God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life that might not always seem so wonderful. Consider, this morning, the story of the birth of Esau and Jacob and learn that the faithful may not always understand; but they always trust. If you love God, you trust Him. If you trust God, you obey Him. Obedience means you take your desires and preferences and you hand them over to God, saying: “not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). Let us consider the following:
- A Crisis that requires Trust (19-21). In verse 21 we discover that Rebekah is barren. In fact, twenty years pass before children are born to Isaac and Rebekah. This is a crisis for Isaac because God’s promises include offspring. Isaac responded in faith and “prayed to the Lord for his wife.” God “granted his prayer, and Rebekah his wife conceived.” Isaac turned to the Lord during His crisis because He trusted the Lord. In fact, God allowed Rebekah—like Sarah (11:30) and Rachel (29:31)—to be barren in order to remind them that God’s promises must be fulfilled by God Himself.
- An Answer that requires Faith (22-23). Rebekah, concerned with the struggle that is occurring in her womb, inquired of the Lord. God’s response required faith. God told 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.” This statement is significant because it was customary for the firstborn son to inherit the birthright: the rights and privileges of the father. God told Rebekah that the younger son will get the birthright over the older son. Why did God say this? The Bible tells us that “though [Esau and Jacob] were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of Him who calls—she was told ‘the older will serve the younger’” (Rom 9:11-12). God told Rebekah that He was choosing Jacob (the younger) over Esau (the older) because He wanted to. This had nothing to do with Jacob or Esau but on God’s purposes and plans. God has this freedom and we must respond in faith.
- Names that relate to Character (24-34). After being told that the older will serve the younger, Rebekah gave birth to twins. The first child was named Esau. Then “his brother came out with his hand holding Esau’s heel, so his name was called Jacob.” Esau was a hunter who liked being outdoors and Jacob preferred dwelling in tents. Both men are aptly named as we shall see in the next section.
- Choices that reveal Distrust (29-34). Based on the boy’s names, the following section should not be surprising. Esau loved hunting and being outdoors so it should not surprise us that he “came in from the field…exhausted.” It should not surprise us that Jacob is cooking near the tents. It should not surprise us that Jacob sought to take advantage of (trick) his exhausted brother by refusing to give him the stew unless he sold his birthright. Finally, it should not surprise us that Esau was more concerned about himself than the birthright and therefore despised it by selling it to Jacob. Both men made choices that reveal their character and their distrust of God’s promises.
There is more to the story of Jacob and Esau, but we will pause here for reflection. First, let us recognize that God is in control and that is good. Second, let us embrace God’s control of all things by being dependent on His grace. We need God to change us and guide us because we are lost without Him. We live by faith and pray that His will would be done, not ours.
Grow Group Guide
Thy Will Be Done (Genesis 25:19-34)
Open with prayer and then have someone volunteer to read Genesis 24. After reading the text, discuss the following questions:
- What does the text say? (What happened? What happened next? What happened after that?) How old was Isaac when he married Rebekah? Why was Rebekah unable to have children? What did Isaac do as a result? How old was Isaac when Rebekah became pregnant? Why was Rebekah alarmed? What did God tell her? Why was God’s response shocking? What is the first child named? What is the second child doing when he is born and what is his name? What did Esau ask Jacob? What did Jacob ask for in return? What did Esau do? What did Esau do with his birthright?
- What does it tell us about God? (Discuss the nature and character of God.) Why would God provide Isaac with a wife who is barren? Why does God make Isaac and Rebekah wait 20 years before they have children? With the birthright being extremely important in this time period, why would God allow Rebekah to have twins? Why does God choose the younger over the older (see Rom 9:11)? What does God’s choice of Jacob tell us about God?
- What does it tell us about ourselves? (What are the human characters in the story doing or not doing that serve as a warning or encouragement to us?) What was the response of Isaac and Rebekah to the difficulties they were facing? Why did Esau consider food more important than his birthright? Why did Jacob seek to trade stew for the birthright when Esau was exhausted and “about to die”?
- How am I going to think, speak, and live differently because of what I learned? James writes that we should be doers of the word and not just hearers (James 1:22). It is not enough to know what the story says, it is important to apply the truth of the story to our lives. Take some time in prayer and consider some changes that you need to make in the following areas: