Old Testament – Genesis chapter 27
Today we see Jacob live up to his name and trick his father into giving him his blessing. The name Jacob means “to follow behind” or to “hold the heel”. This describes Jacob’s birth (he was the second twin and came out holding onto his brother’s heel). However, it also means “to supplant or circumvent.”
Jacob had previously got his brother Esau to sell him his right as first born for a bowl of stew. Now Jacob gets his father Isaac to give him the blessing for the older son. He does this by wearing Esau’s clothes and covering his arms in goat skins. Thus, the younger son becomes favored over the first born. This is a biblical pattern that often repeats – Isaac over Ishmael, Rachel over Leah, Joseph over his older brothers, David over his older brothers. For me, this suggests the fallen nature of man. It is not until Jesus that the pattern of the first born receiving the inheritance in corrected.
Also, notice with this example, even though Jacob obtains the blessing by trickery it still passes to him. God honors his promises. The rules he set operate as he intended even when we misuse them.
New Testament – the Curse on Capernaum
Jesus was born in Bethlehem, raised in Nazareth but made Capernaum his home town during his public ministry. Many of the most important teaching and events happen in or around Capernaum. The healing of the Centurion’s servant, which symbolized the gospel going to the gentiles, takes place there. The healing of the paralytic, when Jesus announces He has the power to forgive sins, takes place there. Jesus will go there after the wedding feast of Cana. He will give the bread of life discourse there. In today’s reading he all but curses the city.
And as for you Capernaum: “Will you be exalted in Heaven? You will go down to the netherworld.” For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom on the Day of Judgment than for you.
The key to remember here is that a city is made up of its people. So what have the people of Capernaum done that has put them in such hot water? Simple, they have rejected the thing Jesus taught in Capernaum. This has a twofold meaning for us today. First, those who will be condemned are those who reject the teachings of Jesus. Second, one cannot be a follower of Jesus without specifically understanding and accepting the things He taught in Capernaum.
Finally, the last paragraph of the chapter, from verse 28 on, should really be part of the next chapter, Chapter 12. Remember, the chapter breaks and headings aren’t technically part of the bible. This chapter break is poorly placed. Read the last paragraph of chapter 11 with tomorrow’s reading.