Earlier this week I was reading Genesis 27:20. Isaac is asking his son how the food that was being prepared for him got there so quickly. Here's the verse:
Isaac asked his son, “How did you find it so quickly, my son?” “The Lord your God gave me success,” he replied. (Genesis 27:20)
Taken by itself, the verse seems pretty straightforward. Isaac asks his son a question, and his son answers. Jacob (the son) acknowledges God and credits success to the LORD. This response sounds pretty good, right? WRONG.
The larger context of this story (check it out in Genesis 27:1-41) shows us that this answer is heavy with deceit. Isaac thinks he's talking to his OTHER son, Esau, but Jacob tricks his father into thinking he is Esau. The motive for this deceit is that Jacob might "steal" his brother's blessing (and blessings were a BIG deal). This deceit was premeditated and organized.
And what I find so scary about this passage is that in the middle of this known, willful, organized deceit, Jacob invokes religious language. Jacob "says the right thing" by crediting God, even though he's in the middle of sin. In other words, Jacob uses theological language but he doesn't mean any of it. Jacob references God casually, as a means to his own ends.
Let me go right to the lesson: It's possible to use theological language - about God or anything else - carelessly and for selfish ends. Jacob's story shouldn't scare us away from theology, but it should alerts us to the possibility - the possibility within all of us - to "say the right thing" casually and manipulatively. We can "say the right thing" but mean none of it.
Let's learn from Jacob's bad example and be careful to use theology not as a means to our own gain, but as a means to grow in our communion with God and our glad submission to Him.
Christian. Husband. Father. Pastor. Learner. Contributor. Reader.