In my two previous posts on Isaac and Ishmael, we see that scripture reveals that the representation of the Law (bondage) is personified in Ishmael, and Isaac is the personification of the promise (freedom in Christ).
Ishmael was conceived in an act of good faith by Abram and Sarai, but his mother Hagar, was a slave-woman, who belonged to Sarai, but she obviously was not Sarai, and Abram did not yet understand the ways of God in this matter. He and Sarai acted in accordance with the common ways of the men of their time and culture. Abram believed God, but he had no concept of His ways or thoughts.
Isaac was the promised one, born from the mistress of the household, the free woman. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, from two people, now renamed Abraham and Sarah, who were long past being able to conceive a child in the natural, that is, in terms of conceiving a child, their bodies were dead, figuratively speaking.
Isaac, whose name means laughter, represents life from death. This is looking forward to Jesus Christ, another child conceived supernaturally, who would live,die, and rise from the dead, God the Father having the last laugh.
1Co 15:55 "O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?"
A side note here; for the people who personally knew, or knew of Abraham and Sarah, they would certainly note the difference in the birth circumstances of the two brothers. First and foremost God's name and Word will be glorified in all things. It truly is not about us. It is about what He has done and what He has re-made us to be.
2 I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word.
Therefore we have two sons,with one father, Abraham, the father of faith,(Romans 4:1-14) but each coming from a different mother. We are told that the two mothers represent two covenants,(Galatians 4:21-31). So the covenant of the Law given to Moses, and the new covenant instituted by Christ,(Luke 22:20;Hebrews 9:15) are conceived by the same seed, the seed of Faith, and received in Faith. (See Hebrews 11)
Now comes Jacob and Esau. They too are brothers, but the context of their conception and birth is markedly different.
Like Isaac and Ishmael, they are the fruit of the seed of one man, Isaac, the son of promise. Unlike Isaac and Ishmael they both have the same mother.
21 And Isaac prayed to the LORD for his wife, because she was barren. And the LORD granted his prayer, and Rebekah his wife conceived.
22 The children struggled together within her, and she said, "If it is thus, why is this happening to me?" So she went to inquire of the LORD.
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."
24 When her days to give birth were completed, behold, there were twins in her womb.
25 The first came out red, all his body like a hairy cloak, so they called his name Esau.
26 Afterward his brother came out with his hand holding Esau's heel, so his name was called Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them.
So we have two brothers(Isaac and Ishmael) born from one seed (faith), and two separate "eggs", one each, in two separate wombs, representing two covenants: and two brothers born from one seed(promise) and two separate eggs, conceived in one womb, representing two nations, Israel and the gentiles,(or "goyim" as the Jews refer to them).
In other words, just as there are two Adams the first and the last; two covenants Law and Promise; two kingdoms,Babylon and the Kingdom of God; there are two distinct people groups or nations, Israel (the chosen from mankind, the elect) and Edom the rest of mankind.
Edom was the name given to Esau after he sold his birthright for a bowl of lentils. Edom and Adam both come from the same word adam meaning red, ruddy,meaning man or mankind. In the same way Jacob's named was changed to Israel,meaning he will rule as God, (referring to the last Adam restoring proper dominion for man in the earth), after he wrestled with God on the river bank.
The importance of this will become clear as we move on in this study.
The apostle Paul refers to this in,
11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called "the uncircumcision" by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands--
12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility
15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace,
16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.
18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.
27 When the boys grew up, Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field, while Jacob was a quiet man, dwelling in tents.
28 Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.
29 Once when Jacob was cooking stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was exhausted.
30 And Esau said to Jacob, "Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am exhausted!" (Therefore his name was called Edom.)
31 Jacob said, "Sell me your birthright now."
32 Esau said, "I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?"
33 Jacob said, "Swear to me now." So he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob.
34 Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.
Several things are seen in this passage.
1. It is obvious that these are two completely different people. The importance of the reference to Jacob dwelling in tents will soon manifest.
2. The name change for Esau to Edom, that I have already referred to. Verse 30 brings new meaning to the saying "you are what you eat".
3. Esau, in a way, also represents the flesh, the natural man. The natural man wants what he wants, when he wants it. The main interest of the natural man,. is preserving his life.
So by giving into the natural inclinations of the flesh, that is saving his own life,(or so he thought)
Esau despised his birthright. The two words in Hebrew that make up the word "despised" suggest that this was a form of self-loathing. Rightly did Jesus say:
24 Then Jesus told his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?
These words that Christ spoke were looking forward to His resurrection and therefore the promise of resurrection for all who are in Christ, foretold by the birth of Isaac and fulfilled in the Lord Jesus. (1 Cor 15)
So in Genesis 25:22-26 we see God's prophetic proclamation of the election of Jacob. In verses 29-34, we have the beginning of the divinely foreknown events which would make that election a reality.
6..........not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel,
7 and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but "Through Isaac shall your offspring be named."
8 This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.
9 For this is what the promise said: "About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son."
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."
13 As it is written, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated."
14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means!
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."
16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.
The birth of Jacob and Esau demonstrate God's calling and election, which are built upon the foundation of His divine mercy and justice.
In verse 13, Paul quotes the prophet:
1 The oracle of the word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi.
2 "I have loved you," says the LORD. But you say, "How have you loved us?" "Is not Esau Jacob's brother?" declares the LORD. "Yet I have loved Jacob
3 but Esau I have hated. I have laid waste his hill country and left his heritage to jackals of the desert."
4 If Edom says, "We are shattered but we will rebuild the ruins," the LORD of hosts says, "They may build, but I will tear down, and they will be called 'the wicked country,' and 'the people with whom the LORD is angry forever.'"
5 Your own eyes shall see this, and you shall say, "Great is the LORD beyond the border of Israel!"
The Lord, speaking through Malachi, is telling the priests and people of Israel that the fact of their divine election in Jacob, whom He loves, proves His love for them. As for Esau/Edom,whom God hated, He says that He will be angry with them FOREVER.
Thanks be to God for the rest of the revelation given to Paul in chapter 9 of Romans.
17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth."
18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. 19 You will say to me then, "Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?"
20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, "Why have you made me like this?"
21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?
22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction,
23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory--
24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?
25 As indeed he says in Hosea, "Those who were not my people I will call 'my people,' and her who was not beloved I will call 'beloved.'"
26 "And in the very place where it was said to them, 'You are not my people,' there they will be called 'sons of the living God.'"
27 And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: "Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved,
28 for the Lord will carry out his sentence upon the earth fully and without delay."
29 And as Isaiah predicted, "If the Lord of hosts had not left us offspring, we would have been like Sodom and become like Gomorrah."
30 What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith;
31 but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law.
32 Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone,
33 as it is written, "Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame."
God had/has a plan for the salvation of the remnant of all mankind, Israel and Edom. I plan on addressing that in the next installment of this study.
Soli Deo Gloria