People of faith vs. People of the flesh

014-esau-jacobI am preparing to teach my Connect Group this coming Sunday and wanted to share some of my insights with you here. We have been walking through the book of Genesis week by week. This lesson will cover parts of Genesis 25 and Genesis 26. As a class, we have been tracing the Promised Messiah from Genesis 3 all the way through the book of Genesis. We will follow this thread all throughout the Old Testament. This week’s lesson will focus on the two categories of people God places all of mankind in for life and eternity. Abraham’s son, Isaac, received God’s eternal calling from his father. Isaac has two sons, Esau, and Jacob. Even though they were both raised in the same family, one of the boys inherited the faith of his fathers while the other chose to live like on of his forefathers, Cain, and be mastered by his sin nature. This lesson will shed some light on what the Apostle Paul wrote in his epistle to the Roman church.

10 And not only this, but there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac;
11 for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls,
12 it was said to her, “THE OLDER WILL SERVE THE YOUNGER.”
13 Just as it is written, “JACOB I LOVED, BUT ESAU I HATED.” (Romans 9)

Why did God choose one over the other? This lesson will explain.

I. Abraham

Abraham was born with a sin nature like all of us. He was an idol worshiper like all of the people of his community. He was far from God. yet, God reached out to him to form a personal relationship and teach Abraham how to live by faith.

And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6)

In this passage, living by faith is equal to pleasing God. In order to live by faith, a person must come to the Lord, seeking after Him. Another criteria for faith is to believe that God is who He says He is in His Word. This is who Abraham becomes because of his personal relationship with God.

By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. (Hebrews 11)

Faith means hearing God’s calling, understanding God’s calling, and obeying God’s calling. Abraham obeyed the calling by passing that calling on to his son Isaac. This is what it means to live by faith. Do you live by faith? Do you believe that God is who He claims to be in His, Holy Word? Do you seek after God with all of your heart? Does your faith in God produce daily obedience?

II. Isaac

According to the Word of God, Isaac was taught to have faith by his father. Isaac trusted that his father loved him and that the eternal calling that his father Abraham received from God was worthy to implement in his own life. Isaac had a personal relationship with God and he lived by faith. When bad things happened, Isaac immediately ran to God for help. When Rebecca could not conceive children, Isaac went to the Lord for help. God heard his prayer and answered. When there were difficult times in the land, Isaac turned to God and sought advice on how he should proceed. God reaffirms His Covenant with Isaac because Isaac is a man of faith the way that his father Abraham was. Are you seeking to pass on your faith to the next generation the way that Abraham and Isaac did? When difficult times appear in your life, where do you turn? Do you turn to God or is He the last resort? Are seeking to live out God’s eternal plan and pass that plan on to others? That is what Abraham lived for on a daily basis. That is what Isaac lived for on a daily basis. Are you ready to take your place in the long line of faith?

III. Esau and Jacob

Although these two boys grew up in the same household and they both received the same education, one of them chose to live by faith while the other chose to live by his sin nature. This was no shock to God since He has foreknowledge of all things. Some believe that God “chose” Esau to be a man of the flesh and that He also “chose” Jacob to be a man of faith. Based on the evidence presented in the full counsel of God’s Word, I believe God’s foreknowledge led Him to choose one over the other because He already knew which man would live by faith and which man would live by the flesh. Esau and Jacob made their own decisions and God simply had foreknowledge of it. He did not make one choose one path and the other choose a different path. Genesis 25 presents Esau as a man of the flesh. His name means “hairy” but it could also be translated as “quick to make a decision”. This is seen in the fact that Esau sells his birthright for a bowl of soup. The people of Esau’s days held the birthright in high value. Esau’s birthright also meant that the Messiah would come through his lineage. Esau would be able to take his place in God’s eternal plan. Esau was a man of the flesh, controlled by satisfying his sin nature. He chose his fleshly desires over God’s eternal plan. Esau did not want to walk by faith. Instead, he wanted his desires gratified immediately. Some may question why God would be so harsh on Esau simply for selling his eternal birthright. A further study of Esau and the people who are his legacy reveal some insights about Esau. First of all, Esau’s name is changed to Edom. The meaning of Edom is, “I will praise him”. Esau will praise anyone and anything that satisfies the desires of his sin nature. In Obadiah 1:1-14, the Edomites who are the legacy left by Esau are described as being judged for the following reasons:

  1. Pride
  2. Violence
  3. Rejoicing in the problems of others
  4. Taking advantage of vulnerable people

The author of Hebrews gives us some more insight into who Esau was.

15 See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;
16 that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. (Hebrews 12)

Esau was not only a godless person, he was also an immoral person. When the flesh takes over, it always manifests itself in immorality. Immorality is using others for sexual gratification. God did not make Esau act the way that he did. Esau gave himself over to his sin nature and it mastered him. God had given that warning to Cain over 2,000 years before all of this.

“If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” (Genesis 4:7)

Jacob, on the other hand, chose to invest in God’s eternal plan. He knew the value of the birthright. He knew that the birthright in this case was a place in God’s eternal plan. Although Jacob was not born with that birthright, he received it. He kept his eyes on it all of his life and when given the opportunity to have it, he answered. Although he lived in the physical world, he kept his eyes on the eternal and sought to store up treasures in heaven instead of on the earth. This echos Jesus’ teaching in the “Sermon on the Mount”.

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.
20 “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;
21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6)

Where are you storing up your treasure? Although you live on the earth, do you keep your eyes on God’s eternal plan? Do you seek to live by faith moment by moment, day by day? What kind of legacy are you going to leave for the future generations to follow, a legacy of faith or a legacy of the flesh? You have the same choice that Esau and Jacob had. Which choice will you make?

5 comments on “People of faith vs. People of the flesh

  1. Pingback: God’s Mercy and Grace in Jacob’s life | Erik and Elena Brewer's Weblog

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  3. Pingback: Joseph: Forgiveness and Service | Erik and Elena Brewer's Weblog

  4. Pingback: Rahab experiences salvation | Erik and Elena Brewer's Weblog

  5. Pingback: Rebellion, Revolt, and Rejection | Erik and Elena Brewer's Weblog

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