Isaac and Jacob

"By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff." -- Hebrews 11:20-21

These two verses detail the actions of two dying men—a father and son. Before Esau and Jacob were born, while still in their mother’s womb, she was told that "the elder shall serve the younger."

Insofar as God is concerned, there are only two men, and these are typified in Jacob and Esau. Notice that, in our verse, the older son, Esau, is mentioned last, and Jacob, the younger son, is mentioned first.

We read in the New Testament: "The first man is of the earth earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven." It is not in the first man, but the second, that God’s blessing is found. We read that "in Adam, all die, but all in Christ shall be made alive."

In a sense, these two boys—Esau and Jacob—picture one person. When a person receives new life in Christ, he is really two persons. He has his own fleshly nature that he received through Adam, and he has a new life and nature received through Christ.

These two natures war against each other, and it is God’s purpose that the old nature should be subject to the new nature from the moment we were born into the family of God.

"When once my all I ventured
On Christ and His atoning blood,
God’s Holy Spirit entered
And I was born of God."

Here Jacob remembered the word of God to his mother that the elder shall serve the younger, and he coveted the blessing that God had foretold. We read in Genesis 48 the account of Joseph’s bringing his two sons to dying Jacob for his blessing. We are expressly told that Jacob’s eyes were dim—he was virtually blind.

Joseph presented his sons so that Jacob’s right hand—the hand of preeminent blessing—would be placed on Manasseh’s head–the older of the two. However, wily Jacob, who had deceived his old father, was not to be so thwarted by his beloved son, Joseph. We read that he guided his hands "wittingly" by crossing them, placing his right hand on the head of Ephraim, the younger son.

Our text says, "By faith Jacob blessed both the sons of Joseph." It is the Cross that sets aside the man after the flesh and gives Christ—the second Man, the Lord from heaven—the place of preeminence He rightly deserves.

Manasseh’s name means "forgetfulness," and Ephraim’s name means "fruitfulness." There’s nothing for God in the old man, but all in the new man. In Christ, every believer has been "created unto good works (not by them), which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them."

"They that are in the flesh cannot please God." The purpose of the Cross is to get rid of me, so that Christ might have His proper place—the elder shall serve the younger—a divine principle.

"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, Who loved me, and gave Himself for me" (Gal. 2:20).

Our old man has been crucified with Christ. He died for my sins—to get rid of my sins—the fruit of my sinful life; but He was crucified to get rid of me, for we read: "I know that in me, that is in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing."

By his parable in action, Jacob shows us that the old man is set aside so that the new man (Christ) might be seen in us who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

It is then that Jacob "worshipped." Philippians 3:3 tells us that believers "worship God in the Spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh."

Jacob worshipped, "leaning upon the top of his staff." The believer puts no confidence in the flesh, but complete confidence in the Lord, even as we are exhorted: "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding."

"Leaning on Jesus, safe and secure from all alarms." His Word of truth, which shall never pass away, is the full resource of every believing child of God.

"By faith, Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel, and gave commandment concerning his bones." Genesis 50:22-26 relates the story of this verse. Joseph twice reminded his brothers, "God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which He sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob." He made his brothers take an oath that, when they left for the promised land, they would carry his bones with them.

The Bible later recorded that they were faithful to that promise and buried Joseph’s bones in the land God promised them.

It could have been a short journey, but forty years elapsed before Israel entered the land. As they carried Joseph’‘s bones in that coffin all during the wilderness journey, we can well imagine some of the children asking their parents, "What’s in that coffin?"

They would be told, "These are the bones of our saviour. He’s the one that we hated and sold into Egypt. Joseph told us that we meant it for evil, but God meant it for good and sent him before us to preserve us alive."

In a similar situation, on the very day our Lord was crucified, He ate the Passover

with His disciples in the upper room. There He took a loaf of bread into His hands, gave thanks and broke it, saying, "This is My body, which is given for you." Likewise, He took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new testament in My blood, which is shed for you" (Luke 22:19-20).

We who know the Lord, like the Israelites, are on a journey from a world under the judgment of God to our promised land above.

Joseph’s bones still lie buried in Israel; but our Saviour went through death, arose, and now lives in the power of an endless life—the guarantee that, because He lives, we shall live, also. We constantly need to be reminded that all God’s blessings are contingent on Christ’s death and resurrection. All along our earthly journey, He has furnished the memorial of His death. There is a time limit for these emblems. "As oft as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do show forth (preach) the Lord’s death till He come."

As long as we are here, we need these emblems; but when we get to our heavenly home, we will have Him, instead of the emblems of His death.

"Our souls look back to see
The burden Thou didst bear
When hanging on the accursed tree,
For all our guilt was there."

We look backward to our Lord’s death; we look upward to see Him on the Throne—"God hath made this same Jesus both Lord and Christ;" and we look onward "till He come!"

"The day of all days is coming at last;
The day of all days when sorrows are past;
The day of all days, when we, by His grace
Shall see, with delight, His wonderful face!"


O Lord! ‘Tis but a little while,
The desert will be o’er;
And I shall see Thy heavenly smile,
And never lose it more.

It makes my heart with rapture beat,
The thought of that bright day,
When I shall worship at Thy feet,
And bask beneath Thy ray.

It cheers this weary, tempted breast,
Midst all its anxious strife;
The blessed hope of God’s own rest,
The crown of endless life.

My faith anticipates the day,
When sin and Satan’s power
Forever shall be swept away,
And death shall be no more.

But oh, the thought of seeing Thee,
In all Thy glorious light,
Who groaned, and bled, and died for me,
In love’s mysterious might!

Thy blood has washed me from my sin,
Thy righteousness my dress;
Thine arm has led, by power unseen
Of mercy, truth, and grace.

O Lord, Thou hast prepared a crown
Of glory bright for me;
At Thy dear feet I’ll cast it down,
And give all praise to Thee!

... James G. Deck