No Fury Like a Brother’s Scorn

Madison Olsen would finish Friday evening in the snow. It was “surprisingly soft.” This was her chance at an Olympic medal. It was the ski aerials and she was attempting a back-full-double full – that is two back flips with a twist on the first flip and two twists on the second flip. She completed the flips with the twists and landed in the snow…face first. Without any delay, she bounced right up, grabbed her skis, waved and smiled. Madison was receiving a big ovation. Without earning the medal, this was the highest finish for a U. S. woman in twenty years. And she is only twenty-two years old.

Just a couple of years ago she was thinking about retirement; retirement! She had been plagued with injuries and surgeries and more surgeries. And her dad was diagnosed with cancer. Madison then set her mind to enjoy any small moment with her dad – bike riding, sitting on the porch or just doing a puzzle. He died in August of 2016.

Madison Olsen would finish Friday evening in the snow being asked about her dad. She was still smiling, and with the rest of her strength she said, “He would have been proud.”

It is Still All About a Blessing

Genesis 27:1-40 is all about a blessing. It is about a blessing that Isaac, Rebekah’s husband, sought to give to their older son Esau. It is about a blessing that Rebekah, Isaac’s wife, sought to give to their younger son Jacob. It is about a blessing that Jacob sought by looking like Esau, feeling like Esau and even smelling just like Esau. And it is about a blessing that Esau sought from his dad, but it was too late.

Genesis 27:41-28:9 is then all about what happens next. And what happens next has two parts to it. The first part begins with Genesis 27:41. “Now Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father had blessed him, and Esau said to himself, ‘The days of mourning for my father are approaching; then I will kill my brother Jacob.” The second part begins with Genesis 28:6. “Now Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him away to Paddan-aram to take a wife from there, and that as he blessed him he directed him.” And it is these two verses of these two parts that draw our attention to what Genesis 27:41-28:9 is really all about. But make sure to see what brings these two parts together. Think of this like a bridge; look to see what bridges these two parts together.

Look and listen to Genesis 28:1. “Then Isaac called Jacob and blessed him and directed him.” Look and listen to Genesis 28:3. “God Almighty bless you.” Look and listen to Genesis 28:4. “May he give the blessing of Abraham to you and to your offspring.” What is the bridge? It is there three times – the word blessing. And when this bridge is connected to Genesis 27:41 and Genesis 28:6, it is to the word blessing. All together the word blessing occurs seven times. Genesis 27:41-28:9 is all about what happens next. And in one word what happens next is still all about a blessing.

Why Does Esau Hate Jacob?

Pay close attention to how it all begins. “Now Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father had blessed him, and Esau said to himself, ‘The days of mourning for my father are approaching; then I will kill my brother Jacob’” (Genesis 27:41). There is but one big question to ask. Why does Esau hate Jacob?

Notice the word hate. It is a rather interesting word. It is rather interesting because it only occurs six times in the Old Testament. It is a rather interesting word because three of the six times it occurs in the Old Testament are found in Genesis. It is a rather interesting word because of the three times found in Genesis, two are about brothers. It is a rather interesting word because at the close of Genesis, Jacob’s own sons wonder if their brother Joseph hates them (cf. Genesis 50:15).

This word hate means to hold a grudge against or to cherish animosity against. Is that not rather peculiar, that hate would involve cherishing? It also means to lurk for, which just gives the picture of the hater hiding in the dark so as to not be seen by the hated.

But why did Esau hate Jacob? Genesis 27:41 continues to tell us that Esau hated Jacob, “because of the blessing.” Look back at Genesis 27:36. “Is he not rightly named Jacob? For he has cheated me these two times. He took away my birthright, and behold, now he has taken away my blessing.” Why would Esau hate Jacob because of the blessing? Jacob took it from him! But there is more!

Why did Esau hate Jacob? Genesis 27:41 continues with more. “…because of the blessing with which his father had blessed him.” Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing and not merely because Jacob took it from him, but because this blessing meant something. It was the blessing with which his father had blessed Jacob. It was supposed to be the blessing with which his father was to bless Esau. Listen to the rest of Genesis 27:41. “The days of mourning for my father are approaching; then I will kill my brother Jacob.” Esau has this plan to kill Jacob. This plan alone is what is comforting Esau. But there is more. Who else is mentioned? Esau will not touch his brother until after their dad’s funeral. Esau is still under the impression that his dad is dying (cf. Genesis 27:2). But why does Esau hate Jacob? And why will Esau wait to kill Jacob? It all has something to do with dad. It all has something to do with Esau and his dad.

Esau Spoke to Himself, But Rebekah Listened

Genesis 27:41 says that Esau spoke to himself. He told himself about his plan to kill his brother, but not before his dad’s funeral. Genesis 27:42 says that Rebekah heard about this plan. At some point, Esau shared with someone his plan and this someone then shared it with Rebekah. Who would Esau share his plan with? And for what reason would this someone have to share it with Rebekah? I wondered if it was one of Esau’s wives, wives who Rebekah loathed. What reason would they have to share this plan with their mother-in-law?

Anyway, Rebekah finds out about it. It is just like when she overheard Isaac’s intentions to bless Esau and only Esau. She does not talk to her husband about this plan. She does not attempt to stop Esau from this plan. Instead, she calls for Jacob, tells him the plan and then comes up with her own plan. This all sounds like déjà vu all over again! Her plan is to get Jacob out of town as soon as possible. She seeks to send him to her brother’s house which is miles and miles and months and months away in Paddan-aram. Her thought is that Jacob will just need to be there for a few days or a short while (27:42-45). Rebekah is unaware, but this is her last appearance in Genesis. Rebekah is unaware, but Jacob will not be with his uncle for a few days. Jacob will be away from home for about twenty years. Rebekah is unaware, but she will never see Jacob again. There is no email to be had with Jacob. There is no face time to be had with Jacob. Ironically, we do not hear from Jacob in this passage. Rebekah is unaware, but she will never hear his voice again.

She never tells her husband what their son Esau is planning. But she needs to get Jacob out of town and so as to make it seem that Jacob is not running away, she needs her husband to take charge and send him away. Listen to what she says to Isaac. She tells him the truth. “I loathe my life because of the Hittite women. If Jacob marries one of the Hittite women like these, one of the women of the land, what good will my life be to me?” (27:46). Jacob is a single man. Esau is a married man to two women…two Hittite women (cf. 26:34-35).

Isaac Calls for His Son for the First Time

Rebekah’s words about Jacob’s availability and the women of the land, the Canaanite women, put new life into Isaac. He calls for his younger son for the first time and notice, “and blessed him” (28:1). And he gives him a charge to go to his uncle’s house. The sense feels like he should do this immediately, like there is no time to pack. And he charges Jacob to go there to get a wife. And then Isaac blesses him again. This blessing is acknowledging that God’s blessing to Abraham, which is also God’s blessing to Isaac, is now God’s blessing to Jacob and his offspring. It just means that all God has set to accomplish since Genesis 3:15 and through Abraham will be accomplished through Jacob. So, he sends him away.

Now Esau Saw His Dad

But what is most important is Genesis 28:6. “Now Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob.” Pause there. Think back to Genesis 27:41. Why were we told that Esau hated Jacob? It was because of the blessing, referring to the blessing of Genesis 27:1-40, with which his father had blessed Jacob. And what does Esau see now? He sees his dad blessing Jacob again. But most importantly, he sees his dad.

Remember, Esau’s plan was to kill his brother, but not until after his dad’s funeral. Rebekah’s plan was to send Jacob away until his brother’s fury and scorn faded away. Listen to what is discovered beginning with Genesis 28:6. Esau’s anger has faded way. Esau’s fury has faded away. And why? Because he saw his dad.

Esau knew that his dad blessed Jacob and sent him away to find a non-Canaanite, non-Hittite wife. Who has two Canaanite, Hittite wives? Esau! And what else did Esau see? “…and that Jacob had obeyed his father and his mother and gone to Paddan-aram. So, when Esau saw that the Canaanite women did not please Isaac his father” (28:7-8). Esau saw his brother obey. Esau saw, like it is the first time, that Canaanite women did not please his father and he has two of them as wives. So, what does he do? He goes to his Uncle Ishmael’s house while Jacob goes to his Uncle Laban and he seeks a non-Canaanite wife. When Esau saw his dad, what did he do? He imitated Jacob. Earlier Jacob had imitated Esau by looking like Esau, feeling like Esau, smelling like Esau just to get the blessing. Here Esau imitated Jacob by looking like Jacob, but not feeling like Jacob or smelling like Jacob. How did Esau look like Jacob? Obedience.

Why did Esau do it? Why did Esau imitate Jacob here? It could have been to get an additional blessing, but I think there is more. Why did Esau do it? It was to please his father.

The heart of Genesis 27:41-28:9 is about pleasing a parent. It is about Esau pleasing his dad. It may be why he hated Jacob and why that blessing meant so much to him. Esau lived to please his dad. Esau did what he did to please his dad. And it begs the question, is there a danger in living to please a parent? When is it a danger to do what we do solely to please a parent?

2 Timothy 3:5 talks of “having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” Hebrews 12:16-17 exhorts us to not be like Esau. When is it a danger to do what we do solely to please a parent? It is when we put on the appearance of godliness while having no godliness. This comes in all forms. There are children who live to please their parents talking like a Christian, walking like a Christian, looking like a Christian, and…all the while their heart is so far from God. This is Esau.

What pleases a dad? What really pleases a mom? It is when a child seeks to glorify God by enjoying him forever.

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