Jacob and Esau

Photo by Meritt Thomas on Unsplash

Then Jacob made this vow: “If God will indeed be with me and protect me on this journey, and if he will provide me with food and clothing, and if I return safely to my father’s home, then the Lord will certainly be my God.”  Genesis 28:20


I love the speedy gonzalez lunch special!  No matter what Mexican restaurant I visit that is always my meal choice.  A beef burrito, taco, and beans.  I sat there today with a friend ready to dig in.  We meet once a month to read the Bible and share together.  What is unique about this Bible study is that my friend doesn’t believe in God.  Our conversation is always so good.  We were hungry for some Mexican cuisine, and for the truth of God’s Word. 

We had read the narrative in Genesis about Jacob and Esau, Isaac’s twin sons (Genesis 25-35) before we arrived.  As we discussed the events in Jacob and Esau’s lives, we recognized a major observation.  No one in this narrative seems to be any good.  Esau understands God’s promise to his father Isaac, and certainly anticipates receiving the same blessing when he’s older, but he carelessly squanders it for a bowl of stew.  His anger rises against his brother Jacob to the point he’s willing to murder him.  Esau doesn’t show any faith in God and marries pagan wives. 

Jacob, with the encouragement from his mom, deceives his brother twice and his father once.  Jacob steals Esau’s birthright and his blessing.  He’s angered his brother so much he has to go!  Rebekah sends him to his kin in the east to find a wife, and to get away from Esau. 

What do we learn about people from reading this narrative?  No one is inherently good.  Jacob and Esau came into the world at odds with one another.  Rebekah and Isaac show favoritism in their family.  When I look around the world today, even in my own life, I recognize that we aren’t inherently good either.  We may want to be good.  We may have good intentions.  We may feel guilty when we’ve wronged someone else.  But we always fall short of being good.

We are broken.  We need help.  We need to change. 

As my friend and I discussed this idea, he asks, “So why did God bless them?”  You see God made a promise to Jacob’s grandfather, Abraham, and his father Isaac that he would bless them, and they would be a blessing to all the families of the earth.  God made the same promise to Jacob.  That’s pretty great, but what did they do to earn that favor from God?  The answer is nothing.  God did not bless them and keep his promise to them because of their efforts or good behavior.  Jacob didn’t do anything to earn God’s favor, but God gave it freely. 

While Jacob was on the run from Esau to find a wife, he encountered God in a vision at a place called Bethel.  He heard God’s promise and recognized that God was with Him.  He vows to remain faithful to God since God is promising to be faithful to him.  From that point on, Jacob had a relationship with God.  Jacob trusted God, and God continued to bless him. 

God blessed Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob because of His own grace and will.  God so desires to bless all the families of the earth (even you and me) through this family that He continues to keep his promise no matter what.  God remained with Jacob in spite of his shortcomings and deceitful character, but God didn’t let Jacob stay the same.  God helped Jacob change and become the man God created him to be. 

God keeps that same promise for us today.  God sent Jesus, His son, to live, die, and rise again to forgive our shortcomings and give us eternal life.  When we trust in God and follow His lead in our lives, He will change us too.  He will make us into the men and women He created us to be.  We haven’t done anything to earn God’s favor and blessing, but He certainly has given it freely.    

Will you take it and trust God today? 


Leave a Reply