Sunday, November 9, 2008

WALKING BUDDIES: Part 19 - Walking in Deception - November 8, 2008

Deception can be fun. Take Halloween, for example. What child doesn’t love to dress up and pretend to be Spider Man, Snow White, or something scary like Frankenstein? One year, my nephew Jeff dressed up as the Empire State Building and his toddler daughter, Lauren, dressed up as King Kong, taking first place in their community costume competition. Even as adults we enjoy masquerading and deceiving others, just for the fun of it.

I think it would be great fun for my husband and me to dress up as a duo of dice. Grocery cartons spray painted white with black dots would make an easy, inexpensive and clever costume. Rex dismisses dice as a dorky idea—and this from the man who practices optometry on Halloween wearing a mask with a bloody eyeball falling out of its socket.

Looks may be deceiving, but deception is not limited to the venue of vision. Jacob, the son of Isaac, is known for his deceptive finesse. When his father was dying, Jacob donned a disguise in order to appear to be his twin brother, Esau, with the intent of cheating him out of the blessing traditionally bestowed on the eldest son. His duplicity took advantage of the fact that Isaac was blind, and Jacob was able to fool his father by covering his arms and neck with goat skin to mimic Esau’s hairiness. Because Esau was a herder, the odor of the hide further convinced Isaac that he was blessing his eldest son.

This was the second time Jacob used his wiliness against his brother. When Esau came to him hungry and asked for a bowl of the stew Jacob was cooking, Jacob agreed to his request—under one condition:

“First sell me your birthright.”

Esau replied, “I am about to die. What good is the birthright to me?”

To seal the deal, Jacob added, "Swear to me first.” Esau complied.

A cunning opportunist, Jacob knew his brother’s Achilles’ heel and took advantage of Esau in a moment of weakness. Like Isaac, his father, Jacob usurped the blessings of the firstborn son. In Isaac’s case, his father, Abraham, favored Isaac over Ishmael. In Jacob’s case, however, he defied tradition and adroitly appropriated both Esau’s birthright and blessing.

Fearing Esau’s anger, Jacob fled and did not return for many years. In spite of the major fault line in Jacob’s character, God had his eye on Jacob to become a major player in the lineage of the Messiah. God orchestrated events to sculpt the deceiver into a man of Godly character.

We leave Jacob scurrying away from the repercussions of his deception and will follow his journey over the next few weeks. In the meanwhile, how do you play the deceiver in your life? What consequences of deception are you running from? How is God honing your character?

We are God’s workmanship,
created in Christ Jesus to do good works,
which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Ephesians 2:10 NIV

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