“Now it came to pass, when Isaac was old and his eyes were so dim that he could not see, that he called Esau his older son and said to him, ‘My son.’ And he answered him, ‘Here I am.’ Then he said, ‘Behold now, I am old. I do not know the day of my death. Now therefore, please take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me. And make me savory food, such as I love, and bring it to me that I may eat, that my soul may bless you before I die.’ Now Rebekah was listening when Isaac spoke to Esau his son. And Esau went to the field to hunt game and to bring it. So Rebekah spoke to Jacob her son, saying, ‘Indeed I heard your father speak to Esau your brother, saying, ‘Bring me game and make savory food for me, that I may eat it and bless you in the presence of the LORD before my death.’ Now therefore, my son, obey my voice according to what I command you. Go now to the flock and bring me from there two choice kids of the goats, and I will make savory food from them for your father, such as he loves. Then you shall take it to your father, that he may eat it, and that he may bless you before his death.’ And Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, ‘Look, Esau my brother is a hairy man, and I am a smooth-skinned man. Perhaps my father will feel me, and I shall seem to be a deceiver to him; and I shall bring a curse on myself and not a blessing.’ But his mother said to him, ‘Let your curse be on me, my son; only obey my voice, and go, get them for me.’ And he went and got them and brought them to his mother, and his mother made savory food, such as his father loved. Then Rebekah took the choice clothes of her elder son Esau, which were with her in the house, and put them on Jacob her younger son. And she put the skins of the kids of the goats on his hands and on the smooth part of his neck. Then she gave the savory food and the bread, which she had prepared, into the hand of her son Jacob. So he went to his father and said, ‘My father.’ And he said, ‘Here I am. Who are you, my son?’ Jacob said to his father, ‘I am Esau your firstborn; I have done just as you told me; please arise, sit and eat of my game, that your soul may bless me.’ But Isaac said to his son, ‘How is it that you have found it so quickly, my son?’ And he said, ‘Because the LORD your God brought it to me.’ Isaac said to Jacob, ‘Please come near, that I may feel you, my son, whether you are really my son Esau or not.’ So Jacob went near to 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 did not recognize him, because his hands were hairy like his brother Esau’s hands; so he blessed him. Then he said, ‘Are you really my son Esau?’ He said, ‘I am.’ He said, ‘Bring it near to me, and I will eat of my son’s game, so that my soul may bless you.’ So he brought it near to him, and he ate; and he brought him wine, and he drank. Then his father Isaac said to him, ‘Come near now and kiss me, my son.’ And he came near and kissed him; and he smelled the smell of his clothing, and blessed him and said:
‘Surely, the smell of my son
Is like the smell of a field
Which the LORD has blessed.
Therefore may God give you
Of the dew of heaven,
Of the fatness of the earth,
And plenty of grain and wine.
Let peoples serve you,
And nations bow down to you.
Be master over your brethren,
And let your mother’s sons bow down to you.
Cursed be everyone who curses you,
And blessed be those who bless you!’”
The Bible is a Book written in such a way for God to teach us about the remission of sins. This is a matter of the utmost importance to every human being. That is why the Bible teaches all of us humans how we can receive the remission of our sins from God. Therefore, it is the only guide book on salvation, the blueprint on salvation, and the manual for salvation. It deals with the salvation of every individual in various ways.
If so, why does the Bible speak about salvation in these various ways? Why does the Bible teach us about salvation through so many events? The answer is because people living on this earth are being deceived by Satan in many different ways. This is why our God teaches us in these different ways in order for us to reach salvation by showing us these various events so that He may release you and me from all the bonds which we have been tied up in various ways and situations because of the Devil.
This Account Happened When Isaac’s Eyes Were Blind
When Isaac grew old and his eyes became dim, he realized that his death was close. And so, he called his older son, Esau, and said to him, “Go out to the field and hunt. Make me my savory food that I like and bring it to me. Then I will eat it and bless you to my heart’s content.”
But of all things, why did the Bible record that Isaac wanted to bless his son when he had became blind? If he wanted to bless his son, then why didn’t he do it when he still had keen eyesight rather than when he was blind? This speaks to us about the remission of your sins and mine.
Let us continue to look at the following passage of Scripture. When Isaac was speaking to Esau, Isaac’s wife Rebekah secretly overheard that conversation. But Rebekah loved her second son Jacob more than her older son. And so, having heard what her husband was saying to her older son, she quickly called Jacob and said to him, “Go to the backyard and bring me two choice kids of the goats.”
Jacob then asked to his mother, “What are you going to use them for?”
She replied, “Your father told your older brother to bring him some savory food that he usually enjoys. He said he was going to eat it and then give Esau a prayer of blessing for the last time.”
Jacob asked again, “Then, all I have to do is to bring you those two goats?”
She answered, “Yes, you just do as I tell you.”
Jacob then said, “I understand.”
Like this, Jacob ended his conversation with his mother, and as instructed by her he brought her two choice kids of the goats. Just then, the mother killed them, and began removing the skin from these kid goats and started to the goats’ meat. Rebekah, who was fully aware of her husband’s taste buds, prepared his savory dish just the way he liked it and gave the prepared food to Jacob. As these things were taking place inside that home, the older son Esau went outside to hunt. To hunt game for his father, he went armed with a quiver and a bow around his back, putting on a coat, tying his belt tightly, and wearing shoes suitable for hunting.
But inside that home the mother had already prepared and given her second son Isaac this savory food, saying, “My dear son, take this to your father. Tell him that you are Esau and receive the blessing from your father.” Jacob then said to his mother, “My skin is very smooth, but my brother is someone with lots of hair. If I pretend to be Esau, it will quickly be detected, and I will receive a curse instead of a blessing. Even as he was talking, his mother dressed him with Esau’s choice clothes, and wrapped his body with the skins of these young goats. She then urged Jacob, saying, “Quickly, take this savory food to your father and tell him that you are Esau.” Jacob then said to her, “Dear mother, I cannot do this.” Rebekah then assured him, “If by any chance you get detected and are about to receive a curse from your father, I will come forth and receive that curse instead of you. So do not worry.” In this way, Rebekah said that she would receive that curse on his behalf if he was on the verge of receiving any curse. Therefore, there was no reason why Jacob could not go before his father, now that his mother had stood guarantee for him like that.
And so, Jacob having strong conviction in the words of his mother went to his father and said, “Dear father, are you resting well? This is Esau your eldest son. As you have instructed me, I went out and hunted for game. And with this game I prepared your favorite savory dish and brought it to you. Please I beg of you to sit up, have your favorite savory food and bless me to your heart’s content.” Isaac then asked, “How is it that you have found game so quickly?” Jacob replied, “It is because God the Father brought it to me.” Isaac then told him, “Please come near. I want to feel whether you are my son Esau or not.” After touching and feeling Jacob, Isaac said, “The voice is that of Jacob, but the hands are those of Esau.” Isaac mistook Jacob for Esau because of his disguise and eventually blessed Jacob. If the hands had lots of hair, then it was certain that this son was Esau. Esau was a very hairy man. The father could not see that well anymore due to his old age, but having confirmed that the hand he touched was hairy; he thought that this son was clearly Esau. And so, Isaac ate this savory food Jacob had brought him and then afterwards blessed him.
At the beginning of this sermon, I said that the all the events described in the Bible are the manuals for sinners to reach their salvation. But the question is why God allowed this happening to occur when Isaac became blind? Why did He record this event like this? And why did He allow you and me to hear about this event today? He prepared it like this to tell us about the core Truth of the remission of sins.
God Wants to Teach Us Something Important through This Passage of Scripture
There are lessons that God wants to teach us clearly here. If you read this passage of Scripture, you will find Jacob receiving this blessing and not Esau. He received this blessing from his father by disguising himself as his older brother. Was the savory food actually made from wild game Jacob had hunted? No, it was not. The meat he used for this food was also something that was prepared inside that home. Although his father had clearly instructed Esau to bring him savory food by hunting for it, Jacob by disguising himself as Esau made the food which was in the house. Also, he went before his father disguising himself by wearing his older brother’s clothes. And he used Esau’s name by stealth. Jacob used nothing that was his own. There was nothing that was his, not even one speck.
Let us think about this. If Jacob had said, “Dear father, I am Jacob,” would he really have been able to perfectly receive the blessing from his father? No, he would not.
Israelites traditionally used to bless their eldest sons. And they used to give most of their properties to their eldest sons. In other words, the right of primogeniture was a custom of ancient Israel. We in our country experienced this same tradition. In Korea it was the done thing that the eldest son offered ancestral rites after his parents had passed away, and because of this he inherited most of the wealth from his parents. Also in ancient Israel, many of the things that the father possessed were inherited by the eldest son. Seven out of ten was the eldest son’s share.
Let us look at this passage of Scripture again. When we look at Jacob receiving this blessing from his father, he clearly did not bring anything that was his own. He went before his father simply with the help of his mother. Jacob received the blessing from his father by doing what his mother instructed him to do. What does this all mean? It means that he received the blessing by simply believing in his mother’s words.
Read this passage of Scripture again carefully. Jacob lied from the beginning to the end. He said to his father “Yes, I am Esau, your firstborn” when he was asked, “Are you Esau?” He was truly a liar. Would you speak such lies to you father?
But what does the Bible say about this? It tells us that the one who lied received the blessing from God. This is what the Bible tells us what happened here. Then, does this passage teach us that God is encouraging us to tell lies? The Bible will never do this. Let us look at the life of Jacob. He did not speak just one lie. Not only did he go forth in his brother’s name, the savory food was also a lie, and the hairy goat’s skin wrapped around his hands and neck was also a lie. He lied from the beginning to the end. With a series of lies, he stealthily used his older brother name, clothed himself with the skins of goats, carried the savory food his mother had prepared to his father, and like this, he received the blessing from his father.
What exactly does this all mean? What is it that the Bible is trying to teach us here? It is speaking to us about our salvation. If he had gone in his own appearance he would not have received the blessing from his father. It’s the same for you and me. If we go before God with our own righteousness, we will not be able to receive the blessing from God. We must be clothed with the genuine faith of believing in Jesus and His name. Like this, we must go before God to be blessed. We must come before God believing in all the works Jesus Christ had carried out by coming down to this earth in human flesh and not only one part of it. If we do this, God will overlook all our sins, our lack and bless us perfectly.
God Blesses Those Who Are Lacking and Have No Virtue
People often say to us, “We humans have committed and will commit sins all through our lives, so how can we become the righteous and how can our sins disappear? Did the Apostle Paul not also lament over this in Romans 7:24, saying, ‘O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?’ As so graphically illustrated in this passage, we humans are so evil and lacking. Then how can we become the righteous? You are saying things that don’t make any sense at all.” Of course, it’s only natural for someone who still has not yet fully realized the Truth of the remission of sins to have these confusing thoughts.
However, the Word of God does not teach this. Everyone who received the remission of sins and the blessing from God was lacking like Jacob. In other words, the people who received the blessing from God were those who came before God with faith of believing in the righteousness of Jesus even though they were lacking, were liars, evil, deceitful, lewd, and filthy. They were not the kind of people who came before God by having lived perfectly, virtuously, kindheartedly, and honestly. This is truly so. Only those who go before God by believing that Jesus Christ came down to this earth and blotted out all their sins by being baptized and by atoning for all those sins when He cried out, “It is finished!” as He was dying on the Cross, can receive the perfect blessing from God. God blesses us because He finds joy in our faith that believes in His righteousness rather than in our virtuous acts. Everyone who received the blessing of God makes a confession of faith like this. They say, “Although I am lacking, Jesus Christ my Lord was baptized by John the Baptist in my place and vicariously died on the Cross instead of me. By receiving the baptism from John the Baptist in the Jordan River, Jesus took all my sins onto Himself. And because of this I do not have anymore sin. I believe that Jesus has perfectly saved me by the gospel of the water and the Spirit.”
This righteousness of God is what the Bible is teaching you and me through today’s Scripture reading. It teaches us that only those who come before God by believing that Jesus came down to this earth and cleansed them completely from all the sins they have committed and will commit in the future with His gospel of the water and the Spirit receive this blessing. Only people like this receive salvation and all the blessings of the earth and all the spiritual blessings from Heaven even though they are lacking, weak, full of blemishes, prone to lie, and cunning.
Dear fellow believers, there are billions of people in this world who try to receive this blessing from God by living kindheartedly. Most Christians try to receive this God-given blessing of salvation by trying to avoid speaking lies and by having become an ethically upright person. But all these things are nothing more than a fleshly hope. We humans are creatures that even if we were to have lived carefully our entire lives, we would only be full of blemishes and full of lack. In this world you will not find one single person who is perfect before God’s justice. If someone were to try to receive this God-given blessing by having become an upright person, then that person will never be able to receive this blessing, even if that person entered a grave instead of another.
The Older We Grow, the More We Find Ourselves Becoming Awful
As we carry on living we find ourselves becoming more awful. The older we get the more we realize how full of blemishes and how full of lacking we are. Only when people like this truly know their true selves can they go before the Almighty God with faith of believing in the righteousness of God.
Fellow believers, between our own righteousness and the righteousness of God, we must decide which one we will choose. The righteousness of God says that Jesus came to this earth, took away all my sins by being baptized, went to Cross, and vicariously received all the judgment in my stead, and thereby blotted out all my sins. Should we come before God with this faith of believing in this righteousness of God, or should we come before Him by becoming an upright person with our own acts? Between the two, we must surely choose one before God. Which one would you choose? Should you not come before God carrying the offering of faith that the Father truly finds joy in?
Jesus Christ came to this earth and took on all yours and my sins once and for all by being baptized by John the Baptist. In doing this, He carried the sins of the world to the Cross on His body of flesh, vicariously died on the Cross, was buried, and was resurrected. This Truth teaches us that we should come before God and be blessed with this faith of believing in Jesus who vicariously received the judgment for all our sins. Knowing this now, will you still try to come before God to receive this God-given blessing by using human effort trying to make your deeds perfect, or rather using your faith of believing in the righteousness of God which God the Father finds joy in? We must make a clear choice between these two.
How does the Bible say we can receive the blessing of God? It teaches us that if we come before God by making ourselves virtuous outwardly, then we will never be able to receive this blessing, even if we try to do our best throughout our whole lifetime. This is why the Bible intentionally shows us that Jacob received the blessing at a time when Isaac was blind due to his old age. This is what today’s Scripture reading is teaching us.
Our Father God sent His only begotten Son down to this earth and had Him take on all our sins by making Him receive baptism from John the Baptist. And by making Him receive the judgment for all our sins on the Cross, God nullified the judgment that was intended for us. What does the righteousness of God then mean? It means that God will overlook all our sins which have been blotted out by the gospel of the water and the Spirit. He is blind at our sins and trespasses just like Isaac was not able to discern Jacob because of his blindness.
What then is it that God wants to see? By His baptism, Jesus Christ took onto His flesh all the filthy things such as our wicked deeds, mistakes, weaknesses, cunning, lewdness, lacking, and all kinds of sins. Like this, our Father God looks to see if we have this faith of believing in this righteousness of Jesus Christ. He wants to find this very core faith cemented in our hearts. And as for those who have This Faith of believing in His Son, God takes them in as His children, no matter how lacking they are in terms of human righteousness. God bestows His blessing upon these kinds of people.
What I am saying is that God will not look at the blemishes that we have or the kindhearted lives we have led so far. If God did look to see if we have led an upright and a kindhearted life, what would He do to us? Would He really bestow the blessing upon us, we who sin everyday? No, He would not. If God saw only our external acts, then He would probably chase us down with a whip to strike us down. If God recorded every detail of our lives with a video camera and then showed this recording to us, then we will see clearly that there are countless things He should strike us down while we hardly find the things He could praise us for. Just think about this for a moment. Have you ever committed something wicked? You surely do have these blemishes. We get jealous seeing others well off, and so we want to make those people suffer hardships. This is how we humans are. This is something we all know very well even if I don’t go into details about it.
Yes, this is correct. We humans are beings who are lacking in God’s eyes. Just as Jacob received the blessing by deceiving his father and his brother, no so-called righteousness can be found in us. For us humans there is no such perfection in our actions. What humans do wrong is much more than what they do right. Truly, we are like Jacob before God. Nevertheless, the one who received these spiritual blessings from Heaven was none other than Jacob. This is the precise gospel God is showing us in the Bible. If one were to try to receive these blessing out of his or her own self-conceit, then this person would receive a curse; and as for those who try to enter Heaven by living virtuously, they will all go to hell. Then who are the ones who receive these blessings of entering into Heaven? It is precisely those people who realize that they are in fact lacking beings, listen carefully to the Word of the remission of sins delivered by God’s Church, and then they believe in it with their whole hearts.
Notorious Villains Are Gathered in Heaven
And so, many wicked people who are notorious in this world for their evil deeds are all gathered in Heaven. When Jesus was crucified on the Cross to suffer His judgment, on either side of Him were robbers who were also crucified. During those times, the punishment of crucifixion was carried out only to the extremely wicked. Of course, even though our Jesus had not committed any sins, He received the punishment of crucifixion because He had taken on all our sins through His baptism. But the robbers on either side of Him were actually the most atrocious robbers in that country. However, Jesus perfectly saved one of these robbers who had confessed the proper faith.
Also, what happened when Jesus was standing in Pilate’s court? In Israel there was a day of celebration called The Passover. And there was a standing tradition that showed mercy on that day to criminals, similar to the amnesty carried out on the Independence Day in Korea. But when Jesus stood accused of high treason, the Jewish people asked for the release of Barabbas, rather than Jesus. What does this mean? It means that God gave salvation to you and me, we who are full of sins just like Barabbas, one of the most atrocious criminals of that day.
Yes, this is true. People who try to receive the blessing from God by trying to live kindly or virtuously will never be able to receive that heavenly blessing. These kinds of people say piously, “Because I am a somewhat kind and upright person, God will grant me this blessing. I am a person qualified to receive these blessings.” People with thoughts like these are under a complete misunderstanding. The Word of God teaches us something quite opposite. In Heaven we will only find sinful people. The robber who was crucified alongside Jesus, the infamous woman who was caught in the very act of adultery, and the woman who had five husbands when Jesus met her at the well. People like this are currently living in Heaven praising our Lord.
Famous Men and Women Who Had Shown Filial Piety on This Earth May Be in Hell
What kind of people do you think are in hell? In hell we might find people who were famous for having practiced filial piety to their parents and those who had lived really virtuously. Only people like that are gathered there. In Korea, on Parents’ Day the government confers decorations upon those who practiced filial piety to their parents. And when you see them, you can’t imagine just how much they put on an air of grace and kindness. They are so full of their own righteousness that no matter how severely they are harassed, they continue to tolerate them until the end. Like this, there are people who stay patient and endure long criticisms from others. They might seem great in their personalities from the outside. But what does the Bible say about people like that? The Bible defines them as hypocrites, and says further that all these hypocrites will go to hell.
Dear fellow believers please understand this one thing. People like Esau are in hell, but deceitful and cunning people like Jacob are in Heaven. Like this, the Words of the Bible are completely opposite to human common sense and reason. Why do you think this is so? It is because the Kingdom of Heaven is not a place that created man can enter in with own efforts. Only those who go forth by believing in the righteousness of God can received the grace from God and retain the right to live in Heaven.
Dear fellow believers, think about this. Did we receive the remission of sins because we lived virtuously? No, absolutely not! Fundamentally, the nature of human beings can never be virtuous. Just as the Lord Jesus said, human nature has twelve kinds of sins in it, such as foolishness, evil thoughts, fornications, and lewdness that are swarming around inside us. This is the true nature of human beings. In this world there are people who say, “The eldest in my family is really ill-natured. But the second one is so highly virtuous that I cannot fathom it out. It really would have been good if the second son had been the eldest.” But this is not the case. If you look deep into it, human nature is all the same. Someone may seem to be highly virtuous only because that person shows outward patience, but when you look at that person’s inside, you can find all of the twelve kinds of sins that are ready to work. Why do you think this is so? It is because everyone is the descendants of Adam the first man, the one who committed the original sin.
Even though everyone’s natural disposition may be the same, only those who have this perfect faith of believing in Jesus after having realized that they have nothing to boast of can enter Heaven. Those who have become the very people of God are those who have faith in the Truth that Jesus Christ came down to this earth and saved us by taking all the sins of the world away through His baptism and by dying vicariously on the Cross on our behalf.
I am sure there are people who think, “This church is strange. I think this church would admonish me to live virtuously, but it is telling me that people who live virtuously will go to hell. Isn’t it strange?” However, I am clearly speaking to you, telling you that you cannot enter Heaven without the righteousness of God. And this righteousness of God cannot be yours unless you deny your own righteousness absolutely. This is why the Lord said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3-4).
The reality is that people who pretend to be virtuous even though they are evil will surely go to hell. What about those who know unreservedly how wicked their own nature is and then confess before God and in front of other people, “I am in truth not a virtuous person. I have pretended to be virtuous because I do not want to get involved in a fight, and I am actually not a kind person. There isn’t a thing that I cannot do when I am angry. But if I live like that, those that are around me will be in agony, so I try to be patient. I am fundamentally a wicked person”? Only those who can honestly acknowledge themselves like this before God and in front of others are the ones qualified to believe properly in Jesus. Jesus came down to this earth in order to save such sinners from all their sins. Jesus Himself once said He came to save sinners. He did not come to save the righteous, because only the sick and dying need a physician. Yes, this is true. Because we are wicked and evil, our Savior Jesus saved us by the water and the blood. We who are wicked are in clear need of a Savior, the One who took on all our sins by His baptism and vicariously received all the judgment for all these sins of ours on the Cross. If we were virtuous and whole beings would Jesus have come down to this earth? Because there was no other way for people to be saved, He came to this earth.
Instead of Deceiving Yourself, Come Out before the Savior
If there are people among us who think that they are virtuous and good tempered, then they are clearly those who deceive themselves. Do you perhaps think, “I listen to what my parents say very well?” No, nothing could be further from the truth. You are good to your parents because there will be much loss and your allowances will dwindle if you do not listen to what they say. So without any reckoning of your loss or gain, would you still be truly good to them? Of course, we the born-again are good to our parents with pure hearts. Although we are fundamentally wicked, by our faith in Jesus we are good to them.
But human nature is not like that fundamentally. Everyone is wicked and there is no exception. The Bible says, “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10). It is actually like this. There isn’t a single person who is able to become a righteous person with their own wills. This is why all human beings are sinners. They are all destined for hell.
For this very reason, Jesus by coming down to this earth and through His righteous acts, saved you and me we who were destined for hell. Our Lord was born in a little town called Bethlehem. He came down to this earth in human flesh just like us by being born through a body of a virgin. When the Lord reached the age of thirty He was baptized by John the Baptist. As Jesus was about to receive His baptism He instructed John the Baptist, saying, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15). He said here that it is fitting for Him to blot out the sins of all people by being baptized. Yes, this is true. Our Lord actually came down to this earth and took on all our sins so that He may save you and me completely. As so clearly testified the day after Jesus was baptized, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29), He was crucified while bearing all our sins; His heart ruptured shedding all His blood. And as He was about to die He cried out, “It is finished!” This implies that He indeed died on the Cross saying to the world, “I have fully accomplished the work of saving all the descendants of Adam from their sins.” And in three days after His death our Lord was resurrected. Then for forty days after rising from the dead, He bore witness to His resurrection. He then ascended up back to the Kingdom of Heaven, and sits now at the right hand of God the Father.
Yes, this is all true. Our Lord became the Savoir for us. If this be all true, should we believe in ourselves or should we believe in Jesus who became our Savor? Should we only believe in our own righteousness or should we become the people of God by believing in Jesus Christ who has justly blotted out all our sins by coming down to this earth, was baptized and having received the judgment for the sins of all human beings through the judgment on the Cross? Dear fellow believers, we must have definitive thoughts between these two before God.
Spiritually Speaking, We Who Believe in the Gospel of the Water and the Spirit Are Today’s Jacobs
Dearly beloved fellow saints, we are all Jacob-like people. The Bible says that God blessed this Jacob. In order to bless Jacob, God lost on purpose when He was wrestling with Jacob. Jacob was a man who could never receive God’s blessing with whatever excellence he had. This Jacob could receive the blessing only when God blessed him. And so, when God was wrestling with Jacob, God willingly became the loser, and He blessed him. And he told Jacob to no longer use the name Jacob but instead He named him “Israel.” The word “Israel” literally means “God prevails” for Jacob had struggled with God and had prevailed. It means the one blessed by God, that is, the one who received the blessings from God.
We are all Jacobs. My temperament is very similar to that of Jacob. Although our inner characters may not be so, but if you look carefully you will see everyone is a Jacob-like person. God liked Jacob but not Esau. God does not like the Esau-type of people who go on living relying in their own strengths rather than relying on God. And He will never bless such people. In contrast, our Lord likes Jacob-like people who rely on God, saying, “I am in desperate need of God’s blessing,” for they know all too well their lacking. God blesses people like that and through them He carries out His will to bless all the people throughout the entire world.
We therefore need to know clearly whether we are a Jacob or an Esau—this is very important. We are spiritually Jacobs. But people of the flesh prefer the Esau’s to the Jacob’s. Fleshly people like someone who can always go on living with his own strength, that is, someone who is strong and firm and does not become ill. From a fleshly perspective, we are prone to prefer the Esau-like people to the Jacob-like people. But God did not like Esau. God hates the Esau-like people because these types of people do not rely on God. God cherishes and finds joy in the people of faith who come to Him for His help, rely on Him, and pray to Him for His blessing. God blesses such people of faith.
Take a Look at Cain and Abel
Adam and Eve had two sons named Cain and Abel. As time passed, Cain and Abel after being taught by their parents offered sacrifices to God respectively. Abel offered a sacrifice with the firstborn of his flock, but Cain offered the fruit of the ground. The Lord God respected Abel’s offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering. Why did God do this? God can only accept the faith that believes in the righteousness of the Lamb. Cain was someone who could not endure God’s determination. So out of anger he struck his younger brother to death while in the field.
Then God spoke to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” Cain responded, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” Up until that moment Cain thought that he was a virtuous and kind person. But after having murdered his brother, when God asked after his brother, and he answered, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” He had boasted of his own righteousness thus far, saying he was taking good care of his younger brother, but now, not only did he murder his brother, he even tried to deceive God. God then said to Cain, “The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground.” Cain replied, “I have sinned so much. I want to run away and never return. But anyone who finds me will try to kill me.” To this God said, “That is not so. Anyone who kills you will be punished sevenfold. So, I will set a mark on you lest anyone find you.” Cain received that mark from God, but he eventually ran away from God. What does this all mean? If Cain truly had faith in God, he would have said, “Yes,” and stayed before His presence. But in the end, he chose to depart from the presence of God.
In place of Abel, God gave Seth to Adam and Eve. Then when Seth became a man he had a child, and his name was Enosh. And from then onwards, mankind began to call on the name of the Lord. They prayed to God, saying, “Jehovah God, please help us.” The Hebrew word “Enosh” means “man.” But the word “Enosh” also implies “emptiness.” As his name implies, he felt that his life was so empty and useless. He thought that his very existence was like the morning dew, existing only for a short while only to vanish into thin air. This is why Enosh called on the name of the Lord God—the God Almighty, the God of creation, the God of salvation, the God who blessed his ancestors, and the God who had forgiven his father’s and mother’s sins. Because of this, he called on the name of the Lord God. He was the very first man to call on the name Jehovah. From this time, people were able to officially call Jehovah God.
Jesus’ Most Favorite Food
Only when people realize their true selves will they be able to genuinely believe in God the Father and Jesus Christ who came to this world. Put differently, only those who fundamentally know their true selves will be able to believe in Jesus—the One who saved us from all our sins by coming down to this earth, taking onto Himself all our sins through His baptism, and vicariously receiving the judgment of the Cross on our behalf. Only those who are able to realize their true selves can believe in Jesus. Likewise, those who put forth their own righteousness can never believe in Jesus. We can find many of these instances in the Bible. Cain is the progenitor of the self-conceited, and the Pharisees are the representatives of this group. These people can never enter Heaven. But all those, who know how to see themselves as they are and acknowledge themselves as wretched sinners and those who are poor in spirit and have a pure heart, can receive salvation and enter the Garden of Eden by believing in Jesus properly. People who act impunity with self-conceit, not knowing how wretched they really are will surely die. Even at the very moment they die, they will die miserably. Take a look at the tragic end of King Saul and his son (1 Chronicles 10:1-6). People of this world sometimes beautify such deaths, but in reality, there is nothing more wretched than that. The history of the Bible is like that, and the history of the humankind is also like that. People who have much strength of their own never rely on God. Instead of relying on God fully, they rely on themselves.
But what about those who acknowledge that they are lacking and weak and are in much need? These types of people have no other way but to rely on God. Because they cannot live for a single hour if they don’t rely on God; and because they will be in agony if they do not believe in the Word of God, they believe in this Word even more. On the other hand, there are people who lack nothing in their lives. They are very proud of their versatility and excellence and because of this they hardly ever seek God. And it is most likely that people with lots of money have the tendency not to seek God.
In today’s passage of Scripture, God found Jacob and blessed him. This Jacob brought an offering to his father. How did God bless him? Let us read this together from the Book of Genesis chapter 27, verses 26 and 27. “Then his father Isaac said to him, ‘Come near now and kiss me, my son.’ And he came near and kissed him; and he smelled the smell of his clothing, and blessed him and said:
‘Surely, the smell of my son
Is like the smell of a field
Which the LORD has blessed.’”
As we see here, Jacob made the savory food and brought it to his father, saying, “Here is the food that you like the most father.” And because of this he received the full blessing from his father. If this be so, then what food does Jesus like the most? Jesus finds the most joy in those who believe in the righteous work that He accomplished by coming down to this earth, that is, the work of having saved the entire mankind by the gospel of the water and the Spirit. This faith is precisely the food that Jesus finds the most delicious.
As we have just read together, Isaac blessed Jacob to his heart’s content after having eaten his favorite savory dish. The Bible says, “Then his father Isaac said to him, ‘Come near now and kiss me, my son.’ And he came near and kissed him; and he smelled the smell of his clothing, and blessed him and said:
‘Surely, the smell of my son
Is like the smell of a field
Which the Lord has blessed’” (Genesis 27:26-27).
It says here that Isaac smelled the odour of Jacob’s clothing and blessed him. It was because Esau’s odour was infused in these clothes. What does this passage really mean? It is telling us clearly that God will bestow these blessing after having smelled the scent of faith infused from those who truly believe in the righteous work that Jesus carried out after having come down to this earth, believing wholeheartedly in the Truth that all their sins were transferred over to Jesus when He was baptized, and believing in the truth that Jesus received all the judgment for all their sins on their behalf on the Cross.
Dear fellow believers, do you believe wholeheartedly in the fact that all our sins were transferred over to Jesus when He was baptized from John the Baptist? Do you believe that Jesus received the baptism so that He may take on all your sins? When you come before God with this kind of faith, God will smell the scent of that faith and see that faith, and He will then bless you.
The Blessing of God Will Come Down Softly like the Dew upon Those Who Believe in the Gospel of the Water and the Spirit
The Bible says, “Surely, the smell of my son is like the smell of a field which the Lord has blessed” (Genesis 27:27). The field mentioned here refers to none other than your heart and mine. Isaac continued, “Therefore may God give you of the dew of heaven, of the fatness of the earth, and plenty of grain and wine” (Genesis 27:28). Yes, this is so. God blesses us with the dew from Heaven and the fatness of the earth. Like the softly falling dew, God will bestow heavenly blessings upon you and me in all aspects. Just like plants hold moisture from the morning dew, God bestows His blessings upon you and me in not just one but in every part and aspect of our lives. When you go outside early in the morning, you can find that dew has fallen on every leaf and branch and on every plant. The very dust that was blowing yesterday is now wet with the moistening morning dew. In this manner, God takes care of the land. God sends down sufficient dew in tranquility. Instead of having the land drenched with showers and be swept away, God lets the moisture come down softly and make the land yield its nourishments.
Therefore, I am sure God will bless the obedient with the dew of Heaven, those who believe in the fact that Jesus took away all their sins by having them placed onto His body when He was baptized, and the fact that Jesus vicariously received the judgment on our behalf on the Cross. Our Lord did not bestow such blessing upon Jacob only. He bestows these very same blessings now, even generations later. Jesus will grant such blessing to all those who believe in Him as their Savior. Dear fellow believers, I want you to believe in this.
The blessing of God isn’t something that pours down in buckets. Calmly like falling dew, God rains it down upon us gently and evenly, without missing any single part. Our God bestows these blessing upon the lives of us the righteous. And He rains it down upon us in such an elaborate way, so full of moisture, that we will not be able to realize whether or not He has giving us these blessings. Rather than giving us His love that looks all so enormous externally, He gives us His love in a very tranquil way. I believe our Lord loves all of us, we the saints and the servants of God in this way. We find so many instances in our lives where God has moistened us with His tranquil blessings even before we are aware of it. God rains down His blessing upon us in this way. He has blessed us in a very elaborate way.
The truly born-again will prosper in their flesh as well, just as the Bible says, “Therefore may God give you of the dew of heaven, of the fatness of the earth, and plenty of grain and wine” (Genesis 27:28). If you truly hold on to the Word of the Lord in your hearts, and love Jehovah God even though you offer those great prayers, our Lord will bless you so that your livelihood and flesh will grow fat in tranquility. He will give you plenty of grain and wine, along with abounding joy. Not only will you be the only one who receives the blessing, but all those around you will also be blessed abundantly because of you. In today’s passage of Scripture, God blessed Jacob with such a blessing.
After having received the remission of sins, there are some ignorant people who say, “I don’t know whether or not God is going to bless me. I cannot wait because I am an impatient person. Blessings should be visible to my eyes, yet God’s blessings do not show up clearly in my life, making me start wondering if God really exists.” If this is the case, in whom does the fault lie? It lies in a heart of such a faithless person.
God clearly blessed Jacob. If this be so, then all we have to do is to become someone like Jacob and receive these blessings. There can be no problem with this. But what would happen if we have no faith in the truth that God has blessed us? If we have no faith then we will never be able to receive this blessing. Thus, you and I must possess a faith as follows: “I do not believe that God has blessed only Jacob. He has also blessed me. I believe this for my life.” Profess such a faith before God. If you do this by faith then like the morning dew, the blessings of God will fill your life up silently day after day. Dear fellow believers, true faith is to believe in God and to wait patiently for His blessings. If not for this faith, we will never be able to wait for the blessings that God sends down upon us softly like the morning dew. The dew may seem to you to have fallen upon everyone else. If you are someone who does not have faith with which to receive this dew-like blessing, then the dew of blessings will flow to others and not fill up your empty bowl.
We need to have faith in the fact that God has so blessed you and me, we who have received salvation. I want all of us to believe like this. When we do this by faith, the heavenly blessing from God will fill our entire lives. Although we may be lacking and weak, God loves us calmly and resolutely. Jehovah God is among us. He is the Almighty who gives us salvation. Though the fig tree may not blossom and we cannot find any fruit on the vines and there may be no cow in a broken down stable, we find joy in the God of our salvation and our God loves us, the saved. Our God tells us that He finds joy in us.
Dear fellow believers, the Bible teaches us,
“The LORD your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17).
God so loves the kind of people who have received salvation by believing in Jesus. But some are impatient like children complain by saying, “Why does He only cherish you? He should give us the blessing as well,” and leave the bosom of God, unable to exercise patience.
The Lord has indeed blessed you and me. He has already blessed us, and he will continue to bless us. Now, all we have to do is to wait silently with faith. We should exercise faith and patience to truly receive these blessings. Why don’t you believe? Haven’t we all received salvation? Yet, why can’t you believe? The Lord came down to this earth and sacrificed His body so that He may save you and me completely, and said that He will give us a gift that is much greater than this salvation. Yes, this is true. Jesus, who saved us by laying down His life for us, will give us a blessing that is even greater than this. He will give us all the fatness of the earth. Why can’t we wait for that? Why can’t we believe? If you did receive salvation, then wait in tranquility standing firm on your faith of salvation. Wait for the work of the Lord, just like a weaned child in its mother’s arms looking at her face calmly (Psalm 131:2). The Lord will surely bestow the blessing upon us in His due time.
We Who Believe in the Righteousness of God Are Spiritually Joyful
Our God allows you and me many fruits, both spiritual and fleshly. He thus blesses us, saying,
“Therefore may God give you
Of the dew of heaven,
Of the fatness of the earth,
And plenty of grain and wine” (Genesis 27:28).
Wine here implies happiness. It also implies life as well as happiness. God who is full of love will grant us true joy. Many joyful things actually occur in our lives. Although we do not have great faith, we can receive these blessings from God with little faith that is as small as a mustard seed. What else would be more joyful other than this? In today’s Scripture reading, God blessed Jacob. This means that God has also granted such blessing to those of us who have received salvation.
Isaac’s prayer of blessing continues,
“Let peoples serve you,
And nations bow down to you.
Be master over your brethren,
And let your mother’s sons bow down to you.
Cursed be everyone who curses you,
And blessed be those who bless you!” (Genesis 27:29).
I am sure that God will grant the same blessings to us the saints who have received the remission of sins. And God is actually granting us these blessings. He makes those who curse us to be cursed and makes those who bless us to be blessed. As we live out our lives, we find some people helping us unconditionally and benefit us tremendously? This is without a doubt a work that is worthy of being blessed. Actually, what they have done is good work towards us as well as towards God.
You and I are great people who have received such blessings from God. And so, even though I am lacking, I can always be majestic. Even if people speak ill of me, I am not afraid. Even though I lack strength—therefore, I play soccer not so well these days—our Father God is someone who can make devastating typhoons come about in this world with just a stroke of His hand. It is because such a God loves me, protects me, and grants me blessings. Dear fellow believers, even though we live out our lives on this earth in weakness, we are the very people of God who have received these special blessing from Him. This isn’t something that any pastor of any worldly church can grant. Such a blessing can only be realized only if the Almighty God blesses us. Let us give thanks to the Lord together, and let us firmly believe in this Word.
Those Who Received the Blessing of Salvation
The Bible delivers the Word from God through an example of a man who received such a blessing. Let us look at Romans chapter 4, verses 1-2: “What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.”
As mentioned here, did Abraham have anything of the flesh to boast about before God? No, he did not. Actually, Abraham was someone who sold his wife to save his life. He committed a terrible thing. After he came out from his homeland, a gentile king coveted his wife, and so in order to preserve his life, he referred to his wife as his sister. He told his wife Sarah, “You are very beautiful, so if I tell that king that I am your husband, he will kill me and then take you for himself.” Sarah then replied, “Then, I will do as you tell me to do.” Soon later, young men of the land came by and asked, pointing out his wife, “Who is she?”
So Abraham told them, “She is my younger sister.”
They asked again, “You two aren’t married by any chance, are you? You two aren’t living together, right?”
Abraham answered, “Of course. Please, do not misunderstand me.”
Then they told Abraham, “The king of this country has ordered us to bring this woman to him, so let her go.” As Abraham sent off his wife, he probably begged her saying, “Dear sister, go and live well. Even though my heart aches please take care of yourself.”
Dear fellow believers, think about this situation. Abraham truly lacked much and was an unjust man. He sold his wife for the sake of his life. Of course, Abraham wasn’t the only one who did such a shameful thing. His son was also like that. Nevertheless, to sell off one’s wife in order to save one’s neck is surely a shameful thing. This is why Abraham as a human being had nothing to boast about before God.
Romans 4 goes onto say, “For what does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.’ Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness” (Romans 4:3-5).
Dear fellow believers, God is speaking to you and me about how we can become a righteous person before Him. How can one become the child of God? How can one receive the remission of sins from God? Is it by relying on one’s own virtuous deeds? If not, is it by the faith of believing in the Word of God? Can we become the people of God by believing in our hearts that Jesus came down to this earth, took on all the sins of humankind by being baptized in the Jordan River, and vicariously received the judgment for all those sins on our behalf on the Cross? Or do we become the people of God by doing good deeds with our own effort? Right now, God is speaking to us about these very things.
Romans 4:5 says, “But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness.” That’s right. God justifies the ungodly. And He says that He accounts for righteousness the faith of those who believe in this Word of God. This means that God makes those who believe in His Word His children, saying, “Your faith is the correct one. You are now accepted.”
“Do you believe in My Son? Do you believe that all your sins were completely transferred over to My Son when He was baptized in the Jordan River?”
“Yes, I do. I believe that Jesus took on all my sins away.”
“Also, do you believe in My Son carried all your sins on His body of flesh and bore the judgment of the Cross on your behalf?”
“Yes, I believe that too.”
Then God says, “You have passed. You are now My child. You are now a righteous person. All the blessings bestowed upon Jacob will also be bestowed upon you.”
I will ask you once more. Do you need faith to believe in the Word of God? If not, is it faith to follow and rely on your own circumstances? To believe in God’s Word is what genuine faith is all about.
The Bible says, “Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness” (Romans 4:4-5). There is someone who gives you a wage even though you do not work for it. This someone is none other than God. Among human beings, can you find someone like that? God will make us His people just as long as we believe in Him, even if we do not have any merit. He will grant us all these blessings only if we believe in His Word of Truth. He will grant us the blessed right to exercise all the property rights of the Kingdom of Heaven.
We Have Received Salvation by Believing in the Righteousness of God
Wages is something that one receives as the payment for work done. If someone, despite not having done any work, received wages, then that wage would be something given for free. If this be so, what about our God? We were not even able to live upright before God, but the only thing we could do was to believe in the gospel of the water, that is, the water and the Spirit with which Jesus saved us. Yet because of this faith God made us the believers perfectly righteous. We received these blessings of becoming the righteous only by this faith. So we can say that this is not a reward but rather something given for free. This is because we did not do anything to deserve it.
Yes, this is so. The salvation we received isn’t something we purchased. In the First Book of Peter we read this, “Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers” (1 Peter 1:18). This verse is teaching us that the salvation we received from God isn’t something we had purchased, but rather, it is something we received as a gift, something that was given for free.
In Korea, there is a saying that goes, “If you like to get everything for free, you will go bald.” It is good to have a heart go bald, like a bald-head. People who have no hair in their hearts are most likely to become children of God. But people who have much hair in their hearts, that is, those who have much self-righteousness and self-dignity are most likely to be cursed. Even though we are lacking and weak, God acknowledges us as the righteous. He tells us that we truly are His righteous people. Why do you think this is so? No matter how much we lack, God the Father tells us that we are the righteous who are without any sin inside the gospel of the Lord because His Son Jesus took on all our sins and also because we have the faith of believing in this Son. This is precisely the secret of the Lord-given gospel of the water and the Spirit.
To those whose acts are highly upright, God says, “No matter how virtuously you have lived so far, you are merely the Devil’s offspring.” Therefore, if you genuinely want to receive the blessing from God, rather than making your acts upright, you must believe only in the Lord. Faith is first. But if you want to receive a curse from God, all you have to do is to persistently make a great effort. For example, when attending morning-prayer meetings, while others arrive at around five in the morning, you decide to arrive at two in the morning and pray fervently. Also, you then resume your prayers right after having breakfast. All you do is pray as if all your life depends on it. Then our God will tell you, “You, child of the Devil, depart from Me,” and send you to hell.
God likes people who like freebies the most. God is full of grace. I am saying God likes to show mercy on us. God made us the righteous by showing mercy on you and me who are ungodly. He saved us completely. I give my heartfelt thanks to God for His righteousness and providence.
The Bible continues, “Just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works:
‘Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
And whose sins are covered;
Blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin’” (Romans 4:6-8).
Dear fellow believers, have you all received the remission of sins? Have all the sins you will be committing in the future been passed onto Jesus as well? The lawless deeds mentioned in the above passage refers to sinful misconducts. If this be so, have you ever received the covering of those sins? Dear fellow believers, we need Jesus Christ. We are in need of not only Jesus Himself but also the righteous work He accomplished for us, that is, the work of being baptized and of bearing the judgment on the Cross. It is because the righteous work that Jesus accomplished is what covers all our sins. Truly, because Jesus took on all our sins and vicariously bore the judgment for them, we are now without any sin. As long as Jesus exists, we are sinless.
We Are Blessed Everlastingly and Abundantly for We Have Received the Remission of Sins
Does our Lord say that you and I have sins now? No, He does not. He recognizes us as the sinless and because of this He bestows heavenly blessings upon us. What kind of person is the happiest person in this world? It is someone who has received the remission of sins from God. The reason is that people who have received the remission of sins get to receive the blessings from God. God pours down His blessing upon those who have received the remission of sins. That is why David sang, “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.” Among the born-again, someone may think, “I can be well off only if I earn a lot,” but in truth, the Lord has already blessed that person as well. God has granted the blessing upon all those who have the proper faith that professes, “I am someone who has received the blessing by believing in God.” But people who say, “I must do something. If I don’t, I will not be able to live through this,” not knowing they have already received God’s blessing will not be able to enjoy any blessings and will become wretched beings. And so dear fellow believers, I hope you will firmly believe that you yourselves are those who have already received the blessings from God.
The remission of sins we have received from God is something that He has given to us. The salvation of God is something that He has given us unconditionally out of His unconditional love towards us. What you and I should do now is to just believe in this God and His salvation with our hearts. There is nothing else for us to do. Faith is everything. To cherish the Word of God in our hearts, believe in it, and wait calmly—these are the only things that we should do.
If we do this then our God will pour His blessing on all the works. Do you have faith in Jesus? Only if you possess faith that is as small as a mustard seed, Jehovah’s blessing will fill us up with the dew of Heaven and the fatness of the earth. How long then must we wait for these blessings by faith? God says, “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12). This means that God often tests us. He tests us to find out whether we truly believe in Him, whether we believe in ourselves, and whether we believe in those around us. Those who believe in the Lord God and wait for His working can pass such tests and thus receive His blessing. Of course, failing the test won’t mean eternal destruction. As for those who do not have conviction in God’s blessing, God will wait until they possess the faith and store His blessing that will be poured on them when they have this proper faith.
Are you not undergoing such a test from God right now? Believe, even though your eyes see nothing. Please live out your lives having faith even though nothing hopeful can be expected from your circumstances. The Lord surely works with his Church and His servants when He bestows these dew-like blessings upon His children of faith. I hope and pray that God will grant such blessing upon you, me, all the households of our saints, and His servants in abundance.