Scripture Is Inerrant

People aren't.

Genesis 27:34-40 (ESV)

As soon as Esau heard the words of his father, he cried out with an exceedingly great and bitter cry and said to his father, “Bless me, even me also, O my father!” But he said, “Your brother came deceitfully, and he has taken away your blessing.” Esau said, “Is he not rightly named Jacob? For he has cheated me these two times. He took away my birthright, and behold, now he has taken away my blessing.” Then he said, “Have you not reserved a blessing for me?” Isaac answered and said to Esau, “Behold, I have made him lord over you, and all his brothers I have given to him for servants, and with grain and wine I have sustained him. What then can I do for you, my son?” Esau said to his father, “Have you but one blessing, my father? Bless me, even me also, O my father.” And Esau lifted up his voice and wept.

Then Isaac his father answered and said to him: “Behold, away from the fatness of the earth all your dwelling be, and away from the dew of heaven on high. By your sword you shall live, and you shall serve your brother; but when you grow restless you shall break his yoke from your neck.”

Most of this blessing just repeats what the LORD told Rebekah long ago. Isaac’s “prophesy” that, “when you grow restless you shall break his yoke from your neck,” is never fulfilled. His blessings aren’t so important after all. They’re only as good as God chooses to make them.

The Old Testament has a curious way of shooting down the very traditions it reports. Here, Genesis faithfully records Rebekah and Jacob conspiring to steal Esau’s blessing. But it will go on to show that the whole thing was a waste. Yes, God blesses Jacob, but that’s what He said He would do before Jacob was born. Isaac’s pronouncements don’t necessarily have anything to do with it.

It’s a mistake to think that since the Bible is inerrant, everyone in it must be inerrant too. Scripture’s recording of an event is not an endorsement. Just because someone in the Bible believes something doesn’t mean they’re right. What is infallible is scripture’s recording of what happened. Isaac is following an ancient tradition, one that Rebekah, Jacob and Esau believe in too.

But the errors in what Isaac says to Esau prove that his blessings are not prophesy.

Isaac’s blessings are like prayers; whatever happens next is up to God. Prayer has great power, but it’s not our power. Unfortunately, our pride can cause us to forget this rule.

Great saints are invariably very humble. That’s not a coincidence. There is an essential relationship between humility and prayer. The reason is that answered prayers can start us thinking, “Wow, I must have done something right.” That’s pure poison, and God isn’t likely to honor that. So, while God can grant any prayer, humility really helps.

It’s always a good idea to ask God to rid us of our pride. Even then we can end up thinking something like, “Wow, I’m becoming humble.”

But then we should get the joke.

The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here:

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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Next in order of the works of God is judgment.

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