Isaac and Rebekah had twins. Wow! That’s exciting. Twins are fun. Not so much; these two. They were certainly not identical twins. They were different twins. Perhaps, even, opposite twins. Even before they were born, they fought in their mama’s womb.
Their names were Red and Slick. Well, if they had been born in Texas. They were born in a Hebrew family, so their names were… Esau and Jacob.
Genesis 25:24-28 When her days to give birth were completed, behold, there were twins in her womb. The first came out red, all his body like a hairy cloak, so they called his name Esau. Afterward his brother came out with his hand holding Esau's heel, so his name was called Jacob… When the boys grew up, Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field, while Jacob was a quiet man, dwelling in tents. Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.
Jacob means “heel grabber”. Not the best name to go to kindergarten with. “What’s your name?” “Heel Grabber”. But his name does get changed; after he grabs quite a few heels.
Three Quick stories about the “Heel Grabber” and then a point about covenant. The point about covenant is Element 3 on our list of Seven Elements of an Effective Biblical Covenant.
Seven Elements of an Effective Biblical Covenant -- Version 2.3.
1) Covenants create relationships by giving identity.
2) The parties in the covenant are named; one superior and one inferior.
3) Valuable Blessings are Granted.
4) Oaths are given.
5) A sacrifice cuts the Covenant. Number 5 Subpoint… Meals are involved in covenants.
6) There is a symbol to remember.
7) Names are given or changed. We also will see a name change.
Three quick “Heel Grabber” stories…
Story One: The Sod Pottage
One of my favorite phrases in the King James version is in our first story.
Genesis 25:29-32 And Jacob sod pottage: Esau came in from the field, and he was exhausted. And Esau said to Jacob, "Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am exhausted!" (Therefore, his name was called Edom.) Jacob said, "Sell me your birthright now." Esau said, "I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?" Jacob said, "Swear to me now." So, he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank and rose and went his way. Thus, Esau despised his birthright.
The Hebrew of Esau’s words makes him out to be not too bright. “Let me eat some of this red, red stuff.” Esau didn’t know the word pottage… He called it “Red, red stuff”.
The covenant point is this last line… Esau despised his birthright. As the oldest son, the one born first by a few minutes, Esau should have been the one who received the Abraham/Isaac covenant. What? Remember God blessed Abraham and Isaac unconditionally with all kinds of blessings. Both became wealthy and were blessed no matter what. But Esau gave this precious covenant-blessing away for some red-red stuff!
Jacob, on the other hand, valued the covenant enough to grab his brother’s heel. Jacob took advantage of his hungry brother. I’m not advocating taking advantage of family members. But Jacob valued the covenant!
Story Two: The Stolen Blessing
Isaac is old and blind. But he still loved the taste of a good steak. The fun part in this section of scripture here is there are seven scenes with two characters in each scene. This is a Hebrew story-telling technique thing. In each of these couplets, watch for the word “bless”.
1) Isaac and Esau
Genesis 27:1-4 When Isaac was old and his eyes were dim so that he could not see, he called Esau his older son and said to him, "My son"; and he answered, "Here I am." He said, "Behold, I am old; I do not know the day of my death. Now then, take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me, and prepare for me delicious food, such as I love, and bring it to me so that I may eat, that my soul may bless you before I die."
2) Rebekah and Jacob
Rebekah is eavesdropping. She hears her husband’s plan. She calls in her favorite son.
Genesis 27:9-10 “Go to the flock and bring me two good young goats, so that I may prepare from them delicious food for your father, such as he loves. And you shall bring it to your father to eat, so that he may bless you before he dies.”
3) Jacob and Isaac
Genesis 27:17-23 And she put the delicious food and the bread, which she had prepared, into the hand of her son Jacob. So, he went in to his father and said, "My father." And he said, "Here I am. Who are you, my son?" Jacob said to his father, "I am Esau your firstborn. I have done as you told me; now sit up and eat of my game, that your soul may bless me." But Isaac said to his son, "How is it that you have found it so quickly, my son?" He answered, "Because the LORD your God granted me success." Then Isaac said to Jacob, "Please come near, that I may feel you, my son, to know whether you are really my son Esau or not." So, Jacob went near to Isaac his father, who felt him and said, "The voice is Jacob's voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau." And he did not recognize him, because his hands were hairy like his brother Esau's hands. So, Isaac blessed Jacob.
Listen to this wonderful blessing of the covenant being passed on.
Genesis 27:28-29 “May God give you of the dew of heaven and of the fatness of the earth and plenty of grain and wine. Let peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may your mother's sons bow down to you. Cursed be everyone who curses you, and blessed be everyone who blesses you!"
Isaac passes on the covenant to Jacob instead of the oldest and his favorite son Esau! Jacob grabs Esau’s heel, again!
4) Isaac and Esau
Sure enough, as soon as the “heel grabber” is gone… Esau come in with his father’s favorite food to get the covenant blessing… but it has already been given away.
Genesis 27:33-36 Then Isaac trembled very violently and said, "Who was it then that hunted game and brought it to me, and I ate it all before you came, and I have blessed him? Yes, and he shall be blessed." As soon as Esau heard the words of his father, he cried out with an exceedingly great and bitter cry and said to his father, "Bless me, even me also, O my father!" But he said, "Your brother came deceitfully, and he has taken away your blessing." Esau said, "Is he not rightly named Jacob?”
Genesis 27:41 Now Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father had blessed him, and Esau said to himself, "The days of mourning for my father are approaching; then I will kill my brother Jacob."
The story continues back and forth between - Rebekah and Jacob; Rebekah and Isaac and Isaac and Jacob. But the point is… The covenant was valued! The blessing of the covenant was a big enough deal to cheat to get it.
I’m not advocating cheating family members. But the covenant is valuable!
Story Three: The Wrestler
Jacob leaves home because of his brother’s hatred. He goes all the way back to the old country to his mom’s brother; Uncle Laban. There are other adventures there. Jacob gets two wives and bunch of kids. God continues with the blessings of the covenant. Jacob becomes rich. Everything works out as a blessing, just like Abraham and Isaac.
After a long time, and quite a bit of heel grabbing, Jacob returns home. The night before he is to face his brother Esau, he sends his family and all his possession across a river to meet Esau before him. Kind of human shields; another heel grabbing ploy.
Jacob is left alone. Jacob, the heel grabber, encounters what he thinks is a man. True to his name, Jacob grabs this… being.
Genesis 32:24-31 And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob's hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, "Let me go, for the day has broken." But Jacob said, "I will not let you go unless you bless me." And he said to him, "What is your name?" And he said, "Jacob." Then he said, "Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed." Then Jacob asked him, "Please tell me your name." But he said, "Why is it that you ask my name?" And there he blessed him. So, Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, "For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered." The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip.
The Heel Grabber’s name is upgraded to Israel; the God-Struggler. Jacob no longer will have to be a heel grabber. He will not have to be deceptive, tricky, or slick, because he has struggled with God and prevailed. His name is now Israel. He fought God and prevailed! Or, at least, fought God to a draw and was blessed! The Heel Grabber held onto God until the break of day to receive the blessing!
Element 7; Names and covenants go together. Jacob is now Israel. He no longer has to be deceptive. He finally has stepped into his grandfather’s covenant. Israel is blessed! He does not have to resort to heel grabbing with Esau, the next day.
Jacob, aka Israel, meeting with his formally, angry brother, Esau.
Genesis 33:1-4 And Jacob lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, Esau was coming, and four hundred men with him. So, he divided the children among Leah and Rachel and the two female servants. And he put the servants with their children in front, then Leah with her children, and Rachel and Joseph last of all. He himself went on before them, bowing himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother. But Esau ran to meet him and embraced him and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept.
Instead of heel grabbing, the two embrace in love! He no longer needs to be deceptive… Jacob realizes he is Israel; the God Prevailer!
One more touching line… Jacob says to Esau…
Genesis 33:10 "No, please, if I have found favor in your sight, then accept my present from my hand. For I have seen your face, which is like seeing the face of God, and you have accepted me.”
Jacob named the place he wrestled… Peniel… I have seen the face of God… Esau’s face is the face of God… in forgiveness; in honesty; in love; in covenant!
The valuable Covenant has found its place in Israel!
Once again let’s sneak a peak at the New Covenant.
Jacob was willing to take advantage of his brother’s hunger to get the blessing.
Jacob was willing to deceive his father to get the blessing.
Jacob was unwilling to let go of God until he got a blessing.
Jacob was changed to Israel because he wanted, more than anything, the covenant of the LORD!
Element Three - Valuable Blessings are Granted.
Here’s a secret… Our New Covenant is better than the Abraham/Isaac/Jacob covenant.
We should value the New Covenant above all else!
Hebrews 13:20-21 Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
Wow… in the New Covenant, our Lord Jesus, will equip us with every good
thing to do His will.
--Every? Every good thing is equipped in us!
--His Will? We can DO His will… That is all I want.
--Working in us? Working in us to please Him! We can please our Covenant God!
We must grab God until the break of day to be blessed!
May 5, 2019
Los Alamos Church of Christ