19These are the descendants of Isaac, Abraham’s son: Abraham was the father of Isaac, 20and Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah, daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan-aram, sister of Laban the Aramean. 21Isaac prayed to the Lord for his wife, because she was barren; and the Lord granted his prayer, and his wife Rebekah conceived. 22The children struggled together within her; and she said, “If it is to be this way, why do I live?” So she went to inquire of the Lord. 23And the Lord said to her, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples born of you shall be divided; the one shall be stronger than the other, the elder shall serve the younger.” 24When her time to give birth was at hand, there were twins in her womb. 25The first came out red, all his body like a hairy mantle; so they named him Esau. 26Afterward his brother came out, with his hand gripping Esau’s heel; so he was named Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them. 27When the boys grew up, Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field, while Jacob was a quiet man, living in tents. 28Isaac loved Esau, because he was fond of game; but Rebekah loved Jacob.
29Once when Jacob was cooking a stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was famished. 30Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stuff, for I am famished!” (Therefore he was called Edom.) 31Jacob said, “First sell me your birthright.” 32Esau said, “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?” 33Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. 34Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank, and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.
Reading Scripture to Know:
- What is happening/being said? (Observation)
- Why is this happening/being said? (Interpretation)
- What does the rest of Scripture say about it? (Evaluation)
- What does it mean? (Understanding)
- What does it mean for us? (Application)
Reading Scripture to Grow:
- What words or phrases stand out to you? Why?
- Where do you hear the voice of God in this Scripture?
- How do you see the character of God reflected in this Scripture?
- How does this Scripture reveal God?
- How does this Scripture expose humanity and its need for God?
- How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in your life?
- How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in our world?
- What might God want to communicate to you (us) this week through this Scripture?
Scripture Reads Me:
- This passage makes me feel…
- This passage makes me think about…
- This passage reminds me of…
- This passage teaches me that God is…
- This passages teaches me that I am…
- This passage challenges me to…
Reflection: The children struggled together within her.
What do you see in the image above? Depending on your perspective, it could either be two people about to arm wrestle or two people giving one another a modified high-five. It could be a symbol of struggle or unity. We make choices every day on how to respond to people – through aggression or in partnership. Specifically, this passage is dealing with how we respond to and interact with family.
It is easier to talk about relationships in general, but take some time to think about your closest relationships. Are you engaged with any struggles with family, friends, co-workers, or church members? Or are you comfortable with partnering with those close to you in acts of harmony and connection? If you are experiencing those struggles, what is truly at the root? Is there a way forward toward healing and wholeness in that relationship?
Jacob and Esau’s relationship began with struggle and would escalate over the years toward dishonesty, family division, and life-threatening hatred. Yet, if we read through to the end of their story, there is some experience of resolution. What finally brought an opportunity for healing between Jacob and Esau was Jacob’s willingness to first connect deeply with God and then offer himself to Esau in an act of humble presence. After running away from Esau in fear for years, he went back to his homeland to meet with Esau, not knowing how Esau would receive him. The most powerful part about this is that Jacob was the one who had deceived and tricked Esau. The one who bore guilt was the one to make the first move, not knowing what would happen.
If this resolution lasted throughout the remainder of their lives we do not know. However, the two nations that came out of them (Edom from Esau and Israel from Jacob) continued to engage one anther in war throughout the rest of Old Testament history. Our family struggles can have disastrous consequences for future generations.
Will you choose connection or hostility in your interpersonal relationships? The healing of our broken relationships can only be brought about by God. Only when we are connected to God can we find connection in our relationships. How might God transform your struggles into an embrace? Will you make the first move toward healing?
Prayer Focus: The children struggled together within her; and she said, “If it is to be this way, why do I live?” So she went to inquire of the Lord.
Where do you go when you feel desperate? God does not shy away from our desperate needs or brokenness. God welcomes us in all of our desperation with peace, comfort, and strength. Yet, we often seek out destructive or unwelcoming means of comfort when we feel desperate. Let us take Rebekah’s example and go to God with our fears, our anger, our confusion, etc. Pray for God’s wisdom to discern between those practices that bring you God’s peace and those practices that exacerbate your desperation. Then ask God to anoint you with the Spirit’s power to separate yourself from those destructive comforts as you connect more deeply and fully with the God of peace and hope.
Meditation Focus: The first came out red, all his body like a hairy mantle; so they named him Esau. Afterward his brother came out, with his hand gripping Esau’s heel; so he was named Jacob.
What is in a name? In the case of Esau, his name and the name Edom by which he and his people came to be known had connections to his physical characteristics. The name Esau connects to the coarseness of his skin and hair and the name Edom connects to his redness. Jacob’s name literally means “to grasp someone by the heel.” His name reflects his less-than-noble actions at birth. How would it make you feel to be named and known by your physical characteristics or your regrettable behavior? Perhaps this has been your experience.
Too often we let our inner perceptions of ourselves (our doubts, fears, shame, etc.) or the perceptions of others (insults, disapproval, rejection, etc.) define us. What if you were defined by God and allowed that definition to change your inner perception of yourself? This week sit in silence and focus your mind on these names God gives to you: Beloved, Child, and Friend. How might they define who you are? Listen to how God speaks love and grace over you, naming you in these new, healing ways.
Journaling Focus: Thus Esau despised his birthright.
A birthright is the right to join into the life of a family and reap the benefits of being a part of that family. What would you consider to be your birthright as a Christian? When we join into the life of Jesus Christ, what are we born into and what responsibilities and blessings do we bear? How might you come to see these responsibilities as blessings? Take some time this week to write your responses to these questions and reflect on what it means to be a part of the family of God. Will you accept this birthright or reject it?
Take a first step toward finding healing in an interpersonal struggle you have experienced. Is there someone with whom you have struggled, disagreed, or fought? Is there someone with whom you are estranged? What would it look like to offer reconciliation? Pray for the strength and humility to make a phone call, write a letter, or have a face-to-face conversation that might begin the healing process within a relationship.
Breath Prayer: Father, end our struggles.