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My son and me

Genesis 27 finds Isaac old and blind. Unsure when he’ll die, he asks Esau to hunt and cook wild game so he can eat and give Esau his blessing. Rebekah overhears this, has Jacob kill a couple goats, and cooks them for Isaac. She covers Jacob with the goat skins and dresses him in Esau’s best clothes.

Jacob presents himself as Esau and serves Isaac the food. Isaac is skeptical. He asks whether Jacob really is Esau. He asks to touch him. He feels the hairy goat skins, which are like Esau’s hairy arms. Isaac asks Jacob to kiss him. When he gets close, he smells Esau’s clothes. He is convinced that Jacob is Esau, and God’s blessing pours from his lips. Jacob becomes heir of the richness of grain and wine; he becomes master over his brothers and family.

Esau is the son his father loves. Because Jacob is in the goat skins, in Esau’s clothes, and has Esau’s fragrance, he is, to Isaac, the son Isaac loves. Christ is the Son our heavenly Father loves. Jesus gave His life for us. He became a sin offering, like the goats offered on the day of atonement and at other times. His offering covers us like the goat skins covered Jacob.

Jesus clothes us with Himself. He is the best clothes. He covers the nakedness we’ve known since the fall. This is our shame and the self-consciousness of sin. Nakedness itself wasn’t an issue. In the beginning, Adam and Eve were naked and felt no shame. After the fall, they were conscious of self and sin. Jesus covers us to ourselves as well as to the Father, outwardly and inwardly.

Jesus also gives us His essence, His fragrance. Paul writes that we are the aroma of Christ *to God* (2 Cor. 2:15). To God, we are the Son He loves in all the little, intangible ways only He would know. To God, we are the Son He loves even when we draw intimately near–as Jacob did to kiss Isaac. And all the blessing in God’s heart toward the Son He loves comes pouring out on us–by virtue of Christ. But this is no mere trick as Jacob tricked Isaac. Jesus has given Himself to us so completely there is no distinguishing between us and the Son the Father loves.

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Esau sold his birthright to Jacob (Heb. 12:16). At that point, Jacob became the legal firstborn. He was, in that sense, entitled to Isaac’s blessing. Even before Esau sold his birthright, God told Rebekah that “the older will serve the younger” (Gen. 25:23). God declared Jacob the heir at birth though he was not heir according to natural birth order.

Yet, when it came time for Isaac to bless one of his sons, he intended to bless Esau. Rebekah moved quickly to arrange for Jacob to take on his brother’s identity so that he would receive his father’s blessing.

It is a fact that we are heirs in Christ. Because Jesus is the Son His Father loves, we are loved and blessed in Him. But the Spirit is active like Rebekah. He works to conform us to the image of God’s Son just as Rebekah worked to conform Jacob to Esau’s likeness (Rom. 8:29; 2 Cor. 3:18). Unlike Rebekah, the Spirit of the Lord doesn’t just work an outward conformity. He makes Christ permeate us so that His essence emanates like a fragrance.

The Holy Spirit also works Christ into us to such a degree that there is no distinguishing between Him and us. We are not a cosmetic fake. We are transformed inside-out. Being clean on the inside, the cup is then clean on the outside (Matt. 23:26). In this way, we grow into the blessing that is already promised. In all things we grow up into our head, who is Christ (Eph. 4:15).

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