I never cease to be amazed at the power of words.
I've been slowly working my way through the book of Genesis in my morning times with God, today I was looking at Genesis 21:1-40. That's the account of when Issac was getting old and wanted to give his oldest son, Esau, his blessing. But the younger son, Jacob, conspired with his mother, Rebekah, and stole the blessing.
Every single time I read this account I always wonder about what the big deal is. Why couldn't Issac just say something like: my bad, it was a mistake what I said was really meant for Esau so now I'll do it again for him and give him the blessing.
Verses 35-38 seem to indicate that oral statements are binding and irrevocable. But, why?
So I spent some time today finding out what other people have to say on this topic. Here's the two comments I found most interesting:
John Calvin - "Moses does not in vain pause over this narrative as a most serious matter, we must first observe, that when Jacob received the blessing from his father, this token confirmed to him the oracle by which the Lord had preferred him to his brother. For the benediction here spoken of was not a mere prayer but a legitimate sanction, divinely interposed, to make manifest the grace of election. God had promised to the holy fathers that he would be a God to their seed for ever. They, when at the point of death, in order that the succession might be secured to their posterity, put them in possession, as if they would deliver, from hand to hand, the favour which they had received from God. So Abraham, in blessing his son Isaac, constituted him the heir of spiritual life with a solemn rite. With the same design, Isaac now, being worn down with age, imagines himself to be shortly about to depart this life, and wishes to bless his firstborn son, in order that the everlasting covenant of God may remain in his own family. The Patriarchs did not take this upon themselves rashly, or on their own private account, but were public and divinely ordained witnesses."
I find these comments of Calvin interesting because he's one of the few I could find that explain why this blessing was irrevocable, what was it's origin and importance. The whole idea was that Issac learned from his dad, Abraham, that the blessing God had given Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3, Genesis 13:14-17, Genesis 15:1-6, Genesis 15:1-6) was both through Issac and to Issac (Genesis 17:19, Genesis 22:15-18) . Before his death Issac apparently wanted to pass on this blessing to his son.
Beth Moore - "I don't think we Gentiles have no clue what a true Hebrew blessing entailed. God's ancient people were taught by His Word and example to mean what they said and never to speak or take a blessing lightly. Words are powerful. If the ancients ever erred in assuming fraud wasn't ground for retraction, we moderns tend to err dramatically in the opposite extreme. We speak words hastily and think we can simply take them back at a moment's notice without consequences. Sometimes there are simply no "take backs"."
This all hit me today because sometimes I say things that would be better left unsaid. Words are important. I'm reminded of a favorite Bible verse in Psalm 141:3(NLT):
Take control of what I say, O Lord,
and guard my lips.
May this verse from Psalms be my prayer today and every day.
What about you, do you ever struggle with your words? Have you ever said things that you wish you could take back?
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