The Family of Man (Genesis 36:1-37:1)

So, by this point in Genesis, we have discovered that Moses structures his writing very carefully, and that his structure actually adds to the meaning behind what he is writing.

As part of his structure, Moses has organized Genesis into a series of Books — what we, today, might call “Parts”. So far, we have finished 9 of the Books of Genesis. And today we are ready to start Book 10.

And we know this because, instead of using numbers to signal the beginning of each new Book, as we would do today, Moses always uses a particular key phrase: he always says, “This is the account of…” And sure enough, Moses uses his key phrase right here in Chapter 36, verse 1: This is the account of the family line of Esau (that is, Edom).

So: welcome, everyone, to Book 10! This is the story of Esau and his sons.

Now, we first got to know Esau in Book 9, which was the account of Isaac and his sons. Esau was one of those sons.

We first met him wrestling with his twin brother Jacob in their mother’s womb. And a prophecy was made then, even before he was born, that said — basically — that Esau was not going to inherit God’s land and God’s covenant. And sure enough, when Esau grew up, hedespised his birthright: he was not interested in being the next High Priest over God’s land and covenant, like his father and his grandfather had been before him.

And so he went off to do his own thing: he married a couple of local girls, then — when he realized this upset his dad — he married his cousin, the daughter of his Uncle Ishmael — from the rejected side of the family.

But many years later we found out that, even though Esau had given up on God, God had not given up on him. Even though Esau did not deserve it, God continued to take care of him and bless him.

And Book 10 here continues that story of blessing.

So Moses begins by reminding us that Esau is married — three times — and then he moves on to show us that Esau now has five sons by these three women, who were all born to him in Canaan.

But then we find out that Esau did not stay in Canaan: [6] Esau took his wives and sons and daughters and all the members of his household, as well as his livestock and all his other animals and all the goods he had acquired in Canaan, and moved to a land some distance from his brother Jacob. [7] Their possessions were too great for them to remain together; the land where they were staying could not support them both because of their livestock. [8] So Esau (that is, Edom) settled in the hill country of Seir.

And this move is meant to remind us of someone else, earlier in the Book of Genesis, who also left the land of Canaan because he was so wealthy. That man was Lot, the adopted son of Abraham.

So Moses is showing us that Esau is giving up any claim he might have in the land of Canaan, just like Lot did. Lot could have inherited the land and God’s covenant promises from Abraham, but he refused. In the same way, Esau could have inherited the land and God’s covenant promises from Isaac, but he is refusing.

And this is exactly what that prophecy predicted before he was born! So Moses is showing us that God sets a man’s destiny even before he is born.

But Moses also wants us to realize that Esau is doing this voluntarily; he is choosing to live outside the land. He is choosing to fulfil the destiny that God set for him.

And this is a mystery for us: that on one hand God can ordain a man’s destiny in advance, and yet that man also has the free will to act and fulfill that destiny on his own. Both are true: God is in absolute control of everything that happens, and yet, somehow, God’s creatures also have the ability to make decisions that are not forced upon them…

Like I said: this is a mystery too deep for us to understand. But the bible tells us that both of these things are true, so we accept that both of these things are true.

So: that was Book 10: the story of Esau and his sons. Short. Simple. Perfect.

And so now we come to the part of the sermon where we have to ask: so what? What are God’s people supposed to learn from this, from this story of Esau’s life?

Well, we have learned that God sets a person’s destiny even before they are born — and yet that person also acts freely in order to fulfill that destiny.

In other words: God does not force square pegs into round holes. It is not as if God said, “Esau, Jacob is going to inherit the land instead of you,” and then Esau said, “What? No! That’s not fair! I want to inherit the land!” Right? That did not happen. God ordained that Jacob would inherit the land, and Esau said, “…wokay. I don’t care. I’m going to go over here and do my own thing anyway.”

So the main lesson of Moses’ Book 10 of Genesis is this: God blessed Esau with a family and great wealth, but still Esau voluntarily left the land of Canaan to Jacob. He is choosing to live outside of God’s land, he is choosing to live outside of God’s covenant blessings — just as he was destined to do.

Okay! Now we are ready to move on to Book 11.

And we already know what this book is going to be about, because by this point we are familiar with how Moses structures his writing: he always tells the story of the rejected brother, and then he moves on to the story of the brother God has chosen.

So, for instance, Book 2 of Genesis was dominated by the story of Cain and his sons — the line of men who had rejected God and been rejected by God. Then Books 3 and 4 were the story of Seth and his sons — the godly line that led to Noah.

Then Book 5 was dominated by Ham and his sons — the men who built the Tower of Babel. But Books 6 and 7 were the story of Shem and his sons, which led to Abraham.

Then Book 8 was the story of Ishmael and his sons, while Book 9 was the story of Isaac and his sons.

So now that Moses has finished Book 10, the story of Esau and his sons, Book 11 should be the story of Jacob and his sons!

Verse 9: This is the account of the family line ofEsau the father of the Edomites in the hill country of Seir.

Esau, sommore?!

That is odd. This is Moses breaking his structure!

But…when we look back at the rest of the Book of Genesis, we realize that Moses has done this before: he has purposely raised our expectations and then — suddenly changed direction. And this has always given us a bit of literary whiplash…

Which is what it is meant to do.

This is meant to catch our attention and make us say, “Wait a minute? What’s going on? Why is he doing this?”

Well, the only way for us to find out is by reading on. So let’s do that:

[10] These are the names of Esau’s sons: Eliphaz, the son of Esau’s wife Adah, and Reuel, the son of Esau’s wife Basemath

Okay. Well, we already knew that from Book 10.

Going on:

[11] The sons of Eliphaz: Teman, Omar, Zepho, yadda yadda yadda…

[13] The sons of Reuel: Nahath, Zerah, ya ya ya okay.

[14] The sons of Esau’s wife Oholibamah daughter of Anah uh huh uh huh…

So far, Book 11 is not that exciting. I mean, it is nice to hear that Esau had a bunch of grandkids, but — honestly — how often do you really want to hear about someone’s grandkids?

…though, if we pay attention to the way Moses has structured this genealogy we find that it is a bit unusual: he lists Esau’s grandsons from his first two wives, but then he just repeats the names of Esau’s sons by his third wife.

Which means that, if we take the 5 grandsons from the first wife — we don’t count the 6th grandson, because he is a bastard, born to a concubine — if we take the first 5 grandsons and add them to the 4 grandsons from the second wife, and then add that number to the 3 sons from the third wife…we find that Esau produced 12 significant families — 12 tribes, we could say.

And Moses has used the number 12 before — actually, he has used it twice already. Abraham’s brother Nahor produced 12 significant family lines. And Isaac’s brother Ishmael also produced 12 significant family lines: 12 chiefs over twelve tribes, in fact.

And we remember from the story of Ishmael that those 12 chiefs were actually a promise from God to Ishmael: they were a mark of God’s blessing on Ishmael. Those 12 chiefs meant that, even though Ishmael’s family was not the chosen family, still God was committed to taking care of Ishmael’s descendants — not because Ishmael deserved it, but simply because he was a son of Abraham, and a brother of Isaac.

So this strangely structured genealogy is actually Moses’ way of showing us that God is also committed to taking care of Esau’s descendants: he has blessed him with 12 family lines: 12 tribes. Not because Esau deserves it, but simply because he is a son of Isaac, and a brother of Jacob.

But tribes need chiefs right? They need rulers. So if Moses is trying to tell us that Esau ended up producing 12 tribes, surely he would reinforce that idea by talking about the chiefs of those tribes?

Well: good news. He does! Verse 15: These were the chiefs among Esau’s descendants:

…and then Moses just goes on to list Esau’s sons and grandsons again. Which is just as boring as it was the first time!

— except that now we are a little more tuned in to the numbers. So when we count up the names this time we find two extra names listed among the chiefs: Amalek, who was the bastard grandson in the first genealogy, and a second Korah that was not listed at all in the first genealogy.

But this brings our total now to 14 chiefs: 12 “legitimate” chiefs, 1 “bastard” chief, and one more we don’t know anything about.

But why? Is 14 better than 12?

Well, 14 is two times 7, and 7 is the number of completion and perfection. So the number 14 means, like, “double-completion!” or, “perfect perfect!” or something like that.

In other words: God is really, really, blessing Esau. God is with Esau in the wilderness of Seir, just like — we were told — God was with Ishmael in the wilderness of Paran. These are the rejected brothers of the family, but God is still taking care of them — not because they deserve it, but simply because they are related to God’s family.

So, verse 19: These were the sons of Esau (that is, Edom), and these were their chiefs.

And now Moses does something else that is pretty strange: he introduces us to another guy who is not related to Esau at all. Verse 20: These were the sons of Seir the Horite, who were living in the region: Lotan, Shobal, Zibeon, yeah, yeah, okay…These sons of Seir in Edom were Horite chiefs.

…and then Moses goes on to list a bunch this guy’s grandkids as well.

Which leads us to ask: who is this guy Seir the Horite, and why do we care about his grandkids?

Well, the clue is in the name: Seir the Horite. Apparently this is the guy that the Land of Seir was named after.

And there is another clue in the fact that his sons were all Horite chiefs — and that there were 7 of them, 7 Horite chiefs over 7 Horite tribes, meaning that these Horites were the best of the best of the local people. They were a powerful people!

And what do these clues add up to?

They add up to this:

The Horites were a powerful people who lived in Seir before Esau and his 12 tribes moved there.

So what?

Well, Moses is basically introducing us to the people that Esau’s people conquered when they moved in.

But that’s not all they did. Because when we take a closer look at this genealogy we find that it also has a strange structure: Moses includes the names of two women here — which was not usually done. And this was also designed to catch our attention.

And, sure enough, when we look at the names of these two women — Timna and Oholibamah — we realize that Oholibamah was one Esau’s wives, while Timna was the concubine who produced that one ”bastard“ grandson of Esau.

In other words: Esau’s tribes did not just conquer the Horites, they intermarried with them. Actually, the fact that Timna was a concubine suggests that she could have been part of the plunder of that conquest.

So the reason Moses is telling us about Seir the Horite and his seven powerful tribes is so that we can see just how powerful Esau’s 12 tribes were by comparison. This is meant to show us that God is continuing to bless Esau, not just by giving him many descendants, but also by giving those descendants a homeland of their own.

In other words: even though Esau is one of the rejected sons of Abraham, still God is giving Esau most of the benefits that he promised to Abraham:

He had promised to turn Abraham into a large nation, and to give that nation a homeland: the land of Canaan.

Esau is one of Abraham’s descendants. Therefore, God is turning Esau into a large nation, and has given that nation a homeland. Not the land of Canaan, Jacob get that. But Esau does get the land of Seir.

But Book 11 does not end there. Verse 31: These were the kings who reigned in Edom before any Israelite king reigned

And then over the next few verses we have this list of kings. And once again, we don’t really care about who these guys are — except to notice that each king has a different capital city.

So what this tells us is that the Edomites enjoyed a mixture of stability and instability. They did have kings, but they did not have a system where one king would pass on his kingship to his son. Instead, when one king died, there would be a civil war between the Edomite cities, and the winner got to be the next king, and so on.

And then, after the list of kings, we get this closing note: [40] These were the chiefs descended from Esau, by name, according to their clans and regions

…and then Moses lists 11 chiefs, not 14. And most of these 11 names are different from the 14 he listed earlier.

Why these differences?

Well, most likely the earlier list of 14 names was the first generation of chiefs; this list of 11 names are the ones who were around during Moses’ time. Which would mean that three of Esau’s tribes have gone missing during the 500 + years between Esau’s time and Moses’ time.

So this could be meant to show us that, even though the Edomites were blessed by God…they also experienced judgement from God.

God cared for them because they were related to Jacob…but they did not care for God: they did not worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They worshiped false gods of their own.

And for this reason God did allow judgement to fall upon them from time to time and take away a tribe here and there — each act of judgement designed to wake them up and turn them back to the true worship of the true God.

So: this is the family line of Esau, the father of the Edomites.

And this is the end of Book 11!

— oh, but wait: there is one more sentence here, right at the very end: [1] Jacob lived in the land where his father had stayed, the land of Canaan.

And why would Moses include this bit about Jacob right at the end of his second Book about Esau?

Because, once again, this breaking of the pattern is designed to catch our attention and remind us that, even thought Esau is hugely blessed by God…still, he has chosen to live outside the land of Canaan, outside the land of true blessing, outside the land where God has chosen to build his connecting point between heaven and earth.

In other words, right here at the end, Moses is reminding us that Esau has moved away to live in the east, along with Cain, and Ham, and Lot, and Ishmael, and Laban.

Jacob is the only faithful son of the family, the only chosen son. And just like Esau, Jacob is voluntarily fulfilling the destiny that God has for him.


So Book 11 turned out to be more interesting than it seemed at first.

But: did we get our question answered? We expected Book 11 to be the account of Jacob and his sons, instead it was a second account of Esau and his sons. And this left us wondering: why? Why did Moses break his normal pattern to include a second book about Esau?

Well, Book 10 was really the story of Esau’s life. Book 11 was the story of Esau’s nation: how his family grew up and conquered a homeland and became a kingdom and also experienced judgement.

And when we look at the rest of Moses’ writings we see that this pattern is repeated: the next — and last — “Book” of Genesis is the story of Jacob’s life. But the rest of the Old Testament is the story of Jacob’s nation: how they grew up and conquered a homeland and became a kingdom and also experienced judgement.


It could be that, by breaking his old structure, Moses is simply setting a new structure in place. He is getting the story of the rejected nations out of the way, so he can focus the rest of the Old Testament on the story of God’s chosen nation.

But I think Moses is doing more than that.

See, he could have told the story of Esau’s life and Esau’s nation all in one book. He did not have to turn Esau’s story into Book 10 and Book 11.

But he did. And I think our clue as to why is found in this last sentence: Jacob lived in the land where his father had stayed, the land of Canaan.

Clearly, Moses is telling us that the next Book of Genesis — the last Book of Genesis — is going to be the story of how Jacob’s family also grew up into 12 tribes.

And doesn’t it just make perfect poetic sense for the story of Jacob’s 12 tribes to begin in Book 12 of Genesis?

But anyway: now we come to the part of the sermon where we ask — again — so what? What are these books about Esau supposed to mean to God’s people?

Well, we already reviewed Book 10, which showed us that God sets a person’s destiny before they are born — but he does this without damaging that person’s ability to act and make decisions and fulfill that destiny out of their own free will.

And then Book 11 showed us that the God of Jacob is overwhelmingly kind to those who are related to Jacob — even if those people have rejected Jacob’s God.

And this was an important lesson for Moses’ people to learn.

Because, for them — for the ancient people of Israel — the Edomites were a major pain in the neck. And the Israelites really wanted to pound them! — but Moses said, “No, these Edomites may be nasty, but they are your brothers. So: be kind, do not go war against them, let them keep their land…because God gave it to them. And in the future, if any of them want to come and join us in worship…let them!”

And this last point about worship was actually God’s main point: even though Esau and the Edomites had chosen to reject God, God still took care of them all the way down through the generations so that one day they would have the opportunity to return to the land of Canaan and join with their brother Israelites in true worship.

The reason Moses wrote Books 10 and 11 about Esau was so his people would know that the Edomites are important to God! They are not garbage to be hated or despised, they are brothers who have wandered away from the truth — brothers who will one day be brought back.

Yes, Esau’s destiny was to be passed over as the High Priest of the Covenant — that privilege went to Jacob. And Esau freely chose to be passed over.

However, it is also the destiny of Esau’s sons to one day return and live in peace under the protection of Jacob’s sons, the High Priests of the Covenant.

This was Moses’ lesson for the people of Israel: God is overwhelmingly gracious even to nations who have rejected him. And God’s nation should be just as gracious.

Okay. But what does this mean for us, now, 3500 years after Moses first wrote this?

Well, for many of us who grew up in Christian homes, this idea that God is so gracious even to his enemies does not seem that strange. We have gotten used to it.

But the truth is: this message is really revolutionary!

There are no other gods in the world who describe themselves like this. There are no other ancient religions in the world that describe their god like this. Every other god, every other religion, is absolutely furious when they are rejected, and they are absolutely vengeful and judgemental against those who have rejected them.

But the God of Jacob is different! He is the only god in history who advertises the fact that you can reject him and he will still keep you alive and even bless you.

But, of course, someone could object here and say, “Hang on, that’s not what we have learned here. God does not bless just anybody. He blessed Esau because Esau was related to Jacob. But most people are not related to Jacob, and God is incredibly harsh with them!”

I hear you. And you are right about the first part: most people are not related to Jacob. Most of us are not from a Jewish background. Which means there is no obvious reason for God to be gracious to the rest of the nations in the world.

However…you are wrong about the second part. God has not been incredibly harsh. God has been — and still is — overwhelmingly gracious to the nations of the world.

And if you are wondering how I can say that, I’m just going to point you to the evidence of history: most of the great nations of our world are not related to Jacob and have not worshiped the God of Jacob, and yet they have been great nations!

For instance: China has been Buddhist for the last 2000 years. India has been Hindu for the last 2000 years. But, just like the Edomites, both of those cultures had kings and emperors long before the little nation of Israel did. And they are not the only ones: the Sumerians of Iraq, the Egyptians, the Peruvians, the Meso-Americans: all over the world there have been cultures that were older and greater than Israel’s.

So this idea that some people have gotten that the God of Jacob is harsh and vengeful toward those who have rejected him is just not true. He is actually gracious, patient, long-suffering. He has sustained the nations of the world through thousands of years, and blessed them with descendants and homelands and everything he gave to Esau’s people here.

So what we are finding out is that this story of Esau and his people is actually the story of every nation in this world. When we read Books 10 and 11 of Genesis here, we are actually reading the history of our own nations, our own ancestors. We are all children of the great kingdoms and empires of the world — and without exception, our ancestral nations all rejected the God of Jacob, just like Esau’s nation. And yet God blessed our ancestors with life, and descendants, and places to live.

If this was not true none of us would be here now! Our species would have died out a long time ago.

So what these Books about Esau mean for us is this: we are all, really, the spiritual descendants of Esau, recipients of the same blessings God gave Esau and his people.

But this does raise a question for us: how can God be so gracious to people who have rejected him, people who are not related in any way to Jacob? What is his reason for doing this?

Here it is: even though we are not all related to Jacob, we are all related to Adam.

See, Jacob was only the latest High Priest of the Covenant. Jacob was not the first man commissioned to take care of God’s land, God’s temple: he inherited this job from his father Isaac, who inherited it from Abraham. But even Abraham was not the first: the High Priesthood was passed down to him from Noah…who inherited it from Adam.

Adam was the first High Priest over God’s land, God’s temple, God’s garden. Granted: he did a terrible job. However, the reality is this: all of Adam’s sons were sons of a priest. Even the bad sons! And so God blessed them all with life, and descendants, cultures and kings — not because they deserved God’s kindness, but simply because they were related to the first High Priest. Even Cain, who murdered the second High Priest — his own brother Abel — and then ran away to the east…even Cain continued under God’s blessing and protection.

This is why God continues to show such kindness to the peoples of our world: not because we are related to Jacob, but because we are all related to Adam. All human beings are brothers and sisters to one another; every nation of people is a brother nation to every other nation of people.

And once again: this is really revolutionary stuff! Every other god in the world, every other historic religion, says that people from other religions and other nations are actually sub-human, somehow less than, and therefore do not deserve to live. The Judeo-Christian scripture — the Christian bible — is the only ancient scripture that says we are all equally valuable in God’s sight, whether we have embraced God or rejected him. And that is really remarkable!

But that just leads us to another question: what is the point? For what purpose would the God of Jacob be so kind even with nations that have rejected him? Why doesn’t he simply sweep them away so that his people can conquer the world without competition?

Well, the reason God is so kind to the nations is the same reason he was so kind to the Edomites: because he has a plan to bring all nations back into his land, back into his presence.

Yes, it was the destiny of our ancestral nations to be passed over as God’s chosen nation — that privilege went to the Jewish nation, the sons of Jacob, the High Priests of the Covenant. And our ancestor nations freely chose to be passed over.

However, it was also always the destiny of our nations to one day return and live in peace under the protection of God’s chosen nation, under the protection of God’s final High Priest.

That High Priest’s name is Jesus. He was a son of Jacob. He was a member of God’s chosen Jewish nation. But he was raised up to become the eternal King of that nation — and the eternal High Priest of that nation.

And he is the one who threw open the doors of his nation to everyone. He opened the borders of his kingdom to refugees from every kindom, every empire, and he started giving away free citizenships to those refugees!

In the end, Jesus ended up fulfilling God’s destiny for the Edomites. He is the one who brought the Edomites — and everyone else! — back in to live in peace and protection under the authority of the last Son of Jacob, the last High Priest of the Covenant: himself.

Now, unfortunately, most of the biological sons of Jacob — the Jewish people — disagreed with their new King’s immigration policy. They refused to live under the authority of God’s final High Priest. So they left God’s land because they did not want to share it with their long-lost brothers.

And so, ironically, the ancient structure of God’s history was broken, reversed.

The Old Testament was the story of how Jacob’s 12 tribes were redeemed from slavery and given a homeland of their very own. In the Old Testament it was Jacob’s people who lived in God’s land, while Esau’s people lived in the “east”, outside God’s land, where they had chosen to live.

But in the New Testament this structure got turned completely upside-down. The New Testament is the story of how Esau’s 12 tribes were redeemed from slavery and given a homeland of their very own. In the New Testament it is Esau’s people — us, the non-Jewish nations of the world — it is we who get to live in God’s land, in God’s presence, while Jacob’s people live in the “east”, ouside of Christ’s Church, where they have chosen to live.

And this absolute shattering of the Old Testament structure is designed to catch the attention of the whole world. We are supposed to see that there is no other God like the Christian God, no other God so gracious, so long-suffering, so willing to let the sins committed by the nations go unpunished, so that he can demonstrate his righteousness now by saving those who have faith in Jesus.

Our God is so gracious that he is willing to overlook the fact that we are not biologically related to Jacob! He is willing to accept everyone, anyone, every single refugee who comes to the gates of Jesus’ kingdom and asks to come in.

In fact, our God is so committed to this policy that he is even willing to reject those who are biologically related to Jacob, if they reject his King and High Priest, his Son Jesus Christ.

And this abrupt change of structure was upsetting for a lot of people at the time, and it is still upsetting to a lot of people today. There are many of us today — especially in the West — who struggle with this concept that the Jewish people are no longer God’s chosen nation living inside God’s chosen land. We struggle to accept that this new structure is infinitely more gracious than the old structure, and we struggle to accept that this was God’s plan all along.

And we struggle with these things for two main reasons:

First, because we struggle with the idea that God can have a plan that involves choosing and not choosing.

Second, because we are worried about what this means for the Jewish people. Does this mean they are under God’s judgement?

Well, fortunately, these two Books about Esau answer those questions for us.

First: yes, God always has had plans that involve choosing and not choosing.

For instance, the Apostle Paul pointed this out in the New Testament. There were Jewish Christians in the Roman Church who were struggling to understand how God could un-choose the Jewish nation and choose the Gentile nations instead. And Paul basically says in his letter to the Roman Church, “Look, in the Old Testament God loved Jacob but hated Esau; he loved the Jewish people, but hated non-Jewish people. And you were okay with that back then. So why do you object to the idea now that God loves Esau but hates Jacob instead?”

But then Paul goes on to remind everyone that, even though God does set a person’s destiny before they are born, he does this without damaging that person’s ability to act and make decisions and fulfill that destiny out of their own free will.

This is true of nations as well. God does choose and not choose nations — while at the same time those nations do also freely choose their destinies. God did not simply un-choose the Jewish nation, the Jewish nation also freely un-chose God when its leadership refused to submit to God’s King and High Priest, Jesus Christ.

So as we struggle to accept that God does choose and un-choose, we must remember that people also freely choose and un-choose. This is a mystery. We do not know how it works. But this is a truth we must keep in mind if we are going to accept God’s work in the world.

But what about our second question? If the Jewish nation un-chose God and has been un-chosen by God, does this mean they are now under God’s judgement?

Well…yes. They are: Paul just told us that, in the Old Testament, God hated Esau but loved Jacob, while now he loves Esau but hates Jacob.

However, before we jump to conclusions about what this means, let’s look at what “hating Esau” meant in the Old Testament. Then we will be able to understand what “hating Jacob” must mean in the New Testament.

So: what did God’s “hatred” of Esau look like here in Books 10 and 11 of Genesis? It looked like blessings. It looked like children, and tribes, and kings, and a homeland. It looked like God’s gentle hand of protection over a people who had rejected Jacob, his High Priest. It looked like God’s long, patient plan to bring the 12 tribes of Esau slowly but surely back into the true land of God’s presence.

So what must does God’s “hatred” of Jacob look like today? It looks like blessings. It looks like hundreds of years of protection over a people who have rejected Jesus, his own Son and his final High Priest! It looks like God’s long, patient plan to bring the 12 tribes of Jacob slowly but surely back into the true land of God’s presence: Christ’s Church.

So, are the Jewish people under God’s judgement? Yes: the same judgement that Esau was under in the Old Testament. The judgement of blessing; the judgement of generosity and kindness and even great wealth.

And this kind of judgement is really a kind of test. Will the children of Esau and Jacob — will the children of Adam — recognize that these blessings they enjoy in life come from God? Will they turn to their King Jesus Christ, and return to life in God’s land? Or will they continue to believe that they are blessing themselves? Will they continue to choose life in the eastern wilderness?

On Judgement Day, those who have been blessed the most in this life will experience a heavier judgement. They will have to explain why they refused to recognize God’s hand in their blessings, why they refused to accept God’s Son as their King. Basically, the more someone is given in this life, the more they owe God in return — unless they repent.

And this is how, sometimes, God’s “hatred” and judgement actually looks like blessing, while God’s love looks like discipline.

In conclusion, to put all this very simply:

In the Old Testament, Esau rejected God’s priest, God’s covenant, and God’s land. And so Jacob inherited these things, even though he did not deserve them either. And the rest of the story of the Old Testament was the story of Jacob looking forward to his brother Esau’s redemption.

But in the New Testament, Jacob rejected God’s priest, God’s covenant, and God’s land. And so Esau got to inherit these things, even though he did not deserve them either. And now the rest of the story of the New Testament — the rest of God’s history — is the story of us, the children of Esau, looking forward to the redemption of the children of Jacob, looking forward to the redemption of the rest of the children of Adam.

And what should we do while we look forward to this?

Well, our application is the same as Moses’ application for his people: God is overwhelmingly gracious even to people who have rejected him. Therefore, God’s people should be just as gracious. We are called to love our enemies, to love the enemies of God, because once upon a time we were the enemies of God. Our ancestral nations were the enemies of God, but still God “hated” our ancestors enough to bless them with life, children, cultures and kings, caring for them all the way down through the generations until the day a preacher of the true Gospel could arrive and lead them back into our Father’s presence.

So we are called to “hate” our enemies in the same way — this “hate” that is actually love and blessing and the hope that one day those who hate us will turn and return and join us for all eternity in the Kingdom of Christ.


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