ways. A lot of times when a child comes, we?re so busy. We have one eye on the TV & one eye on them, & we can?t concentrate on what they?re saying.
So when a child comes to talk to you, turn off the radio or TV set. Lay aside the newspaper, & look them in the eye. You?ll see wonder after wonder when you look into a child?s eyes, sparkling with excitement. They have so many things they?re anxious to tell you. So look at them, & listen to what they have to say!
That communicates value. “You?re worth something. You?re more important to me than the ballgame or newspaper. You?re an extremely valuable part of our family. I?m glad God gave you to us. And whenever you have something you need to talk about, I?m here to listen to you.”
IV. THE FOURTH INGREDIENT WAS THE PICTURING OF A GLORIOUS FUTURE
The 4th ingredient was the picturing of a glorious future. In vs. 29 Isaac says to Jacob, “May nations serve you & peoples bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, & may the sons of your mother bow down to you. May those who curse you be cursed & those who bless you be blessed.”
Isaac is helping him to raise his sights & see that his future is bright.
That is an important responsibility of parents, isn?t it? We all know that passage in Proverbs that says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, & when he is old he will not depart from it.”
We?ve always made a spiritual application there, “Teach them the things of God & when they?re old they will not forsake them.”
But there is another application. We?re to help our children find their niche, discover who they are, & why they?ve been made. God made them special. So as they?re growing up, help them understand their gifts & talents, & what they?re best suited to do in life. Counsel & guide them to become the kind of person God wants, & made them to be.
The mistake most of us make as parents is we try to get our children to become what we want them to be, other than what God made them to be.
In the movie, “Dead Poets Society,” is a boy who wanted very much to become an actor when he grew up. But his father wanted him to be a doctor.
The school put on a play which his father reluctantly attended. He was the star of the play & did such an outstanding job that he was given a standing ovation at the end.
After the play was over the father took his son home & said, “I?m not going to let you waste your life being an actor. I?m going to take you out of this school tomorrow & send you to a military academy.” And that night, that boy committed suicide.
It?s just a story, I guess, or is it? I wonder how many people have tried to force their children into becoming something God never equipped them for, or intended them to be.
Then there is the story about a little girl named Sandra who was raised in an adobe house in a rural area of New Mexico, without electricity & running water.
In fact, her mother & father had to drive to El Paso, 200 miles away, so that her mother could be in the hospital when Sandra was born.
Because they were so far away from any school, Sandra?s parents home-schooled her. They ordered a variety of magazines to expose her to the outside world. She grew up in a very wholesome environment.
Her fondest memories of her family are of the times when mom & dad took the whole family on vacation to visit state capitols. They went into every capitol building & climbed their domes, west of the Mississippi.
When Sandra graduated from high school, she went to Stanford University & graduated with honors. Sandra Day O?Connor was the first woman to be seated in the Supreme Court of the United States of America. All because mom & dad cared enough to help her see herself in the image in which God created her. And then to encourage her to be all that she could be.
Now maybe our children aren?t that intelligent or gifted. But our responsibility as parents is to help them see themselves for who they really are, & to help them prepare for a glorious future.
I think this is the mortar that holds a family together – A meaningful touch, a spoken message, attributing a high value, & picturing a glorious future.
This morning, God is the perfect parent who has conveyed to us all the ingredients of His blessing in just one verse of scripture. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. Whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”
This morning we offer God?s invitation. A loving Father reaches down to touch us, speak to us, tell us how valuable we are, & help us see the glorious future that we have in Him.