The Birth of Two Nations: Jacob & Esau – Genesis 25:19-34


In our study in the book of Genesis, we come now to one of the most pivotal points in history. The birth of Jacob and Esau is more than just the birth of two brothers, it is the birth of two nations. Jacob’s name is later changed to Israel. The birth of Jacob is the birth of the nation of Israel. Another name for Esau is Edom. The birth of Esau is the birth of the Edomites. In this passage we learn a lesson concerning the sovereignty of God and the depravity of man.

The Sovereignty of God. When we say that God is sovereign we are saying that God is in control. It does not mean that God is controlling, rather, He is in control. In other words, God is in charge and He has a plan for mankind. However, God does not control our every movement and decisions. In the scope of God’s sovereign plan, He has chosen or elected the nation of Israel. The word elect means to be chosen for a specific task or purpose. The doctrine of election has nothing to do with salvation. God has elected three things: a plan (the plan of redemption), a nation (the nation of Israel), and a people (the church). Each of these elected entities or programs has a specific purpose and task. Here in Genesis 25, we see God electing the nation of Israel. The specific task or purpose of which Israel is elected for is to be the vehicle through which salvation is given to the world. It is through the nation of Israel that we are given the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

Look at Romans 9:6-16. In the context of this passage, Paul is referring to Israel’s role in God’s redemptive plan. Often people will get hung up on verse 13 where its says that God loved Jacob and hated Esau. Does this mean that there are some people that God hates? Of course not. God is a God of love. He loves everyone. This is not a reference to emotional love, it is a reference to God’s sovereign act of choosing one nation to be the vehicle through which God’s redemptive plan is played out. This passage in Romans is a quote from Malachi 1:2-5. In Malachi we have a clear reference to the nation of Israel versus the nation of Edom. God never hated Esau. God chose Jacob or Israel over Esau or Edom to be the nation through which all the peoples of the earth are blessed.

The point here is that God is sovereign and we are not. God elected Israel. Why Israel? That is something that we can not answer nor understand. Who are we to question the sovereignty of God?

The Depravity of Man. As we read on in Genesis 25 we see Esau making a very unwise decision and we see Jacob taking advantage of Esau. Jacob sees the weakness of his brother and he exploits it. Esau is physically hungry and tired and he wanted some fast food. There was a pot of soup that Jacob made and it was ready to be eaten. Esau asks for a bowl of soup and Jacob says, “I will give you some soup if you will give me your birthright.” The birthright is the right of the oldest son to have precedence over the younger to receive a double portion of the inheritance from the father. Esau gave up his birthright in order to satisfy his physical desire. Jacob, on the other, was deceptive and took advantage of the situation. In both cases, we see the depravity of man. Sin is at the very core of man’s heart. How often are we like Jacob? Deceiving others to get an advantage. How often are we like Esau? Sacrificing a blessing in order to satisfy our fleshly appetites. Too often we choose sin over blessing. Too often we choose what pleases us rather than what please God. Why is this? Because we are depraved. We are sinful inside and out.

The good news is that God has provided a way to rescue us from our depravity. He gave us Jesus through His chosen nation Israel. Jesus paid the price of sin for the whole world on the cross. We can be set free from the bondage of sin. We can be forgiven. We can be saved. If we receive God’s gift grace through faith in the Lord Jesus.

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