The Rest of the Story -

God Builds a Nation – Jacob…But not Esau


Genesis 25:21-34, The Rest of the Story: 2. God Builds a Nation – Jacob…But not Esau
Genesis 26:34-35, 27:46, 28:1-22, The Rest of the Story: 2. God Builds a Nation – Jacob…But not Esau
Genesis 29:1-16, The Rest of the Story: 2. God Builds a Nation – Jacob…But not Esau
Genesis 31:55-32:1-9, 32:22-30, The Rest of the Story: 2. God Builds a Nation – Jacob…But not Esau
Genesis 35:1-8, 9-15, 21-29, The Rest of the Story: 2. God Builds a Nation – Jacob…But not Esau

More of the Rest of the Story

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Genesis 25:21-34, The Rest of the Story: 2. God Builds a Nation – Jacob…But not Esau (8/13/12)

Human beings seem to have this thing about firstborn sons. They get the title, they get the crown, they get the biggest share of the inheritance, they get the most spankings, etc. God doesn’t seem to share this bias. We saw that Ishmael, Abraham’s firstborn son, got God’s blessing, but not the covenant. This week we see that that Esau, Isaac’s firstborn son, also didn’t inherit the covenant. One reason may be that he didn’t want it enough.


Genesis 26:34-35, 27:46, 28:1-22, The Rest of the Story: 2. God Builds a Nation – Jacob…But not Esau (8/14/12)

Remember how determined Abraham was that Isaac should not have a wife from the Canaanite tribes? In the next generation, Esau, after trading off his birthright for some lunch, took two Canaanite wives. Rebekah wasn’t happy about this, because she was completely aware of the dangers of assimilation. She got Isaac to send Jacob off to the old country to find a wife among his cousins.

On the way there, Jacob has a vision of God. In the vision, God promises that the covenant he made with Abraham will now pass to Jacob. Jacob is awed and sets up a pillar to God to commemorate the occasion. Nevertheless, Jacob puts some conditions on the relationship: if God takes care of me, then God can live in this pillar I have set up and be my God, and I’ll be God’s man.

God works with us where we are, and at this early stage in the development of his nation, God was working with people who believed (1) that there were numerous gods, each tied to a specific territory, and (2) that gods could be manipulated. Much later, God revealed that he is the only God, omnipresent, and not subject to human manipulation. But Jacob wouldn’t have believed that, so God didn’t burden him with the information. God identified himself simply as “the God of Abraham,” not “the God of the universe.”


Genesis 29:1-16, The Rest of the Story: 2. God Builds a Nation – Jacob…But not Esau (8/15/12)

In contrast to Esau, who married Hittite women, Jacob married within the family of Abraham and Sarah. Rachel and Leah were Jacob’s first cousins – his mother Rebekah was the sister of their father Laban. They were also second cousins, once removed, because they all descended from Terah, Abraham’s father.

All these relationships can be seen on the chart

but the main point to remember is that God’s infant nation is being kept separate from other nations, primarily in order to keep them away from the gods of the other nations. The nation that arose from Esau, Edom, worshiped other gods; see 2 Chronicles 25:20.


Genesis 31:55-32:1-9, 32:22-30, The Rest of the Story: 2. God Builds a Nation – Jacob…But not Esau (8/16/12)

Names are important. “Jacob” means “heel catcher” or “supplanter.” That name fairly describes Jacob’s early life, during which his primary goal seems to have been to get the birthright, covenant, and blessing that Esau expected to receive as Isaac’s older son. After he has a vision of wrestling with God, however, God renames him “Israel,” which means “he will rule, like God.” This new name refers to his prominent position in forming God’s nation. Place names also can have significant meanings. “Peniel” means “face of God.”


Genesis 35:1-8, 9-15, 21-29, The Rest of the Story: 2. God Builds a Nation – Jacob…But not Esau (8/17/12)

Notice that Jacob has his household “put away,” that is, get rid of, their foreign gods. Foreign gods have been a continual problem for God’s nation, from the earliest times until today. Whether our gods are physical idols or addictions, astrology or self-help, we need to put away whatever there is in our life that takes our attention away from God.

The nation was finally getting bigger. Jacob, also called Israel, had four wives and twelve sons (see the chart). From the twelve sons came the twelve tribes of Israel, each named after the son who founded the tribe. As time went on, the tribe of Joseph became two tribes, Ephraim and Manasseh. There were still twelve tribes, however, and to be honest I’ve never quite figured that out.


More of the Rest of the Story

Week 1. Beginning of Life As We Know It
Week 1. More on the Beginning of Life As We Know It
Week 2. God Builds a Nation – Abraham … But Not Lot
Week 2. God Builds a Nation – Isaac…But not Ishmael or the sons of Keturah
Week 2. God Builds a Nation – Jacob…But not Esau
Week 3. Joseph Preserves Two Nations
Week 4. Deliverance
Week 4. More on Deliverance
Week 5. New Commands and a New Covenant
Week 6. Wandering
Week 6. More on the Wandering
Week 7. The Battle Begins
Week 8. A Few Good Men...and Women
Week 9. The Faith of a Foreign Woman
Week 10. Standing Tall, Falling Hard
Week 11. From Shepherd to King
Week 12. The Trials of a King
Week 13. The King Who Had It All
Week 14. A Kingdom Torn in Two
Weeks 15 and 16. God's Messengers and The Beginning of the End
Week 17. The Kingdoms' Fall
Jeremiah, Prophet of the Exile
Story 19. The Return Home
Apocalyptic writings in the Old Testament
Story 21. Rebuilding the Walls
Story 22. The Birth of the King
Story 23. Jesus’ Ministry Begins
Story 24. No Ordinary Man
Story 25. Jesus, the Son of God
Story 26. The Hour of Darkness
Story 27. The Resurrection
Story 28. New Beginnings
James, Brother of the Lord
John and Jude
Story 31. The End of Time

Copyright 2009, 2011, 2012 by Regina L. Hunter. All rights reserved. This page has been prepared for the web site by RPB.

Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the author, Regina Hunter, and may or may not be shared by the sponsors or the Bible-study participants.  Thanks to the Holy Spirit for any useful ideas presented here, and thanks to all the readers for their support and enthusiasm.  All errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.

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