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Wednesday in the Word

Second Baptist Church

July 27, 2016

Genesis 36:1:40

  1. For the most part, I usually gloss over a chapter like this, but there is something for us to see. Esau, the man whose generations are listed here, was a most successful man by worldly standards. He was the founder of a dynasty and a nation, the father of rulers and kings. He enjoyed financial prosperity. He had good-looking women in his harem. He had political power. He was a famous man in his time and for hundreds of years after. And he was a nice guy, the kind who would make a great neighbor or friend. But there is nothing about his faith or his children's faith mentioned in his life. This chapter is in the Bible for at least three reasons. First, to record the fulfillment of God's promises to Esau. Despite the fact that Esau forfeited his birthright and blessing, God ensured that he would have his own identity, nation, and family history (17:5-7). God is a faithful God that can be trusted to keep His promises. Second, Moses was writing to people who were about to conquer the land of Canaan. The Edomites, Esau’s descendants, lived on the borders of that land. When Israel had sought to pass over their land in route to Canaan, the Edomite king refused, even though Moses promised to pay for any food or water they consumed (Num. 20:14-21). But God commanded Israel not to provoke Edom and said that He would not give Israel any of their land (Deut. 2:2-5). So Israel needed to know who these people were so that they would treat them as the Lord had commanded. A third reason for this chapter is to make Israel and us consider the outcome of Esau’s choice to marry women who worshipped foreign gods. Esau had earthly success, fame, and power, but we hear nothing about his faith.

  2. Verses 1-5. Esau's turn away from God is seen in that he took his wives from the daughters of Canaan. Esau's grandfather, Abraham, had made his servant swear by the Lord that he would not take a wife for Isaac from the daughters of the Canaanites (24:3). But Esau shrugged off the strong warning of his godly grandfather and chose his wives from the Canaanites (26:34). Later, still lacking spiritual discernment, he took a wife from the descendants of Ishmael (28:9). It's significant that there is no mention of barren wives when it comes to Esau's line. Abraham had God’s promise of many descendants, but his wife Sarah was barren. Isaac had the same promises, but Rebekah could not conceive for the first twenty years of their marriage. Jacob's favored wife, Rachel, was barren for a long time. But Esau's wives bore him five sons and a number of daughters with no trouble. When one looks at the names in this chapter verses the names listed before, we notice the wives have changed their names. Their names now refer to their outer beauty. Basemath (“the perfumed one”) later took on the name Adah (“ornament,” “the adorned one”), as her focus shifted from perfume to jewelry and clothes. Mahalath (“the musical one”) took over as the perfume queen and changed her name to Basemath. Judith (“the praised one”), a young teenager when Esau married her, grew tall and became known as Oholibamah (“tent height,” i.e., “tall, stately”). Basically his wives were very beautiful.

  3. Verses 6-8. Esau moved east because he was too prosperous to stay near Jacob (36:6-8). This took place before Jacob returned. This account sounds a lot like the episode between Abraham and Lot (13:1-13). Esau had begun to settle among his wives’ relations, in Seir, before Jacob came from Padan-aram, but after his father’s death, he now makes the move permanent. Esau had become a very gracious man. At one time he had threatened to kill his brother for his deception, but now when their mutual prosperity necessitated it, he graciously moved out of his brother’s way. it was nice of Esau to be so agreeable. But, sadly, he had no vision for God’s promises to Abraham concerning Canaan. Ever since God called Abraham, He repeatedly emphasized Canaan as the land He would give to Abraham’s descendants. But for Esau, any nice land would do. Esau should have stayed closer. Because Esau had wealth and riches he didn't feel the need to live any closer. His riches had given him a sense of security without God.

  4. Verses 9-31. Notice how there is great mention of various chiefs, rulers and kings. Esau’s family did well for themselves from a worldly point of view, but they did not include God. Eventually the nation would crumble. What can we learn from this? It is not enough to make a name for yourself, to acquire wealth and power. You need something eternal. Don't allow the riches and vanity of this world lead you away from God. Those worldly things will all pass away.

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