Summary: Genesis 25:19-28. God’s election of Jacob over Esau; and Paul’s use of this Genesis passage.
LESSONS FROM THE LIVES OF THE PATRIARCHS
GENESIS PART 2 | PATRIARCHAL HISTORY
JACOB: CHOSEN BEFORE BIRTH
- One of the most difficult aspects of biblical theology to understand is the intersection of God’s sovereignty and human responsibility. It is quite clear in Scripture that God is completely sovereign over absolutely everything. He ordains, in one way or another, everything that has ever come to pass. He is in control of his universe. He causes kings to rise and fall. He raises up Pharaohs in order to show his wrath. He forms and dissolves nations. He allows sin and yet condemns sin. If God is God then God is sovereign. If he is who we know him biblically to be, he is in absolute control of the tiniest details of existence.
- It is equally clear in Scripture that men and women are individually responsible for their own actions. We are not cosmic robots with no capacity to act on our desires. We are free agents. This means that we do what we do because we want to do it. Our own desires dictate our actions.
- How these two truths interact and compliment each other can be a tricky thing to figure out. And one message on the topic is not going to adequately answer all of the questions that arise when we discuss these issues. However, I do want to attempt to do the topic justice, so we will have a somewhat lengthy look at Scripture today. There are some basic, fundamental truths that we need to understand from the life of Jacob today. In the life of Jacob God’s sovereignty is on clear display. And the New Testament writers pick up on this point and teach us how the sovereign God of Jacob is the sovereign God of you and me.
- We are going to start with Jacob himself. How does God reveal himself to be sovereign in the life, particularly today, the birth, of Jacob? What does this tell us about God in general? Then we will move on to the New Testament commentary on this passage. How does God reveal himself to be sovereign in your life and my life? What does the New Testament use of this passage tell us about God specifically?
- So, we begin with Jacob:
[READ GENESIS 25:19-28]
- Of course, the promises of God to Abraham and his son Isaac sit as the backdrop for this passage. God is continuing to work out his covenant with the patriarch as Isaac begins to start his own family. The story of the (almost) sacrifice of Isaac that we addressed last time serves as a kind of transition in the text. Abraham ends his part of the story triumphantly with an amazing act of obedient faith. Now the focus has turned to Isaac. Isaac marries Rebekah, and here we are looking at the birth of Isaac’s first two boys.
- Here is the scene. Rebekah, Isaac’s wife is barren; she is struggling with the inability to have children. We need to be reminded that in this culture barrenness was a disgrace of the highest order. As a woman, if you could not bear children you endured a tremendous amount of shame. In the minds of many, barrenness was a sign of disapproval by the gods. Even Isaac, when seeking to deal with Rebekah’s issue turns to the LORD his God. They had a tremendous understanding of the miracle of life in that culture. Our knowledge of how human beings are formed and born has in many ways striped us of the joy of why we are born and who we come from. But I digress.
- The LORD hears Isaac’s prayer and answers him by allowing Rebekah to conceive. Once she conceives, she feels something going on inside of her. Now it seems like to this point she is unaware that she is carrying twins. Perhaps she felt her stomach doing some unusual things. And maybe she thinks something is wrong. So she says, “Why is this happening to me? I waited so long to become pregnant and now something is amiss!” So she asks God what the matter is. That’s when God comes to her to explain what is going on.
- God’s explanation for the turmoil going on in Rebekah’s womb is what we will concentrate on today.
- Here is what he says: “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.” There are two key components to that statement that I want us to recognize. There is what we might call the corporate component and there is the individual component. Let’s unpack what I mean. First, the corporate component: