Jacob and Esau were the twin grandsons of Abraham. They were born on the same day and raised by the same parents. Yet their legacies, as recorded in Scripture, couldn’t be further apart.
What was Esau’s family legacy just before the time of Jesus? “Esau I have hated,” declares the Lord, “I have laid waste his hill country and left his heritage to jackals of the desert…they will be called a wicked country, and the people with whom the Lord is angry forever”
). This is the twin brother of the one who carried the promises of God and fathered the nation of Israel – God’s own people! So what happened???
I have stopped to ponder this today because our daily Scripture readings have taken us to Genesis 36
, which describes the family lineage of Esau. These chapters can tend to be very boring unless you consider the storylines of the various individuals.
Esau’s brother stole his blessing and robbed him of his father’s inheritance. Yet, years later, these brothers reconciled their relationship. At that point, Esau had a choice to make – either to journey with his brother and consider trusting in the God who had clearly changed Jacob’s heart or go their separate ways once again. He chose option two and did not let the evidence of God's grace through Jacob’s witness disrupt his way of life.
The next time we learn about Esau’s descendants, the Edomites, they were deathly afraid of the nation of Israel (Jacob's family) who had just escaped from Egyptian slavery (Deuteronomy 2:4
). Although aware that God was with Israel, they chose to keep their distance from this movement of the Lord. This remained their posture even as Israel grew in power and influence under the Lord’s leading. Eventually, they grew arrogant and even staged a short lived revolt against Israel (2 Kings 8:20
Generations later, the prophet Jeremiah declared that judgement was coming upon, but not without a provision of grace, “I will bring the calamity of Esau upon him, the time when I punish him…I have stripped Esau bare...yet I will keep your fatherless children alive; and invite your widows to trust in me”
). Through all of that, Esau’s descendants maintained their stubbornness. Therefore, the Lord went on to declare, “I will lay my vengeance upon Edom by the hand of my people Israel…cutting off man and beast and I will make it desolate”
). God revealed his transforming power to Esau’s descendants time and time again, but each they chose not to participate. Eventually, Esau’s legacy was laid to dust.
If you are one who has placed your faith in Jesus, the Lord has placed before you the opportunity to leave a lasting legacy of honor for God's glory. However, much of this legacy is based upon how you cooperate when the Holy Spirit nudges your spirit.
When the Lord prompts you to pray, how do you respond?
When you are prompted to attend Sunday morning worship, read Scripture or engage in a real spiritual conversation, what is your attitude?
When God's powerful grace is unveiled before you, do you long to be transformed by it?
Small decisions of faithfulness lead us towards a fruitful legacy. Repetitive decisions to remain unchanged by the Lord lead us towards a legacy of desolation.
As summer approaches, I encourage you to consider how you are responding to the various ways the Lord is moving around you and among the saints at First Mennonite Church. Hope of a lasting, fruitful legacy is found by walking with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. May you continued to be moved and transformed by the grace of our Lord.