Daily Distinctives, May 9, 2018 – Jacobs Departure, Esau’s Change

It has been several days since I have had an opportunity to post my daily devotional here. But I have been working on my family and my marriage and have not had much time to spend doing other things. With our schedule change and a whirlwind of activity around our home, I have settled on a time that might just work for me to get these devotionals done on a regular basis. The question is whether or not I will be disciplined enough to do it…lol. So, without any further delay, let’s dig in.

Picking back up in Genesis chapter 28 we come to another encounter between Isaac and Jacob.

[Gen 28:1 NKJV] Then Isaac called Jacob and blessed him, and charged him, and said to him: “You shall not take a wife from the daughters of Canaan.

It would appear that Isaac has finally resigned himself to the fact that Jacob would be one that the LORD uses to carry on the promise that God had made to Abraham. It was important that Jacob honor the wishes of his father, and not marry outside of the faith, because of the Messiah who comes through his lineage would have to be of pure descent. To marry one of the Canaanites would contaminate the bloodline of the faith as the Canaanites worshipped foreign Gods. In Exodus 34:11–16 we read about the dangers of intermarrying with other religions. Again, in Deuteronomy 7:1–6, we find an explicit directive forbidding these kinds of marriages. These foreign peoples were heirs of Ham (Genesis 10:15–19), and if you will recall were subject to the curse Noah pronounced back in Genesis 9:20–27. And so because Canaan and his descendants were cursed, and because intermarrying with them would lead to infidelity to God, Isaac commanded Jacob not to marry the daughters of Canaan.

[Gen 28:2 NKJV] “Arise, go to Padan Aram, to the house of Bethuel your mother’s father; and take yourself a wife from there of the daughters of Laban your mother’s brother.

You may recall from previous studies that Haran was the home of Abraham’s family after God called him from Ur. When God called Abraham again to go to Canaan, Abraham’s brother Nahor stayed in Haran. Later, this is where Abraham sent his servant to find a bride for Isaac. You may recall that it was Nahor’s granddaughter, Rebekah, who became Isaacs wife. Now, it is to this same area that Isaac sends his own son, Jacob. Jacob was to find for himself a wife from the daughters of his uncle Laban.

[Gen 28:3 NKJV] “May God Almighty bless you, And make you fruitful and multiply you, That you may be an assembly of peoples;
[Gen 28:4 NKJV] And give you the blessing of Abraham, To you and your descendants with you, That you may inherit the land In which you are a stranger, Which God gave to Abraham.”

This was the blessing that Esau despised, the spiritual blessing. This blessing that Isaac bestows upon Jacob was essentially the passing of the torch, if you will, from Abraham down the line until the days that the Messiah would walk the earth. This was the blessing that God gave Abraham to make his descendants outnumber the stars in the sky and the sands of the sea. This same blessing was an inheritance giving its possessor the title deed to the promised land. Ultimately, through this same blessing the Promised Land, heaven, would come to those who are a part of the covenant of Christ.

[Gen 28:5 NKJV] So Isaac sent Jacob away, and he went to Padan Aram, to Laban the son of Bethuel the Syrian, the brother of Rebekah, the mother of Jacob and Esau.

Now, it is questioned by some of the commentators as to why Isaac sent Jacob away with haste and that without an escort or forerunner. You will recall from previous studies that Abraham sent his servant ahead to find a bride for Isaac, and so why did Isaac not do the same for Jacob? Some argue that Jacob was capable of going alone and securing a bride for himself. Some suggest that the times had changed and since Haran was an important city on a trade route that Jacob would mingle with those who were en route and take safety amongst some potential traveling companions. Others suggest that there was an imminent threat of Esau, who swore to take the life of Jacob that pressed the urgency. Either way, Jacob is sent away with a blessing.

Sadly, this would be the last time that Jacob would ever see his parents. The intent of his mother was that he would leave until Esau’s anger subsided. Her treachery paid its dividends in the fact that she would never lay eyes on her son again. In fact, it is at this point that we see her life dissolve from further mention in the Scriptures.

[Gen 28:6 NKJV] Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him away to Padan Aram to take himself a wife from there, [and that] as he blessed him he gave him a charge, saying, “You shall not take a wife from the daughters of Canaan,”
[Gen 28:7 NKJV] and that Jacob had obeyed his father and his mother and had gone to Padan Aram.
[Gen 28:8 NKJV] Also Esau saw that the daughters of Canaan did not please his father Isaac.
[Gen 28:9 NKJV] So Esau went to Ishmael and took Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, the sister of Nebajoth, to be his wife in addition to the wives he had.

My thoughts on this are a little unclear as I am not convinced of Esau’s motive. It could be that when Esau saw Jacob being blessed and the directive that their father had given Jacob, that he thought by marrying in the family he could somehow regain the birthright. Or it could be that Esau was humbled by the whole thing and genuinely made a change. I could argue, based on a later encounter between Esau and Jacob, which we will see, LORD willing, in a future study,  that there was a real change in the life of Esau.

So Esau sees the blessing, recognizes that his current wives were not of the ilk his parents desired, and so he goes to another of Abraham’s descendants to take for himself a wife. At this point, we know that Ishmael was deceased, but it is likely that Esau was familiar enough with the family and, of course, being an avid hunter himself would have had much in common with the family renowned for their hunting abilities. So Esau takes a bride from the family of Ishmael. Again, whether or not this was an act of appeasement or a sincere desire towards holiness, I cannot be certain. I have to think that Esau was somewhat concerned about pleasing his parents at this point. I do know from experience that sometimes going through the motions is necessary for a heart change to take place and cement itself into your life. Perhaps this was merely the beginning of series of changes in Esau’s life that prepared him to look past the deception of his brother and his mother.

If, on the other hand, Esau was motivated by jealousy and attempting to have Isaac’s blessing of Jacob somehow rescinded, then this plan would, no doubt, fail, as God was behind the blessing of Jacob. It would be years of heartache that would follow for Esau if his motives were amiss. We are not given any other insights into this that I can see from the text, but I can imagine the turmoil in his house having 1) multiple wives and 2) wives from different faiths. I have to wonder though if having a wife from the household of faith somehow influenced Esau moving forward (1 Peter 3:1).

[Gen 28:10 NKJV] Now Jacob went out from Beersheba and went toward Haran.

On that note, I would like to encourage myself and anyone reading this to consider our own families. This morning as my own family walked out of the door, one by one, first my oldest daughter who headed off to work, then my son who went to ply his trade, followed by my three younger ones and my wife, I made sure that I said my farewells to each of them. We shared hugs and kisses and I sent them out with my blessings. You never know if the goodbye you give will be the last goodbye you ever get. I think about how Jacob left to Beersheba and realize that Jacob likely did not intend to be gone for as long as he would be. But to know that he would never see his mother and father again in this life really caused me to reflect on the importance of treating every parting as if it were the last. Just something to consider.

Prayer: LORD, thank You for Your hand in my marriage and my family. You are a God of restoration and healing and You have blessed us a family. You have prospered us and given us all that we need. I thank You for these sweet times where I can get into Your WORD and draw closer to You. I thank You for providing for my prodigal and giving stability in the “circumstances” and I pray for a resolution to the issue at hand. I also just want to praise You for who You are. You have given me the breath of life and have given me rich experiences to draw from. You have sharpened me and made me into the man I am today. I praise You for the works of Your hands. I count it the greatest of all blessings that You would use me for Your glory and Your purposes. You alone, LORD, are worthy of praise. It is in Your name that I pray. –Amen

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