Sunday, 6th September 10.30 am Order of Service

WELCOME

HYMN Speak, O Lord. (Getty & Townend)

1 Speak O Lord, as we come to you

to receive the food of your holy word.

Take your truth, plant it deep in us;

shape and fashion us in your likeness,

that the light of Christ might be seen today

in our acts of love and our deeds of faith.

Speak, O Lord, and fulfil in us

all your purposes, for your glory.

2 Teach us, Lord, full obedience,

holy reverence, true humility.

Test our thoughts and our attitudes

in the radiance of your purity.

Cause our faith to rise, cause our eyes to see

your majestic love and authority.

Words of power that can never fail;

let their truth prevail over unbelief.

3 Speak, O Lord, and renew our minds;

help us grasp the heights of your plans for us.

Truths unchanged from the dawn of time

that will echo down through eternity.

And by grace we’ll stand on your promises,

and by faith we’ll walk as you walk with us.

Speak, O Lord, till your church is built

as the earth is filled with your glory.

PRAYER

READING GENESIS 25:19-34

19 This is the account of the family line of Abraham’s son Isaac.

Abraham became the father of Isaac, 20 and Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah daughter of Bethuel the Aramean from Paddan Aram and sister of Laban the Aramean.

21 Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was childless. The Lord answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant. 22 The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, “Why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of the Lord.

23 The Lord said to her,

“Two nations are in your womb,
and two peoples from within you will be separated;
one people will be stronger than the other,
and the older will serve the younger.”

24 When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb. 25 The first to come out was red, and his whole body was like a hairy garment; so they named him Esau. 26 After this, his brother came out, with his hand grasping Esau’s heel; so he was named Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when Rebekah gave birth to them.

27 The boys grew up, and Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the open country, while Jacob was content to stay at home among the tents. 28 Isaac, who had a taste for wild game, loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob.

29 Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. 30 He said to Jacob, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!” (That is why he was also called Edom.)

31 Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.”

32 “Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?”

33 But Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob.

34 Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left.

So Esau despised his birthright.

SERMON Genesis 25: 19-34 – Esau sells his birthright

It looks as though Isaac is about to be passed over without so much as a summary of his life. Now we are surprised to discover this – given his supernatural beginnings (21:1-7) and his marvelous Theological education (18:17-19); especially given his faith and obedience when facing death (22:1-19) not to mention God’s providential gift of marriage for him (24:1-67). We have seen that he relied on God (25:20-21) and that he had the blessing of his father, Abraham (26:1-24).

In the light of all that, you might expect an account of Isaac’s life – even a couple of paragraphs – but NO. In this section of Genesis what we find, rather, is an aging Isaac who craves wild game and whose eyes cannot recognise God’s leading (25:28; 26:34-27:46).

He seems stubbornly unwilling to submit to God’s plans – here is a man who in old age departed from faithfulness to God. How sad!

As we read this section together, you will notice that there will be several conflicts – these start in Rebekah’s womb.

What is the story for this morning in this 25th chapter?

Well, we start in Paddan Aram – with this newly married couple. In answer to prayer they are granted twin sons. There is a prophecy before the boys are born that the older will serve the younger brother.

What we discover in these verses is a bunch of rather unsavoury characters: there is the conniving younger brother who, through tough business methods, secures his elder brother’s birthright from him – this younger twin has an immature faith in God;

then there is the older twin – a course hunter with NO faith in God whatsoever;

then there are the parents who both display blatant favouritism. Quite a bunch, eh?

The first scene opens with a prayerful Isaac effectively interceding for his barren wife. By scene 4 the couple are prayerless and not communicating with one another.

That struggle in Rebekah’s womb between her twins sets the pattern for what will follow – the struggles between Jacob and Esau as adults; between Rebekah and Isaac; between Jacob and his wives, and between Jacobs 2 wives; between Jacob and Laban. Isn’t it interesting that one day, this chap Jacob will be called Israel – which means the one who struggles with God (and with man) and who prevails.

Don’t imagine for a minute that you life will be free of struggles!

Meanwhile, back with this childless couple, you would be wrong to imagine that God would immediately come and answer Isaac’s prayer for children. We read that he was 40 years old when he started to pray – and that he was 60 when God opened Rebekah’s womb. Twenty years of prayer! Pretty persistent, don’t you think?

Rebekah’s cry of vs 22 echoes across the centuries: “Why this, I ” – (why is this happening to me)? And she addressed this question to the Lord. She couldn’t understand the tussle going on in her womb.

God then explains to Rebekah that the older of her twins will serve the younger. This cuts right across human conventions – but such are the ways of our God.

And so the twins are born: Esau (“hairy”) and Jacob (“God protects”).

Jacob’s name also sounds a bit like ‘aqab, which means to seize someone by the heel – i.e. to go behind someone – or to betray! Interesting eh?

This struggle is not confined to this section of Genesis – this struggle comes right down to the time of ChristHerod was a descendant of Esau’s and Jesus a descendant of Jacob’s! And that battle on earth – which is but the outward manifestation of a cosmic battle – is being worked out every day of our lives.

Something we should bear in mind as we think of Jacob and Esau is this. For the first 15 years of their lives, their grandfather Abraham lived with them. Surely the old man would have taken both of his grandsons on his knees and spoken to them of God’s promises.

These lads would have had a wonderful Theological education, yet one of the boys was only interested in his immediate gratification, while the other looked forward in godly faith to seeing the promises of God fulfilled in his life.

Esau is described as a skillful hunter – yet you may know that “hunter” is generally an UNfavourable description in the Bible. The reason for this may lie in the fact that the true Israelite, like his God, behaves like a shepherd – not like a hunter.

In verse 34 we read that he despised his birthright. And we know that God hates those who hold His promises in contempt.

Mal 1:3

Esau I have hated, and I have turned his mountains into a wasteland and left his inheritance to the desert jackals

Heb 12:16-17

Esau, … for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. 17 Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. He could bring about no change of mind, though he sought the blessing with tears.

Now that leads us into the mysterious realms of what Malachi says in that first chapter: (vv 2-3)

“Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” the LORD says. “Yet I have loved Jacob,but Esau I have hated,

Paul refers to these words of God to illustrate one of the great doctrines of the Bible – namely election – nothing to do with electing MPs or the likes.

RO 9:10 Not only that, but Rebekah’s children had one and the same father, our father Isaac. 11 Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad–in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: 12 not by works but by him who calls–she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

RO 9:14 What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! 15 For he says to Moses,

“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,

and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”

RO 9:16 It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.

Arrogant creatures that we are, we want to try to tell God how He should be ordering His universe – and our lives. But all of us will one day come to acknowledge that God’s way is right and true. We may bow the knee to Him now and enter into the joyous service of our heavenly King. Alternatively we will be made to bow the knee to Him and His ways when we die.

Of course this raises questions for us – it would be odd if it did not – but the real issue is what we DO with mystery – do we doubt God – or do we trust God – are we with Esau and his line – or with Jacob and the faithful?

PRAYER

HYMN The Lord is my salvation (Gettys)

1 The grace of God has reached for me,

and pulled me from the raging sea,

and I am safe on this solid ground:

the Lord is my salvation.

2 I will not fear when darkness falls,

His strength will help me scale these walls.

I’ll see the dawn of the rising sun:

The Lord is my salvation

Who is like the Lord our God?

Strong to save, faithful in love.

My debt is paid and the vict’ry won:

The Lord is my salvation.

3 My hope is hidden in the Lord,

He flow’rs each promise of his Word.

When winter fades I know spring will come:

The Lord is my salvation.

4 In times of waiting, times of need,

when I know loss, when I am weak,

I know his grace will renew these days:

The Lord is my salvation.

Refrain

5 And when I reach my final day,

He will not leave me in the grave,

But I will rise, he will call me home:

The Lord is my salvation.

Refrain

Glory be to God the Father,

glory be to God the Son,

glory be to God the Spirit:

The Lord is our salvation.

Glory be to God the Father,

glory be to God the Son,

glory be to God the Spirit:

The Lord is our salvation.

The Lord is our salvation.

The Lord is our salvation.

BENEDICTION

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