Substitution

Genesis 27:13: “His mother said to him, ‘My son, let the curse fall on me. Just do what I say’” (NIV).

Observation: Isaac had grown old, feeble, and blind. Knowing death was near, he told his oldest son Esau that he would grant him the traditional eldest’s blessing as soon as Esau returned with a savory meal of wild game for Isaac to eat. When Esau departed, eavesdropping Rebekah called her favorite son Jacob and counseled him to deceive her husband so Jacob might receive Esau’s blessing. Jacob was reluctant, not for integrity’s sake, but fearing instead that he might be discovered and thus cursed rather than blessed. But his mother said, “My son, let the curse fall on me.”

Application: Isaac’s was a household of broken hearts and interpersonal conflict. Esau had years earlier shown himself to be godless by trading his birthright for one bellyful of food. Isaac and Rebekah each had their favorite son, thus laying the groundwork for deception at the end of Isaac’s life. Blessing and birthright always accompanied birth order; they were granted to the firstborn without regard to character or merit. The firstborn was to be blessed. He was the one to receive the family’s wealth, the one to carry the blessing of covenant into the future. 

Rebekah’s cunning statement arrests me in my tracks: “Let the curse fall on me.”  Rebekah, loving her son, was prepared to take Jacob’s deserved wrath upon herself if it came to that. Have I not sat by the bedside of a suffering loved one and said, “If I could take your pain, your illness upon myself, I would; I would bear this for you if I could”?  In Rebekah’s statement is the anguished cry of every wife, every husband, every mother and father desperate to grant relief by any means possible, including a substitutionary transference onto themselves of a loved one’s fever and cold sweats. 

In Rebekah’s statement I hear a faint echo of a moment in time when heaven no longer remained silent, when God Himself said, “Let your curse fall on Me.” And this Father has the power, the authority to pull it off; the substitutionary transference will indeed be complete. God went to the cross, taking upon Himself my deserved punishment, my curse. Where Rebekah and I are powerless to bring relief, my heavenly Father has all power to settle things once and for all.  His substitution for me does what I am helpless to do on my own. What a stunning offer: not one too good to be true, but one that is good precisely because it is true. His sacrifice contains both blessing and birthright. Once accepted, I become His firstborn, made available without regard for my merit. 

Prayer: Father God, what an amazing thing it is to consider what You have done for me. Thank You for taking my curse upon Yourself. How I love You!

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