Genesis 25–27=The Blessing Passes on to Jacob
Bible Background: We’ve heard God’s promise of blessing to Abraham and Sarah and to their descendants forever. Isaac marries Rebekah. After years of infertility, she gets pregnant with twins-and almost wishes she hadn’t! The Jacob & Esau rivalry fits some of the future rivalry between the nations of Israel (named for Jacob) and Edom (named for Esau).
Digging Deeper: 1. If you ever thought the patriarchs or matriarchs in the Bible were ‘saints’, this story reminds us they were not! This family is rife with conflict, but God works with them anyway! “God builds God’s kingdom through sinners!” How is that reassuring?
2. These twins struggle in the womb before they are born! They struggle together for most of life! The name Jacob means ‘heel, or grab’ (he grabs his brother’s heel in an effort to be born first; he ‘grabs’ his brother’s birth right later on!) The name Esau means ‘red’ and is play on words for the Hebrew name ‘Edom’. He falls for the ‘red’ stew, where he trades his rights as first born for a bowl of soup! BTW, the parents play ‘favorites’. Mom favors Jacob. Dad favors Esau. There will be trouble!
3. Later in the Old Testament, we’ll learn that the first born son gets a double share of the inheritance. That might seem unfair, but the older son may have had more responsibilities with that. The odd thing here-and elsewhere in scripture-is that God seems to favor the underdog! God favors ‘weaker’ Jacob. Later on God will favor Joseph (much younger brother), and David. Israel might have understood that this helps explain why God favored their tiny nation, over against the larger, more powerful ones. God doesn’t act according to the ways of the world!
4. Jacob badly wants the blessing his father has to pass on. Why can’t both sons have it? We aren’t told. But Jacob wants it, cheats to get it, and is indeed blessed! His life will not be easy, and he will not get through life unchanged. Later, God will give him a new name: Israel=one who strives with God! And then the Jewish nation will carry his name!
5. “If God can work in the household if Isaac, Rebekah, Esau, and Jacob, then my goodness-there is no doubt that God can work with us too!” (Rick Morley) Remember this when you are wishing you had a more perfect family! Or when you are tempted to judge those families who do not have it all together!
6. With blessing, comes responsibility! How do you see your responsibility to spread God’s blessing? How about us as a church? How about this richly blessed nation-what do we owe the rest of God’s people?