Esau was the rebel in the family. He had despised his birthright and hated God. As God's judgment on his sin of selfishness, he lost the blessing of God, and then he turned against his family, just because they wanted him to do God's will.
Against all warnings from his father, Isaac, and his mother, Rebekah, he deliberately married an ungodly woman who was of the people of Ishmael, a people famous for hating God. In fact, Esau took a number of ungodly women to be his wives.
Esau chose ungodly wives deliberately to show his hostility to his parents. Because his heart was not right with God nothing in Esau's life was right. God seems to have let Esau loose to go further and further in the wrong direction. Esau was a lonely, lost soul. He was a prodigal drifting further and further away from God. That's what happens when you turn against God.
But what about Jacob who also had been a very bad boy? Jacob had been spoiled by his mother, Rebekah. He had lied to his father pretending to be Esau to get the blessing of the firstborn. It was not a good start in life and Bible readers would worry that Jacob's life was going to end badly.
But the Bible is full of surprises of what God can do in a sinner's life. Jacob became reformed. Reformed means to change for the better. It is to make deliberate decisions to give up the ways of sin and to serve God rather than rebel against Him.
Because Jacob was blessed by his father, Isaac, he had God's covenant blessing on his life. God was working in Jacob to change him into a godly man. So Jacob became an example of what God can do when He changes hearts and changes lives.
You must rejoice in this because it means that God can change you. If you ask for a new heart and for God's Spirit to dwell in you through the power of the gospel of Christ, He will work miracles of grace in your life. The Lord will change you from being a bitter rebel to become a joyful Christian. Are you interested? Then learn how God dealt very tenderly with Jacob.
Jacob's father, Isaac, insisted that Jacob should not marry a Canaanite for such a wife would corrupt Jacob's heart and turn him away from serving God. Isaac sent Jacob to Padanaram, in the land of Syria, to the family of Bethuel. This was the same plan that Abraham gave his servant when he was to seek a wife for Isaac.
So we see a pattern here. That pattern is a warning and an example to all Bible readers. If you want to live for God and honour God in your life you need to find the right wife or husband. One who loves the Lord and will support you in your commitment to glorify the Lord in all things. Christians, therefore, should only marry committed Christians. Make sure you take careful note of this Bible command for it will set you on the right course when you consider who you may date and who you may plan to marry. That is so important that it can make or break you for the rest of your life.
Jacob, then, set out on his journey from Beersheba, in the south of Israel, to travel northward all the way to the land of Syria, where Isaac and Rebekah’s family lived. While on his long journey the sun began to set so Jacob lay down to sleep on the open ground. He used some stones to make a pillow, and that night God gave him a deep sleep. While he slept, he dreamed about a ladder that reached from the earth all the way into heaven. Angels were going up and down the ladder. In that dream, God spoke to Jacob to give him promises.
God promised that he would give him the land through which he was journeying, the land of Israel. God announced that He was with Jacob to bless him and keep him safe at all times. God also stated that everything God planned for Jacob would work out perfectly according to God's purposes. Then Jacob awoke from his deep sleep. And with that dream in his mind, he became very afraid. He knew God was right there with him. He called the place Bethel, which means, house of God, or God's dwelling place.
God presence and God's message made a powerful impression upon Jacob. He felt that he knew God personally for God met with him. He also felt a strong desire to serve God for the rest of his life. To remember this event and to mark this place he took the stones he had for a pillow to make a pillar. Then he anointed the stones with oil as a token of his heart's desire to make this event holy, or sacred, and that he would never forget that he was the servant of the living and true God, Jehovah.
He also vowed to give God 1/10th of all that God gave to him. That was his tithe.
From these things, we see in real practical ways that God changed Jacob’s heart. It showed in his life that he was serious to serve the Lord and obey Him even with his material blessings. Jacob now knew His God personally. He loved God in his heart and he wanted to obey God with his life.
These three things will come together in your life when you are converted to Christ through the gospel.
The Lord Jesus will teach you to know God. He reveals the Father to you and He leads you to fear God with a genuine family fear.
Then the Lord Jesus will give you a new heart full of love for God so that you want to pray and praise Him. It will be your new desire from a new heart.
Third, the Lord will give you the power to obey God. You will love God’s word, and God’s commandments and you will truly strive to obey God’s will.
That’s what makes a Christian be so different from unsaved worldly people. Christians desire to live for the glory of God so as to enjoy Him forever, while the ungodly live for this rebellious world to enjoy sinful things for a little while.
So, just as Jacob started out badly as a terrible sinner, but was changed in heart and reformed in life, you can be saved too. No matter what sins you have committed, nor how hard your heart has been toward God when you are converted to the Lord Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour you will be changed. Our God is an expert at changing lives.
Will you call on the Lord Jesus to change you? He can make you a new person. He can use your life to glorify Him. There is no other life that will end well. Don’t be an Esau, who lived and died in rebellion to God. Be a Jacob to show forth the power of God to change a terrible sinner into a triumphant Christian. Yes, you can be a Christian too!
Ian Goligher Bible Reading: Genesis Chapter 28