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Comparing the Blessings of Jacob and Esau

If you're familiar with Genesis 36, you know that it's nothing but a list of the descendents of Esau—their names, their wives, their children, their flocks, their herds. There were so many of them that they had to leave Canaan, cross the Jordan, and go to their own country called Edom (which is another name for Esau). In the ancient Near East, a man's wealth was measured in three ways: by the number of his children, his flocks and herds, and the land he possessed. Esau had all three of those things in spades. By any standard, Genesis 36 tells us that he was one of the wealthiest men who ever lived. He even had his own country! But remember what God says next about Esau: "Jacob have I loved; Esau have I hated."

Isn't that interesting? What does that tell us in Genesis 36? Why did God, through the Holy Spirit, go to the trouble of including this list of Esau's descendents that also boasts their wealth?

I think two great truths emerge from Genesis 36: (1) If this is how God treats those he really hates, he truly is a good and gracious God, and (2) you had best not mistake material blessing for spiritual blessing.

In distinction to Esau, there's Jacob, God's favored one. What did Jacob get? He got a tent. He lived his entire life in a tent with his father, Isaac, and his grandfather, Abraham. He never had a house. They lived nomadic lives, always wandering around. Yet we live in an age of Christianity where we value Esau more than Jacob. We interpret the goodness of God more by the blessing of Esau than by the favor God bestowed on Jacob. If Esau lived today, we would put him on TV. He would sit there on the couch, and we would ask him, "Tell us how God has blessed you and how we can have it as well." Jacob wouldn't be invited to go anywhere. Nobody would want to hear his story. Can you imagine him stopping by a television studio?

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