Genesis 26:34-28 Covenantal Succession.

Esau sealed his apostasy when he married women who served other gods (26:34). Like other covenantal parents before and after, “they were a grief to Isaac and Rebekah” (v. 35). Nevertheless, Isaac himself was wedded to a view of the covenant where he believed he was bound to pass on his blessing to Esau as his firstborn, despite the fact that he sold his birthright and then sealed this rebellion by marrying women of another God. This would necessitate the need for Rebekah and Jacob to deceive Isaac, who himself was clouded by his love for Esau, in effect putting loyalty to him before the LORD. Children of covenant parents are to be regarded as children of promise until they prove otherwise, and Esau had proven otherwise.

We should not lose sight of the fact that Rebekah was so committed to the LORD that she was willing to be cursed to do the right thing (v. 13). It is also surprising that Esau went to such length to seek the blessing, when he despised his birthright earlier for a bowl of stew (v. 36 Cf. 25:29-34). Jacob was blessed, but Esau was also, but evidently he did not like the idea of first having to serve his brother, “so Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father blessed him, and Esau said in his heart, ‘The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then I will kill my brother Jacob’” (v. 41). Rebekah then sends Isaac to his uncle Laban, but she also is weary with the thought that Jacob might not marry a covenant woman (vv. 42-46).

Isaac agreed with Rebekah, and again blessed Jacob and charged him not to do like his brother and take a wife from the daughters of Caanan, but in going to Laban, he would also seek out a proven daughter of the covenant (28:1-2). Now Jacob’s blessing to Isaac was specifically connected to the covenant made with Abraham (vv. 3-4). This was also an exercise of the faith of Rebekah. Out of hate Esau then added more pagan wives to those whom he had already taken (vv. 6-9). Stepping out in obedient faith, Jacob was then met by the LORD of the covenant in a dream, which included a ladder “set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it” (v. 12).

Jacob was in the Glory-Presence of God, the place where the prophets heard from the LORD in His council, and here the LORD of the covenant reiterated the promises of the covenant. In fact, Jacob calls what he saw in his dream was “none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven” (v. 17)! For this reason he erected an altar, anointed it with oil, and called that place Bethel-the house of God. This is the core promise of the covenant-He our God and we His people, by grace through faith. Here Jacob vowed to follow the LORD, and to tithe to Him a tenth of all that God would give him (vv. 18-22). The covenant is thus about God’s oath to us first, then of our oath to Him.

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