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Monday, November 5 2012
A Biography Of Jacob: The Birthright
According to the LORD's purpose ("12:1 Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee: 12:2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: 12:3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed." Genesis 12:1-3 KJV), Abraham settled in "the land of Canaan" after immigrating from what is today Iraq (see A Biography Of Abraham: From Ur To Canaan), with a stopover in Syria, where some of the family group remained. Later, it was from those relatives in Syria that Abraham sent for and miraculously (see Who Chose Rebekah?) found a wife for his son Isaac - Rebekah, the daughter of Abraham's nephew Bethuel (Genesis 22:20-23). Isaac and Rebekah were cousins.
"25:19 And these are the generations of Isaac, Abraham's son: Abraham begat Isaac [see A Biography Of Abraham: Isaac]: 25:20 And Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah to wife, the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Padanaram, the sister to Laban the Syrian." (Genesis 25:19-20 KJV)
When it became apparent that Rebekah was unable to have children, Isaac "entreated the LORD for his wife, because she was barren." The LORD answered the prayer "and Rebekah his wife conceived." Just as Isaac's mother Sarah had been prevented from having children, until a purposeful time, so too Rebekah had been prevented from having children, but then had, not one child, but twins (see A Biography Of Jacob: The Second Twin), for the sake of a purpose. Before they were born, before any decision about it could be made by the combatants themselves, the LORD declared unto Rebekah that the struggles that she was already experiencing with them would continue long after they were born.
"25:21 And Isaac entreated the LORD [see Who Is The LORD?] for his wife, because she was barren: and the LORD was entreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived. 25:22 And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to inquire of the LORD.
Esau was the firstborn, while Jacob was born immediately afterward, while "his hand took hold on Esau's heel." That "wrestling" was the reason for naming him "Jacob," from a word in Hebrew that meant he grasps. It's no coincidence that when the LORD, years later, changed Jacob's name to "Israel" (as we will cover in a subsequent study in this series), it was for the same reason - another "wrestling": "32:24 And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day ... 32:28 And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed" (Genesis 32:24,28 KJV).
"25:24 And when her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb. 25:25 And the first came out red, all over like an hairy garment; and they called his name Esau.
Jacob and Esau were fraternal, not identical twins. Their contrasting appearance wasn't their only difference - their nature was also very different: "Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents." There also developed parental favoritism: "Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob."
One day, Esau returned from an unsuccessful hunt, weak from hunger, and sold his birthright for that very famous bowl of red pottage. The Hebrew word, pronounced naw-zeed, means something boiled, as in soup or stew. The word is found in the Holy Scriptures in only two places - once with the famous incident involving Jacob and Esau, the other involving the prophet Elisha in a miraculous incident of healing "death in the pot."
Some people regard the incident as a strange bargain. Why did Esau have to buy food from where, even if he wasn't living there any more, he, as stated, supplied the household with venison that he hunted? Was Esau selling venison to them? Why did Jacob sell food to his starving brother? At any rate, by coincidence or not, red-headed Esau sold his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of red pottage, thereafter also becoming known as Edom, which means red. Afterward, "Esau despised his birthright" - that Jacob then possessed.
"25:27 And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents. 25:28 And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob.
"I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah"
Many regard the birthright incident as "Old Testament," or some sort of superiority validation of Jacob / Israel over Esau. But as we will read, the LORD brought about the incident for a lesson that is plainly stated in the Scriptures, and yet is surprising to many people, both Jews and Christians.
First, Esau was free to make the choice that he did, which in itself provides another lesson and warning to those who follow the LORD, "lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright"
"12:14 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord [see What Happens After The Messiah Returns?]: 12:15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; 12:16 Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. 12:17 For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears." (Hebrews 12:14-17 KJV)
Paul addressed the lesson of Esau to his "kinsmen according to the flesh." Paul was a Jew and a Pharisee - a physical descendant of Jacob.
"9:1 I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, 9:2 That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. 9:3 For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: 9:4 Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; 9:5 Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen." (Romans 9:1-5 KJV)
Paul warned them that "they are not all Israel, which are of Israel." Paul wasn't merely talking about genetics or genealogy in that statement. He continued with "they which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed." That statement directly refuted what their national religion had become.
"9:6 Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: 9:7 Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham [see What Did Jesus Christ Say About Abraham?], are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. 9:8 That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed. 9:9 For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son." (Romans 9:6-9 KJV)
Paul didn't merely mention Jacob and Esau in passing; his entire lesson was based upon what happened between Jacob and Esau, "For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth."
"9:10 And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; 9:11 (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) 9:12 It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. 9:13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. 9:14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. 9:15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion." (Romans 9:10-15 KJV)
The people of Judah were claiming to be "birthright" righteous merely by means of their physical ancestry - which was created by the LORD as "vessels" of a purpose. Key people were created, or positioned, for the purpose of physical events e.g. "the Scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth." Despite the Pharaoh's opposition, he fulfilled the purpose for which he was created. But had "Jacob," up to the time that Paul was speaking to them? No.
"9:16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy. 9:17 For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. 9:18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.
Paul then continued the lesson, that began with Esau, that a "vessel" with a purpose isn't holy - the purpose is. Those who fulfilled their created purpose, even if an "Esau" or a "Pharaoh," were more obedient to the LORD, as he created them, than those who were created as "the chosen people" but who did not follow their purpose.
"9:22 What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: 9:23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, 9:24 Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?
So too, despite "Jacob," for now (see the Fact Finder question below) "the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith."
"9:30 What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith [see Works Means Obedience, Christ Died For Repentant Sinners and The Constitution Of The Kingdom Of God]. 9:31 But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. 9:32 Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law [see Israel In History and Prophecy: Judaism]. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone;
Fact Finder: When will "Jacob" fulfill their created purpose?
This Day In History, November 5
1219: Damietta was captured by the "Crusaders" (see Constantine's Crusades In History And Prophecy).
1414: The Council of Constance (ecumenical council) opened.
1492: While on his voyages to claim the "New World" for Spain, Christopher Columbus "discovered" corn (i.e. maize) from the natives of Cuba (all of the voyages of Columbus were in the Carribbean Sea area, none to North America; see the map at Thanksgiving In History and Prophecy).
1556: Akhbar the Great routed the Hindus under Hemu by turning their elephants against them at the Battle of Panipat in the Hundu Revolt.
1605: Guy Fawkes was arrested for the "Gunpowder Plot" - English Roman Catholics failed in a plan to blow up the British House of Parliament and kill King James I (from whom the King James Version of the Bible is named).
1757: During The Seven Years War, Prussian forces under Frederick II defeated French forces at Rosbach.
1854: During the Crimean War, British and French forces defeated the Russian forces at Inkerman.
1911: Italy announced the annexation of Libya, Tripolitania and Cyrenaica.
1914: At the start of the First World War (listen to our Sermon The European World Wars), France and Britain declared war on the Ottoman Empire (listen to our Sermon The Ottoman Empire) that then had control of the territory that is today Israel (see Israel In History and Prophecy: Israel Of Judah). At the end of the war 4 years later, control of the land of Israel went to the British, who in turn administered it until 1948 when the modern state of Israel was born. The British liberation of "Palestine" enabled the modern state of Israel to be born, something that did not and could not have happened during centuries of occupation by the Ottomans - see The Balfour Declaration.
1917: Three years after the beginning of the First World War (1914-1918), U.S. troops under General Pershing entered the war against Germany.
1928: Mount Etna in Sicily erupted and devastated a large area including the village of Mascali which was completely buried.
1956: The 8th and last day of the Sinai War. At a cost of 180 men killed and 4 captured, 20 planes and 2,000 old vehicles, Israel in a 100-hour campaign occupied the entire Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip, had destroyed 3 divisions, killed 2,000 of the enemy, and took nearly 6,000 prisoners. Israel also captured a huge amount of military equipment, valued at over $50 million (see A History Of Jerusalem: War And Peace).
1965: Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith declared a state of emergency in preparation for his declaration of independence from Britain.
1990: Meir Kahane, a U.S.-born rabbi who advocated expelling all Arabs from Israel, was assassinated in New York.
2006: Saddam Hussein, the conquered President of Iraq, and his co-defendants Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti and Awad Hamed al-Bandar were sentenced to death in the al-Dujail trial for the role in the massacre of the 148 Shi'as in 1982.
2009: U.S. Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan killed 13 people and wounded 30 at Fort Hood, Texas. It was the largest mass shooting at a US military installation.