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