Formations lesson for Aug. 10: Parents and Children - Rebekah and Jacob
July 25 2003 by Tommy Bratton , Genesis 25:19-34

Formations lesson for Aug. 10: Parents and Children - Rebekah and Jacob | Friday, July 25, 2003

Friday, July 25, 2003

Formations lesson for Aug. 10: Parents and Children - Rebekah and Jacob

By Tommy Bratton Genesis 25:19-34

Thomas Mann once described Genesis as a "book about dysfunctional families and the ways in which God seeks to use those families as agents of divine grace to all the families of the earth." The marvelous truth found in Genesis is that God is present even in the midst of our dysfunction to carry out God's exalted purpose in the world.

Prayer The narrative begins after Rebekah and Isaac have married. However, the text quickly points out that just like her mother-in-law before her, Rebekah is unable to conceive. Even though Isaac was the child of promise given to Abraham and Sarah, and Rebekah was the wife chosen by God for Isaac, they were unable to continue the line of promise on their own efforts.

It is encouraging to note that when he found out that Rebekah was barren, Isaac didn't go inventing an alternate plan. He didn't follow his father's example and attempt to fulfill God's plan through someone other than his wife. Instead, Isaac trusted God and prayed to God "for his wife." His love for his wife and his trust in God's promise is evident through his prayer, and Rebekah conceived.

Rebekah had a difficult pregnancy, even saying that death would surely be easier that living with her pain. Her response was to turn to God for help. The Lord told her that there were two nations in her womb, and that the elder would serve the younger. Surely, the weight of this pronouncement remained with Rebekah. Not only would she conceive twins but one would be heir to the promise of God.

One lesson we learn from this text is that when we experience barren periods of life, literally or figuratively, we must turn to God in prayer and trust in God's love and care.

Birth of Twins The narrative continues as the twins are born, children of the promise. The first was hairy and was named Esau, meaning "rough." The second was born gripping the heel of Esau and was named Jacob, which means "supplanter," a name which foreshadowed what was to come.

Esau grew up to become a skillful hunter, which pleased his father. Jacob lived in the tents, which kept him close to his mother, and endeared him to her as her favorite. It was probably from his mother, Rebekah, that he learned to cook.

Esau, being the firstborn, would receive twice as much property as Jacob because of his birthright. But more importantly to this story, the eldest son became the spiritual leader of his family upon his father's death, and in this case, the inheritor of God's promise to Israel.

Some parents play favorites at the expense of their children. This only leads to division and conflict. God's call is to show love to all and to trust God's presence in the lives of our children.

Mixture of motives One day, as Esau arrived home from hunting, he smelled a wonderful smell. It was a lentil stew that was being cooked by Jacob. Esau asked his brother for some of that "stuff." His cunning brother, Jacob, jumped on the opportunity and suggested a trade, the pot of stew for Esau's birthright.

Esau was much more concerned with his immediate hunger than a promise that seemed far into the future, so he agreed. The scripture for today ends with the statement, "Esau despised his birthright." He took no account of it and saw it as more of a burden than a blessing. Esau was more concerned with satisfying his appetites than in living up to the calling of God, working to fulfill God's promise to God's people.

Jacob is often looked down upon for his cunning. However, Jacob was right to seek the great gifts of God and to covet the promise of the future blessings of God. We overlook Jacob's desire to fulfill God's promises when we too closely focus on his sin, taking advantage of his brother.

We are a nation of grabbers, trying to get as much as we can for our own immediate gratification. In this story, Esau is the one who carelessly trades on the promise. As long as we settle for the pot of stew we will never discover the greater promises of God.

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7/25/2003 12:00:00 AM by Tommy Bratton , Genesis 25:19-34 | with 0 comments
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