After Our Weaknesses Are Revealed

Physically, I know how to recover from a joint injury. The acronym RICE is the standard protocol for sprains to more serious injuries: rest, ice, compression, and elevation.

Some injuries take a longer time to heal than expected, though.

Case in point, I tore my right ankle ligament back in 2018. Thankfully, the tear did not require surgery.

Yet, even now, in 2023, I still struggle with pain and mild swelling if I attempt to do over fifteen minutes of walking consecutively. 

My goal for 2023 is to shore up this weakness in my ankle so that I can walk for thirty minutes consecutively by the time 2024 has dawned. 

But how do we recover from other weaknesses, like selfishness?

Last week’s post looked at the early days of Esau from Genesis 25-27.

Esau’s character revealed a weakness of selfishness.

First, in the womb, he struggled with his twin brother, Jacob. (Gen 25:22-23)

Second, when he was older, he sold his birthright to his twin brother Jacob because he was impatient to be fed after coming in from the field. Scripture says Esau was famished, but in verse thirty-four Esau despised his birthright by selling it for a bowl of stew. (Gen 25:29-34)

The third example of Esau’s selfishness comes after his brother Jacob wrongs him by going along with their mother, Rebekah’s scheme for stealing a blessing Esau expected to receive from their father Isaac. (Gen 27:1-29)

Rebekah and Jacob’s scheming for Isaac’s blessing was indeed wrong. Yet Esau’s solution was to hate, intending to kill Jacob once their father Isaac had passed. Esau vocalized this plan to someone in the household because his mother Rebekah finds out and informs Jacob. (Gen 27:41-42)

Rebekah gives Jacob the following instructions:

43 Now therefore, my son, obey my voice. Arise, flee to Laban my brother in Haran 44 and stay with him a while, until your brother’s fury turns away— 45 until your brother’s anger turns away from you, and he forgets what you have done to him. Then I will send and bring you from there. Why should I be bereft of you both in one day?” [1]

What are the keys to resolving Esau’s anger according to Rebekah?

Is Rebekah only protecting Jacob at this point? Why or why not?

Rebekah brings Isaac into a plan to send Jacob away to get a wife from Haran to ensure Jacob will not follow in Esau’s steps of marrying a Hittite. Isaac agrees and even extends the covenant blessing from his own father, Abraham, over to Jacob. (Gen 27:46-28:5).

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, “You must not take a wife from the Canaanite women,” 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, Esau went to Ishmael and took as his wife, besides the wives he had, Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, the sister of Nebaioth. [2]

Why does Esau take a third wife?

Who is Ishmael? (See Gen 25:12-18)

Do you think Esau’s action to marry an Ishmaelite pleased Isaac? Why or why not?

Why is there no mention of pleasing Esau’s mother? What does this reveal about Esau? Rebekah? God?

Twenty years after Jacob departed for Paddan-aram, Jacob sends the following message to Esau:

And Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother in the land of Seir, the country of Edom, instructing them, “Thus you shall say to my lord Esau: Thus says your servant Jacob, ‘I have sojourned with Laban and stayed until now. I have oxen, donkeys, flocks, male servants, and female servants. I have sent to tell my lord, in order that I may find favor in your sight.’ ” [3]

Instead of sending a response through a messenger to Jacob, Esau set out to meet Jacob in person with four hundred men in tow. (Gen 32:6)

Jacob’s response to Esau’s action assumed the worst. Jacob prays to the Lord to be saved from the hand of his brother Esau, claiming the promise of prosperity and many descendants the Lord first gave to Abraham, Isaac, and then also Jacob. (Gen 32:7-12)

Hoping to pacify Esau, Jacob organized a series of gifts including goats, rams, camels, cows, bulls, and donkeys to go ahead toward Esau. (Gen 32:13-21)

Once Jacob finally sees Esau and the four hundred men approaching, Jacob goes before his women and children, bowing seven times toward Esau. (Gen 33:1-3)

But Esau ran to meet him and embraced him and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept.[4]

After being introduced to Jacob’s wives and children, Esau and Jacob make further amends.

Esau said, “What do you mean by all this company that I met?” Jacob answered, “To find favor in the sight of my lord.” But Esau said, “I have enough, my brother; keep what you have for yourself.” 10 Jacob said, “No, please, if I have found favor in your sight, then accept my present from my hand. For I have seen your face, which is like seeing the face of God, and you have accepted me. 11 Please accept my blessing that is brought to you, because God has dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough.” Thus, he urged him, and he took it. [5]

How has Esau’s character changed after twenty years apart from the brother he hated?

Did the gifts Jacob presented play a part in this change? Why or why not?

Later, we learn that Esau and Jacob settled apart from one another because their possessions were too great for them to remain together. (Gen 36:7) Most of Gen 36 is a genealogy of Esau’s offspring, the Edomites.

Review again the answer God gave Rebekah when she asked why these two boys were struggling in her womb:

23 And the Lord said to her,
       “Two nations are in your womb,
and two peoples from within you shall be divided;
       the one shall be stronger than the other,
the older shall serve the younger.” [6]

Our focus last week and this week has been mainly on Esau, a supporting character in scripture. Esau had weaknesses. Much of what scripture shared about Esau revealed his weaknesses. But, in the end, we learn Esau forgave his brother Jacob and was also blessed by God with material possessions and abundant offspring.

  • Esau sold his culturally expected birthright for a bowl of stew to satisfy his need for instant gratification. Scripture is clear this was wrong of Esau to do.
  • Esau then married not one but two Hittite women with no consideration other than his own desire for the two women. This selfishness generated bitterness between him and his parents.
  • Esau’s mother and brother schemed him out of his father’s blessing, but Esau consoled himself, intending to murder his brother once Isaac had passed.

But with time and distance, Esau’s character changed. By the time he learns his brother is returning, he is ready to embrace and forgive Jacob. Esau finally accepted his assignment from God before his birth.

10 And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— 12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” [7]

Have you ever considered that your weaknesses, whatever they may be, are part of how God designed you?

Once we realize our own weaknesses, our responsibility is to seek God’s intention for these weaknesses that He gave us.

In the words of Paul, when he questioned God about his own weakness, God replied,

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.[8]

How has God helped you see His power is made perfect in weakness?

What else did you learn by studying the supporting character Esau?

Share in the comments a verse that encourages you when you struggle with your weaknesses.


Barbara Lynn

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ge 27:43–45.

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ge 28:6–9.

[3] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ge 32:3–5.

[4] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ge 33:4.

[5] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ge 33:7–11.

[6] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ge 25:23.

[7] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ro 9:10–12.

[8] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), 2 Co 12:9.

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