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THE EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE HEBREWS - Chapter 12 - Verse 17

Verse 17. For ye know how that afterward, etc. When he came to his father, and earnestly besought him to reverse the sentence which he had pronounced. See Ge 27:34-40. The "blessing" here referred to was not that of the birthright, which he knew he could not regain, but that pronounced by the father Isaac on him whom he regarded as his first born son. This Jacob obtained by fraud, when Isaac really meant to bestow it on Esau. Isaac appears to have been ignorant wholly of the bargain which Jacob and Esau had made in regard to the birthright, and Jacob and his mother contrived in this way to have that confirmed which Jacob had obtained of Esau by contract. The sanction of the father, it seems, was necessary, before it could be made sure; and Rebecca and Jacob understood that the dying blessing of the aged patriarch would establish it all. It was obtained by dishonesty on the part of Jacob, but so far as Esau was concerned it was an act of righteous retribution for the little regard he had shown for the honour of his birth.

For he found no place of repentance. Marg. "Way to change his mind." That is, no place for repentance in the mind of Isaac, or no way to change his mind. It does not mean that Esau earnestly sought to repent and could not, but that when once the blessing had passed the lips of his father he found it impossible to change it. Isaac firmly declared that he had pronounced the blessing, and though it had been obtained by fraud, yet, as it was of the nature of a Divine prediction it could not now be changed. He had not indeed intended that it should be thus. He had pronounced a blessing on another which had been designed for him. But still the benediction had been given. The prophetic words had been pronounced. By Divine direction the truth had been spoken, and how could it be changed? It was impossible now to reverse the Divine purposes in the case, and hence the "blessing" must stand as it had been spoken. Isaac did, however, all that could be done. He gave a benediction to his son Esau, though of far inferior value to that which he had pronounced on the fraudulent Jacob, Ge 27:39,40.

Though he sought it carefully with tears. Ge 27:34. He sought to change the purpose of his father, but could not do it. The meaning and bearing of this passage, as used by the apostle, may be easily understood.

(1.) The decision of God, on the human character and destiny, will soon be pronounced. That decision will be according to truth, and cannot be changed.

(2.) If we should despise our privileges, as Esau did his birthright, and renounce our religion, it would be impossible to recover what we had lost. There would be no possibility of changing the Divine decision in the case, for it would be determined for ever. This passage, therefore, should not be alleged to show that a sinner cannot repent, or that he cannot find "place for repentance," or assistance to enable him to repent, or that tears and sorrow for sin would be of no avail, for it teaches none of these things; but it should be used to keep us from disregarding our privileges, from turning away from the true religion, from slighting the favours of the gospel, and from neglecting religion till death comes; because when God has once pronounced a sentence excluding us from his favour, no tears, or pleading, or effort of our own can change him. The sentence which he pronounces on the scoffer, the impenitent, the hypocrite, and the apostate, is one that will abide for ever without change. This passage, therefore, is in accordance with the doctrine more than once stated before in this epistle, that if a Christian should really apostatize, it would be impossible that he should be saved. See Barnes "Heb 6:1, seq.

{c} "he would have" Ge 27:34-38 {1} "place" "way to change his mind" {*} "carefully" "earnestly"

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