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Christmas is of the Jews (Christmas Foundations in Genesis) December 14, 2008

Posted by roberttalley in Christmas, Genesis, Isaac, Jacob, Religion, Sermons.


Genesis 28:10-22

As we continue to look at the foundations of Christmas found in Genesis, we should remind ourselves that if there had been no Jewish nation, there would be no Christmas. Our Scriptures today explore some of the characters who played a major role in the founding of the Jewish nation and how God’s promises to them led to the Christ of Christmas.


God chose the Jews according to His mercy. It was God who decided that Jacob would continue the promised seed instead of the older brother, Esau, as was the custom of that day (Compare Genesis 25:19-28 with Romans 9:10-15). One thing should be made clear about this passage. It does not say that God chose Esau to go to hell and Jacob to go to heaven. The choosing here involved the promises of God to Abraham and His descendants. In fact, there is evidence that Esau may have eventually reconciled himself with his rejection by God (Genesis 33:1-16 and 35:29).


Jacob and not Esau valued the promises to Abraham and Isaac (Genesis 25:29-34 with Hebrews 12:16).


Everyone in this family knew about the promises. Everyone also knew of the promise that God had made to Rebekah while these two boys were still in her womb. Not everyone, however, valued these promises. Esau came in from hunting but he had no success and was hungry. Jacob his brother had something akin to a thin oatmeal soup cooking. Esau asked for some and Jacob, knowing his brother, offered a trade. “Give me your birthright as the oldest son and I will let you have something to eat.”


The sin of Esau was valuing the temporary benefits of the physical over the eternal benefits of the spiritual. There is nothing wrong with oatmeal. There is nothing specifically wrong with spontaneity. There is nothing wrong with many types of momentary pleasure. The writer of Hebrews, however, identifies those, who exalt the physical over the spiritual in the same way that Esau did, as fornicators and profane persons, that is, ungodly.


Jacob made a lot of foolish decisions in his life. What made him different from Esau was not that he made fewer foolish decisions than Esau but rather that he valued the promises of God above the things of this world (Genesis 32:24-32).


God showed mercy to Jacob and justice to Esau (Genesis 27).

Isaac intended to bless Esau (Genesis 27:1-4). We know from Genesis 25 that Isaac loved Esau more than he did Jacob and we also know why. Esau was a skilled hunter and there was nothing that Isaac liked more than fresh game to eat. This father and son shared a special bond. Then there was Jacob. Jacob preferred to stay home instead of spending days on a hunt. He was satisfied with milk and cheese and yogurt and maybe roasted lamb on holidays. That was what his father, Isaac, had known all his life. There was no excitement there. No spontaneity. There is nothing wrong with being a homebody but that quality did not endear Jacob to his father. Jacob was a mild man. He was a good boy, we might would say today. He was not a troublemaker. Although we know Jacob as a conniver, it does not appear he began that way. He might have been boring but he was a good son. That was not good enough for Isaac.

Isaac is now getting old. He knows that the time of his death could come at any moment. He also knows that Esau sold his birthright to Jacob. Now the birthright, generally speaking, was the property of the father passing down to the oldest son but in Isaac’s case, he got a lot more than just cattle and sheep and slaves. His birthright was the promise that God made to Abraham (Compare Genesis 17:18-21). Jacob has bought the birthright but Isaac wants to take the privilege of giving the family blessing and bestow on Esau the promises of God, which he had sold for meal (Compare Genesis 27:28-29).


Rebekah wanted the blessing for Jacob (Genesis 27:5-10). Rebekah was not unfamiliar with the value of the blessing. In Genesis 24:58-61 we find that Rebekah herself had also received a blessing amazingly similar to that received by Abraham and Isaac and which she obviously wanted for her son, Jacob. Although it was not her right to give the blessing further to Jacob, she decided that he was the one who should have it. This does not justify her deception but it does emphasize for us the importance of that blessing in her estimation.


God wanted the blessing for Jacob. He did not allow Isaac to reverse himself (Genesis 27:27-41 with Hebrews 12:17 and Malachi 1:2-5). In the midst of all of this family conflict, it is God’s will that was set forth. Esau wanted Isaac to change his mind. It is likely that Isaac wanted to change his mind. Esau begged his father for a blessing but what he received was as much a curse as anything. God not only did not allow Isaac to reverse himself but underlined clearly to the whole family that God had made His choice and that no matter how they might manipulate one another, God’s choice is the one that would be selected.

He confirmed the blessing to Jacob Himself (Genesis 28:1-4, 13-15 with John 1:51). The confirmation of Isaac brought with it responsibility, assurance, and clarity. Jacob was responsible to marry someone who served the same God that he served. Then he was assured that the LORD God would be with him. Finally, Isaac made it clear that the blessing of Abraham was Jacob’s and Jacob’s alone and that the reason Jacob had this blessing was because God had given it to him. That is exactly what happened in Genesis 28:13-15. God came and assured Jacob that he was the one to receive the promises of Abraham. It is interesting that Jacob’s first reaction was very similar to that of Abraham. He set up an altar before the LORD (28:16-22). He then promised that he would return to Canaan and that he would serve the LORD.


Three years ago in the Middle School Sunday School Class, Pat and I studied these chapters with the young people and at the end of the class, we asked our young people three questions. These questions are also appropriate for us as adults.


If God is the one who decides things and not you, what should you do? Submit to God’s will.

What if you don’t understand or don’t agree with what God has decided? Believe God’s promises and live a life that is not focused on this world but rather on the world to come.

What will happen if you fight against God’s chosen ways (Esau would be a good example)? You will live your life alienated from God.


The blessing is fulfilled in the Jewish Messiah: You see, the story of Jacob is vital to the Christmas story. God had a plan. It was greater than Adam and Eve and Satan. It was greater than Abraham and Sarah. It was greater than Isaac and Rebekah and Esau and Jacob. It was even greater than the Jewish nation through whom Jesus came. But all of these were necessary that we might have the Christ of Christmas. This blessing was fulfilled in Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:8,16; Romans 9:4-5; and John 4:19-26).

Christmas is about submitting yourself to God’s will.

Christmas is about believing God’s promises.

Christmas is about focusing on eternal things.

If you celebrate Christmas without submitting yourself to God’s will, without believing God’s promises, without focusing on the eternal things of God; you may be surrounded by family and friends and loved ones but you will remain isolated and alienated from God. Perhaps you need to change your Christmas plans and focus on things eternal.




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