Summary: God will still fulfill his promises, even in the middle of difficulty
How many of you have ever eaten at a Hard Rock Cafe? They can be found all over the world - in 59 countries, actually -- and it used to be popular to collect t-shirts from as many locations as possible. At one point I had a shirt from Beijing, China; Sydney, Australia; Paris, France; Rome, Italy; Gatlinburg, Tennessee; and Orlando, Florida thanks to trips that either myself or a member of my family had taken. The Hard Rock Cafe doesn’t just specialize in countries that are hot tourist destinations, either -- they have restaurants in Kazakhstan, Malta, Vietnam, Kuwait, Egypt, and other less travelled world destinations.
What makes the Hard Rock Cafe special isn’t the food, though it is good, but the atmosphere and the decor. The Seminole Tribe of Florida, the current owners of the Hard Rock Cafe, have over 77,000 pieces of rock and roll memorabilia, and are the owners of the largest private collection in the world. They have guitars from great names like Pete Townshend, Eric Clapton, and Jon Bon Jovi; stage costumes worn by the Beatles, and even original recordings of entire albums hanging on the walls of each and every restaurant. This collection is what makes eating a hamburger at the Hard Rock Cafe different than eating a hamburger at any other restaurant.
Some cities also have a Hard Rock Hotel, which expands the idea of the original restaurant and adds a several-hundred-room hotel to the property as an added form of income for the company. The Hard Rock Hotel is much smaller than the restaurant, though, with only a handful of hotels in less than 20 countries.
Tonight I want to talk about a different hard rock hotel -- perhaps the very first one ever. Turn to Genesis chapter 28. Chapter 28 starts with Jacob standing in front of his father, Isaac, preparing to go find a wife. But a lot has happened before they got to this point. Remember, Jacob and Esau were twins. Esau, the oldest, was Isaac’s favorite; but Jacob was Rebekah’s favorite. Jacob has already bought his brother’s birthright for a bowl of lentil stew, then lied to his father Isaac about it. After this point Esau held a grudge against Jacob, even though he’s the one who sold his birthright in the first place! Esau became a bit of a rebel in the family after this, and even married a woman from Canaan -- something that his father was specifically against. At the very last verse in chapter 27 we see Rebekah playing her sons against each other even more. “Then Rebekah said to Isaac, ‘I’m disgusted with living because of these Hittite women. If Jacob takes a wife from among the women of this land, from Hittite women like these, my life will not be worth living.’”
This is a classic example of manipulation, right? “If this happens, then my life won’t be worth living!” Rebekah was a classic drama queen who was very good at convincing her husband to do what she wanted. And, of course, he goes right along with it, doesn’t he? Chapter 28, verses 1-9:
“1So Isaac called for Jacob and blessed him. Then he commanded him: “Do not marry a Canaanite woman. 2Go at once to Paddan Aram, to the house of your mother’s father Bethuel. Take a wife for yourself there, from among the daughters of Laban, your mother’s brother. 3May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and increase your numbers until you become a community of peoples. 4May he give you and your descendants the blessing given to Abraham, so that you may take possession of the land where you now reside as a foreigner, the land God gave to Abraham.” 5Then Isaac sent Jacob on his way, and he went to Paddan Aram, to Laban son of Bethuel the Aramean, the brother of Rebekah, who was the mother of Jacob and Esau.
6Now Esau learned that Isaac had blessed Jacob and had sent him to Paddan Aram to take a wife from there, and that when he blessed him he commanded him, “Do not marry a Canaanite woman,” 7and that Jacob had obeyed his father and mother and had gone to Paddan Aram. 8Esau then realized how displeasing the Canaanite women were to his father Isaac; 9so he went to Ishmael and married Mahalath, the sister of Nebaioth and daughter of Ishmael son of Abraham, in addition to the wives he already had.”
So while Jacob is preparing to leave and find a wife, his poor brother Esau is still trying to undo his mistake from earlier and gain his father’s favor once more by marrying a woman from their own family -- in this case, his half-uncle’s daughter. Of course, this is the same half-uncle who, we learned last week, was conceived from Abraham doubting God, and was then sent into exile. Esau just can’t catch a break!