This week we turn our attention to a new set of readings known as Tol’dot, Generations found in Genesis 15:19-28:9. From Adam to Jacob, generations of people with faith in God are profiled one after another. They are contrasted against people without belief, generations of faithlessness.
Last week, we considered the life of Sarah and the legacy she handed down to her family. Much has been made of the fact that Sarah let go of the past and grasped the future with both hands. She believed God. She trusted that what He had promised would come to pass. In our christainese, Sarah was saved. Whoa, let me correct that. Sarah IS saved. Along with Abraham, Sarah is more alive than you or me. What is she doing? She is waiting for all of the promises made to her family to be completely fulfilled, literally.
Little is recorded concerning the life of Isaac, the miracle child of Sarah’s old age. He was not a sinless man. Occasionally, his own desire for earthly pleasure clouded his thinking and his affections. Nonetheless, as far as God was concerned, Isaac was righteous in His eyes because he too believed, like his parents. He had his own personal relationship with Abraham and Sarah’s covenant keeping God.
3 Generations – Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob
Isaac’s wife, Rebekah, was barren. Instead of taking matters into their own hands, as Abraham and Sarah had, Rebekah and Isaac prayed to God and she conceived. While certainly joyful about Rebekah’s pregnancy, almost from the beginning there were signs of trouble. Rebekah’s pregnancy was difficult. It was as if there was a war breaking out in her womb. Then God said:
Two nations are in your womb; And two peoples will be separated from your body; And one people shall be stronger than the other; And the older shall serve the younger. – Genesis 25:23
Rebekah would give birth to twins, Esau and Jacob. Before birth, in fact before time began, Jacob was elected as the one through whom the line of Messiah would run. And not only that! All the blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant ran through Jacob as well. Jacob was chosen. Esau was not. On that, the text it clear.
Unfortunately, Jacob has a bad reputation as a liar and deceiver. Make no mistake, Jacob was just like you and me. He was a sinner. Nothing more, and nothing less. His sin had consequences not only for him but for his whole family. But, he was more than that. Not because of his own sinful nature, but because of God’s own perfect character.
Read the account of Genesis 25:19-34. These verses contain the story of Esau selling his birthright to his younger brother for a bowl of red stew. The birthright belonged to the oldest son, but it could be sold.
There were three facets to the birthright that had initially belonged to Esau.
Sound familiar? No doubt, Isaac and Rebekah had told the stories of God’s glory all the way back to the Garden of Eden to their two sons. Both of them must have known what was at stake. Yet, Esau and Jacob viewed the value of the covenant God had made with their grandparents differently. Look at what the writer of Hebrews said about Esau.
See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. – Hebrews 12:15-16
Character proves itself in the long run. Esau was a profane man, despising the the inheritance of the unconditional facets of the covenant made with Abraham and his father Isaac. On the other hand, Jacob believed and valued them. Like Sarah, his grandmother, and his mother Rebekah, Isaac was a man of action. He understood what was at stake. He wanted to play a pivotal role in God’s greater plans for the whole world. And so, he took steps to acquire that which was of no value to Esau.
Esau was a profane man. Jacob, on the other hand, was perfect not because of what he did, but because of what he believed. Jacob was declared to be righteous in the eyes of God.
What is your standing before God, profane or perfect?