God’s Promises to Man and the World

NO PROMISES TO ESAU

Esau (hairy) or Edom (reddish) had the misfortune of not being a favored of his mother at a time when women and not men willed their power.  He has been given a bad wrap.  The harshest pronouncement on Essau is recorded in Malachi 1:2-5 and in the Epistle to the Hebrews 12:16-17.  “I have loved you,” says the Lord. “But you ask, ‘How have you loved us?’  “Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” the Lord says.  “Yet I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated, and I have turned his mountains into a wasteland and left his inheritance to the desert jackals.”  Paul still held on to Malachi’s assessment of Esau (Ro. 9:13).  The writer to the Hebrews stretched the truth quite a bit when he regarded trickery as an act of faith and depicted Esau as “sexually immoral and godless when for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son.  Afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected. He could bring about no change of mind, though he sought the blessing with tears.”

The unfavorable description of Esau is not all together correct.  He too made a mistake but far less so than his brother Jacob, his father Isaac and his grandfather Abraham. He was not the instigator of what he was being accused off.  In reality, his mother and brother victimized him.  In fact, Esau lived by the principle Cain did not.  “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?” (Gen. 4:7).  Jacob and Rebekah stole the birthright and then stripped the father’s right to bless his oldest son.  Esau did not avenge himself and ended up more blessed than Jacob.  Esau did what was right without his father’s blessing.  In accordance with the predestination of cause and effect, he harvested what he had sown.  In First Chronicles chapter one, Esau – Edom has the longest genealogy and the most success of all the descendants of Abraham.  The recorder inserted this reminder “These were the kings who reigned in Edom before any Israelite king reigned.”

Esau was the firstborn and dad’s favored.  His skin was red; hence, he was also called “Edom.”  He grew up to be a hunter and a mountain man.   He loved the Mountains of Seir and made them his home.  Jacob followed on his heals and became mamma’s boy.  After Rebekah and Jacob had disowned Esau of his rights before he became aware of being swindled, Jacob had fled to uncle Laban where he could continue his cheating, of course with his belief that God was on his side.  When it was time to flee from Laban with his two daughters and more than half his flock, Jacob finally did it God’s way and faced his brother Esau.  Even after he was converted to being Israel, he kept on outguessing his brother.  Esau surprised and scared him with four hundred fighting men.  He embraced his brother, welcomed him home, refused all the gifts, blessed his wives and children and left barren Palestine to Jacob.  How could one so noble and forgiving be depicted as being distasteful to God?  It was a time when certain people began to believe that they could keep God to themselves, regardless of what they did.  That tendency did cost them severely.  God cannot be harnessed to fit our aspirations or needs.

Israel grew up in Egypt and ended up in slavery.  They became skillful in building eternal homes (Pyramids) for the Pharaoh’s.  Moses led them out of Egypt; then he spent forty years to teach the people how to mange themselves.  Before he handed the leadership over to Joshua, he left some specific instruction regarding the children of Esau and Lot.  Moses claimed that these directions came from the Lord. “Give the people these orders: ‘You are about to pass through the territory of your brothers the descendants of Esau, who live in Seir.  They will be afraid of you, but be very careful.  Do not provoke them to war, for I will not give you any of their land, not even enough to put your foot on.  I have given Esau the hill country of Seir as his own.  You are to pay them in silver for the food you eat and the water you drink’” (Deut. 2:4-6).  The same order was given regarding the children of Lot and Joshua carried out the orders of Moses.  Their passage was peaceful and the children of Esau and Lot were paid in silver for their services.

During this time a prophet by the name of Balaam was hired by Balak king of Moab to curse Israel.  He did this against the wishes of his own people.  Instead, Balaam blessed Israel, predicted the rise of a king that would subdue Moab, Edom and Seir (Num. (Num. 24:17-19). “I behold him, but not near.  A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel.  He will crash the foreheads of Moab, the skulls of all the sons of Seth.  Edom will be conquered; Seir, his enemy, will be conquered, but Israel will grow strong.  A ruler will come out of Jacob and destroy the survivors of the city.”  Balak had no muscles to face Joshua’s army, but he had sexually infected women and enticing idol worship that delayed Israel’s entrance into Canaan considerably (Num. 25).  There is no evidence that the Edomites had a share in this deception.  Nevertheless, the first kings Saul and David found cause to enslave their own kin and violated God’s edict (II Sam. 8:12-14).  Israel’s domination lasted until Joram king of Judah (II Ki. 8:20-22). 

Balaam is one more example of God choosing a man for a mission that would not be on our roster.  He had one more interesting vision, long before king David and Jesus the Christ. “Ah, who can live when God does this?  Ships will come from the shores of Kittim; they will subdue Asshur and Eber, but they too will come to ruin” (Num. 24:23-24).  God had set his will in motion and no one could or can change it.  The ships of Alexander and the Caesars did come and subdue all the lands in friendship or violence.   And they too have become relics of the past as Jeremiah (49) and Obadiah (1) predicted.   Before that time, the Hasmoneans absorbed Edom and converted the people to Judaism.  Herod the Great was one of these converts and his father and sons became kings over Jacob’s remnant from 63 BC to 73 AD.  These Edomite converts became fanatical defenders of Jerusalem and Judaism against Rome (IDB, II, p. 2).  At the end it was Esau defending his brother Jacob.