The Sin Snowball

“So he went and got them and brought them to his mother, and she prepared some tasty food, just the way his father liked it. Then Rebekah took the best clothes of Esau her older son, which she had in the house, and put them on her younger son Jacob. She also covered his hands and the smooth part of his neck with the goatskins. Then she handed to her son Jacob the tasty food and the bread she had made. He went to his father and said, ‘My father.’ ‘Yes, my son,’ he answered. ‘Who is it?’ Jacob said to his father, ‘I am Esau your firstborn. I have done as you told me. Please sit up and eat some of my game, so that you may give me your blessing.’ Isaac asked his son, ‘How did you find it so quickly, my son?’ ‘The Lord your God gave me success,’ he replied.”—Genesis 27:14–20 (NIV)

Today, we see Jacob come to his father Isaac to receive the blessing of the firstborn, which was not technically his because he was the second born, but had been “sold” to him by his brother Esau for a bowl of stew. Now, Isaac was clearly not aware of this arrangement, which Esau was likely to not honor anyway, as he had gone out to hunt for his father to then receive his blessing.

So, now wearing a disguise made by his mother, Jacob arrives with some venison made by Rebekah in order to trick Isaac into giving Jacob the blessing of the firstborn. And he asks, “How did you find it so quickly, my son?” And Jacob replied, “The Lord your God gave me success.” He not only lies, but he lies on the Lord’s name; he takes the Lord’s name in vain.

I want to point something out that may not be evident in the text. It’s clear Jacob is not the most skilled liar—if you’ve read earlier stories of Abraham and Isaac, you’d know they were a little more comfortable lying. Here, Jacob doesn’t seem to keep up his lie well. How do we surmise this? Well, scholars believe that Esau, whom Jacob impersonated, was an idolater, and thus it wasn’t in accordance with Esau’s character to ascribe any divine help to his success in hunting. This clearly threw up some red flags and aroused Isaac’s suspicions.

Please know that in this moment, as in every other moment where we see someone acting sinfully, the Bible is being descriptive, not prescriptive. The Bible—and by extension the Lord—is not condoning or celebrating Jacob and Rebekah’s actions. Instead, it’s laying out the truth of what happened. Theologian Joseph Benson writes, “It is certainly written not for our imitation, but our admonition. Here we see how one lie draws on another.” It shows us the dangers of sin and how sin can snowball, because as we’ll find out in the coming days, Esau was so angry that he planned to murder his brother, causing Jacob to flee.

Friends, sin is rarely on an island. Sin has a way of building, growing, and eventually causing an avalanche of destruction. I pray we may resist the temptation to fall into sin when it creeps at our door, even if that sin promises a bountiful reward—a common honey trap of sin. I pray we may flee from sin, so we don’t have to try to flee from the consequences of our sin.

DIG: Did you notice that Jacob doesn’t say, “The Lord our God,” “The Lord my God,” or even “The Lord God” when lying to Isaac. He says, “The Lord your God.” Why do you think that is?

DISCOVER: How have you seen sin’s snowballing effect in your own life? How can you keep yourself from it?

DO: Pray and ask the Lord today to strengthen you to do right. Pray Titus 2:11–14 over your life.