Jacob and Esau have been at odds since conception. Their hearts and minds are on different wavelengths. Jacob uses his skills in today’s encounter to get what he wants from Esau.
Rebekah may not have told Isaac the full impact of the prophecy she received while carrying her twins but Jacob’s behavior leads on to believe she confided in him. We KNOW that God is able to turn the minds and hearts of men but He works easiest with those who are already heading in the direction He has planned. It only takes a little nudge instead of pulling on a “stubborn mule.”
We don’t know for certain that Jacob was “programmed” from his youth by Rebekah to desire the place of firstborn, but we see him acting on an unexpected opportunity. How many times had Esau come in from the field hungry and asked Jacob for some food? Was this a frequent event or a one-time situation? Esau wasn’t really at the point of starvation, though he was very hungry.
Jacob focused on long-term goals. He planned in advance how to meet his ends. He looked for opportunities and when they presented themselves he seized them with both hands.
Esau saw what was before him. He focused on immediate needs and short term goals. He saw what he wanted and went after it without regard to future consequences.
Jacob knew Esau’s character flaws. This was probably not the first time Jacob got something from Esau that he wanted. On this occasion though Jacob got something from Esau that would be life altering. It is something that Esau would later regret having done but he was bound by his word and would not go back on it. No “pie crust promise” here.
Thinking about these two brother’s lives I am amazed how their personalities play into their life choices. I’m looking beyond this one encounter though. Take a moment with me to examine their lives. We don’t get to know as much detail of Esau’s life as we do Jacob’s but there is food for thought here.
Esau’s skills were in hunting. This task didn’t require long-term planning. It did require focus and dedication to task. Esau had to be able to identify the signs of animal movements, track his prey, patients, and quick action. He was good at all these. He didn’t however have to focus on maintaining the population of the animals or altering their behaviors to meet his goals. He sought out his prey and took it.
Jacob was skilled in setting up events to meet his long-term goals. He may have even set up the scenario we encounter today by planning his “cookout” to coincide with Esau’s return. In his dealings with his uncle later on we see his ability to set his sights on what he wanted to accomplish and work step by step to get there. This includes his “breeding program” with the sheep and working many years for his wife Rachel. He is able to suppress his immediate concerns and look to the long-term end.
Did these boys come by their attitudes through their genetic disposition or were they trained in this way by their dominant parental relationship? Isaac loved Esau because of the meat he brought him. This was a satisfaction of a short term goal. Rebekah loved Jacob because he stayed in camp with her. She trained him in how to reach long term goals and how to seize opportunities. We will see her demonstrate this later on. I have a feeling both boy would have turned out different if BOTH their parents would have sown into BOTH their lives.
Our story closes today with the words; “Thus Esau despised his birthright” (verse 34b). Let’s look at these words from the perspective we have on these two young men now. I don’t believe Esau hated his birthright but that he didn’t recognize its value as it wasn’t something he could use immediately. It had no bearing on his day to day life. But once he finally stopped to ponder what he had done, he recognized what he had so easily given away. He was angry with himself but he also realized he had no recourse. He couldn’t change the past so he “thumbed his nose” at the past. We don’t ever read that he tried to get it back from Joseph at some point. Nor do we read that his parents tried to intervene and remedy the situation. They ALL honored this lopsided bargain.
Jacob saw the true value of what he had gained. It was precious to him and he would hold it for life. It wasn’t is by birth but it was now by bargain. He would not part with it or fall for any tricks to get it away from him. Yes, he took advantage of the situation but Esau didn’t have to agree to the deal. He could have made his own dinner. God’s plan with man’s execution sometimes looks a little skewed, but that doesn’t make it any less HIS plan.
God planned from the beginning to have Jacob be over Esau. He told Rebekah this in the beginning. All that was left was the execution of His plans. And that came through man’s interaction with man. God draws the path and man walks it out.
Thank You Father for setting the stage in my life too. I don’t know all You long range plans for me. The only one I’m sure of is my eternal life with You. That one is special enough to cover ANYTHING I might miss along the way. But help me also see the short range plans You have for me. I want to walk in Your ways always. There are so many wonderful moments waiting for us when we walk together. It’s not You who keeps wandering but me. Help me see clearly where You want me to be so I don’t keep running off the path. Thank You also for bringing me back every time! I will continue to trust You to do so for the rest of my life.
Please illuminate, in dayglo colors if necessary, Your plans for my children and grandchildren’s lives. Open their eyes to see the paths You have laid before them. Thank You that You love them even more than I ever could, and that’s saying a LOT!