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  • Writer's pictureDeborah

Face to Face

Genesis 12:1-2 (God’s promise to Abraham)

Genesis 25:22-23 ESV

Genesis 25:27-28 ESV

Genesis 25:29-34 (Esau sells his birthright to Jacob)

Genesis 27:1-40 (Isaac gives the blessing to his youngest son Jacob)

Genesis 27:41-43 ESV

Genesis 28 and 29 (Jacob marries a descendant of Rebekah’s family and Esau marries a descendant from Ishmael’s family)

Genesis 32:4-6 (Jacob’s message to Esau)

Genesis 32:24-29 ESV

Genesis 32:30 ESV

Genesis 33:4 ESV

Genesis 35:23-26 (Jacob’s descendants; he marries Leah and Rachel and he has 12 sons…)   Genesis 36:1-43 (Descendants of Esau)

If we think family issues are a modern day problem, this story will make it clear that it’s NOT a new phenomenon.

We’ll start with Isaac who was the son of Abraham. In Genesis 12:1-2 we learn that God promised Abraham his descendants would be multiplied like stars in the sky.

Jacob and Esau, sons of Isaac and Rebekah were twins. You might think that would mean they would have a close-knit bond. In reality they had a history of struggling with each other.

In Genesis 25:22-23 we are told that even in the womb they struggled, “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. 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.”

Esau was the oldest twin, but it was Jacob who received the ultimate blessing from their father Isaac. That was usually not the case at that time.

We learn from Genesis 25:27-28, “When the boys grew up, Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field, while Jacob was a quiet man, dwelling in tents. Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.”

One day when Jacob was inside and had cooked a stew, Jacob came in from the field and he was very hungry. Esau was so hungry and he wanted the stew so he agreed to sell his birthright to Esau for a meal (Genesis 25:29-34). At the time Esau wasn’t thinking his birthright was important.

The signs of a struggle between the twins continued…

We are told in Genesis 27 that when Isaac was old he asked Esau to go hunting and bring him food so he could receive his blessing from his father before he died.

Remember that Isaac loved Esau but Rebekah loved Jacob. Rebekah heard what Isaac said to Esau. While Esau was hunting for game for his father, Rebekah told Jacob to kill two young goats from their flock and she would prepare the food. Because Esau was a hairy man and Jacob was not, Rebekah placed the hairy skins of the goat on Jacob and she dressed Jacob in Esau’s clothes. When Jacob went to see his dying father even though he wasn’t sure his son sounded like Esau, his arms felt like Esau’s arms so he ate the game and he gave the blessing to his son.

It was Jacob (the youngest twin) that Isaac blessed.

Then in Genesis 27:41-43, we learn, “Now Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father had blessed him, and Esau said to himself, “The days of mourning for my father are approaching; then I will kill my brother Jacob.” But the words of Esau her older son were told to Rebekah. So she sent and called Jacob her younger son and said to him, “Behold, your brother Esau comforts himself about you by planning to kill you. Now therefore, my son, obey my voice. Arise, flee to Laban my brother in Haran.”

So, Rebekah sent Jacob away to live with her brother in Haran so that her son Esau would not kill him.

Also, Rebekah told Isaac she wanted Jacob to take a wife who was a descendant of Her brother  while he was in Haran. We are told in Genesis 29 that Jacob married Leah and Rachel.

Esau then took a wife who was a descendant of Abraham’s son Ishmael (Genesis 28).

We are starting to see the big picture of the relationship between the twins Esau and Jacob. It was very complex, but we can begin to understand their history that led up to the moment of their reunion later in life.

We pick up in Genesis 32 when Jacob is getting ready to meet with his brother and why he was very nervous about their meeting. The last time they saw each other was 20 years ago. Jacob had been praying and he had many gifts he brought for his brother, Esau.

Even so, Jacob wasn’t sure how he would be received by his brother Esau. In Genesis 32:4-6 he sent a message to his twin brother and the messengers return telling him his brother Esau was coming to meet him with 400 men. That sounded like he might be ready for a battle!

So, Jacob sent his wives and his family across the stream. In Genesis 32:24-29, we learn, “Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob's hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him.”

Jacob then knew he had been wrestling with a divine messenger!

We read in Genesis 32:30, “Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.”

It turned out that the meeting went much better than Jacob expected!  We are told in Genesis 33:4, “Esau ran to meet him and embraced him and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept.”

The twin brothers were finally united. Their lifetime struggle was over. God helped them to resolve their differences!

The account of the descendants of Jacob are found in Genesis 35:23-26.

The account of the descendants of Esau are in Genesis 36.

Today’s Spiritual Practice is: Pray

If you are faced with a difficult decision, ask God to help you.

In God, Deborah


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