Esau Blew It

“Because of the violence against your brother Jacob, you will be covered with shame; you will be destroyed forever.” (Obadiah 10). “Just as it is written: ‘Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.’” (Romans 9:13).

God, it seems, holds a grudge. But “grudge” is such a small word…  and God is so big! Instead, let us say that where people hold a grudge God keeps his promises. With God, there is no difference between his utterings and his doings, so unless a person meets a God-given requirement to assuage his wrath — like that found in John 3:36 — then God must follow up on his words.

If God didn’t follow up, then he’d be just like us. With people, talk is cheap. With God, talk is life. But take heart. God’s promises contain provisions for tender care as well as utterances of pending doom. I rejoice that as his child I shall be kept from the wrath he promised… but I am disquieted that the supreme Promise Keeper must — as a function of preserving the free will of humans and angels — keep his promise to destroy Satan, sin and sinners before his work is done.

That being said, I draw comfort from the core belief that, even when I’m uncomfortable or when I do not understand something, God knows what he is doing. So I should channel my angst into something more productive like witnessing for him rather than squirming as I consider his promises to the unregenerate. We all go through our daily lives relatively unmolested… which gives a sense that all will be well. However, the day will come when God will destroy even death itself. At that point, there can be no sin around because it too would last forever. Redeeming a sinful creation requires God to keep all of his promises… and this includes separating the flock.

The account of Jacob and Esau ends amicably…somewhat. Esau did not visit the destruction on Jacob that Jacob had imagined. They reconciled, parted — and they lived their lives in relative peace. But the specter of the brother who hated his birthright would cast a shadow over succeeding generations — and ultimately vex the children of God in Canaan. So, a two-fold wrath fell upon Esau’s descendant people: shame would cover them, and they would be cut off forever.

Here we see an opportunity lost. Esau could have had it all. He was beloved of his father, and as the first born, he would have been in the Messiah’s lineage. But Esau despised his birthright… and I wonder… can one ever recover from such a grievous assault on the name of the Lord?

So here, instead of being the father of God’s people, Esau became the father the Edomites — a people who would fight against God’s children as they settled in the Promised Land. Obadiah’s prophecy reminds Esau’s children of the Lord’s judgment upon their father… but also its ramifications. God loves Israel. Every tribe and nation will have to account for how they treated her.

Esau’s resentment might have been personal, but it still flowed down into his descendant people. The Edomites took an active part in vexing Israel when in the name of blood-brotherhood they might have helped Israel instead. But they rejoiced in the day of Judah’s destruction… and that’s the specter of Esau’s rejection.

Let’s end with the lesson of Rahab who taught us about the power of an individual. She moved towards God at the expense of her people. And not only did she save her family by hiding Israel’s two spies so they wouldn’t be captured, God put her in the messianic line. Decisions have consequences — for evil and for good. Decisions have consequences for generations.

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