Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 2 * BOOK 7
JACOB, ESAU, BIRTHRIGHT
Let’s get ready for our next lesson, but before we begin I would just like to thank the group here in the studio. We know you put out a lot of effort to come in for these classes and, as I’ve said so often, I just couldn’t teach unless I had folks in front of me that are my friends. I know you are praying for us and that makes all the difference in the world.
We trust that everyone that comes in contact with our teaching is learning, and you can take it into your Sunday School classes, or whatever, and teach more efficiently.
Now, if you will come back to Chapter 27 of Genesis (I’m hoping we’ll be ready for the book of Exodus in the next couple of lessons). You will recall that Rebekah and Jacob have connived, there is no doubt about it. Esau now appears on the scene. He has slain his deer, and has prepared it the way that Isaac likes, so let’s start at verse 30:
“And it came to pass, as soon as Isaac had made an end of blessing Jacob…”
You remember I pointed out in the last lesson, that the blessing was the double portion of the material estate. And that’s, of course, why Esau was intensely interested in this legacy. The birthright didn’t interest him. It didn’t cause any turmoil; as we pointed out, there was no enmity, or hard feelings over the birthright. That didn’t mean a thing to Esau. But, oh, this blessing – now that’s something different. We’re getting into his pocketbook. And so, as soon as Isaac had finished making a blessing on Jacob, Esau comes in as we’ve seen in verse 30:
“…and Jacob was yet scarce gone out from the presence of Isaac his father, that Esau his brother came in from his hunting.”
“And he also had made savoury meat, and brought it unto his father, and said unto his father, Let my father arise, and eat of his son’s venison, that thy soul may bless me.”
“And Isaac his father said unto him, ‘Who art thou?’ And he said, ‘I am thy son, thy firstborn Esau.'”
He gives the same answer that Jacob did. Of course, he’s speaking from the physical reality. He was, indeed, the firstborn, but so far as God is concerned, Esau is second.
“And Isaac (What’s the next word?) trembled…”
Now, stop and ask yourself, why do you suppose Isaac suddenly breaks into a trembling? Number one, I think he was scared to death of what Esau might do. Now, maybe I’m wrong, but I think Esau was the kind of man that Isaac realized was very capable of hurting old Isaac for what he had done. That’s just a thought, but we have to realize that Esau is a man destitute of faith, and when people are destitute of faith, it affects their behavior. In fact, we were talking about this last night after our class, and how this is affecting our beloved country.
I was speaking with a lady who works with teenage girls who have become pregnant and so forth. She said, what they are finding is that, these teenagers have no sense of right and wrong. No one is teaching them. They just don’t comprehend that violence is wrong, or that there’s such a thing as immorality. And you see, faith changes that. When you are a person of faith, you automatically know right from wrong.
But Esau was a man destitute of faith, and incapable of knowing right from wrong and Isaac realized that. When he saw that Esau was upset, Isaac began to tremble and he said:
“….where is he that hath taken venison, and brought it me, and I have eaten of all before thou camest, and have blessed him? yea, and he shall be blessed.”
In other words, Isaac isn’t going to take the blessing back. Now, let’s look at verse 34:
“And when Esau heard the words of his father, he cried with a great and exceeding bitter cry, and said unto his father, Bless me, even me also, O my father.”
Oh, can you hear a son that is really pouring out his heart, broken over the fact that he has missed this material blessing. Now, I think we looked at it a couple or three weeks ago, and let’s go back again to Hebrews Chapter 12 and see what the New Testament says about this man, Esau. And then I think you can comprehend a little more of why God, in His sovereignty, designated that Jacob would be in the line of the Messiah, rather than this man Esau. Hebrews Chapter 12 and go to verses 16 and 17. I’m sure we looked at them a couple of weeks ago, but let’s read them again. (I might mention that I think Paul wrote Hebrews. I think there is evidence enough in some of his language that there’s no doubt).
“Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau; who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.”
“Lest there be any fornicator (that is an immoral person), or profane person, as Esau (there you’ve got the Scripture‘s description of this man Esau. He was immoral, he was profane);who for one morsel of meat (that was the bowl of bean soup, remember, back there in the earlier time) sold his birthright.” It didn’t bother him a bit. He didn’t get irate over that. And then verse 17:
“For you know how that afterward (37 years later), when he would have inherited the blessing (or the double portion) he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.”
Now, I think again, we can apply this attitude of repentance to, not only Esau himself, but also to the one he was hoping would change his mind. His father! And I think, possibly, this is what the Scripture is saying – that old Esau was so distraught, that he thought through his weeping and crying he could get Isaac to change his mind. But Isaac wouldn’t because that just wasn’t the custom. And then, of course, he was also bewailing the fact that he had now missed the birthright and the blessing. We need to understand that all of Esau’s problem goes back to the same thing we had with the man, Cain.
Cain had the same opportunity that Abel had. But what was his problem? No faith! He didn’t see any significance in what God said. And so it is with Esau. He sees no significance in spiritual things. And again, let me bring it up to our own day and time. Isn’t that exactly where we find so many of our fellow people, right here in America. They see absolutely no need to believe what God says. They can get along fine without Him. They think they’re doing all right. They just cannot comprehend that God has said there is an eternity coming. There’s a judgment coming. And even though they may think they can get along without God for 70 or 80 years, there’s coming a day.
There’s a famous old preacher, Southern Baptist I think, who had a sermon that he preached hundreds of times, from what I’ve read. The title of it was, “Payday Someday.” And it’s true. There’s going to be a payday someday for every last human being that’s ever been born. Because God’s Word says so. But they just refuse to believe it. Let’s go on now to verse 35 in Genesis Chapter 27:
“And he (Isaac) said, ‘Thy brother came with subtilty, (with deception) and hath taken away thy blessing.’ And he (Esau) said, ‘Is not he rightly named Jacob?'”
You must remember the definitions of all these Hebrew names were definite. And Jacob meant “the deceiver,” “the supplanter,” where as Israel meant literally a “prince with God.” So what we are going to see in the conversion of Jacob later on is the man is going to be changed from a deceiver and supplanter to a prince with God. Now, isn’t that what should happen to everyone of us.
When we are in our lost state what are we? We are sinners, rebels, nothing, we’re enemies of God. But once salvation has come in, there should be that 180 degree turn. The first thing I look for when someone claims to have been saved is that change in life style. It just has to happen! And I’ve seen it over the years, in so many people, where there is a total change. It might not happen overnight. It may take time. The Christian life is a growth process, just like an infant coming into the world. And they, too, must be fed, and nurtured, and loved as they grow. And so it is with the Christian experience.
“And he (Esau) said, ‘Is not he rightly named Jacob? for he hath supplanted me these two times: he took away my birthright… (Now, that’s not true. Jacob didn’t take away his birthright. He was simply in a position where he could say, “Esau I’ve got this food that you want, and I’ll trade it for your birthright.” And that’s the way it happened) …and, behold, now he hath taken away my blessing… (yes, we have to admit he did do that) “hast thou not reserved a blessing for me?”
“And Isaac answered and said unto Esau, Behold, I have made him thy lord (I had to point out to someone recently, this word “lord” in small letters is just a term of address. In other words, today we would say, “Dear Sir.” But here the word “lord” is simply a designation of addressing someone. So this is what Isaac means when the tells Esau that he has made Jacob his oversee: “Positionally he is above you, he’s thy lord”), and all his brethren have I given to him for servants: and with corn and wine have I sustained him: and what shall I do now unto thee, my son?”
“And Esau said unto his father, Hast thou but one blessing, my father? bless me, even me also, O my father. And Esau lifted up his voice, and wept.”
This is what the Book of Hebrews meant that he sought this thing with tears. I think what we must understand, that in spite of all the weeping and wailing that Esau went through, did it change his status of faith? Not one bit! Esau doesn’t come out of this experience and say from now on I’m going to believe what God says. We can even relate to this today. Individuals may go through an emotional upheaval and I am not very much in favor of emotionalism on these things. because people can be forced by emotions to do things that they don’t really mean.
I have a little cliche that goes like this: “Anyone convinced against their will is unconvinced still.” I had someone give me a perfect illustration of that not very long ago. Someone had brought people into their home to watch our first video tape. They watched it, and immediately after that, someone tried to force them to get on their knees and become a Christian. Listen, that is not the way it works. That’s not the way God does things. He opens hearts and it may take time for that heart to become receptive. I’ve got people in my classes that I’ve taught two years or longer, before they came to that place. And God has to do it in His own time. Oh, you can force people, you can bring them to an emotional high and force them to do something that they don’ really mean, and that’s Esau. He is still destitute of faith, as we are going to see at the end of this chapter. But as a result of all of this, we come down to verse 41
“And Esau hated Jacob”
Usually, when you run into the word “hate” in Scripture, this has thrown a curve at a lot of people. Jesus, in His earthly ministry, said unless you hate your father and mother you cannot be His disciple. And that has bothered people. It is used in another place also. Turn to Malachi:
“I have loved you (speaking of Israel), saith the LORD. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? saith the LORD: yet I loved Jacob, And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness.”
Anywhere the Scripture uses the word hate, at least as so far as God is concerned (remember it’s a comparative word), it merely means that his love for Jacob was so much greater than it was for Esau. It was as if it was a hatred. But remember, God can’t hate, because hate is a sin. So always look at that word in it’s context , and realize that it is only a comparative term. So, getting to the verse Jesus used about hating your father and mother or you can’t be His disciples, it didn’t mean he expects people to hate their parents, as we look at the term. Rather, our love for the LORD should be so much greater than for our earthly parents, that by comparison, it’s the difference between love and hate. Maybe that will help a little bit.
Now, back to Genesis 27:41. Here, I think Esau is using the word hate as the term we understand it to be. When the Scriptures said, “And Esau hated Jacob” how long has that hatred lasted? Right up even to today. This is the crux of all the problems of the Middle East today. Remember, they are all relatives. I pointed that out several months ago when I put the genealogy on the board, how all those middle eastern nations come out of Terah, and Abraham and his two brothers. And out of those three brothers, we had Lot. And Lot had the Moabites, and the Ammonites, Then on the other side you have Ishmael, a son of Abraham, though they are relatives, they are outside the Abrahamic Covenant. So they became enemies of God’s Covenant people.
“And Esau said in his heart, ‘The days of mourning for my father are at hand (He, too, thought that Isaac was about dead); then will I slay my brother Jacob.'”
“And these words of Esau her elder son were told to Rebekah: and she sent and called Jacob her younger son, and said unto him, ‘Behold, thy brother Esau, as touching thee, doth comfort himself, purposing to kill thee.'” She had caught wind of Esau’s statement.
“‘Now therefore, my son (She’s speaking to Jacob), obey my voice; and arise, flee thou to Laban my brother to Haran;'” (That was north of Damascus)
“‘And tarry with him a few days, until thy brother’s fury turn away;'”
She thought Esau would cool off and Jacob could come back home maybe within a month or two. But how long did it turn out to be? Twenty years – and Rebekah never lived to see Jacob again.
“‘Until thy brother’s anger turn away from thee, and he forget that which thou hast done to him: then I will send, and fetch thee from thence: why should I be deprived also of you both in one day?'”
Do you realize what Rebekah is really saying? Do you know what they were practicing? Capital punishment. She knew that if Esau murdered Jacob, she would also lose Esau, because that’s what the law demanded. And wouldn’t we be in better shape if that was true in our country today? Note, they didn’t have God’s Law yet. Most of these people lived their daily lives according to the old ancient laws of Hammurabi. He was a Babylonian and, of course, when Moses came on the scene, that was all superseded. Nevertheless, Hammurabi’s Law demanded whoever murdered, he himself would also lose his life. And they didn’t have four or five years of appeals. Rebekah said “in one day.“ Had Esau killed Jacob, his own life would have been taken in a matter of hours.
“And Rebekah said to Isaac, I am weary of my life because of the daughters of Heth: If Jacob take a wife of the daughters of Heth, such as these which are of the daughters of the land, what good shall my life do me?
Who previously had taken daughters of Heth? Esau had. He had already married two of these Canaanite women. And it was a grief of mind to Isaac and Rebekah.
“And Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him, and charged him, and said unto him, ‘Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan.'”
We see that Isaac is in full accord with all of this, even though he recognizes that Jacob may have deceived him. Yet Isaac is comfortable with the whole setting. Otherwise, I don’t believe you would see him calling Jacob back and giving him those instructions. The Canaanites were pagan, immoral and idolatrous, yet Esau was comfortable with them. But Isaac and Rebekah don’t want Jacob to get involved with the Canaanite women.
“‘Arise and go to Padan-aram, to the house of Bethuel thy mother’s father; and take thee a wife from thence of the daughters of Laban thy mother’s brother.'”
At this point, the race is still relatively pure. They had a gene pool that allowed such a custom without having any repercussions.
“‘And God Almighty (if you remember, several months ago we pointed out the names of Deity, and this word Almighty is the Hebrew word El Shaddai. It is always used in association with fruitfulness, as you see here) bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a multitude of people;'”
You want to be looking for these various terms of Deity because it makes the Scripture so beautiful and fine-tuned as it’s been put together.
“‘And give thee the blessing of Abraham, to thee, and to thy seed with thee; that thou mayest inherit the land wherein thou art a stranger (That is Canaan), which God gave unto Abraham.'”
Wouldn’t it be great if our State Department could just understand Genesis? They could save themselves so much grief, if they could just know that the land between the Mediterranean and the River Jordan was given to the Nation of Israel 4000 years ago. And God never goes back on His Word.
I remember reading a secular history book several years ago, dealing with the antiquities, and do you know that even before God designated the Holy Land to Abraham, the ancients, the ones that were on the scene before Abraham, were already calling the land of Palestine the Divine Land, or God’s Land. For some reason, they already knew that this land was a special God-designated piece of real-estate.
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