In Genesis 26:4 God made a promise to Abraham that he would make Abraham’s descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky. When Abraham and Sarah were quite old they had a son and they named him Isaac. When Abraham passed away, Isaac inherited everything from his father including God’s promise to make his descendants into a great nation.
Now when Isaac was 40 years old he married Rebekah. Rebekah had a very bright future…She married into wealth and God had promised her father-in-law Abraham that he would be the father of a great nation. Of course Rebekah was confident that she would have children.
But after 5, 10, and then 15 years passed and no child, Isaac began to be concerned. He turned to the Lord in prayer and asked God to keep his promise and grant them a child. Now I would like to say that the very next day Rebekah found she was expecting a child, but that is not how God works.
So why did God not grant Isaac’s request immediately? The footnote in my NIV Study Bible gives us this insight.
God wants to grant our requests that we ask him for, but as Isaac learned, God answered his prayer request in his own way and in his own time. God sometimes withholds his answer for a while in order to deepen our insight into what we really need, broaden our appreciation for his answer, or to allow us to mature so we can use his gifts more wisely.
So after twenty years of marriage Rebekah and Isaac were finally expecting a child. I can’t even imagine the joy and excitement that Rebekah was feeling but that original joy was soon overshadowed with concern as Rebekah began to feel unusual activity within her. Of course in today’s world at the first moment of concern the world would tell us to go to the doctor to find out what was wrong. Since Rebekah didn’t have that luxury. But she knew she could go to God in prayer.
22 The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, “Why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of the Lord. 23 The Lord said to her, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.”
24 When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb. 25 The first to come out was red, and his whole body was like a hairy garment; so they named him Esau. Esau means hairy.
26 After this, his brother was born, with his hand grasping Esau’s heel; so he was named Jacob. Jacob means he grasps the heel, a Hebrew idiom for he deceives.
Isaac was sixty years old when Rebekah gave birth to the twins.
Now I want you to pay close attention to these next two verses.
27 The boys grew up, and Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the open country, while Jacob was content to stay at home among the tents. 28 Isaac, who had a taste for wild game, loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob.
Esau and Jacob, although twins, were two very different and totally unique individuals which is as it should be for each of us. The problem that arises here is that Isaac and Rebekah decided to play favorites.
29 Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. 30 He said to Jacob, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!” (That is why he was also called Edom.)
Edom means red.
31 Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.”
A birthright was a special honor given to the firstborn Son. It included a double portion of the family inheritance along with the honor of one day becoming the family leader. The oldest son could sell his birthright or give it away if he wanted, but that meant he would lose both material possessions and leadership position.
32 “Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?” 33 But Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob. 34 Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left. So Esau despised his birthright.
By trading his birthright Esau showed complete disregard for those blessings.
Now let’s fast forward in Esau’s life. He is now 40 years old. He is desiring a wife. Up until now Esau’s life has been filled with choices he has regretted bitterly. He seems to have been a person who found it very difficult to consider the consequences before reacting to his need of the moment. He didn’t seem to realize what he was giving up in order to fulfill his immediate desire. Giving up his birthright for a bowl of stew was the clearest example of this weakness. But he also chose not one but two wives in direct opposition to his parents’ wishes. You see both Esau’s wives were pagan women. They worships idols. They did not believe in God.
34 When Esau was forty years old, he married Judith daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and also Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite. 35 They were a source of grief to Isaac and Rebekah.
And so yet again Esau has made a choice without first considering the consequences of his actions.
1When Isaac was old and his eyes were so weak that he could no longer see, he called for Esau his older son and said to him, “My son.”
“Here I am,” he answered. 2 Isaac said, “I am now an old man and don’t know the day of my death. 3 Now then, get your equipment—your quiver and bow—and go out to the open country to hunt some wild game for me. 4 Prepare me the kind of tasty food I like and bring it to me to eat, so that I may give you my blessing before I die.”
5 Now Rebekah was listening as Isaac spoke to his son Esau. When Esau left for the open country to hunt game and bring it back, 6 Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “Look, I overheard your father say to your brother Esau, 7 ‘Bring me some game and prepare me some tasty food to eat, so that I may give you my blessing in the presence of the Lord before I die.’ 8 Now, my son, listen carefully and do what I tell you: 9 Go out to the flock and bring me two choice young goats, so I can prepare some tasty food for your father, just the way he likes it. 10 Then take it to your father to eat, so that he may give you his blessing before he dies.”
11 Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, “But my brother Esau is a hairy man while I have smooth skin. 12 What if my father touches me? I would appear to be tricking him and would bring down a curse on myself rather than a blessing.” 13 His mother said to him, “My son, let the curse fall on me. Just do what I say; go and get them for me.”
When Rebekah learned that Isaac was preparing to bless Esau, she quickly came up with a plan to trick her husband Isaac into blessing Jacob instead.
Now God had already told Rebekah even before Esau and Jacob were born that Jacob would become the family leader, and yet, Rebekah felt it was necessary to take matters into her own hands. She was even willing to resort to something wrong in order to bring about something God had already told her would happen. Did she doubt that God could handle it? Probably not. She believed in God, she had prayed to God. So then why try to take control? Because she was not willing to wait on God to accomplish this thing in His way in His time.
What about in our world today? How often do we hear of lies and deceit happening in order to achieve ones goals?
What about in our lives? Would God approve of the methods we are using in order to accomplish our goals? Are we willing to wait on God to move in His way and in His time?
14 So he went and got them and brought them to his mother, and she prepared some tasty food, just the way his father liked it. 15 Then Rebekah took the best clothes of Esau her older son, which she had in the house, and put them on her younger son Jacob. 16 She also covered his hands and the smooth part of his neck with the goatskins. 17 Then she handed to her son Jacob the tasty food and the bread she had made.
18 He went to his father and said, “My father.”
“Yes, my son,” he answered. “Who is it?”
19 Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your firstborn. I have done as you told me. Please sit up and eat some of my game, so that you may give me your blessing.”
20 Isaac asked his son, “How did you find it so quickly, my son?”
“The Lord your God gave me success,” he replied.
21 Then Isaac said to Jacob, “Come near so I can touch you, my son, to know whether you really are my son Esau or not.”
22 Jacob went close to his father Isaac, who touched him and said, “The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau.” 23 He did not recognize him, for his hands were hairy like those of his brother Esau; so he proceeded to bless him. 24 “Are you really my son Esau?” he asked.
“I am,” he replied.
25 Then he said, “My son, bring me some of your game to eat, so that I may give you my blessing.”
Jacob brought it to him and he ate; and he brought some wine and he drank. 26 Then his father Isaac said to him, “Come here, my son, and kiss me.”
27 So he went to him and kissed him. When Isaac caught the smell of his clothes, he blessed him and said,
“Ah, the smell of my son
is like the smell of a field
that the Lord has blessed.
28 May God give you heaven’s dew
and earth’s richness—
an abundance of grain and new wine.
29 May nations serve you
and peoples bow down to you.
Be lord over your brothers,
and may the sons of your mother bow down to you.
May those who curse you be cursed
and those who bless you be blessed.”
30 After Isaac finished blessing him, and Jacob had scarcely left his father’s presence, his brother Esau came in from hunting. 31 He too prepared some tasty food and brought it to his father. Then he said to him, “My father, please sit up and eat some of my game, so that you may give me your blessing.”
32 His father Isaac asked him, “Who are you?”
“I am your son,” he answered, “your firstborn, Esau.”
33 Isaac trembled violently and said, “Who was it, then, that hunted game and brought it to me? I ate it just before you came and I blessed him—and indeed he will be blessed!”
34 When Esau heard his father’s words, he burst out with a loud and bitter cry and said to his father, “Bless me—me too, my father!”
35 But he said, “Your brother came deceitfully and took your blessing.”
36 Esau said, “Isn’t he rightly named Jacob?
As we learned earlier Jacob means deceiver.
This is the second time he has taken advantage of me: He took my birthright, and now he’s taken my blessing!” Then he asked, “Haven’t you reserved any blessing for me?”
37 Isaac answered Esau, “I have made him lord over you and have made all his relatives his servants, and I have sustained him with grain and new wine. So what can I possibly do for you, my son?”
38 Esau said to his father, “Do you have only one blessing, my father? Bless me too, my father!” Then Esau wept aloud.
39 His father Isaac answered him,
“Your dwelling will be
away from the earth’s richness,
away from the dew of heaven above.
40 You will live by the sword
and you will serve your brother.
But when you grow restless,
you will throw his yoke
from off your neck.”
There are several things that come to light by reading this portion of scripture.
Jacob did not seem to be terribly concerned about the deceitfulness of his mother’s plan. He instead was more afraid of getting caught. Rebekah was so wrapped up in her plan that I believe she could no longer see clearly what she was doing.
Let’s look at
41 Esau held a grudge against Jacob because of the blessing his father had given him. He said to himself, “The days of mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob.”
42 When Rebekah was told what her older son Esau had said, she sent for her younger son Jacob and said to him, “Your brother Esau is planning to avenge himself by killing you. 43 Now then, my son, do what I say: Flee at once to my brother Laban in Harran. 44 Stay with him for a while until your brother’s fury subsides. 45 When your brother is no longer angry with you and forgets what you did to him, I’ll send word for you to come back from there. Why should I lose both of you in one day?”
Just as Esau made choices and decisions without considering the consequences, Rebekah was also guilty of the same. When Rebekah told Jacob to flee to go live with her brother Laban in Harran, she said she would send word to Jacob when Esau was no longer angry with him so he could return home. That day never came for Rebekah passed away before Jacob’s return. That day was the last time Rebekah would see her son Jacob.
If she had known the day she decided to deceive Isaac that she would never again see her beloved son Jacob would she have made a different choice?
Imagine how different Rebekah’s world would have been if she had been willing to wait for God to work in His way and in His time.
So why did God choose to make the younger twin, Jacob, the beneficiary of the promise? Was there something about Jacob that made him the better choice?
Probably not. Jacob was just as sinful as Esau. From Jacob’s life we see that God does not choose only those who he knows are “good” people. In fact the truth is we are all equally terrible choices because we have all sinned and by our very nature none of us has ever been or ever will be sinless.
So why would God chose us? Some people think that they can gain their salvation by human efforts, good intentions, position, reputation, good works and desires. People are so busy trying to reach God that they completely miss the truth that God has already reached down to them.
15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.
God’s mercy is not something we can earn, if we could, then it wouldn’t be mercy.
Did you ever wonder why God didn’t give you the artistic ability or the athletic talent that a sibling or close friend has? Or did you ever wonder why you were born into your family instead of into the wealthy family that lives across the street?
God has given each one of us what we have, our talents, our gifts, our abilities, because he is gracious and merciful. So now what do we do with that grace and those gifts? Will we continue to question God’s choices or will we begin using the talents and gifts he has given us for His glory?
Because of the dissension and turmoil that existed between Jacob and Esau, Rebekah and Isaac, their household and family life seemed to be a total disaster. But both Rebekah and Isaac knew that when they had questions about their children they could turn to God. And God knew all about their boys just as he knows all about our children and each one of us?
He knows that the greatest need that we ALL have, is forgiveness and He filled that need by sending us His Son Jesus to die on the cross and rise to have victory over death and the sin of this world.
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Take time today to thank God for giving us His grace and mercy through Jesus. Thank God by becoming His faithful and obedient child.
Let us pray:
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for another day to come before you with worship and praise. Father, we ask for forgiveness for the sins we are so guilty of and we thank you for the gift of your wonderful son, Jesus. Please help us to come to you with our needs and desires and be willing to wait for you to work in your way and in your time in our lives. Thank you that in your mercy and grace, we can have the assurance of living eternally with you. Amen.