It appears that the rift between Jacob and Esau didn’t heal. Israel asks for passage through the lands that Esau’s descendants held and was FIRMLY told to go another way.
Moses sent messengers to the king of Edom to ask permission to cross their lands. He didn’t want to assume they would be alright with this. Neither did he want to start a fight with his distant relatives. He was being polite and respectful. Buy Esau’s descendants were firm in their resolve to keep Jacob’s descendants OUT of their territory. I’m curious as to why this is.
When Moses sent the messengers they first promised to walk straight through without touching ANYTHING. When that plan was nixed, the second proposal was to pay for whatever they used during their crossing. They were not planning on staying or using up any resources. All they were trying to do was take a few miles off their journey.
Why did Edom’s king deny the people of Israel passage? Was it because Esau felt slighted when Jacob didn’t join him after receiving an invitation? The two peoples were too numerous to live together on the same land without destroying it. Was it because they were worried about the people of Israel not keeping their word? Were they afraid Israel would try and conquer them if they were let in? Were they afraid of the stories they had heard about what happened to the armies of Egypt? Maybe they were aware of Israel’s first battle in the wilderness.
Whatever the reason, the king made it abundantly clear that he would NOT let Israel into his territory. He even sent out armed forces to keep them out. I wonder what would have happened if Israel had fought back instead of walking on by. But they didn’t. They simply went the long way around.
While I was contemplating Israel’s dilemma, I was thinking about the fact that the king’s reaction didn’t change the outcome of Israel’s journey at all. They still got to where they were going. They still had water for their cattle. They still followed God where He led. But the people of Edom missed out on a possible blessing.
Many times over we see how those who do good to God’s people receive good in return and those who do evil to God’s anointed receive evil in return. God balances the scale in this area. “’Vengeance is Mine I will repay.’ says the Lord” (Deuteronomy 32:35).
Edom missed a blessing the same way we miss a blessing when we withhold what God asks us for. Sometimes it is as simple of saying yes when someone asks to borrow something. Other times it might involve some overt act. Maybe, for me, it is as simple as finishing this entry now instead of later. Whatever it involves, if we know God is in it, then just do it!
Thank You Father for reminding me how important it is for me to listen to You. I don’t know if it was really You telling me to finish now instead of later but I’m glad I listened. Thank You Holy Spirit for being persistent too. I want to be in You will Father, whatever that entails. Don’t let me miss out on something special You have for me by bitterness over past hurts, selfishness, fear, or even laziness. I want to follow wherever You lead and be of help to Your people whatever they need.
I wonder what Edom’s “reward” was for their behavior.