Unification Sermons and Talks

by Reverend Joy Pople

Jacob And Esau

Jacob and his brother
Genesis 25:19 - 26:5

Isaac was forty years old when Rebekah became his wife. They lived together for twenty years, but no child was born to them. Isaac prayed that God would give them a child, and finally Rebekah became pregnant.

Rebekah felt two babies struggling with each other inside her, and she prayed to the Lord, asking to understand why this was happening. God told her, "Two nations are inside you, and two kinds of people will come from you, one stronger than the other. The older brother will serve the younger brother."

When the children were born, the first baby was covered with red hair. They called him Esau. Then his twin brother was born, coming out holding onto Esau’s heel. They called him Jacob.

Esau and Jacob grew up. Although they were twins, they were very different from each other. Esau was a clever hunter and loved to spend time out in the fields. Jacob, on the other hand, was a quiet person and stayed around the tents. Isaac loved Esau, because he enjoyed eating the meat which Esau found and cooked for him. Rebekah loved Jacob.

One day Jacob was cooking some stew when Esau returned home completely tired out from hunting. He said to Jacob, "Feed me, please, some of that red stuff. I’m about to faint."

"Sell me your birthright," Jacob replied, thinking quickly. In those times, the oldest son in the family received the birthright. This meant that when his father died, he got twice as much of his family’s wealth as any of his brothers. It also meant that his family would respect his opinion and accept his leadership.

"I’m about to die!" Esau answered. "What use is a birthright to me?"

"Swear today that the birthright is mine," Jacob insisted.

Esau agreed. Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and the lentil stew. Esau ate, drank, got up, and went away. He didn’t care about the birthright. He didn’t think about the future; he just thought about how to get what he wanted now.

Jacob and his parents
Genesis 27:1 - 28:9

Isaac called Esau to him one day and said, "Now I am old, and I do not know when I will die. Please take your bow and arrow and go out to the field and kill a deer. Fix me my favorite food and bring it to me to eat. I want to give you the blessing before I die." Esau went out hunting.

When a father was about to die, he gave his blessing, or his spiritual legacy, to his son. Rebekah heard what Isaac said to Esau. She remembered that God had told her that the older son would serve the younger one. Eve had betrayed father and son (God and Adam) when she fell. In Eve's place, Rebekah wanted to make sure that a father and son fulfilled God's will.

Rebekah told Jacob that Isaac was planning to give the blessing. "Go out to the flock and get me two young goats," Rebekah told Jacob. "I will prepare the meat the way your father likes it. Then you can take it to your father and give it to him to eat, so he can bless you."

Isaac was blind, and he depended on his hearing, touch, smell and taste to know what was going on. "Esau is hairy and my skin is smooth," Jacob objected. "My father will feel my skin." Rebekah prepared the meat, put Esau’s clothes on Jacob, and tied goat skins on his hands and neck. Then she placed the meat and bread in Jacob’s hands.

Jacob went to Isaac and said, "Here I am."

"Who are you?" his father asked.

"I am Esau, your first son. I have done what you told me. Get up now and eat the meat, so you can give me the blessing."

Isaac asked him to come closer so he could feel him. Jacob went up to him, and Isaac felt him. "The voice is Jacob’s, but the hands are Esau’s," Isaac said. He ate what Jacob had brought. Isaac asked his son to kiss him. Esau's clothes, which Jacob was wearing, smelled of the outdoors. "The smell of my son is like the smell of the field which the Lord has blessed," Isaac said.

Then Isaac blessed Jacob with the blessings of heaven and earth. He told him that he would have power over his brothers and over nations. He called upon God to be a friend to all Jacob's friends and an enemy to all his enemies.

When Isaac finished giving the blessing, Jacob left. Right then Esau came back from hunting with the meat he had prepared. "Here I am with the meat, Father," Esau came in and said. "Sit up and eat it, so you can bless me."

"Who are you?" Isaac asked.

"I am your first-born son, Esau," he answered.

Isaac began to shake. "Where is the one who brought me the meat which I ate before you came? I blessed him, and the blessing cannot be taken away."

When Esau heard these words, he began to cry bitterly: "Bless me too, oh my father."

"Your brother came and tricked me. He carried away your blessing."

"Don’t you have one blessing left for me?" Esau cried.

Isaac answered: "You will live by the sword. You will serve your brother for some time, but finally you will be free."

Esau hated Jacob because his father had given him the blessing. In his heart he said, "My father will soon be gone, and then I will kill Jacob."

Someone told Rebekah what Esau was thinking. She called Jacob and told him, "Your brother Esau comforts himself by planning to kill you. Go visit my brother Laban in Haran. Stay there until your brother’s anger goes away and he forgets what you have done. Then I will send for you."

Jacob got the blessing, but he then had to run for his life. He would have to work hard for twenty years to make the promises come true.

God meets Jacob
Genesis 28:10-22

Jacob headed towards Haran. It was a lonely trip. When the sun set, he found a stone to use for a pillow and he lay down to sleep. While he slept he had a dream.

In his dream he saw a stairway reaching from earth to heaven, and angels were going up and down the stairway. At the top stood the Lord.

"I am the Lord God of Abraham your father, and the God of Isaac. I will give to you and your descendants the land you are lying on. Your seed shall be like the dust of the earth, spreading out to the west and the east, to the north and the south. In you and in your seed shall all of the families of the earth be blessed." God also promised to be with Jacob and protect him wherever he went. "I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I carry out these words."

Jacob woke up and said, "Surely the Lord is in this place, and I didn’t know it. This is the house of God. This is the gate of heaven." Jacob got up early in the morning. He took the stone that he had used for a pillow and set it up as a pillar. He poured oil on it and called the place Bethel, meaning the house of God.

He made a promise: "If God will be with me and protect me, if he gives me food to eat and clothes to wear, and if I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God. This stone which I have made into a pillar shall be God’s house, and I will give back to God one tenth of everything I have."

Jacob and his wives
Genesis 29:1 - 31:16

Jacob continued traveling. He came to a well with three flocks of sheep around it, and he asked the shepherds where they were from. When they answered Haran, he asked if they knew Laban. They did, and they said that Laban’s daughter Rachel was bringing sheep to the well.

The well was covered with a large stone. Jacob saw his opportunity and rolled the stone away from the well and watered his uncle's sheep. Then Jacob greeted Rachel with tears. He told Rachel that he was the son of Rebekah, her aunt. Rachel ran back and told her father.

When Laban heard the news, he hurried to meet his nephew, embraced him, and brought him to his house. "You are my flesh and bone," he told Jacob. Jacob stayed there for a month, and then Laban asked him: "You are my relative; what wages do you want for serving me?"

Laban had two daughters, Leah and Rachel. Leah’s eyes had no sparkle in them, but Rachel was beautiful. Jacob loved Rachel and said, "I will serve you for seven years in return for Rachel, your younger daughter."

"It’s better for her to marry you than another man," Laban answered. "Stay here with me."

For seven years Jacob worked as a servant so he could marry Rachel, and they seemed like just a few days to him, because he loved her so much.

When the seven years were over, Jacob reminded Laban of his promise. Laban held a wedding feast and invited the people from around the area. During the wedding feast, the bride's face was covered. That night, Laban sent Leah, instead of Rachel, to Jacob’s tent. In the morning, Jacob realized that he had married Leah. "What have you done to me?" he asked his uncle. "Didn’t we agree that I would serve you in return for Rachel? Why did you trick me?"

"In our country," Laban answered, "the younger daughter cannot get married before the older one." Laban knew that Jacob understood the importance of the position of the first-born child. Then Laban added, "If you serve me for seven more years, you can have Rachel too."

Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah. God had pity on Leah, who was not favored by her husband, and she gave birth to four children, Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah.

Then Jacob’s family life became complicated. Rachel, who had no children, was jealous of Leah. Rachel thought that if her servant had children, she could claim them as her own. So Rachel gave Jacob her maid, Bilhah, as a concubine, and she had two sons, Dan and Naphtali. Then Leah gave Jacob her maid, Zilpah, as a concubine, and she also had two sons: Gad and Asher. Leah eventually gave birth to two more sons, Issachar and Zebulun, and a daughter, Dinah. Eventually, God answered Rachel’s prayers, and she gave birth to a son, Joseph. Years later, Rachel would have one more child, a son named Benjamin. From these twelve sons of Jacob would come the twelve tribes of Israel.

When Joseph was born, Jacob talked to Laban about returning to his home country. Through all these years, he never forgot his family. He wanted to go back and make peace with his brother Esau. However, Laban did not want to let his son-in-law go. Since Jacob came to live with him, Laban’s flocks and herds had multiplied. Laban realized that God had been blessing him because of Jacob. He asked Jacob what wages he wanted for staying on to work for him.

Jacob agreed to continue working for Laban in return for all the spotted goats and dark-colored sheep in his flocks. Jacob had a plan that resulted in many spotted and dark-colored animals being born. Soon there were lots of them, and they were healthier and stronger than the light-colored animals. Laban was not pleased. He tricked Jacob and changed his wages ten times. Still, Jacob’s flocks kept growing.

After six years God said to Jacob, "Return to the land of your father, and I will be with you." Jacob called Rachel and Leah to come out to the field with him. He said to them, "Your father’s attitude toward me has changed, but the God of my father has been with me. You know how hard I have worked for your father. He tricked me and changed my wages ten times, but God did not let him harm me." Then he announced: "In a dream God told me to leave this country and return to the land where I was born." Rachel and Leah said that they were willing to go with their husband.

Jacob and his father-in-law
Genesis 31:17 - 55

One day while Laban was away shearing his sheep, Jacob put his children and his wives on camels, gathered all his flocks and his belongings, and started out for Canaan. Rachel stole her father’s household gods and took them with her.

Jacob didn’t tell Laban that he was leaving, and Laban didn’t learn about it until three days later. Taking several relatives with him, Laban traveled quickly for seven days, and he caught up with Jacob's family at a mountain.

That night God appeared to Laban in a dream and warned him: "Be careful what you say to Jacob."

The next morning Laban told his son-in-law: "What have you done? You sneaked away from me. You carried my daughters off like prisoners captured in a battle. Why didn’t you tell me you were going, so we could have a goodbye party? Why didn’t you let me kiss my grandchildren goodbye? I understand that you want to go back to your childhood home, but why have you stolen my household gods? I could hurt you, but the God of your father spoke to me last night and told me to be careful what I do."

"I left like this because I was afraid you would take your daughters away from me," Jacob answered. "If you find a single thing we have stolen from you, I will give it back." (He did not know that Rachel had taken the household gods.)

Laban searched all the tents. Rachel had stuffed the idols into her saddle bag and was sitting on them. "Forgive me for not getting up," she told her father. "I’m pregnant."

For many years Jacob had worked for his uncle without complaining. Now he got angry: "You came chasing me as if I were a criminal. Twenty years I have been with you. I took care of your ewes and nanny goats, and they gave birth to healthy young animals. I never ate one of your rams. When any of your animals were attacked and carried off by wild beasts, I took the loss. You made me pay for every animal that was stolen, day or night. You changed my wages ten times. But God has seen how much I suffered, and that is why He appeared to you last night."

Laban thought things over and looked around at his daughters and grandchildren. He had a change of heart. Finally he said, "Let’s make an agreement to be at peace."

Jacob and his men made a pile of stones as a record of their agreement. Then Jacob and Laban ate a meal together. "May God watch over us as we separate," Laban said. Laban kissed his daughters and grandchildren and blessed them. Then he returned home.

An angel meets Jacob
Genesis 32

Jacob continued on his trip, and the angels of God came to meet him. Jacob sent messengers with greetings for Esau, who was living to the southeast of Canaan. "Tell Esau that his servant Jacob has been living with Laban and is coming back with many oxen, donkeys, flocks and servants. He hopes you will welcome him." The messengers returned with the news that Esau was coming to meet him and bringing along four hundred men.

Jacob became upset and afraid. He was bringing a family, not a war party. Jacob divided the people and animals into two groups, hoping that if Esau attacked one group, the other would be able to escape.

Then Jacob prayed, "Oh God of my grandfather Abraham and my father Isaac, you told me to return to my country and my relatives. I left home alone, crossing the river with just my staff for support, and now I am returning with two bands of people. O Lord, deliver me from my brother Esau. You promised to multiply my descendants like the sands of the sea."

Jacob spent the night preparing gifts of animals for his brother. He put servants in charge of each group of animals and told them to give Esau this message when they met him: "These animals are a present from your servant Jacob for his master Esau. He is coming right behind us."

That night an angel came and wrestled with Jacob. They fought until dawn. When the angel saw that he could not gain the victory over Jacob, he touched Jacob’s hip and knocked it out of joint. "Let me go," the angel said. "The day is dawning."

"I will not let you go until you bless me," Jacob answered.

"What is your name?" the angel asked.

"Jacob," was the answer.

"You will no longer be called Jacob. Your name is now Israel: one who has power with God. You have struggled with God and with men, and you have won the victory."

Jacob had spent twenty years serving an uncle who kept tricking him. He was returning home with a large family and many belongings. He had overcome the angel. He was ready to give everything to his brother Esau in order to make unity in heart.

Jacob and Esau reunite
Genesis 33 - 35

Jacob got up and went to meet Esau, walking with a limp. Jacob saw Esau coming towards him with four hundred men. Jacob divided his family into four groups. Then Jacob walked towards his brother, bowing to the ground seven times.

Esau ran to meet him. Esau hugged Jacob and kissed him. Both of them began to cry. Esau looked up at the women and children. "Who are the people with you?" he asked.

"These are the children whom God in His kindness has given to me," Jacob answered.

"What did all those groups of animals mean?" Esau asked.

"They are gifts for you," answered Jacob.

"My brother, I have enough animals," Esau replied. "Please keep what you have."

Jacob said, "No. Please accept them. To see your face is like seeing the face of God. I’m giving them to you because God has been kind to me. I have enough." Jacob understood that the blessings he had received were meant to be offered up totally to his brother. Esau’s heart was changed by Jacob’s gifts and his humble, loving attitude.

Esau moved back to Edom, south of the Dead Sea, and Jacob moved into Canaan. God told Jacob to go to Bethel, the place where he first met God. Jacob told his family to wash themselves and put on clean clothes. Then he buried their household gods under a tree and traveled to Bethel. There God spoke to Jacob and called him Israel. God repeated the blessings he had promised twenty years earlier.

Rachel died while giving birth to Jacob’s twelfth son, Benjamin. She was buried at Bethlehem. Jacob reached the home of his father Isaac. When Isaac died, and Esau and Jacob buried him in the cave with Abraham and Sarah.

Jacob was able to love Esau, who had been like an enemy. Esau’s heart was changed by the way Jacob served and loved him, and he was able to love Jacob. Their unity as brothers opened the way of true love for the first time and prepared the way for the Messiah to come. Finally God could connect with two brothers in the realms of heart.

Before the Messiah could come, a nation had to be prepared to receive him. Jacob's children and grandchildren would go to Egypt, where they would go through many difficulties before returning to Canaan to build the nation that could receive the Messiah.

Joy Pople (pople@servtech.com) wrote this Bible story from the standpoint of the Divine Principle.

Editor's note:

Rebecca's message from God is often overlooked in the traditional interpretation of this recorded event in history. It is often felt that Jacob, a trickster from the beginning, cunningly tricked his brother and father. Reading carefully though, we see that Rebecca, acting on her communications with God, played a role in at least one, if not both of the events in question.

In the final analysis, not only did Rebecca help father and son to restore their relationship, but her relationship with her Husband (Adam / Isaac) and Children (Cain and Abel / Jacob and Esau), whom she did not betray as Eve did by her actions. (she must have been a great mother!)

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