Where’s Jesus? – Jacob and Esau’s early years (Genesis 25)

At the beginning of Genesis 25 we are told about the final years of Abraham’s life.  His wife has died; he takes a new concubine and has a number of sons with her.  These sons are ultimately sent away from the promised son, Isaac, though they enjoyed some of the blessing of God from Abraham in the gifts they are given as they leave.  This is a wonderful example of common grace.  Common grace is a wonderful thing, for God

gives showers of rain to men, and plants of the field to everyone. (Zech. 10:1)

All men are recipients of some of the blessing of God, though not all are recipients of being called and chosen by him to be the covenant people, as is evidenced from the statement

[Ishmael’s descendants] lived in hostility toward all their brothers. (Genesis 25:18)

But this brings us right up to Isaac’s life and the birth of his 2 sons: Jacob and Esau.  Like Isaac, they are born in uncertain circumstances.  Rebekah is barren and the promised son, must again seek the Lord for an heir, only this time, not one, but two heirs are born.  But like Ishmael and Isaac, only one of these is chosen.  For God says later,

“I have loved you,” says the LORD. ¶ “But you ask, ‘How have you loved us?’ “Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” the LORD says. “Yet I have loved Jacob, 3 but Esau I have hated, and I have turned his mountains into a wasteland and left his inheritance to the desert jackals.” (Malachi 1:2-3, see also Romans 9:13)

And so the story continues.  Some are chosen, others are not.  Unfortunately, those not chosen despise the very things God gives them in his common grace.  In this story it is a birthright that is sold for a bowl of soup, in life, it can be anything: children, health, wealth, food, sex, even life itself.  All of these can be despised and frequently are as men and women look for alternatives to God and his gifts.  This dissatisfaction causes a willingness to trade the trivial (work, money, feeling good) for the truly valuable (family, contentment, love, God), and yet God continues to shower his providential care upon creation, he continues to restrain sin, to work in the consciences of humanity and to allow it to advance technologically.  All of these are blessings, but this is not the same as saving grace.

Saving grace is the call of God upon a person’s life and it transfers a person from death to life, from darkness to light.  When we are saved, we are called by God to recognize the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  We are given a great gift and though we may not always use it wisely as Jacob shows by his wily deal with Esau, we are nevertheless saved.  So we can say, thank you Lord for loving me and showing me your saving grace available in Christ Jesus.

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About Scott Roberts

pastor of Hope in Christ Church, Bellingham, WA
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