Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 1 * BOOK 7
JACOB, ESAU, BIRTHRIGHT
Let’s get back into the Book of Genesis and do some reviewing. Turn to Chapter 25. Here, we’re dealing with two sons, Jacob and Esau, the sons of Isaac and Rebekah. All of this is right in line with the Abrahamic Covenant. I realize that a lot of people are picking up our program on television, and may have been watching only a few weeks, so, sometime in the next couple of weeks we’ll make an extended review of that Abrahamic Covenant. I told a couple of my classes recently, unless you understand the Abrahamic Covenant and all that it entails, it’s pretty hard to understand the New Testament. This also includes our Age of Grace, prophecy, and the Middle East. The whole Middle East situation is resting upon what we have back here in the Book of Genesis.
I’ve put a partial timeline on the board again, and we’re going to look at it. I think that a lot of people are going to be surprised at the time element that takes place between so many of these things that we normally read, and think it must have been only a week or two, when in actuality it was years. Because, you want to remember, God promised Abraham that from His call to go to a land that He would show him, which, of course, was Canaan, until Israel coming out of Egypt, is going to be 430 years. God delineated that.
Now, we’re going to see that in the very middle of that 430 years is when Israel is in the beginning of her sojourn in Egypt. In other words, 215 years of time elapse before the sojourn into Egypt even begins. I think we have all been under the impression that the Israelites were in slavery and bondage for the whole 430 years. Certainly, it was still a long time to be under those circumstances, but in actuality it was only about 150 years that they were slaves. Remember, as long as Joseph was on the throne, the Israelites had it super good there in Goshen. It was after Joseph died that the slave situation came in.
What I want to show you, before we get back into this timeline on the board, is the Sovereignty of God. God is in control of every jot and tittle of what takes place. Not only in the life of Israel, but, I think, in the life of every child of God in particular. And as the old cliche once said, “The world is His stage,” and indeed it is. God is bringing it all to fruition in his own time. Now, Genesis 25, and a little review:
“And these are the generations of Isaac, Abraham’s son: Abraham begat Isaac:”
“And Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah to wife, the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Padan-aram (That’s north of present day Damascus.), the sister to Laban the Syrian;”
“And Isaac intreated the LORD for his wife, because she was barren (She was barren for almost 20 years. That was the time from when Isaac was 40 until he was 60, and then the twins are finally born.): and the LORD was intreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived.”
“And the children struggled together within her (This is amazing that the two personalities are already showing their mettle even in her womb.); and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to inquire of the LORD.”
“And the LORD said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb (Now, what is that? That’s the sovereignty of God. He is bringing it all to pass, even before they are born), and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people (I want you to underline this next statement); and the elder shall serve the younger.”
Who mandated, then, that Jacob would end up where he did? God did! As we study this, and especially when we come into the conniving of Rebekah and Jacob to get that blessing from Isaac, never lose sight that God had mandated this before they were even born. What I think we are going to see is a situation just like Abraham, who got impatient with God’s promise with regard to a son. And without God’s instruction he connived with his wife Sarah to bring about the child Ishmael. This was all done in the energy of the flesh and yet it was in God’s sovereign plan. So keep these things in mind as we go back to Chapter 27 and pick up now the stolen blessing.
But, before we look at the Scripture, I want to lay this out on the board, just a brief outline of the time element . About 2000 B.C. is when Abraham received that call at Ur of the Chaldees. I put a question mark behind his age of 50, because we don’t know from Scripture. However, since the multiples of fives (50, 75, 100, and he dies at 175) are so evident in the life of Abraham, I think we can logically guess that God may have spoken to him at the age of 50 in Ur. Then he went up to Haran in Syria, where the relatives are still living. And when Abraham was 75, God told him to go on down into Canaan. When he is 86 his son Ishmael is born. And then when he is 100 years old Isaac is born.
And now let’s move over to the family coming out of Isaac. When Isaac is 40 he marries Rebekah. And then 20 years later, when he is 60, the twins are born and they are Jacob and Esau. When Isaac is 75, Abraham dies, being 175, so Abraham is off the scene. When Jacob and Esau are 24 years old, Jacob got the birthright by selling that bowl of red bean soup to Esau. There was no enmity created from that, evidently; at least we don’t see that in Scripture. Then 16 years after Jacob gets the birthright from Esau, Esau marries the Canaanite women. Remember we touched on that last week, and the Canaanites were a grief of mind to Isaac and Rebekah. I think that all of this indicates the kind of man that Esau really was. Remember, I told you last week that he was a man destitute of faith? He saw no importance whatsoever in that birthright at the age of 24. It didn’t mean a thing to him.
And what is so amazing (and I didn’t pick it up until I was studying this more in detail the last few weeks), is that normally, I’ve always thought it was only a few weeks until Jacob connives with his mother to get the blessing, but in actuality it was 37 years. Now, that shocks you doesn’t it? It’s 37 years from the time they are 24 (when Jacob got the birthright), until he connives with Rebekah and gets the blessing, and then he has to flee.
He goes up to Syria, back to where Abraham’s relatives had been left off years earlier. He goes up to Padan-aram. Then, 20 years later, we see Jacob coming back with all of his wives and children; all 11 sons, and Benjamin will be born after he comes back. Ten years after Jacob comes back to the land of Canaan, Rachel dies giving birth to Benjamin. Then it’s another 12 to 15 years (I don’t remember exactly), that Jacob joins again with Isaac down in southern Israel, in Beersheba.
So Jacob, with all of his offspring, enjoys living several more years with his father, Isaac, who dies at the age of 180. Jacob and Esau are now 120 years old. Now, here is another interesting date. By the time that Isaac dies at 180, and Jacob is 120, Joseph is 29. He has already been down in Egypt for 12 years. Remember, his brothers sold him into slavery, after they took his coat of many colors. Scripture says that Joseph was 17 at that time. Then, 64 years after Joseph dies, Moses is born. I hope this helps a little to put the whole picture together.
So, from the time of the death of Joseph to Moses’ birth, that brings us to this 215 year mark, or exactly 1/2 of that 430 years that God mandated would be from the Call of Abraham until Israel would leave Egypt. So that means that the abject slavery was not the whole 430 years. It was more like 140 to 150 years.
Now, let’s come back to Genesis 27. The twins are now 77.
“And it came to pass, that when Isaac was old, and his eyes were dim, so that he could not see, he called Esau his eldest son, and said unto him, My son: and he said unto him, Behold, here am I.”
Then the next verse makes you smile.
“And he said, Behold now, I am old, I know not the day of my death:”
Well, he must have had a spell of some kind and thought he was going to die. However, he revived and didn’t die for another 43 years.
“Now therefore take, I pray thee, thy weapons, thy quiver and thy bow, and go out to the field, and take me some venison;…”
You all know the story, and we won’t take it verse by verse for the sake of time, but continue at verse 11:
“And Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, Behold, Esau my brother is a hairy man, and I am a smooth man:”
“My father peradventure will feel me, and I shall seem to him as a deceiver (Remember that is what the name Jacob meant); and I shall bring a curse upon me, and not a blessing.”
“And his mother said unto him, Upon me be thy curse, my son: only obey my voice, and go fetch me them.”
We don’t know what else happened to Rebekah. But if anything was a curse, the one thing for sure was that after Jacob had to flee for his life, Rebekah never saw him again. And that was the end of her association with her favorite son. I think that, in itself, was enough to break her heart. Of course Isaac lived on and, as I have mentioned, Jacob spent quite a few years with him after he returned with his families.
“And he went and fetched, and brought them to his mother: and his mother made savoury meat, such as his father loved.”
“And Rebekah took goodly raiment of her eldest son Esau, which were with her in the house, and put them upon Jacob her younger son:…”
“And Rebekah took (note the next words) goodly raiment,…” Now, underline that word “goodly” because there is a lot more to that word in the Hebrew than just a nice garment. It was a word that designated the role of the eldest. This is still the custom in the middle east even today. The eldest son is given clothes that pertain to his position. Remember how mad the other sons got when Jacob gave Joseph the coat of many colors? Well, they saw that their father was designating Joseph as the head of the brethren, even though he wasn’t the eldest. What Rebekah is doing then, is taking this designated piece of clothing for Esau and putting it on Jacob. This is all done in the flesh, but God doesn’t stop it, because he had mandated that this is way it would be. They were merely fulfilling what God had mandated in the first place.
In verse 16 there is another word I want you to underline, and that word is “kids.” I’m not going to tell you “why” right now, but I will when we get a couple of chapters farther on. The Old Testament says you sow to the wind and reap whirl winds. In the Book of Galatians, Paul says you reap what you sow. And here in Oklahoma we use the saying, “What goes around comes around.” And you can just count on it.
“And she put the skins of the kids of the goats upon his hands, and upon the smooth of his neck: In other words she’s uses the kid to deceive;”
“And she gave the savoury meat and the bread, which she had prepared, into the hand of her son Jacob.”
“And he came unto his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I; who art thou, my son?”
“And Jacob said unto his father, I am Esau thy firstborn;”
Now, we’ve got to stop for a moment. I used to almost cringe when I taught that. How could Jacob tell a bold faced lie? But, again, you must look at it in the light that God himself had designated that Jacob was to have the role of the firstborn. So, in that light, Jacob was not lying. He was in his position of the first born. I suppose you still think he lied. But according to the way God reckons things, this is exactly where Jacob must be. We may ask was God unfair? NO! Because what had God seen in the make up of Esau? NO FAITH! And what does Hebrews 11:6 say? “Without faith it is impossible to please God.”
So, no matter how morally good Esau might have been (and I doubt that he was, because of his marriage to the Canaanites), even if he was a better man than Jacob, God couldn’t use him because he had no faith. Now it is the same way today. The reason people are turned off by Christianity, the reason they have no desire for spiritual things is that they are destitute of faith. They cannot believe that this is the Word of God. Most say unless you can prove some of these things, they can’t believe. And listen, God doesn’t have to prove anything, because He is Sovereign. He has spoken it! And He has every right to expect mankind to believe what He has spoken.
So that Jacob, when he said, “I’m your firstborn son,” according to how God mandated it, he didn’t lie.
” And Isaac said unto his son, How is it that thou hast found it so quickly, my son? And he said, Because the LORD thy God brought it to me.”
This is another statement that we have a hard time swallowing, and on the other hand you must look at the way God had mandated it.
“And Isaac said unto Jacob, Come near, I pray thee (Don’t think the old father didn’t know that one son was hairy and one was smooth. So he said), that I may feel thee, my son, whether thou be my very son Esau or not.”
“And Jacob went near unto Isaac his father: and he felt him, and said, The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau.”
“And he discerned him not, because his hands were hairy, as his brother Esau’s hands: so he (what?) blessed him.”
And you need to remember that, in the ancient middle eastern world, when even the pagan kings made a decree, it could not be broken. An example is the Book of Esther. Right or wrong it stood. It’s the same way here. I think I pointed it out in our last program, but time flies by and I’m prone to forget.
The birthright was the spiritual side of the family position. The eldest son was more or less the priest of the family. He was the spiritual leader. But with this little family coming out of Abraham, it’s more than just being the family priest. It is through this line that the promised Messiah would come.
This makes it so very important, that God’s sovereign will is accomplished. Esau, being born first, could have been in the line of the Messiah, but he canceled it because of his lack of faith. So it fell to Jacob. Jacob then got the birthright, not really by deceiving, since Esau was willing to sell it for a bowl of soup. There was nothing iniquitous about that as far as I can see. And, consequently, I think that’s the reason we don’t find any hard feelings between them from the time they are 24 until Jacob flees.
So, this birthright issue did not create the enmity that this blessing did. And the reason of course was that the blessing was the material side of the whole picture. Now, the material side said that the eldest son would get a double portion. So, if there were three sons, immediately the father would divide the estate into four parts. The oldest would get two parts and the others would get one part each. In Isaac’s case, he would divide the blessing into three parts, with the oldest getting two, and the other, one.
This was what Esau was so angry about; he didn’t want to give up this double portion. And you need to remember this was a very wealthy family. They had flocks, herds, servants, and even old Abraham had a good collection of gold and silver. Always remember the birthright never did bother Esau, because that was something spiritual; he only wanted the material things. And I hope this helps settle this matter in our minds.