The Blessings of Esau (Genesis 36:31)

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Esau was a wealthy man. But Esau was not a very righteous man.

That may sound like a delineation that isn’t worth mentioning, but I think it’s really important to point, especially in a world that so closely links cause and effect.

Let me explain a little more of what I’m talking about. In our world, we’re used to working for something, and then normally, a result appears.

We work out and eat right, health (normally) follows.

We go to our job, put in the hours, and a paycheck (normally) appears.

That’s the balance that we’re used to. We find a lot of comfort in seeing that type of relationship.

But that’s not what happens in Genesis 36. As you read through the list of names, it’s easy to think about how blessed Esau is. After all, he’s got chiefs, a huge family, massive land allotments. Obviously, God has blessed him, right?

Wrong! Because Jacob stole the birthright and the blessing from Esau, the only thing left for him was a prophecy about serving his younger brother. Hardly the type of motivation you want as you start your life.

And yet, by the time we reach Genesis 33, we find out that Esau is an extraordinarily wealthy man. He has amassed quite a bit in his life, and has done very well for himself.

Unfortunately, the path he’s taken to achieve that is muddied.

Exhibit A: When he finds out about Jacob’s deception, he plots to kill Jacob (Genesis 27:41).

Exhibit B: When he finds out that his choice in wife upsets his parents, he marries two more (Genesis 28:6-9; 36:2-5).

Exhibit C: When Jacob and Esau meet, Jacob trips over himself giving glory to God. Esau doesn’t mention His name even once (Genesis 33:1-16).

Individually, they’re set pieces. When you put them together (and others that we don’t know about), they give the picture of a man who has all but forsaken God. The fact that he was extraordinarily wealthy doesn’t change that.

If that wasn’t enough, consider their respective futures. Jacob’s children are known as the nation of Israel — a race that continues to this day. Esau’s children are known as the Edomites, who would be judged and completely annihilated by the time of Christ (Obadiah).

It echoes a cry made from other parts of Scripture, where people look at the wicked and say, “Why are they doing so well? Why is God rewarding wickedness?” (Job 21:7; Psalm 73:3-13).

He’s not, it may just look that way.

For now.