Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parashah #6: Tol’dot ( History) B’resheit (Genesis) 25:19-28:9
Haftarah: Mal’akhi ( Malachi) 1:1-2:7
B’rit Chadashah: Romans 9:6-16
This parashah describes the life of Yitz’chak, but also presents a wonderful narrative that teaches us a critical lesson concerning instant gratification and the sorrow that can result from not considering future ramifications of satisfying our animal soul-driven desires, even unto a destroyed relationship with G-d. This narrative involves Yitz’chak’s sons Ya’akov (Jacob) and Esav (Esau). The battle between these two boys sets the stage for the modern battle between the Jews and Arabs today “ There are two nations in your womb. From birth they will be two rival peoples. One of these peoples will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger” (Gen. 26:23). These were the words of Adonai. The first part of the sentence is taking place as it has since these two nations were born. The second half of the sentence will not take place until Yahshua returns. Today I want to focus on the characters and persons of Esav and Ya’akov as this information has great import on our own behaviors and need to continually rearrange our priorities toward serving G-d when we ease into our animal-soul mode.
Let’s start with Esav. Esav’s life is but one example of the fact that common sense is not always common. Many decisions that should be easy if considered carefully are fraught with bad choices based on impulse and instant gratification. In Esav’s case, he traded his birthright for a bowl of stew! This choice had eternal ramifications. In his immediate present, we an see that Esav took no time to consider the importance of the birthright; a double portion of the family inheritance and the honor of one day becoming the leader of the family. Esav readily traded these spiritual and material blessings for the stew. In so doing, he also disregarded any consideration for his parent’s plans for him as the firstborn although Rivkah was given insight into what G-d had planned for her sons as she carried them. Esav also intentionally defied his parent by choosing wives in direct defiance of his parents instructions.
When we look at ourselves, we should ask what we are willing to trade for what we think we need now? Do we include G-d in this thought process, or do we jump ahead of any prayer or guidance from the Ruach HaKodesh and try to satisfy our conscience later? Are our loved ones included in these potential “trade-offs”? Do we feel like we are missing out on the “gusto” of life while we look for something else?
If we feel that way in these situations, we may become angry or resentful. This anger is a double-edged sword. We can either take the road Esav took and blame someone else for our bad choices, or we can channel it into a constructive action; one of stepping back and reviewing the situation and rearranging our priorities. In the case of Esav and in our own lives, the correct course of action is making G-d the focal point of our concerns or supplications. Looking to G-d for what we really need versus what we think we need will realign our hearts and minds to G-d’s Word, which will always provide the optimal outcome.
Examining Esav’s life we can prevent much sorrow and bitterness in our own. As I mentioned last week, G-d allows certain events in our lives to accomplish His will, but we are responsible for our actions and the consequences of careless living may result in eternal separation from G-d. Let us seek wisdom from above in all we do that we may win the race toward the prize of eternal salvation.
Now we turn to Ya’akov (Jacob). The significance of Avraham, Yitz’chak, and Ya’akov as central figures in G-d’s Torah is not based on their character. Rather, their significance is based on the character of G-d. we are shown that G-d can use us, even in our spiritual rag-tag status, and brig us to a level pleasing to Him and useful in His plan. These three men earned the respect and even fear of their peers. They were rich and powerful, yet they all lied, Avraham and Yitz’chak in similar circumstances and each during a famine (Gen. 26:1).Ya’akov was deceptive, following instructions from Rivkah when being dressed like Esav to deceive Yitz’chak when he gave the blessing to who he thought was Esav. These men were not spotless heroes. They were just like any true believer; loving and wanting to please G-d but making mistakes along the way due to expressions of our humanity that include fear and doubt that G-d can overcome the expected outcomes according to human reason. We are able to see the common thread of G-d’s plan work its way through Jacob’s life even through Jacob’s humanity.
We can decipher four stages to Jacob’s life, each of which was marked by an encounter with G-d. Jacob lived up to his name in the first stage as his name means “supplanter, or “ he grasps the heel.” He grabbed Esav’s heel at birth and later “grabbed” the birthright supplanting Esav as the one who received the blessing of the firstborn. When he fled from home, G-d appeared to him. During this encounter, Ya’akov was reassured of his blessing by G-d and G-d revealed himself to Ya’akov. The second stage came when Ya’akov experienced a “look in the mirror” experience when he was deceived by Lavan. Now we see a more mature Ya’akov in his reaction to Lavan. At an earlier stage, Ya’akov. would have simply left Lavan. But at this point in his life, he overcame any anger or bitterness against Lavan and agreed to wait six years for G-d’s permission. In the third stage, Ya’akov is again the “grabber” as he takes hold of G-d at the Jordan River and does not let go. At this point. He realized his dependence on G-d as the One who continued to bless him. At this stage of maturity, he was renamed by G-d to Israel ‘ he struggles with G-d.” The last stage in Ya’akov’s life was to be “grabbed.” G-d had a firm hold on Ya’akov. When Yosef invited Ya’akov to come to Egypt, Ya’akov was unwilling to make the trip without G-d’s approval.
So, what else can we learn from the examples of Ya’akov’s life described in G-d’s Torah? When we are faced with conflict, we should not rely on ourselves, our resources, or others. We need to develop a “first nature” vs. our human nature to rely on ourselves and turn to G-d for help. Remember Avraham called G-d “YHVH Yiryeh” which means “G-d will provide.”
Our haftarah begins with “A prophecy, the word of Adonai to Israel through Mal’akhi: ‘I love you,’ says Adonai. But you ask, “How do you show us your love?” Adonai answers, “Esav was Ya’akov’s brother. Yet I loved Ya’akov but hated Esav. I made his mountains desolate and gave his territory to desert jackals.” Edom says, “We are beaten down now, but we will come back and rebuild the ruins.” Adonai-Tzva’ot answers, ‘They can build, but I will demolish. They will be called the Land of Wickedness, the people with whom Adonai is permanently angry. You will see it and say, ‘Adonai is great, even beyond the borders of Israel.” The scripture continues to describe why Adonai hated Esav and his descendants and that Edom will ultimately be destroyed. This prophecy is described throughout the B’rit Chadashah (Refreshed, renewed Covenant).
The second chapter of this haftarah addresses the fact that Israel cannot achieve greatness just because Edom will be destroyed. Israel had and has its own problems; that the priests cannot simply turn their service into an insincere practice, offering second rate sacrifices while saving the best for themselves. Finally, Malachi exhorts the Priests to live up to their calling, their responsibilities as role models and teachers. Only then can they pull the people to a higher level of spirituality. This is true of all leaders- they have the responsibility to teach and lead by example.
B’rit Chadashah: Romans 9:6-16
We have additional support for that which G-d as our Sovereign King ordained in our parashah; that Isaac was the son of promise and that Esav will serve Yaakov when all is said and done. G-d reminds us through Sha’ul who was speaking to the Messianic community in Rome that He loved Yaakov but hated Esav because of his free-will choice to stray from G-d’s commands. We must understand that G-d knew how Esav would choose to live his life and reject his birthright. Sha’ul (Paul) addresses those who say G-d is unjust in His choices by reminding us that G-d has pity and mercy on whomever He chooses, and this is not dependent on our desires or efforts. Our purpose is to glorify Him, not ourselves. This narrative hopefully humbles the believer’s heart with the truth that while we are commanded to love the L-rd our G-d with all our hearts, souls, and might, that this is only part of the equation for salvation. The final say is His, Adonai Tzva’ot.
Rabbi Tamah Davis- Hart