Summary: The birth of Esau and Jacob in Genesis 25:19-34 teaches us that by his sovereign grace God chooses the least to be his victorious people.
Today we begin a new series of sermons on “Isaac’s Descendants.” Isaac was the promised child born to Abraham and Sarah in their old age when Sarah was long past the age of bearing children. Eventually a bride was secured for Isaac from Abraham’s family in Mesopotamia. Rebekah left her family and friends, moved to the Promised Land and married Isaac. However, like her mother-in-law, Sarah, Rebekah was also barren, unable to bear children. So, would God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:2 to make of him a great nation come to an end with Isaac and Rebekah? No. Eventually God gave Isaac and Rebekah twin boys, named Esau and Jacob.
Let’s read about Jacob and Esau in Genesis 25:19-34:
19 These are the generations of Isaac, Abraham’s son: Abraham fathered Isaac, 20 and Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan-aram, the sister of Laban the Aramean, to be his wife. 21 And Isaac prayed to the Lord for his wife, because she was barren. And the Lord granted his prayer, and Rebekah his wife conceived. 22 The children struggled together within her, and she said, “If it is thus, why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of the Lord. 23 And the Lord said to her,
“Two nations are in your womb,
and two peoples from within you
shall be divided;
the one shall be stronger than the other,
the older shall serve the younger.”
24 When her days to give birth were completed, behold, there were twins in her womb. 25 The first came out red, all his body like a hairy cloak, so they called his name Esau. 26 Afterward his brother came out with his hand holding Esau’s heel, so his name was called Jacob. 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, dwelling in tents. 28 Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.
29 Once when Jacob was cooking stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was exhausted. 30 And Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am exhausted!” (Therefore his name was called Edom.) 31 Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright now.” 32 Esau said, “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?” 33 Jacob said, “Swear to me now.” 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. (Genesis 25:19-34)
Three weeks ago, my wife and I had the privilege of attending the Global Missions Conference of the Presbyterian Church in America in Dallas, TX. Kevin DeYoung addressed the attendees during the first plenary session. His opening statement caught my attention. He said, “If every Christian in the entire world (and that is defining ‘Christian’ in the most generous way) shared the gospel with every single person he or she knew (family, friends, colleagues, neighbors), and if God marvelously granted salvation to every single person who heard the gospel, there would still be 3 billion unconverted people in the world.” Almost half the people in the entire world do not have any contact at all with Christians.
If that fact is not discouraging, I also looked up to see what the rate of church growth is in the USA. Did you know that more churches close their doors than open their doors each year in the USA? In an article on church decline, Dr. Richard J. Krejcir states that “every year more than 4000 churches close their doors compared to just over 1000 new church starts!” The church today has a lot of work to do, and it hardly appears to be victorious.
God’s people in the Old Testament often wondered about the promises of God. God had called Abraham to himself out of Ur of the Chaldeans. God gave Abraham seven promises in Genesis 12:2-3. He said: “(1) And I will make of you a great nation, and (2) I will bless you, and (3) make your name great, (4) so that you will be a blessing. (5) I will bless those who bless you, and (6) him who dishonors you I will curse, and (7) in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
However, several hundred years later, after their enslavement in Egypt, their exodus out of Egypt, and their wandering for forty years in the Sinai desert, Edom refused to allow the people of God safe passage through their land so that the people of God could get back to the Promised Land. The narrative that we are studying today addressed God’s people who felt defeated.