Isaac’s and Rebekah’s twins, Jacob and Esau, are grown now. Isaac’s favorite is Esau, a hunter and man’s man. Jacob, it seems, was a mama’s boy and homebody. Their favoritism led to manipulation and deceit that would, eventually, split their family apart.
In today’s reading the first cracks appear as Jacob manipulates his impatient, impulsive brother. In the process, Esau throws aside his birthright. His behavior has a great lesson for us as believers in Christ.
Also, read about “God Our Righteous Judge,” the blessings that come from “Honoring the Lord in Our Giving,” and about spiritual and physical healing in “Unless the Father Draws Him.”
Genesis 25 & 26
Favoritism, Impatience & Birthrights
The Death of Abraham
In these two chapters we see Abraham’s remarriage to Keturah after Sarah’s death and the record of other children. We also see Isaac and Ishmael reunited by Abraham’s death. It appears that their love for their father was greater than any differences they might have had.
We also see the confirmation of God’s promise to make Ishmael the father of twelve princes. Ishmael and his twelve sons were the forefathers of many of the Arab peoples. Ishmael plays an important part in Muslim tradition, where he is considered a prophet. While there are differences of opinion about Keturah’s identity, her sons were probably the forefathers of other Arab tribes.
In Genesis 25.19 Isaac and his family take center stage in the Genesis narrative. We see God using barrenness again to work His purposes. After twenty years Isaac prays for God to open Rebekah’s womb and God answers with the conception of twins. When the pregnancy is difficult, Rebekah prays and asks God why. He answers:
Two nations are in your womb, two peoples shall be separated from your body; one people shall be stronger than the other, and the older shall serve the younger” (25.23).
As the sons grow up they are very different. Esau is a hunter and outdoors-man while Jacob is a homebody. And sadly, Isaac and Rebekah each have a favorite (25.28). Even though, God will use all of this for His divine purposes, we can see from their story some of the problems favoritism causes.
Tomorrow we’ll read more about the consequences of favoritism. If there are similar issues in your family I would encourage you to study these passages carefully and prayerfully, seeking Gods help and wisdom.
But favoritism wasn’t the only family issue.
While Ezekiel 18.20 tells us that each person is responsible for his or her own behavior, we also see in Scripture that children learn from their parents. And in chapter 26.7 Isaac tells Abimelech’s men that his wife is his sister, just like his father Abraham did. So while we’re not responsible for their choices, we are responsible for the example we set.
Selfishness, Impatience & Birthrights
But for now let’s look at chapter 25.29-34,
29 Now Jacob cooked a stew; and Esau came in from the field, and he was weary. 30 And Esau said to Jacob, “Please feed me with that same red stew, for I am weary.” Therefore his name was called Edom.
31 But Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright as of this day.”
32 And Esau said, “Look, I am about to die; so what is this birthright to me?”
33 Then Jacob said, “Swear to me as of this day.”
So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. 34 And Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils; then he ate and drank, arose, and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.
The writer of Hebrews had this to say about Esau:
12 Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.
14 Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: 15 looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; 16 lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. 17 For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears (Heb. 12.12-17).
I don’t know about you, but, on the surface, that sounds pretty harsh to me. What was it that Esau did? Or does it go deeper, to who he was?
This passage says he was a “fornicator” and a “profane person.” I decided to dig a little deeper into those two words. According to Strong’s Dictionary of the Bible, the word translated “fornicator” means “to roam from safety, truth or virtue; to go astray, deceive, err, or seduce. And the word translated “profane person” means “heathenish or wicked.”
I started to get a picture of a man who rejected the things of God. He had no respect for what was good, honorable or holy, including his birthright. He cast it aside for stew. He lived for what felt good to him at the moment.
In tomorrow’s reading, after he realizes the consequences of his choice and his brother’s behavior, instead of trusting God, he determines to kill Jacob (Gen. 27.41) and, spitefully, marries two women he knew would displease his parents (Gen. 28.8-9).
As believers in Christ, we have a precious birthright because we are “in Christ,” who is God’s firstborn Son.
And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise (Gal. 3.29).
We need to be equally careful not to take that blessing lightly or throw it away for any earthly pleasure or treasure.
Today’s Other Readings:
God Our Righteous Judge
Verse 8, “The LORD shall judge the peoples; judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness, and according to my integrity within me.”
God is a righteous judge. We must come to Him on the basis of Christ’s righteousness and not our own feeble attempts at self-righteousness. If we do, while we may still experience His discipline at times (Heb. 12.5-11), we don’t need to fear His ultimate judgment!
Honoring the Lord in Our Giving
“Honor the LORD with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine.”
This passage reminds us that when we obey God and give Him the firstfruits, that first 10%, and we do it out of a desire to please Him, He will do more with the 90% than we ever could with 100%!
Unless the Father Draws Him
This passage contains two well known stories: the healing of Jairus’ daughter and the story of the woman with an issue of blood (see also Lk. 8.40-56).
Luke 8 tells us this woman had suffered with a constant flow of blood for twelve years. That means she was barred from worshiping in the temple because she was considered unclean. She spent everything she had to get relief, probably going from physician to physician. Then she hears about this “rabbi” who is healing people, casting out demons, and preaching everywhere. When she sees Him, her faith comes alive and she is made whole. Immediately the flow of blood stops!
A great spiritual truth is pictured here.
Ephesians 2.8 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.”
Just as her faith was the means through which she received her healing, so our faith is the means through which we receive ultimate healing, the healing of our souls. But just as her faith alone could not save her, neither can anything we do save us. It must be faith opening our hearts to receive what only God can do! Even our ability to believe comes from Him.
Jesus said, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him …” (Jn. 6.44).
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