The Equation of Life: Genesis 27:19

Chapter 27, Verse 19 – 29:

And Jacob said unto his father, I am Esau thy firstborn; I have done according as thou
badest me: arise, I pray thee, sit and eat of my venison, that thy soul may bless me.
And Isaac said unto his son, How is it that thou hast found it so quickly, my son? And he said, Because the LORD thy God brought it to me.
And Isaac said unto Jacob, Come near, I pray thee, that I may feel thee, my son,
whether thou be my very son Esau or not.
And Jacob went near unto Isaac his father; and he felt him, and said, The voice is
Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau.
And he discerned him not, because his hands were hairy, as his brother Esau’s hands: so he blessed him.
And he said, Art thou my very son Esau? And he said, I am.
And he said, Bring it near to me, and I will eat of my son’s venison, that my soul may bless thee. And he brought it near to him, and he did eat: and he brought him wine, and he drank.
And his father Isaac said unto him, Come near now, and kiss me, my son.
And he came near, and kissed him: and he smelled the smell of his raiment, and
blessed him, and said, See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field which the LORD hath blessed:
Therefore God give thee of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine:
Let people serve thee, and nations bow down to thee: be lord over thy brethren, and let thy mother’s sons bow down to thee: cursed be every one that curseth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth thee.

You may know well the story of Jacob and fully aware of the fact the he was so blessed by the Lord. But bid me the authority to use the above snippet and tender me your open mind, for the following article may not relate well to the scriptural interpretations of the whole story. It is not our objective to interpret such however, only to illustrate by means of the example above, the inherent personality of every human being, without necessarily comparing the Jacob in the Bible with that of the modern man, and without delving too much into science of psychology, but only for the purpose of reminding ourselves of our usual improper ways.

Man is very distinguishable by the three aspects that influence the human behavior namely: physical, spiritual and emotional. However, when we speak about each of these diverse aspects of man, we can not conclude easily as to what their true natures are on a specific place and time considering their varying states depending on the situation. What could be the most appropriate basis in characterizing the actual physical form of a person, or his real spiritual identity, or his genuine emotional disposition given a specific period of time? When we are asked to describe a person for example, we often base our descriptions on the “obvious” as seen by the eyes or on our past experiences concerning that person, either of which could be negative or positive in nature. Because of this limitation in man’s ability to perceive beyond the obvious, man has learned the art of disguising not only the physical, but the entire behavioral aspects distinct to man, including the spiritual and the emotional, to ameliorate certain qualities which would effect an unfavorable impression from other judicious persons.

When we talk about “disguise”, say in the realm of the physical, we can specifically refer to the ways we dress up or cover up our unsightliness. We embroider our bodies with expensive objects such as clothing or excessive jewelry, and we even resort to cosmetic surgery, only to deflect bad impressions and enhance our noticeable externals. In so doing, we appear as “better” persons to others unacquainted of the true us – described as said by Isaac, “The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau.” We are not literally saying the identity of Esau is “better” than Jacob for we all know this is untrue in the fullness of the story. The statement only means to say, that by disguising ourselves, our hands may feel like someone else’s, but the sound of our voice remains of ours. Alternatively speaking, we may dress up and look like better individuals, yet we are still who we are within which is more important to pay attention to.

Similar rationalization can be applied to our quality of being spiritual. Hypocrisy could be the most apparent depiction of this type of behavior but such a term can be exempted for now since we are talking here simply of what is “customary” to every person irregardless of his true intentions. Hypocrisy is a “forced” act because we only compel ourselves to become hypocrites yet instinctively we know we could be not. Therefore, going back to the point of spirituality being analyzed, we humans also have the capability to disguise our internal attributes by our habitual religious practices, as brought about by our traditions, such as by going to church or attending religious activities on a regular basis, which were implanted into our minds since childhood and believing them as the most important teachings of Christianity. We become habituated to the belief that by performing these customary religious practices, we can be blessed or become “better” persons not only to the eyes of God but to others as well, without really considering what it takes to be true Christians in and out of sight of, and towards another.

Again without being literal with Jacob’s handing over of the venison to Isaac his father in order for him to be blessed, let us represent Jacob (and Esau) as ourselves, the venison as our act of praise and intentions in doing the act, and the role of Isaac as God’s. We know it was not Jacob whom Isaac ordered to prepare him of a venison therefore we can say Jacob’s venison is not the kind he really wanted. In comparison to our religious practices nowadays, we can assume well that our ways may be similar to Jacob’s venison, which are not of the right quality God expects from us. Similarly, God may also be expecting a different “us” (not necessarily the kind of Esau or Jacob in the story) but only our being sincere and devoted followers of God. If we really want to offer our faith (our own prepared venison) to the Father so we may be blessed in spirit, do it dutifully less our false intentions of merely improving our external “images” as others may see from us.

“And he smelled the smell of his raiment, and blessed him, and said, See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field which the LORD hath blessed.” We happened to mention the word hypocrisy above, so this verse might be a good exemplification of the term, and might be mostly spoken, say, by a church leader referring to a wealthy church member who is a very generous financial donor, yet attends only to suffocate others with his pungent smell of financial richness. Alternatively, it can also be said to a church leader who appears to be most holy when in front of the people yet acts unworthy of the vocation when not in sight of unwary eyes. Can we actually assume both of them are truly blessed by the Lord, just like Isaac thought of Esau when in fact he was someone else within the raiment? We may admire them and think of them as this certain type of person yet they may not be who they are if ripped off their raiment. If you happen to be in likeness to the person being referred to here, how can you bear to be an unfitting recipient of the people’s adoration? Isn’t it only God who owns the center stage especially in places of worship? Shouldn’t your objective be to impress God and not the people?

The most significant teaching we can extract from this article, which applies to every walk of life, is that we should not act like a “better” someone, not even go too far to almost behave like some god, only to gain admiration and attention from other people. Let us strive to improve from within and act like a normal Jacob in performing our roles in the society, and only then can we be considered truly deserving of other people’s respect. It wasn’t necessary for Jacob to disguise himself to prove to his father his worth, just like it is unnecessary for us to disguise ourselves to prove our worth to God and to others. It is not our appearance that is important but what is beneath our garments and flesh. Not even our acts matter solely by themselves, but together with our true motives and intentions and the consequences they bring or the benefits which others (and mostly the Lord) gain from them.

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