GENESIS 25:19-34



a)  What was the problem in Isaac's family?

Rebekah was barren.

What did Isaac do about it?

He prayed to the Lord.

How was his father Abraham dealt with a similar problem?

He sought the Lord's help when he had this problem and he did not compromise like Abraham.  See Gen. 16.  Isaac grew up knowing and trusting in the Lord.  See ch. 22.  "The Lord will Provide."  He was quiet and gentle and didn't fight for his rights.  He had great patience not to divorce his wife because she did not bear him any children.  He prayed and waited on the Lord.

What can we learn from Isaac?

To pray and wait on the Lord for all problems.

a)  When and how did God answer Isaac's prayers?

Twenty years later; by giving Rebekah twin baby boys.

How long did they wait (26)?  

Twenty years.  Abraham had Ishmael only ten years before taking Hagar and giving birth to Ishmael.  Isaac waited and prayed for his wife for twenty years.  How many families could be spared the tragedy of divorce or the sorrow of becoming a battlefield of frustrated expectations if men could pray for their wives instead of trying to use some human method to solve their family problems.  Isaac's patience was rewarded with twin boys!

What might they have learned through waiting?

Patience and to have faith in God that God would surely answer all their prayers.  Isaac indeed had learned that "The Lord Will Provide."  See also James 5:7,8.

a)  What was the discomfort Rebekah experienced during her pregnancy?

The jostling of babies within her womb.

Why was she concerned?

She had never been pregnant before and didn't know what the meaning of the jostling was.  Perhaps she had a lot of morning sickness and cramps.

What did she do?

She inquired of the Lord.  Verse 22.

What does this show about her faith?

She didn't complain to Isaac or blame him for her discomfort.  She didn't become fearful or seek his sympathy.  She had personal faith in God. She didn't depend on weak Isaac.  She depended upon God in prayer.  She was a woman of faith and prayer.

a)  What was God's revelation to her when she came to him with a problem?

Read verse 23.

What did this revelation mean practically to Jacob and Esau?

God blessed Rebekah's faithful prayer of faith.  He revealed to her his special plan and purpose for her family.  Especially, he revealed to her that the younger twin would be the man whom God could bless and use.  This prophecy concerned not only the two boys in her womb, it also concerned God's future history - his redemptive plan to bless the world through the descendants of Abraham and Isaac.  This promise given to Rebekah would be held in her heart and she would know how to raise up her children.

a)  What can you learn from the prayer lives of Isaac and Rebekah?

Persistent prayer pays off.  The Lord Will Provide when I keep on praying.  Keep one prayer topic for at least twenty years.

** JACOB AND ESAU (24-34)

a)  How were Jacob and Esau different from one another at birth?

Different in appearance.  Jacob was smooth skinned and Esau was red and hairy.  Different in character:  Esau was a sportsman.  He liked to hunt and fish and play around with women.  Jacob was a quiet man who liked to stay home and hang around his mob in the kitchen.

What suggestions about their future characters are found in the account of their birth (24-26)?  

Jacob was born grasping the heel of his brother as if to pull him back to get there first.  Jacob was a man of struggle.  His struggle began in the womb.  He struggled with his twin brother to come out first, and he lost.  So he struggled for honor.  He wanted the honor to be the firstborn.  He didn't want to be #2.  In this way Jacob struggled to achieve the honor of having the birthright and the blessing of the firstborn.  Later, he would struggle for love, wealth and then with God.  His life of struggle made him alive.

a)  How were they different as they grew up?

One liked wild living; the other quiet living.

How did Isaac and Rebekah differ in their view of the boys?

Isaac who had a taste for wild game loved Esau; Rebekah loved Jacob.  Rebekah remembered God's revelation concerning her two sons.  This is why she loved Jacob more.

a)  How did Esau come to sell his birthright to Jacob?

Esau was famished after hunting all day.  Jacob seized the opportunity - "First sell me your birthright."  Esau caring more about his hungry stomach and smelling the delicious stew gave into his feelings and physical desires and sold the birthright for the stew.

What is the birthright?

It carried the covenant blessings and promises.  The covenant bearer was the man who would stand in God's redemptive history.

Why did Jacob want it?

He knew that it had some future value even though he wasn't exactly sure what it really was or what it meant.  He wasn't a pragmatist.  He knew his brother's weakness and perhaps took advantage of him.

What does this show about him?

He was deceptive to get what he wanted to get.  In addition, he had a sense of honor.  He didn't want to be number two but number one.  He valued what was intangible.

a)  Why did Esau sell the birthright?

He was a pragmatist.  He cared only about his hungry stomach.

What does Genesis say that Esau despised his birthright?

He realized that he had been deceived by Jacob but at the same time he didn't value the birthright because it meant nothing to him.

What does this show about him? (See Heb 12:16.  Compare 27:36)

He lived on a physical level and saw no practical value in the birthright.  Such a man doesn't know what it means to be faithful.  He lives and acts by feelings according to the demand at that moment.  He couldn't be entrusted with God's promises and God's covenant because he wasn't faithful.  His philosophy was "you can't eat a birthright!"  See Phil 3:19.  God cannot use men of the flesh but of those of the spirit.

a)  In what respect is Jacob more fitted to be the covenant son than Esau?

He wanted the true blessings.  He sought honor.  He was always striving for something better.  Though he was deceptive, he used it to be number one. Later God would use this character to mold Jacob into an Israel.  God does not want us just to be people who want to improve our human condition.  He wants us to be men who seek his honor and his glory.  We should be those who want God's blessings above all else.  Jacob sought the intangible.

What can you learn from this chapter about God's way of working?

God uses men and women who pray.  He answers their prayers specifically.  God is the Sovereign God of history who reveals his will to those who love him and seek him.

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