Attempting Self-sufficiency

MEMORY SELECTION: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” —Proverbs 3:5

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Genesis 25:29-34; 29:21-30

THE Apostle Paul in Romans 9:10-14 states, “But when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even our father Isaac, (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;) it was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have hated.”

Our text quoted above states specifically that Jacob was chosen by God before he was born, and therefore before he had an opportunity to do good or evil. Works could not, therefore, have been a factor in his selection. But evidently God, in the exercise of his foreknowledge, knew the type of character that Jacob would have; that he would appreciate and cherish the birthright and God’s favor.

Esau, on the other hand, was a profane person. That is, he was worldly, a man of the world who loved worldly pleasures and his associations with worldly people.

The context of the scripture states that Jacob had prepared pottage. Esau came in from the field very hungry, and he asked for a portion of the food. Jacob said, “Sell me this day thy birthright. And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me? And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob.”—Genesis 25:31-33

We, of course, recognize that the birthright in this transaction was the promise that God made to Abraham. When Abraham died, the promise became a birthright which was passed on to Isaac. And now that Isaac was near death, the birthright according to custom should have been passed on to the eldest son, Esau. His appraisal of the inheritance, however, was measured by his willingness to sell it for a mess of pottage. We know that by subtleness Jacob received the blessing that Isaac intended to give to Esau.

Esau’s sale of his birthright was bona fide. He even sealed the arrangement with his oath. When it came time to bestow the blessing of the birthright, Esau should have explained this transaction and have seen to it that Jacob be given the blessing. But he did not. Only by clever maneuvering did Jacob receive that which properly belonged to him.

The Apostle Paul, in Romans the 9th chapter, uses this experience of Jacob and Esau to illustrate the point that God’s favor is by his grace, He states in verse 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.”

The Jews in Paul’s day found it difficult to accept the fact that the Gentiles were being invited to the high calling. They felt, since they were the natural seed of Abraham, that the promise belonged exclusively to them. But because of their hardness of heart and their unfaithfulness God chose to select only those of the Jewish people who were of the right heart attitude, and the remainder from the Gentiles.

In Romans 9:7,8 we read, “Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. 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.”

In other words, the fact that the Jews were the natural seed did not mean that they had a birthright to the high calling. This does not mean that individuals of that nation were excluded. The exclusion applied only to the nation. The apostle emphasizes this fact in Hebrews 9:15, which reads, “And for this cause he is the Mediator of the new testament [covenant], that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament [covenant], they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.”

And so the Jews as a nation, because they placed their hope of salvation in their ability to keep the law, did not recognize their need for a mediator and did not recognize Him when He came to them. Instead, they rejected Him and, as a nation, were therefore cast off.—Matt. 23:37,38

Dawn Bible Students Association
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