Nothing is unnecessary or random in the story of Esau’s descendants. God is present between the lines. And God’s love and providential care pictured in Esau’s history is a perpetual reminder, among other things, of his care and competence in managing your history as well. How wonderful, how marvelous is the love of the Savior even for the fallen sons of Adam, the Esau’s of this world—which includes you.
The Journey // Focus: Genesis 36:1, 20, 31
This is the account of the descendants of Esau (also known as Edom). …These are the names of the tribes that descended from Seir the Horite. They lived in the land of Edom: Lotan, Shobal, Zibeon, Anah, Dishon, Ezer, and Dishan. …These are the kings who ruled in the land of Edom before any king ruled over the Israelites. …These are the names of the leaders of the clans descended from Esau, who lived in the places named for them.
Genealogies—argh, thar drivin’ me nuts!
As I mentioned in the genealogical reading from Genesis 10:1, reading the Biblical genealogies is akin to reading from the phone book: an endless list of meaningless names that we’re tempted to skip past. In that case, we were reading about the history that would lead to the man, Abraham, who would become the father of many nations, the patriarch of the Hebrew nation (Romans 4:1), and the spiritual father of all who place faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 411). In this case, this is the genealogy of the brother of Jacob, Esau, who sold his birthright, who did not factor into God’s plan for the ages as Jacob did. Reading this endless list of names is not only akin to reading from the phonebook, it is like trying to read it in Russian.
Yet as I said, every name in human history, recorded or not, represents a story, and every person is significant in the history of God’s saving work and his redemptive plan for the ages. People matter to God—not only the Jacob’s of this world, but so too the Esau’s. And God desires to bless them wherever they live on planet earth and in whatever epoch of time they have lived.
You see, we should care about Esau and his descendants, the Edomites, because they were offspring of Abraham, whom God promised to multiply and make a blessing to the entire earth.
The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you. (Genesis 12:1-3)
Because Esau was the son of Isaac and the grandson of Abraham, God put his blessing upon him—he bore many sons—and not only blessing, but honor, for Esau’s sons became leaders of men:
These are the kings who ruled in the land of Edom before any king ruled over the Israelites. (Genesis 331)
Ultimately, Edom will not factor into the Biblical narrative as God focuses his plan for the redemption of the earth through Jacob’s line, the children of Israel, but this account does show us yet again that God performs his promises, in this case, that indeed Abraham would become the father of many nations. God fulfilled his word to Rebekah, the mother of the twin brothers, Esau and Jacob, that two nations were in her womb. (Genesis 25:23) And God did bring to pass the divine blessing of Isaac to Esau (Genesis 27:39-40), that he would dwell “in the fatness of the earth” and break free from the domination of his brother. (RSV)
Nothing is unnecessary or random in this story. God is present here. And God’s love and providential care is pictured in Esau’s history, as a reminder, among other reasons, of God’s care and competence in managing your history as well. How wonderful, how marvelous is the love of the Savior even for the fallen sons of Adam, the Esau’s of this world—and that is me, and that is you.
God keeps every single promise. Never forget that.