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God’s Word for You

Hebrews 11:20

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Thursday, December 18, 2014

20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future.

This is a wonderful passage, because it takes us back to an event from earlier in the Bible which we almost always focus on from a different perspective. Who can read or recount the story of Jacob blessing his sons without getting caught up in the deception of Isaac and Rebekah or the sinful attitude of Esau who despised his birthright? A bowl of stew, a hunting trip, a craving for something “tasty,” the goats, the goatskins, the venison, the blind father; the outraged and desperate brother. Those things take up so much of the story—and so much of our attention—that we forget the point. Isaac blessed his sons. The content of the blessing is not the point (Esau’s blessing is a prophecy, so meager that it almost amounts to a curse—see Genesis 27:39,40). The point is Isaac’s attitude. Isaac truly had faith that the words he spoke to his sons in these blessings would certainly be what the Lord brought about for them. And that’s exactly what happened.

Isaac was a living example of Luther’s explanation of the Third Commandment: “We should not despise preaching and his Word, but regard it as holy and gladly hear and learn it.” That doesn’t mean that Isaac handled things perfectly. It doesn’t mean that he was surrounded by meek and mild loved ones capped with halos. Isaac’s family was much more like a lot of modern families. Everyone had their own interests in mind, and their own way of looking at their relationship with God. They were believers, but they were sinful, selfish believers. And sometimes we are, too.

That’s why we need the forgiveness that Jesus offers. His sacrifice covers the guilt of our sinful lives. That doesn’t mean we can just sin and sin like a thief with a stolen credit card without caring about what happens to the people we hurt. It means we can show our gratitude by changing our lives with God’s help. We can start thinking about the people around us. Is my wife busier than normal these days? Maybe I can do something to help her load. Are my kids struggling a little with their homework? Maybe I should struggle a little more with them—helping them find ways to remember what they learn, and not just telling them to “buckle down” (whatever that means) and “get to work.” Does your husband need a little patience? Be patient with him. Does your relationship seem confrontational? Try replacing “You should…” statements with “Can I…?” invitations. Think of all the ways God has to say “I love you,” and try saying “I love you” to someone you love in a new way.

Loving someone often means being willing to give without getting anything in return. Sometimes it means being willing to give something up. Consider what God gave, and what you might give to say thank you.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.