Do Not Miss Out on G_D’s Blessing in Your Life
Genesis 25.19-28.9, Malachi 1.1-2.7 & Romans 9.1-13
Jacob & Esau
The Struggles and Reconciliation of Jacob & Esau
1/It is important to state from the outset that when dealing with these verses from Romans 9 we must keep in mind the issue concerning the question of the gospel and the fact that the relationship between Yeshua and Israel is inseparable.
The Jews are God’s special people. Despite their stubbornness and at times rebellious attitude, this unique relationship will never change. This promised gospel of the Messiah’s advent, foretold in the Hebrew Scriptures, and its message become explicit in the words, ‘both for the Jew first and for the Greek (gentiles) later’ (cf. Romans 2.9-10).
It is plain that when thinking of God’s faithfulness, then the question of Jewish involvement cannot be ignored of glossed over. It became incumbent upon Paul to discuss this subject in some length in Romans chapters 9-11.
The Apostle Paul/ Rav Shaul in his letter to the believers in Roman wrote to them concerning their new life in the Messiah. The congregation in Rome was made up of Jews and Gentiles and Paul wanted to help establish their faith and clarify a number of issues that were causing confusion and needed clearing up.
Because of the rejection of Yeshua by the Judaea Temple leadership centred around the High Priest and his ruling council, as a consequence the believers were being persecuted.
The darkest hour had dawned with Israel’s failure to embrace Yeshua as Messiah and Lord.
What hope was left for the Jewish people? What was the consequences of this for Judaism that had chosen another path other than acknowledging Yeshua as Messiah and Lord? In Romans 9 Paul outlines some of his thinking about their destiny. Painful as it is, all hope was not lost.
A refreshing translation gives new insights: this‘magnificent prospect’ – missed by those who he came for…’their special privileges and their high destiny’ – a cause of great sorrow to Paul & he was willing to sacrifice his dearest hopes…
2/ Our story begins much earlier and takes us back to the beginning of this formation of the Nation of Israel.
There is a good story worthy of our consideration concerning the Generations [Toldot]of Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac and Jacob and Esau and it is full of twits and turns. In this Parasha (portion) TOLDOT: Genesis 25.19-28.9 we are given the account of the struggle between Jacob and Esau. It began inside Rebecca’s womb and it continues down till this day as Jews and Arabs, the descendants of Isaac and Ishmael and Jacob and Esau are still locked in conflict about birthright and land.
The Birth and Youth of Esau and Jacob
Genesis 25.19 These are the descendants of Isaac, Abraham’s son: Abraham was the father of Isaac, 20 and Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah, daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan-aram, sister of Laban the Aramean. 21 Isaac prayed to the Lord for his wife, because she was barren; and the Lord granted his prayer, and his wife Rebekah conceived. 22 The children struggled together within her; and she said, “If it is to be this way, why do I live?”[c] So she went to inquire of the Lord. 23 And the Lord said to her,
“Two nations are in your womb,
and two peoples born of you shall be divided;
the one shall be stronger than the other,
the elder shall serve the younger.”
24 When her time to give birth was at hand, there were twins in her womb. 25 The first came out red, all his body like a hairy mantle; so they named him Esau. 26 Afterward his brother came out, with his hand gripping Esau’s heel; so he was named Jacob.[d] Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them.
27 When the boys grew up, Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field, while Jacob was a quiet man, living in tents. 28 Isaac loved Esau, because he was fond of game; but Rebekah loved Jacob.
Esau Sells His Birthright
29 Once when Jacob was cooking a stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was famished. 30 Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stuff, for I am famished!” (Therefore he was called Edom.[e]) 31 Jacob said, “First sell me your birthright.” 32 Esau said, “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?” 33 Jacob said, “Swear to me first.”[f] So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. 34 Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank, and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.
Isaac Blesses Jacob
Genesis 27 1 Isaac was old and his eyes were dim so that he could not see, he called his elder son Esau and said to him, “My son”; and he answered, “Here I am.” 2 He said, “See, I am old; I do not know the day of my death. 3 Now then, take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field, and hunt game for me. 4 Then prepare for me savory food, such as I like, and bring it to me to eat, so that I may bless you before I die.”
5 Now Rebekah was listening when Isaac spoke to his son Esau. So when Esau went to the field to hunt for game and bring it, 6 Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “I heard your father say to your brother Esau, 7 ‘Bring me game, and prepare for me savory food to eat, that I may bless you before the Lord before I die.’ 8 Now therefore, my son, obey my word as I command you. 9 Go to the flock, and get me two choice kids, so that I may prepare from them savory food for your father, such as he likes; 10 and you shall take it to your father to eat, so that he may bless you before he dies.” 11 But Jacob said to his mother Rebekah, “Look, my brother Esau is a hairy man, and I am a man of smooth skin. 12 Perhaps my father will feel me, and I shall seem to be mocking him, and bring a curse on myself and not a blessing.” 13 His mother said to him, “Let your curse be on me, my son; only obey my word, and go, get them for me.” 14 So he went and got them and brought them to his mother; and his mother prepared savory food, such as his father loved. 15 Then Rebekah took the best garments of her elder son Esau, which were with her in the house, and put them on her younger son Jacob; 16 and she put the skins of the kids on his hands and on the smooth part of his neck. 17 Then she handed the savory food, and the bread that she had prepared, to her son Jacob.
18 So he went in to his father, and said, “My father”; and he said, “Here I am; who are you, my son?” 19 Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your firstborn. I have done as you told me; now sit up and eat of my game, so that you may bless me.” 20 But Isaac said to his son, “How is it that you have found it so quickly, my son?” He answered, “Because the Lord your God granted me success.” 21 Then Isaac said to Jacob, “Come near, that I may feel you, my son, to know whether you are really my son Esau or not.” 22 So Jacob went up to his father Isaac, who felt him and said, “The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau.” 23 He did not recognize him, because his hands were hairy like his brother Esau’s hands; so he blessed him. 24 He said, “Are you really my son Esau?” He answered, “I am.” 25 Then he said, “Bring it to me, that I may eat of my son’s game and bless you.” So he brought it to him, and he ate; and he brought him wine, and he drank. 26 Then his father Isaac said to him, “Come near and kiss me, my son.” 27 So he came near and kissed him; and he smelled the smell of his garments, and 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 of the dew of heaven,
and of the fatness of the earth,
and plenty of grain and wine.
29 Let peoples serve you,
and nations bow down to you.
Be lord over your brothers,
and may your mother’s sons bow down to you.
Cursed be everyone who curses you,
and blessed be everyone who blesses you!”
Esau’s Lost Blessing
30 As soon as Isaac had finished blessing Jacob, when Jacob had scarcely gone out from the presence of his father Isaac, his brother Esau came in from his hunting. 31 He also prepared savory food, and brought it to his father. And he said to his father, “Let my father sit up and eat of his son’s game, so that you may bless me.” 32 His father Isaac said to him, “Who are you?” He answered, “I am your firstborn son, Esau.” 33 Then Isaac trembled violently, and said, “Who was it then that hunted game and brought it to me, and I ate it all[a] before you came, and I have blessed him?—yes, and blessed he shall be!” 34 When Esau heard his father’s words, he cried out with an exceedingly great and bitter cry, and said to his father, “Bless me, me also, father!” 35 But he said, “Your brother came deceitfully, and he has taken away your blessing.” 36 Esau said, “Is he not rightly named Jacob?[b] For he has supplanted me these two times. He took away my birthright; and look, now he has taken away my blessing.” Then he said, “Have you not reserved a blessing for me?” 37 Isaac answered Esau, “I have already made him your lord, and I have given him all his brothers as servants, and with grain and wine I have sustained him. What then can I do for you, my son?” 38 Esau said to his father, “Have you only one blessing, father? Bless me, me also, father!” And Esau lifted up his voice and wept.
39 Then his father Isaac answered him:
“See, away from[c] the fatness of the earth shall your home be,
and away from[d] the dew of heaven on high.
40 By your sword you shall live,
and you shall serve your brother;
but when you break loose,[e]
you shall break his yoke from your neck.”
This conflict is no where more apparent than in modern day Israel and its impact is felt by all. Messianic believers from both Jewish and Arab backgrounds share in this struggle of land and of identity and also how to square this up with their faith. The historic and present reality of life in Israel and the Middle-East in particular is a constant challenge. Some may even say, ‘it is an existential challenge’ with those of Israel’s enemies threatening to annihilate her.
Many Arab and Middle-Eastern Christians may well have descended from the Jewish believers of the early first two centuries of the Common Era. The notion has both historic validity as-well-as a strong tradition held by numbers of Arab, Kudish and Iranian believers that I have met over the year. This claim is often partly based on their family names.
Returning to our story of the Generations of Abraham, some may want to sanitise their ancestry, while others delight in discovery all kinds of juicy bits about whom they descended from: Brigands on the high sea, Popes, Cohenim, Levites, the other tribes of Israel, a long line of rabbis, etc.
The problem of infertility on the part of both the patriarchs wive’s, Sarah and Rebecca was followed by prayers and holding onto the promises of God, (if at times falteringly). This led to the birth of Isaac after Abraham’s failure to trust God with the birth of Ismael to Hagar, and with Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Esau were conceived and born.
Isaac’s life was pretty uneventful, except for the intrigue that resulted from the birth of the twins to his beloved Rebecca. They struggled in the womb and at birth Jacob came out of the womb following Esau grasping onto his brother’s heal – Jacob means he who grasps the heal or he who supplants.
Scoundrel or cheat are possible synonyms for one who supplants. And Jacob with his mother’s encouragement conspired to get Esau’s birth right and patriarchal blessing just before Isaac’s death. Yet despite it all G_D chose to bless him and make him the father of the 12 tribes of Israel.
Does God favour cheats and cheating? In this case it would appear so! Look at what Malachi 12-3 says,
The Lord’s love for Israel: 2 a“I have loved you,” says the Lord. bBut you say, “How have you loved us?” “Is not Esau cJacob’s brother?” declares the Lord. “Yet dI have loved Jacob 3 but Esau I have hated. eI have laid waste his hill country and left his heritage to jackals of the desert.”
This is repeated by Paul/ Rav Shaul,‘13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”’
3/ Why, why?
It is a Jewish tradition to ask many questions and these include the difficult ones, and some of the issues appear to be contradictions and even out of character with that of a holy God. So, “Why, why?”
(A useful Jewish resource: THE GUIDE FOR THE PERPLEXED BY MOSES MAIMONIDES) – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Guide_for_the_Preplexed
This has to do with God’s election of Israel to fulfil his purpose for Israel and the nations. Jacob and Esau, the twin sons of Isaac and Rebecca had the same parents, and at birth Esau came out first. The purpose of God was to demonstrate his free choice and by selecting Jacob over Esau shows the Divine call. This choice was not based on merit or human convention of the first born being the favoured son. Before they were born neither had done good of evil, however, a selection was made by God.
In Genesis 2523 Rebecca was told that two nations were in her womb, and that the elder should serve the younger. God is not bound by human convention.
A word from Lord Sacks (the former Chief Rabbi of Great Britain), is helpful concerning the descendants of Ishmael and Esau, the Arabs: Just because God chose Isaac and not Ishmael and Jacob and not Esau, that does not mean that their descendants, the Arab people are under a curse and do not have a blessing from God. We see that Isaac though unable to give Esau the blessing reserved for the first born, non-the-less, he did give him a blessing too.
Isaac and Ishmael buried their father Abraham in the Machpela cave at Hebron. Both Isaac and Ishmael laid their father Abraham to rest at this site (Genesis 25:9).
Their diverging lines of descendants share a common lineage to Abraham —but today they struggle to share even the same site that commemorates him. As a result the unpredictable—and even volatile—tensions between the Muslims and Jews who share this holy site does flare up sporadically.
A Lesson From Abraham’s Act
When thinking of Hebron, and reflect on Abraham’s willingness to walk away from everything comfortable and familiar and to trust God for an unknown future. When Abraham acquired the small piece of land in which to bury Sarah, he demonstrated his faith in the Lord’s covenant to give him all the land one day.
Abraham’s purchase at Machpelah showed that we lose nothing of God’s promises in death, because those promises extend beyond the grave.
4/ This hardening that came up Israel is only partial and nor is it permanent – In every age there are those Jewish people that have come to faith through Messiah Yeshua and this once again has to do God’s divine purpose.
A breakdown in the relationship between Israel and her God is not final or irrevocable – Paul’s sigh over the fall is sign of deep personal anguish, yet the fall is not so absolute as to imply a nullification of God’s purpose for Israel.
The promises made to Israel, though they have been severely disrupted does not mean that there is no way back or hope of restoration.
Divine sovereignty in the Hebrew Scriptures makes it clear that God is not unjust when he selects one person or group to fulfil his plan and purpose. One may be chosen for a high purpose, while another for a lowly one.
God’s sovereignty allows him to respond to human initiative as he chooses: “[Humankind]/ man proposes and God disposes!”
Therefore in the Jewish response to Yeshua, God does what he wants, while a hardening came upon Israel in part, so that the Gentiles may be included in the family of God – the natural branches were cut off and the wild ones were grafted in! (See Romans 11.11-24).
However, both Jews and Gentiles are personally held accountable for their response to God’s initiative in his plan of salvation.
Examples of God’s choice are displayed, he chose Israel and not Edom; Moses to display his mercy and Pharaoh his anger; he will select some Jews and some Gentiles of being members of his Messianic Kingdom.
Let us be clear, while God’s choice of some for his favour, it does not imply that therefore he has chosen to damn some. Paul does not say this here. Nothing is said in chapter 9 about eternal life or death. God uses his judgement and compassionate mercy as he sees fit to fulfil is divine plan.
God is not unjust – he is both righteous and a just judge and always responds with fairness.
5/ Our Response What are we to say then about the purposes of God? What is your calling? Are you called to lead or follow? Are you a Jew or Gentile? Have you been included in Messiah Yeshua?
Have you let the challenges of life lift you up or put you down?
The choice is up to you as to hope as you respond to the grace and light of God that you have received.
A Prayer: Aba, Father, thank you for the light I have received, give me greater light and clarity, so that I may recognise that in Yeshua’s name there is salvation and deliverance, AMEN.
The Hospitality of Abraham
Shalom Radio UK
MTMI – Messianic Teaching Ministry International