According to dictionary.com, a definition of irony is:
We (so far) aren’t being told what that blessing will finally look like but what we are getting is the sloppy little story of how that blessing makes its way from that one man to the rest of the world.
And what a sloppy little story it is.
How Does one get a blessing?
If all you had to go on was Genesis 27, your answer would be “by any means necessary.” Cheating, lying, and wearing disguises are all acceptable means of acquiring a blessing from your blind father.
Abraham got his blessing from God who just blessed him. Ishmael got his blessing from God who just blessed him. Isaac got his blessing from God who just blessed him.
Jacob somehow didn’t get the memo. Or maybe Isaac never learned how it all worked. He thinks he must grasp something that up until now was always given freely.
How many blessings are there?
For Isaac’s family, blessing is a zero-sum game. There is only one of them to go around and if you don’t get it, you are out of luck. This is so serious that when Isaac realized that he had blessed the wrong person, he “shook violently.”
God, on the other hand, seemed to have enough for everyone. He didn’t discriminate between Isaac and Ishmael. They both got blessed.
I wonder what we do with this story. Are we to learn that we shouldn’t look for our really blessing and worth to come from others but rather, from God? Are we to learn that we are limited but God isn’t? Are we to see that bad things happen when we try to take the plan of God and make it happen ourselves?
A few pinches of irony
If you didn’t read the first three sentences of this post, please do so now. Ok. Welcome back. Here are a couple of case studies in irony:
Irony #1: Abraham’s blessing required that he leave his father’s house and land and go to a new land. When Jacob “steals” the blessing he ends up going back to Abraham’s original starting place.
Irony #2: Rebekah and Jacob think stealing the blessing is the only way he can secure a good future. That was my interpretation of it anyway. When Jacob “steals” the blessing he ends up on the run with his very life in danger.
I am reminded again of the man and the woman in the garden. God had given them basically everything but they still felt like they had to reach out and take something. Jacob is the same way. Are we?