Today’s readings are Genesis 27, Matthew 26, Esther 3 and Acts 26.
In Genesis 27 Jacob tricks Isaac and Esau gets a lesser blessing. Isaac apparently “lives to eat,” as expressed in v. 9, “delicious food for your father such as he loves” and v. 14 “his mother prepared delicious food such as his father loved.” That is probably an inordinate (abnormal) love, such that made Isaac favor Esau. It blinded him from seeing Esau’s own weakness for food back in Gen. 25:29-34.
So Isaac was not merely physically blind. And this is what has always puzzled me–why could he not tell it was Jacob rather than Esau? The answer is that Isaac was also spiritually blind to Esau’s faults.
Robert Gonzales also points out that Isaac’s own love for food and favoritism towards Esau, required that he confer the blessing “in secret,” instead of in front of the whole family (Genesis 49). When we have an idol, we hide our behaviors.
Did Isaac know that Yahweh “love Jacob but hated Esau”? Was he ignorant of what he should have known, or was he purposefully going against God? Either way, he was in dangerous territory.
While this doesn’t excuse Jacob and Rebekah’s sin, it does show that God will get His way, even through the sins of people. Maybe Isaac eventually bowed to this, for when Esau did come in, Isaac didn’t revoke Jacob’s blessing, but gave Esau another, lesser blessing.
As a result of all of this, Esau hated Jacob and would have killed him if Rebekah had not sent him away to Haran.
Photo of modern Haran by Leon Mauldin.
I got this chart from Cheri Gregory on the internet…
Matthew 26 begins the passion of Christ. Passover was coming (v. 2) and a plot was being hatched (vv. 3-4).
Jesus was in Bethany in the house of Simon (v. 5) and was anointed (vv. 6-13). Most believe this is the same event as in John 12, so it was the Saturday before the crucifixion.
John recorded that Lazarus was there, his sister Martha helped with the serving, and their sister Mary was the woman who broke the vial and anointed Jesus’ head (and feet, John 12:2-3). Perhaps Matthew did not mention them by name in order to keep Jesus central in his story. John further recorded that the pound of perfume cost 300 denarii, about one year’s wages for a working man (John 12:3, 5). Matthew and Mark just said it was “very” expensive (“costly”).
That was a big issue for Judas who saw this as a waste (v. 8). Apparently it was the tipping point for him, for he went to the chief priests to see what he could get as his “severance pay” (vv. 14-16). He needed his “golden parachute” because he could see that this venture was going nowhere. The “30 pieces of silver” they agreed to pay Judas was a paltry sum (in contrast to the “high price” at which Mary evaluated Jesus, v. 9), and fulfilled Zechariah 11:12. The amount constituted a month’s wages, if the silver pieces were denarii, which seems likely.
Traditional Upper Room, photo by Carl Rasmussen
Jesus gave directions to prepare for Passover (vv. 17-19), then celebrated Passover with His disciples (vv. 20-29), after the betrayer left (vv. 21-25). So Judas was not there went they celebrated “the Lord’s Supper.”
Thomas Constable notes:
As the first Passover looked forward to deliverance and settlement in the Promised Land, so the Lord’s Supper looked forward to deliverance and settlement in the promised kingdom. Disciples are to observe the Lord’s Supper only until He returns (1 Cor. 11:26). Then we will enjoy the messianic banquet together with our Savior and King (Isa. 25:6; cf. Matt. 8:11). Probably Jesus spoke these words after drinking the third cup of the Passover ritual.
Garden of Gethsemane
Afterward they went out to the Mount of Olives (v. 30), where Jesus predicted Peter’s betrayal (vv. 31-35) and then asked them to watch and pray with Him (vv. 36-45). Of course, they could not stay awake as Jesus faced his “dark night of the soul.” Faced with alienation from the Father, He asked that the “cup be passed” from Him (v. 39). But at every step, Jesus was willing to submit to the Father’s will.
Then, the soldiers, with Judas, came to arrest Jesus (vv. 40-56) and brought him to Caiaphas, the officiating high priest (v. 57).
This is a model of Caiaphas’s house
This is the first of six trials of Jesus. There are so many abrogations of the law in these trials.
These are just the four trials that occur in the Gospel of Mark, but they highlight some of the illegalities.
Matthew stressed Jesus’ righteousness for his readers by highlighting the injustice of His trials.
58 And Peter was following him at a distance (and that was the problem).
The lawyers had to interview several people (“false witnesses”) before they finally found “two” of them that would agree on a charge against Jesus. This was another way that Matthew stressed Jesus’ innocence. Interpreting with wooden literalism, one might take Jesus’ words as a threat to desecrate the temple, but Jesus had spoken metaphorically (John 2:19-21). He had meant that He was the true temple, the place where people met God and where God met them. Most ancient Near Eastern people regarded the desecration of a temple as a capital offense, and the Jews shared this viewpoint (cf. Jer. 26:1-19). Jesus had not, as far as the Gospel records go, said that He would or could destroy the temple. He had said, “[You] destroy the temple . . . Nor had He said that He would rebuild the Jerusalem temple. (Thomas Constable)
When asked directly, Jesus agreed that He was ” the Christ, the Son of God” (v.63) and added “from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (v. 64). They treated this as blasphemy (v. 65) and sentence Him to death (v. 65), then they spit on Him and slapped him (v. 66), then mocked him (v. 67).
The chapter ends with Peter’s three denials.
According to John 18:17 it appears that Peter’s denials took place at the house of Annas, the former High Priest. However, according to Matthew 26:69 Peter’s denials took place at the home of Caiaphas, the current High Priest and son-in-law of Annas. Obviously, these are two different homes with two different men presiding.
The solution, however, is not difficult to see. In John 18:5 Peter makes his first denial of the night at the house of Annas during Jesus’ first Jewish hearing. Then he follows the crowd with Jesus over to the house of Caiaphas where Peter makes his further denials during the second Jewish hearing (Matt 26:69–75; Mark 14:66–72; Luke 22:55–65; John 18:25–27). So where did Peter deny Jesus? First, right outside the doorway of Annas’ house and then sitting in the courtyard of Caiaphas’ house while warming himself by a fire.
Model of a house excavated from the ruins of 1st century Jerusalem. It may have belonged to Annas.
If so, Jesus was questioned in one of the small side-rooms or in a corner of the courtyard.
In Esther 3:1 Haman gets promoted. He is an Agagite, a long line of Jew haters.
King Saul, a Benjamite, failed to destroy King Agag, an Amalekite (1 Samuel 15); but Mordecai, also a Benjamite (2:5), destroyed Haman, an Amalekite.
Haman was proud, egotistical and spiteful. He had all the God-hated characteristics of Proverbs 6:16-19.
Mordecai angers Haman by refusing to bow down to him (3:2), which infuriated Haman and causes him to overreach in seeking to eliminate the Jews altogether. (It is possible that he could have successfully executed Mordecai, but he wants to do more!)
His pride wounded, Haman made a proposal to exterminate the Jews. (Neither the king nor Haman knew that Esther was a Jew.)
He cast lots to determine the day most favorable for wiping out the Jews. This was like reading his horoscope. However, God controls the cast of the die (Prov. 16:33). A day is set far enough in advance to allow the Jews to prepare to defend themselves.
Haman makes a request to the king to exterminate a people group (doesn’t mention the Jews by name) and contribute 10,000 talents of silver to the king’s treasury (possibly attained by looting the massacred people). Vv. 8-9
In 3:10-15 the king gives permission and signs it with his seal, making it inviolable.
Swindoll drew three lessons from this section of the book:
“First, from Mordecai we learn: Never forget there will always be someone who will resent your devotion to the Lord. Second, from Haman we learn: Never underestimate the diabolical nature of revenge. . . . Third, from Ahasuerus: Never overestimate the value of your own importance.
In Acts 26 Paul makes his defense before Agrippa. Paul explains his own background as a Pharisee (26:4-5). The real issue of contention, Paul says, is the resurrection of the dead (26:6-8). Then he goes through his testimony of opposition to Jesus at first (26:9-12), his conversion and calling on the road to Damascus (26:13-17). I love v. 18
18 to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me’ [Jesus].
Paul was obeidient to his calling (vv. 19-20), but the Jews opposed him (v. 21). But Paul will use every opportunity he can to proclaim the gospel (vv. 22-23).
Festus believed Paul was out of his mind (v. 24), but Paul assured him he was thinking rationally (v. 25). Then he addressed King Agrippa, “do you believe the prophets? I know that you believe” (v. 27, cf. v. 3). Agrippa felt some conviction (v. 28) to which Paul hope that ALL would “become such as I am–except for these chains” (v. 29).
A conference among the three of them determined that Paul had done nothing wrong, and could have been set free had he not appealed to Rome (vv. 30-32). Thomas Constable says…
Luke implied that everyone present concurred that Paul was completely innocent. This had previously been the verdict of the Pharisees (23:9), Claudius Lysias (23:29), and Festus (25:25). Now Agrippa, a Roman ruler with Jewish blood in his veins who was sympathetic to the Jews, voiced the same opinion (v. 32). In Agrippa’s opinion, Paul did not even need to be in prison, much less die for what he had done.
Now Paul is headed for Rome! What a ride he will have!