As we continue through the story of Jesus’ lineage, I’ll summarize the next few chapters to save time. Sarah dies and Abraham buys his first plot of land in Canaan to bury her (Genesis 23). This is significant because God said that this was the promised land for his descendants.
Next, Abe needs to find a wife for Isaac. She must come from their homeland, not Canaan. Remember, the Canaanites were descendants of Ham, Noah’s son who was cursed. The promised family needs to remain pure. Abraham sends his servant to his home country where he finds Rebekah and God orchestrates the deal (Genesis 24).
In the beginning of Genesis 25, we find that Abraham married again, a woman named Keturah, and fathered 6 more sons. From here we get the Midianites, Sheba and Dedan, among other countries and people groups. We also learn of Ishmael’s lineage, who lived in “open hostility toward all their relatives” (and they still do). Abraham died and was buried with Sarah.
We pick up the story in Genesis 25:19-34 with the birth of twin sons to Isaac and Rebekah. The dilemma is God’s promise to continue the lineage. But what happens when there are twins? Let’s dig in…
The Births of Esau and Jacob
19 This is the account of the family of Isaac, the son of Abraham. 20 When Isaac was forty years old, he married Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel the Aramean from Paddan-aram and the sister of Laban the Aramean.
21 Isaac pleaded with the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was unable to have children. The Lord answered Isaac’s prayer, and Rebekah became pregnant with twins. 22 But the two children struggled with each other in her womb. So she went to ask the Lord about it. “Why is this happening to me?” she asked.
23 And the Lord told her, “The sons in your womb will become two nations. From the very beginning, the two nations will be rivals. One nation will be stronger than the other; and your older son will serve your younger son.”
24 And when the time came to give birth, Rebekah discovered that she did indeed have twins! 25 The first one was very red at birth and covered with thick hair like a fur coat. So they named him Esau. 26 Then the other twin was born with his hand grasping Esau’s heel. So they named him Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when the twins were born.
Esau Sells His Birthright
27 As the boys grew up, Esau became a skillful hunter. He was an outdoorsman, but Jacob had a quiet temperament, preferring to stay at home. 28 Isaac loved Esau because he enjoyed eating the wild game Esau brought home, but Rebekah loved Jacob.
29 One day when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau arrived home from the wilderness exhausted and hungry. 30 Esau said to Jacob, “I’m starved! Give me some of that red stew!” (This is how Esau got his other name, Edom, which means “red.”)
31 “All right,” Jacob replied, “but trade me your rights as the firstborn son.”
32 “Look, I’m dying of starvation!” said Esau. “What good is my birthright to me now?”
33 But Jacob said, “First you must swear that your birthright is mine.” So Esau swore an oath, thereby selling all his rights as the firstborn to his brother, Jacob.
34 Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and lentil stew. Esau ate the meal, then got up and left. He showed contempt for his rights as the firstborn.Genesis 25:19-34 NLT
Then there’s a famine in the land and Isaac and Rebekah escape to the land of the Philistines. Twice, God confirms His covenant that is passed down from his father Abraham.
Esau married two Hittite women who made life miserable for Isaac and Rebekah.
Next comes the trickery….
Jacob Steals Esau’s Blessing – Genesis 27
One day when Isaac was old and turning blind, he called for Esau, his older son, and said, “My son.”
“Yes, Father?” Esau replied.
2 “I am an old man now,” Isaac said, “and I don’t know when I may die. 3 Take your bow and a quiver full of arrows, and go out into the open country to hunt some wild game for me. 4 Prepare my favorite dish, and bring it here for me to eat. Then I will pronounce the blessing that belongs to you, my firstborn son, before I die.”
5 But Rebekah overheard what Isaac had said to his son Esau. So when Esau left to hunt for the wild game, 6 she said to her son Jacob, “Listen. I overheard your father say to Esau, 7 ‘Bring me some wild game and prepare me a delicious meal. Then I will bless you in the Lord’s presence before I die.’ 8 Now, my son, listen to me. Do exactly as I tell you. 9 Go out to the flocks, and bring me two fine young goats. I’ll use them to prepare your father’s favorite dish. 10 Then take the food to your father so he can eat it and bless you before he dies.”
11 “But look,” Jacob replied to Rebekah, “my brother, Esau, is a hairy man, and my skin is smooth. 12 What if my father touches me? He’ll see that I’m trying to trick him, and then he’ll curse me instead of blessing me.”
13 But his mother replied, “Then let the curse fall on me, my son! Just do what I tell you. Go out and get the goats for me!”
14 So Jacob went out and got the young goats for his mother. Rebekah took them and prepared a delicious meal, just the way Isaac liked it. 15 Then she took Esau’s favorite clothes, which were there in the house, and gave them to her younger son, Jacob. 16 She covered his arms and the smooth part of his neck with the skin of the young goats. 17 Then she gave Jacob the delicious meal, including freshly baked bread.
18 So Jacob took the food to his father. “My father?” he said.
“Yes, my son,” Isaac answered. “Who are you—Esau or Jacob?”
19 Jacob replied, “It’s Esau, your firstborn son. I’ve done as you told me. Here is the wild game. Now sit up and eat it so you can give me your blessing.”
20 Isaac asked, “How did you find it so quickly, my son?”
“The Lord your God put it in my path!” Jacob replied.
21 Then Isaac said to Jacob, “Come closer so I can touch you and make sure that you really are Esau.” 22 So Jacob went closer to his father, and Isaac touched him. “The voice is Jacob’s, but the hands are Esau’s,” Isaac said. 23 But he did not recognize Jacob, because Jacob’s hands felt hairy just like Esau’s. So Isaac prepared to bless Jacob. 24 “But are you really my son Esau?” he asked.
“Yes, I am,” Jacob replied.
25 Then Isaac said, “Now, my son, bring me the wild game. Let me eat it, and then I will give you my blessing.” So Jacob took the food to his father, and Isaac ate it. He also drank the wine that Jacob served him. 26 Then Isaac said to Jacob, “Please come a little closer and kiss me, my son.”
27 So Jacob went over and kissed him. And when Isaac caught the smell of his clothes, he was finally convinced, and he blessed his son. He said, “Ah! The smell of my son is like the smell of the outdoors, which the Lord has blessed!
28 “From the dew of heaven
and the richness of the earth,
may God always give you abundant harvests of grain
and bountiful new wine.
29 May many nations become your servants,
and may they bow down to you.
May you be the master over your brothers,
and may your mother’s sons bow down to you.
All who curse you will be cursed,
and all who bless you will be blessed.”
30 As soon as Isaac had finished blessing Jacob, and almost before Jacob had left his father, Esau returned from his hunt. 31 Esau prepared a delicious meal and brought it to his father. Then he said, “Sit up, my father, and eat my wild game so you can give me your blessing.”
32 But Isaac asked him, “Who are you?”
Esau replied, “It’s your son, your firstborn son, Esau.”
33 Isaac began to tremble uncontrollably and said, “Then who just served me wild game? I have already eaten it, and I blessed him just before you came. And yes, that blessing must stand!”
34 When Esau heard his father’s words, he let out a loud and bitter cry. “Oh my father, what about me? Bless me, too!” he begged.
35 But Isaac said, “Your brother was here, and he tricked me. He has taken away your blessing.”
36 Esau exclaimed, “No wonder his name is Jacob, for now he has cheated me twice. First he took my rights as the firstborn, and now he has stolen my blessing. Oh, haven’t you saved even one blessing for me?”
37 Isaac said to Esau, “I have made Jacob your master and have declared that all his brothers will be his servants. I have guaranteed him an abundance of grain and wine—what is left for me to give you, my son?”
38 Esau pleaded, “But do you have only one blessing? Oh my father, bless me, too!” Then Esau broke down and wept.
39 Finally, his father, Isaac, said to him,
“You will live away from the richness of the earth,Genesis 27:1-40 NLT
and away from the dew of the heaven above.
40 You will live by your sword,
and you will serve your brother.
But when you decide to break free,
you will shake his yoke from your neck.”
Points to Ponder
- God made the same promise to Isaac that He did to His father, Abraham — that his descendants will be many nations and the promised land is theirs. Again, they had to wait for the promised child. In this case, they had twins, which created a dilemma.
- Jacob’s name means “deceiver” — and it makes sense that God changes it later to Israel.
- Esau gave up his birthright to satisfy his temporary hunger. That’s a permanent fix for a temporary problem.
- Rebekah favored Jacob over Esau and manipulated the situation so that Jacob would disguise himself as Esau and get the blessing of the first born. Once given, it cannot be undone.
- Jacob manages to deceive Isaac and get the blessing. However, there are repercussions.
- Why did God allow the blessing go to the younger son, Jacob? Well, Esau favored the lusts of the flesh over spiritual matters. The birthright makes the son, the spiritual leader of the family as well as the inheritor. When Esau so quickly gave up his birthright, that gave Jacob an opening for his mother’s plan.
- Like what happened with Sarah and Hagar, God takes a mess and makes a message, but people still have to live with the consequences of their actions as we will see.
- The nation of Israel will be fighting Esau’s descendants (Edomites) as well as all of Ham’s, Ishmael’s and Abraham’s second family until Jesus comes back.
The Book of Hebrews
The writer of the Book of Hebrews reminds us that we, too have an eternal promise.
8 It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. 9 And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith—for he was like a foreigner, living in tents. And so did Isaac and Jacob, who inherited the same promise. 10 Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God.
11 It was by faith that even Sarah was able to have a child, though she was barren and was too old. She believed that God would keep his promise. 12 And so a whole nation came from this one man who was as good as dead—a nation with so many people that, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore, there is no way to count them.
13 All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. 14 Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. 15 If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. 16 But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.Hebrews 11:8-16 NLT
Jesus’ Promise to His Believers…
“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. 2 There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? 3 When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.John 14:1-3 NLT
That is the new covenant, the new promise and our confident hope, that this ungodly world is not our home! This is not all there is! We have a Home in Heaven waiting for us and all we have to do to make sure that we get our 1-way, non-stop ticket to paradise is…
Believe. Repent. Be Baptized. Receive the Holy Spirit.
- Believe — have Faith — that Jesus is the Christ and He died taking your sins away forever and that He rose from the dead 3 days later.
- Repent of your sins — stop sinning! Do a complete 180 in your life and surrender your life to Him.
- Be Baptized — show the world and yourself that you have died to your old life and are born again in Christ.
- Receive the Holy Spirit in your heart.
I skipped over some chapters. You can read them yourself and catch some lessons with the free Bible app ThroughTheWord.org.
This it Not Where I Belong
Soli Deo Gloria – To God Alone be the Glory!
Top image by YoMinistry from FreeBibleImages.org. (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)