By Chris Jones, YBL Small Group Coordinator

Rebekah his wife conceived. 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.  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.”

When her days to give birth were completed, behold, there were twins in her womb. The first came out red, all his body like a hairy cloak, so they called his name Esau. 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. Genesis 25: 21-26

Brothers fight. We’ve all seen it. I have sisters rather than brothers so the natural animosity between brothers has always seemed weird to me, but I’ve never met a set of brothers that didn’t love to pound on each other.

Jacob and Esau were the original fighting brothers. In the passage above we see that even in utero these brothers were duking it out. What’s the very first thing Jacob does upon entering the world? Tries to crush his brother’s heel.

Adulthood did nothing to lessen the aggression. Esau was a good ol’boy; hunting and fishing and loving the outdoors. Jacob was a city slicker staying around the tents (which is what the city consisted of then).

One day Esau is exhausted and famished from hunting all day. He smells something good. Jacob is making some super tasty red lentil stew. Esau wants some. Jacob is happy to offer him a bowl… at the cost of his birthright. For the rest of Esau’s life people call him Edom, which means red, to remind Esau that he gave up everything he had to his conniving little brother for nothing more than a bowl of red soup.

You probably know the rest of the story (hint: their mom favored Jacob and she had no problem selling her elder son down the river). What you may or may not know is that Jacob’s family banished Esau’s family from the land. Esau’s family had to flee to some craggy, desolate mountains in the southeast. What did they name their new home? Edom.

For several hundred years the Edomites and Israelites really really hated each other. During the exodus the Edomites would not let the Israelites pass through Edom, forcing Moses and company to go all around the world to get where they were going.

When the Babylonians sacked Judah (all that was left of Israel) in 586 BC, not only did the Edomites refuse to help their brothers, but they came in after the Babylonians and looted!

At that point God had seen enough. He sent a prophet named Obadiah to pronounce sentence on Edom:

Thus says the Lord God concerning Edom:

“Behold, I will make you small among the nations;
    you shall be utterly despised.

Will I not on that day, declares the Lord,
    destroy the wise men out of Edom,
    and understanding out of Mount Esau?
 And your mighty men shall be dismayed, O Teman,
    so that every man from Mount Esau will be cut off by slaughter.” Obadiah vs. 1, 2, 8 – 9.

God then makes clear the reason for His judgement:

Because of the violence done to your brother Jacob,
    shame shall cover you,
    and you shall be cut off forever. Obadiah vs. 10

I hope this unnerves you. After all, Jacob was no better than Esau! Where is the judgement on that manipulative little schemer Jacob? Why is God on the side of Jacob against Esau when both sides are patently terrible?

I don’t know. Neither do you. But we do know that the ONLY difference between Jacob and Esau was that one had God and the other did not.

What does that mean? It means that the only true difference between two people is whether they have God or not. Not their wealth. Or their moral turpitude. Or the good deeds they do or don’t do. It’s whether they have God.

Do you have God? Have you taken Him up on His offer to love you into shalom? If not, I recommend you do some business with the Lord right now. If his love is big enough for a sorry trickster like Jacob, it’s big enough for you.

One last thing. Obadiah ends with this verse:

Saviors shall go up to Mount Zion to rule Mount Esau, and the kingdom shall be the Lord’s. Obadiah vs. 21

That parallels Revelation 11:15, Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.”

I’m not the singer my wife is, but I grew up singing in church choirs and I will never forget singing that last line. It’s (for me anyway) the climax of the Hallelujah Chorus.

If you’ve ever sung that piece or seen it performed, the hair on your arms is probably standing up right now. Handel created an amazing experience when he set that scripture to that thrilling music. It overwhelms every sense in your body and takes you to the kind of place only music can take you.

It’s a glimpse of another world. One where everything bad has come untrue and perfect love has driven out all our fear. It is a taste of everything being made right.

In other words, it is the guaranteed future of every person who is in Christ.