JACOB (and Esau) – GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY

Gen.25: 19-34
“Two nations ….. two peoples ….. one people will be stronger …. the older will serve the younger.”
ESAU THE OLDER : All his ways conflicted with God’s ways.
1.  His name, which is also Edom, means “red”, possibly on account of him being covered with red hair. He became a “skilful hunter” and was favoured by his father Isaac . His descendants were known as the “Edomites” who later settled in the land called “Edom or Idumaea “. This country was situated at the southeast border of Palestine south of the land of Moab. Esau’s bitter hatred for his brother Jacob was perpetuated throughout their history by the Edomites.
2.   He despised his birthright: “Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?” So Esau despised his birthright.” “See that no one is ….. godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son.” The birthright represented the right to inherit a double portion of all the father’s property (real and riches), as well as in this case, the covenant promises made to Abraham and Isaac. This was provided for in the law which was later handed down through Moses.
3.    He ignored God’s teaching to his grandfather Abraham and his father Isaac in regards to taking himself a wife: . “When Esau was forty years old, he married Judith daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and also Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite. They were a source of grief to Isaac and Rebekah.”
4.    God ordained that he should serve (or be subject to) his younger brother Jacob. This is seen in the fact that throughout his life he was in the shadow of his brother Jacob; and for the history of his descendants the Moabites, they were in subjection to the Israelites.

JACOB THE YOUNGER
1.   His name means “schemer”, “deceiver” or “supplanter”: or simply “one who seeks by any means to gain an advantage over others”. However, another meaning derived from the Arabic is “he whom God protects”. He is described as “a quiet man staying among the tents” preferring the quietness of the home life rather than the rough and dangerous career of a hunter. He was favoured by his mother who later helped him in obtaining the blessing of his father under false pretences.
2.     He desired his brother’s birthright: making use of his brother’s hunger he purchased the birthright for the price of a bowl of stew. He not only recognized that the birthright entitled him to a double portion of his father’s possessions, but maybe more important was the fact that it would allow him to inherit the “chieftainship” or rule over his brethren and the entire family , and the title to the blessing of promise . “Esau said, “Isn’t he rightly named Jacob? He has deceived me these two times: He took my birthright, and now he’s taken my blessing!”
3.     It was ordained of God that he should rule over his family and other peoples through his descendants in the years to follow. “May nations serve you and peoples bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may the sons of your mother bow down to you. May those who curse you be cursed and those who bless you be blessed.”

THE DOCTRINE OF SOVEREIGN ELECTION
 “one people will be stronger …. the older will serve the younger”
It is very clear that God revealed to Rebekah that His covenant would be with the younger son; thus the younger son must receive the father’s blessing. It is quite normal for us, as it was for Jacob and Esau, to recognize that the older or firstborn should receive the greater honour and inheritance, but this is not necessarily God’s way. Isaac had received the blessing from Abraham, but Isaac was not Abraham’s firstborn; and so it was in the case of Jacob, Judah and David.
The lesson to us is that God is sovereign and executes His will as it pleases Him, and we do well not to question His dealings with us. Not only is He sovereign, He is also Omniscient (all Knowing) and knows the end from the beginning, and knows who will be better qualified spiritually and morally to do His will and service.
  
The truth of a biblical doctrine does not depend on whether or not we are able to comprehend it, therefore we must accept it on the basis of our faith until God is pleased to reveal more about the subject to us at a later date. 

GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY
1.   Observe that God is the sovereign Actor throughout the passage. “But who are you, 0 man, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?'” Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?”  “Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance? Who has understood the mind of the LORD, or instructed him as his counsellor? Whom did the LORD consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? Who was it that taught him knowledge or showed him the path of understanding?”
The lesson to us here is that God could not be God if He were not sovereign.
2.     Two examples of God’s sovereignty are seen in this passage:
a.  Although Abraham was the father of Israel, not all descendants of Abraham are true Israel.
b.  Isaac had more than one son, but it was Jacob who was chosen.
Verse 11 also teaches us something about God’s choosing: ” … before the children were born or had done anything good or bad, plainly showing that God’s act of choice has nothing to do with achievements, good or bad, but is entirely a matter of His will”. (J .B. Phillips)
3.    A basic attribute of God must be recognized if we are to fully understand His sovereignty: “What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all!” We must recognize that He is righteous in all His ways, and therefore not question His actions.
4.     Vs.17-23illustrates God’s divine sovereignty and also reveals His power, mercy, wrath, love and patience. His sovereignty is seen in such phrases as: “that I might display my power in you …. that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known ….to make the riches of his glory known “

5.     Sovereign election refers to both Jew and Gentile alike: “even         us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from         the Gentiles?” 


MAN’S RESPONSIBILITY
In the previous passage God is the main Actor, and as sovereign He initiates and completes His redemptive work in the hearts of those whom He calls. In this passage people are the main actors, and our action is the response that we make to God’s offer of salvation.
1.    There are two different responses: “the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it.”  The Gentiles (and Jews) who obtain righteousness obtain it through faith. Those Gentiles (and Jews) who seek to be righteous through striving to “keep the law”, have not obtained it.
Because God is sovereign, He has the freedom of action in all His dealings with all His creatures. Because we are all sinners we deserve the wrath of God; but in His mercy He has predestined some of us to salvation. It is His liberty to dispense His blessings on whom He pleases, and He does not have to explain why He chooses some over others. “he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will– And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,”
Although God is sovereign and has the right of choice, mankind also has a responsibility of choice. We are free to accept or reject God’s way. Not because our human intellect is incapable of fully understanding God, we should not be held responsible for our actions. The scriptures teach that although God chooses whom He will, He has also given an invitation to all: “whosoever will may come”. When we accept this invitation it is then that we understand to some degree the fact that God had chosen us before the foundations of the earth. In the same way that some Israelites did not receive of the blessings, because they were striving to please God by “keeping the Law”, we today will not attain to salvation because we are striving to please God by our good works. The contrast is between salvation by works and salvation by faith. The first is impossible for any; the second is possible for all.“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith– and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” . “he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy “
Therefore we should understand that Jacob had the same choice to make. He could have spurned the fact that God had chosen him and refused the blessings. He could have found many excuses to reject God’s offer, but he chose God’s way. Although he failed God in many ways before and after he received the blessing, yet he recognized that the ways of God were far better for him.
Similarly for Esau, he could have subjected himself to the will of God even though God had not chosen him to receive the blessing. However, he rejected God and the teachings of his parents and set out in life in a direction that was opposite to the way of God.
The lessons for us to learn are:
1.    God predestined us to be adopted as His sons, and daughters, through Jesus Christ. It is our responsibility to choose God and receive His blessings.
2.     God in His grace and mercy has seen fit to place some of us in a place of prominence. We should respect this position and never allow the thought of boasting, or using such a position to our own advantage. Let us seek to glorify God in all our ways.
3.   There are those of us whom God chooses to use in the less prominent positions. We should also respect our position and never belittle ourselves, or despise the service God has called us to. Seek to glorify God in all things.
Wherever God has chosen to place us in His service, it is our duty to serve to the best of our ability and ever to remember the words of the apostle Paul: “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them-yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.”

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