Esau held a grudge against Jacob because of the blessing his father had given him. And Esau said in his heart: "The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then I will kill my brother Jacob."
Luke 1:15), prevails through believing prayer. Yet Jacob became Israel, and Israel had once been Jacob. The plant of faith has often to struggle through a hard soil. To understand the lessons of his life, remember -
1. In contrast to Esau, he was a man of faith. His desire was for a future and spiritual blessing. He believed that it was to be his, and that belief influenced his life. But -
2. His faith was imperfect and partial in its operation, and this led to inconsistencies (cf. Matthew 14:29, 30; Galatians 2:12). Naturally quiet, his life was passed chiefly at home. Godly influences undisturbed by outward life taught him to worship God, and to prize his promise. But he had not proved his armor (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:12); and, as often happens,- the object of his faith was the means of his trial. His father's purpose in favor of Esau shook his faith (cf. 1 Peter 4:18). He yielded to the suggestion to obtain by deceit what God had promised to give (Isaiah 49:1), and earned his brother's taunt, "Is not he rightly named Jacob?" Yet it does not appear that he was conscious of having failed in faith. Consider -
I. THE DANGER OF SELF-DECEIVING (cf. Ezekiel 13:10). One brought up among godly influences may seem to possess faith. Ways of faith, hopes of faith, may be familiar to him. He may really embrace them, really desire a spiritual prize. But not without cause are we warned (1 Corinthians 10:12). Some plan of worldly wisdom, some point of self-seeking or self-indulgence, attracts him; only a little way; not into anything distinctly wrong. Or he falls into indolent self-sufficiency. Then there is a shrinking from close walk with God. Formality takes the place of confidence. All may seem outwardly well; but other powers than God's will are at work within. And if now some more searching trial is sent, some more distinct choice between God and the world, a self-satisfying plea is easily found. And the self-deceit which led to the fall makes it unfelt. And the path is lighted, but not from God (Isaiah 1:11).
II. THE HARM DONE TO OTHERS BY UNFAITHFULNESS OF-CHRISTIANS (cf. Romans 2:24; Romans 14:16). The world is quick to mark inconsistencies of believers. They form an excuse for the careless, a plea for disbelieving the reality of holiness. And for weak Christians they throw the influence of example on the wrong side (cf. 1 Corinthians 8:9). Deeds have more power than words; and the course of a life may be turned by some thoughtless yielding. Nor can the harm be undone even by repentance. The failure is visible, the contrition and seeking pardon are secret. The sins of good men are eagerly retailed. The earnest supplication for pardon and restoration are known to few, and little cared for. The man himself may be forgiven, and rise stronger from his fall; but the poison in the soul of another is still doing its deadly work.
III. THE WAY OF SAFETY. Realize the living Christ (Ephesians 3:17). Rules of themselves can do little; but to know the love of Christ, to bear it in mind, is power. - M.
1. Providence ordereth the counsels of the wicked to be revealed that they may be prevented.
1. Esau's wicked hypocrites hate always bitterly those whom God loves dearly.
Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing.I. IT WAS CARNAL.
II. IT WAS OVER-RULED FOR GOOD.
(T. H. Leale.)
2. God's blessing on His own is the cause why the wicked do so much hate and curse them.
3. The hearts of the wicked are meditating mischief, and their tongues belching it out against the righteous.
4. Pretended mourning for the dead is the hypocrite's cloak for the death of the living.
5. Mischievous hypocrites in the Church, stick not to hasten the death of parents when they hinder from their ends.
6. Resolutions of the wicked are for the slaughter of the righteous and blessed, were it in their hands.
(G. Hughes, B. D.)
2. God maketh sometimes the instruments of their straits to be instruments of deliverance to His. So Rebekah was to Jacob.
3. It is but meet that such who bring into danger should be solicitous to prevent it.
4. Timely advice for safety should be taken with greatest heed, as given with greatest care.
5. The murder of the innocent is the comfort of the cruel and wicked man. Revenge comforts the hypocrite, when no harm is done to him (ver. 22).
6. The mother's voice must be heard when it tends to the good of children.
7. Flight from danger into exile is many times the lot of persecuted saints.
8. God can make the wicked's habitations sometimes shelters to His people (ver. 43.)
9. Gracious parents and children would part but for a little time if it might be.
10. Time wears out anger and memory of all pretended injuries in the wicked (ver. 44).
11. Tender mothers long to preserve the lives of children, evil and good.
12. To be childless, or bereft of all, is an evil deprecated by the saints (ver. 45; Jeremiah 31:15).
(G. Hughes, B. D.)
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