Thursday, May 19, 2011

Genesis 25:27-34

The boys grew up, and Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the open country, while Jacob was content to stay at home among the tents. Isaac, who had a taste for wild game, loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob. (Gen. 25:27-28)

If you have siblings or if you are the parent of more than one child, you already know that every child comes out of the womb with certain traits. Their differences are quickly evident! Children raised in the same home can be polar opposites. Frankly, I LIKE that! I LOVE that both of my girls are so different in personality. The blessing is that they are the same in their spiritual bent: they both love the LORD. However, because their personalities are so different, they have their unique way of serving the LORD. I can’t imagine loving one more than the other, but as a teacher I have frequently observed parents favoring one child over others. Some have actually praised one while putting down the other in front of me!

In today’s passage, we have Esau, the jock, the hunter, who appealed to Isaac’s need for a manly son - not to mention his appetite for game! Rebekah, on the other hand loves that Jacob was a homebody - the contemplative type, who apparently preferred being in the kitchen to supplying it. The fact that the Bible is so upfront about the preferential treatment each boy received indicates that it actually contributed to the poor relationship between these two and caused them to work against each other. Isaac seems to have certainly encouraged the independent spirit of Esau, who was guided by fleshly appetites, rather than spiritual discernment:

Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. He said to Jacob, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!” (That is why he was also called Edom). (vs.29-30)

Esau appears so crass here, that you can almost see him charging in, scratching himself and belching in this scene. He apparently was used to having what he wanted went he wanted it! He was someone who would have appreciated fast food! However, Jacob, the heel grabber, with cunning, quickly seized the moment!

Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.”

 “Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?”

 But Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob.

Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left.

 So Esau despised his birthright. (vs. 31-34)

Now, there is nothing that would indicate that Esau could not have eaten without Jacob’s permission - he just apparently didn’t like serving himself. So it certainly didn’t take much for Esau to give up his rights to the blessing of the firstborn son! Jacob, recognizing the gluttonous weakness of his brother, knew he could take advantage of the situation. We have to wonder what manipulative skills he had picked up from watching his mother... We’ll see evidence of that in her later.

The use of the word despised tells us very strongly that it was not just a matter of Esau not caring about the birthright - he actually scorned it! So, the picture we’re given of Esau is not pretty! He is crass, rude (notice he got up and left as soon as he was finished without so much as a word of thanks), and he’s a disrespectful, glutton. Hebrews 12:16, which Beth Moore points to, sheds further light on Esau:

See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son.

That is quite an indictment! As I mentioned at the beginning, children come with a certain package of traits, because we are all uniquely designed and gifted by God. However, we also know from experience and observation that the environment plays almost as strong a role in the shaping of personality and values. We are only given snapshots of what went on in this home, but I keep going back to verse 28, which seems powerfully placed here: Isaac, who had a taste for wild game, loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob. Is it just me, or is this a glaring warning to parents???

The thing about God’s love, and what I personally experienced the minute my second daughter, Emmy, was born, is that it does not divide when shared, it multiplies! God just increased the size of my heart when I saw Emmy - He did not diminish my love for Molly! I am amazed by this as a teacher, as well. There are certain children who are more difficult to love, but when I commit them to prayer, God gives me His heart and vision for them. And I find that prayer is something I have to do diligently, over and over DAILY, to avoid showing any favoritism in the classroom. So certainly, as a parent, if we see ourselves leaning one way or the other, we need to ask God to help us! The relationships in and futures of our families depend upon it!

Off to work with prayer for ALL of my kiddos!


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