Monday, March 6, 2017
Daily reading assignment: Genesis 36-39
I am afraid Genesis 36 holds little to get excited about for the average believer. This chapter is the birth record of the sons born of Esau’s lineage, the son of Isaac and brother of Jacob. The names of Esau’s sons and their titles, “Duke”, meaning chief, reveal much about Esau and why God chose Jacob over him.
Although the sons of Esau shared a physical lineage with the Hebrew people, tracing their ancestry to Isaac and Abraham, they, like their father Esau, did not value their spiritual heritage nor have a share in God’s covenant promises with the descendants of Abraham. The sons of Esau became the fathers of kingdoms we recognize in the Scriptures as the nomadic tribes of the Arabian Desert. Their descendants became enemies of Israel and the basis of a bitter strife that continues in the Middle East to our day.
Esau had become a wealthy and powerful man (36:6-8) who, following their father Isaac’s death (35:29), chose to keep peace with his brother Jacob and remained in Seir (32:3). Seir, located in Edom, was the land on Israel’s southern border stretching from the salt marshes of the Dead Sea eastward to the desert (36:6-8).
We read an important statement in Genesis 36:8, “Esau is Edom”, meaning he was the father of a people who would become known as the Edomites. Two of the three wives of Esau were Canaanite in origin and a grief to Isaac and Rebekah because they worshipped idols (Genesis 27:46). Esau’s third wife was an Ishmaelite, a descendant of Ishmael, a son of Abraham born to the Egyptian handmaid Hagar (Genesis 28:8-9).
The Edomites, the descendants of Esau, hold important significance in our study of Israel in the Old Testament. When Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt, the Edomites refused to allow them to pass through their land (Numbers 20:18-21). The Edomites were adversaries of King Saul and King David (1 Kings 11:14-16). When King Nebuchadnezzar invaded Israel, the Edomites became allies with Babylon and participated in the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem.
The birth of Amalek (36:12), the father of the Amalekites and the grandson of Esau, marks the birth of another people who would become enemies of Israel. It was the Amalekites who, during Israel’s years in the wilderness, fought against Joshua and Israel while Aaron and Hur held up the hands of Moses during the battle (Exodus 17:8-16). We read in 1 Samuel 15 that King Saul warred against the Amalekites.
Why did God have the names of Esau’s lineage recorded in Genesis 36 and why is it important to 21st century believers?
I believe the roots of the conflict and strife we are witnessing in the Middle East is traced to a people whose ancestry is that of Esau in origin. We identify the enemies of modern Israel as Palestinians, Muslims, proponents of Islam, and the followers of the prophet Mohammed. In the most basic sense, they are all sons of Esau.
I invite you to take some time and read the judgments of God prophesied against Edom in the Book of Obadiah, in particular Obadiah 1:1-4, 6-7, 10-16.
Obadiah 1:1-4 – “The vision of Obadiah. Thus saith the Lord GOD concerning Edom; We have heard a rumour [tidings; report] from the LORD, and an ambassador is sent among the heathen, Arise ye, and let us rise up against her [Edom] in battle.
2 Behold, I have made thee small among the heathen: thou art greatly despised.
3 The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock [Petra, capital city of Edom], whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart, Who shall bring me down to the ground?
4 Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the LORD.
Obadiah 1:6-7 – “How are the things of Esau searched out! how are his hidden things sought up! 7 All the men of thy confederacy have brought thee even to the border: the men that were at peace with thee have deceived thee, and prevailed against thee; they that eat thy bread have laid a wound under thee: there is none understanding in him.”
Obadiah 1:10-15 – “For thy violence against thy brother Jacob [Jews; descendants of Jacob] shame shall cover thee, and thou shalt be cut off for ever.
11 In the day that thou stoodest on the other side [side of the enemies], in the day that the strangers [foreigners; Nebuchadnezzar and the Chaldeans] carried away captive his forces, and foreigners entered into his gates, and cast lots upon Jerusalem, even thou wast as one of them [Esau’s descendants were numbered among Israel’s enemies].
12 But thou shouldest not have looked on the day of thy brother [descendants of Jacob] in the day that he became a stranger; neither shouldest thou have rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction; neither shouldest thou have spoken proudly in the day of distress.
13 Thou shouldest not have entered into the gate of my people in the day of their calamity; yea, thou shouldest not have looked on their affliction in the day of their calamity, nor have laid hands on their substance in the day of their calamity;
14 Neither shouldest thou have stood in the crossway, to cut off those of his that did escape; neither shouldest thou have delivered up those of his that did remain in the day of distress.
15 For the day of the LORD [prophetically, often refers to the Tribulation] is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head. 16 For as ye have drunk upon my holy mountain, so shall all the heathen drink continually, yea, they shall drink, and they shall swallow down, and they shall be as though they had not been.”
Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith