Scripture Text – Genesis 35-36
Being a victorious Christian doesn’t mean escaping the difficulties of life and enjoying only carefree days. Rather, it means walking with God by faith, knowing that He is with us, and trusting Him to help us for our good and His glory no matter what difficulties He permits to come our way. The maturing Christian doesn’t pray, “How can I get out of this?” but “What can I get out of this?”
Let’s conclude with the new things that came into Jacob’s life.
A New Standing
Please read Genesis 35:23-36:43 for the background to this section.
More than twenty years before, Isaac thought he was going to die (Genesis 24:1–4), but death didn’t come until he was one hundred and eighty years old. He lived the longest of all the patriarchs and yet less is recorded about his life than about his father, his sons, and his grandson Joseph.
A side note:
The events in chapters 37–40 occurred while Isaac was alive, even though his death is recorded here. Jacob’s father Isaac would have been one hundred and sixty-eight years old (Genesis 25:26) and therefore still alive when Joseph was sold into slavery. Isaac would have died twelve years later, one year before Joseph was elevated to being second ruler in Egypt.
We trust that Isaac and Jacob experienced a complete reconciliation and that the old patriarch died “full of years” as did his father (Genesis 25:8). Esau came from Mount Seir to pay his respects to his father and to assist Isaac in burying him in the cave of Machpelah (Genesis 49:29–32). Esau was a man of the world and not a child of the covenant, but he was still Isaac’s son and Jacob’s brother, and he had every right to be there. Death is a human experience that brings human pain to our hearts, and caring for the dead is a responsibility for all the family, believers and unbelievers.
But Isaac’s death changed Jacob’s status: He was now the head of the family and the heir of the covenant blessings. He not only acquired Isaac’s great wealth, but he also inherited all that was involved in the Abrahamic covenant. His God would be known as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
There’s quite a contrast between the record of Jacob’s family in Genesis 35:23–26, listing four wives and twelve sons, and the long list of people who belonged to Esau, recorded in chapter 36. There are six lists of names, including sons, chiefs, and kings. Esau had his share of material blessings, but Jacob possessed the covenant blessings from the Lord.
Genesis 36 is a long chapter containing many names, but it’s the end of the story as far as Esau is concerned! The Edomites are named in the Old Testament only because they’re a part of the story of Israel. “Esau” and “Edom,” the avowed enemies of the Jews, are mentioned over two hundred times in the Bible, but “Jacob” and “Israel” are found over two thousand times! Esau’s son Eliphaz was the father of Amalek, and the Amalekites were also Israel’s enemies (Exodus 17:8–16; Numbers 14:39–45; Deuteronomy 25:17–19; 1 Samuel 15).
Thus, from Genesis 37 on, the story is of Jacob, not of Esau! This is also the reason that Isaac’s death is recorded here as the history takes off from Isaac’s son, Jacob and progresses through Joseph. “This is the history of Jacob” (Genesis 37:2), although the King James Version states it’s the “generations of Jacob,” it’s the tenth occasion for a “generation” statement in Genesis, and it introduces the story of Jacob’s favorite son, Joseph. With all their weaknesses and faults, the sons of Jacob will carry on the work of God on earth and fulfill the covenant promises God made to Abraham.
One thing we can always be assured of and that is that God’s promises are steadfast and sure and no matter the circumstances surrounding His people, His plan and His perfect will, is always going to prevail!