Problem: Jacob receives the blessing from his father, Isaac. But Jacob is repeatedly deceitful and conniving. Jacob seized the birthright when Esau was in a weak place of hunger (25:30-33). He was complicit in conspiring with his mother to lie to his father (27:11-12). He dressed up (27:13-17). He lied directly to his father’s face at least twice, when Isaac asked if he was Esau (27:19, 24). Finally, he even involved God into his lies (27:20). Why would God give the blessing to Jacob, rather than Esau?
Solution: The Bible nowhere defends Jacob’s actions. Instead, both the book of Genesis and the book of Hebrews emphasize Esau’s sin. Genesis states that “Esau despised his birthright” (Gen. 25:34). Hebrews calls this decision “immoral” and “godless” (Heb. 12:16). Esau was willing to trade God’s promised blessing for something as cheap and transitory as a bowl of soup! Esau surely wasn’t hungry enough to die, as he claimed (Gen. 25:32). Instead, Esau exaggerated a temporal hunger in order to justify trading away an eternal impact on the world through the Abrahamic Covenant. Furthermore, Esau broke his own oath (25:33), and he blamed this whole event on Jacob, rather than taking any responsibility for throwing away God’s plan for a bowl of soup (27:36).
From the beginning, God predicted that he wanted Jacob to get the blessing—not Esau. Remember, even when the boys were in their mother’s womb, God predicted that the “older would serve the younger” (Gen. 25:23). Therefore, Isaac’s desire to bless Esau was wrong. Instead, Isaac played favorites with Esau over Jacob, because of Esau’s cooking (25:28) and because of the cultural value of primogenitor (i.e. the firstborn gets the birthright).
God’s decision to bless Jacob really speaks to his grace: namely, God can choose to bless the least deserving if he chooses to. In this case, Jacob was sinful, but God chose to bless him anyhow.