It was a classic do-over. It's called a “mulligan” in the game of golf – quite a handy little tool in which you can almost turn back the hands of time and pretend the first attempt, the first mistake, didn't happen. Oh, how Isaac and Esau wished life offered mulligans…
Gen. 27:28-29 – [Jacob deceived his father, Isaac, and as a result Isaac blessed Jacob with the blessing he meant to give Esau] “'…May God give you of heaven's dew and of earth's richness – an abundance of grain and new wine. 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.'”
- It's difficult for our modern Western culture to grasp this idea of the Middle Eastern firstborn's blessing. This pronouncement was a holy mantle of responsibility originally passed from Abraham to Isaac – and one that would need to be maintained for generations to come. For whatever reason, Isaac had determined in his heart to give that blessing to Esau. Five times he tested the son now standing in his tent - making sure it was Esau. This was no small decision and no small “mistake.”
- Don't miss the irony in this. If Esau had arrived just moments earlier, he could have exposed Jacob's deception. But time ticks away in God's capable hands, to be lived once – and only once – in sequence, without do-overs or wasted regrets.
'I am your son,' he answered, 'your firstborn, Esau.'
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!'
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!'
But he said, 'Your brother came deceitfully and took your blessing.'”
- I believe this is the singular moment when Isaac realized how completely he had loved Esau and slighted Jacob. But I'm not sure Isaac regretted his prejudice. I think Isaac realized the totality of blessing he bestowed on the favored son because it left the TRUE Esau without a future – and THAT caused him sorrow. But if Isaac had succeeded in blessing Esau, Jacob would have been left destitute. Would Isaac have cared? Was there now – or would there ever be – any repentance in Isaac's heart for the prejudicial treatment of Jacob?
Isaac answered Esau, 'I have made him lord over you and have made all his relatives his servants, and I have sustained him with grain and new wine. So what can I possibly do for you, my son?'
Esau said to his father, 'Do you have only one blessing, my father? Bless me too, my father!' Then Esau wept aloud.” (emphasis added)
- It seems Esau has spent most of his life feeling as if he was Isaac's only son – the manly man, the firstborn, the favored. Suddenly, the idea of Isaac having only ONE isn't so appealing. Esau's worst enemy has taken the ONE treasure. When ONE includes you, ONE seems fine. When ONE excludes you, ONE is pretty awful.
- No mulligans. No do-overs. No turning back the clock. The ultimate blessing was given to Jacob, and Esau will get the best blessing his father can give him under the circumstances – separation from his brother. Sometimes when we can't do it over, we must do it completely different.