Jacob and Esau, We and Christ

August 18, 2008 | 10 comments

We were driving to a wedding Friday morning so naturally we started talking about Jacob and Esau.

As you recall, Jacob dressed up like his brother to fool old, blind Isaac into giving him the blessings that Isaac wanted to give to Esau.

Well, I said, the Old Testament can be unedifying.

But the lovely One had been thinking. She said the story was a lot like the story of Israel and the Gentiles. Gentiles get the blessings by feigning to be Israel. Israel can forfeit the blessings by taking them for granted.

A very Book of Mormon take, I said.

We talked about Christ. He is the firstborn, like Esau, and all the blessings and the birthright are his. We get those blessings and that birthright by feigning to be Christ, doing his works and taking his name.

The difference is God isn’t fooled. And Christ doesn’t lose his birthright and blessings—on the contrary his glory and inheritance is actually the greater because of it.

Christ redeems and perfects the story of Jacob and Esau.


10 Responses to Jacob and Esau, We and Christ

  1. Dane on August 18, 2008 at 11:57 am

    My take on the story is that obtaining God’s blessings sometimes takes a little more than just being a nice guy.

  2. Chris on August 18, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    I agree with you that the OT is often \”unedifying,\” but I have to say that some of my favorite scriptural lessons have come from the OT. You just have to dig deeper and listen closer!

    Thanks for sharing this one.

  3. The Right Trousers on August 18, 2008 at 7:24 pm

    That’s totally awesome. Please thank your Lovely One for me.

  4. quin on August 18, 2008 at 11:21 pm

    So many people seem to lose the real treasure in this story and only see the surface.

    The blessing he gives Jacob (thinking he is Esau) is not the blessing that would bestow upon him the blessings of Abraham. When Isaac later finds out he was tricked, he gives Esau essentially the same blessing he had earlier given to Jacob-even if Esau was offended and felt slighted, he wasn’t.

    When Rebekah later figures out a way to get her son Jacob out of the way so his brother Esau does not kill him, Isaac gives him a second blessing before he leaves, and in THIS one Isaac confers the blessings and covenant of Abraham upon him then-with full knowledge of what he is doing.

    Blessings are simply words unless the one they are bestowed upon is worthy, and Jacob was indeed the worthy son who deserved the covenant blessing.

    Too often people assume Rebekah was a wicked woman filled with treachery, but I think she was wise and willing to believe in the revelation God gave her while she was pregnant with the twin boys. I think Isaac’s love for his son Esau blinded him to the fact that Jacob was the Lord’s choice to receive the blessing, and that is the reason why when he found out he had been fooled, he trembled but did not get angry or denounce his wife or the blessing he had given Jacob inadvertently. It is also very telling that he withheld the birthright blessing from “Esau” (actually Jacob) on his own.

    Come to think of it, this story actually is very “pro” feminine. Rebekah obviously wants to serve the Lord but also does not want to dishonor or hurt her husband. Instead of nagging or telling him that he was wrong about their sons, she figures out a quiet way to fulfill the Lord’s prophecy. Rather than casting her as a rebellious or unrighteous wife, or simply not preserving an account which could be viewed as embarrassing to Isaac, the way the story survives today seems to show us that she had spiritual discernment that was at times greater than her husband’s and that she felt a sense of responsibility and ownership of “his” Priesthood and made decisions based upon what she felt was right rather than what might have been expected of her.

    Lots of parallels under that layer….

  5. rp on August 19, 2008 at 11:07 am

    Nice thoughts. Is the Jacob and Esau story symbolic of Adam and Christ?

  6. quin on August 19, 2008 at 10:26 pm

    I’m not sure how it relates to Adam and Christ. Can you elaborate how you see them connected?

  7. KTB on August 26, 2008 at 11:38 am

    Wonderful parallels, Adam–thank you.

    Quin (#4), interesting thought, but Esau’s blessings and Jacob’s first blessing were different: Jacob is blessed to “be lord over thy brethren” (Gen. 27:29), while Esau is blessed to “serve thy brother” (Gen. 27:40).

  8. Eduard A. Erdtsieck on September 4, 2008 at 11:43 am

    I believe that old, blind Isaac wasn’t fooled one moment by Jacob’s disguise nor was Rebekah filled with treachery. Sometimes the Lord asks from us to make decisions, but our eyes of faith can not yet focus on what the Lord wants from us. Nearing the end of his life, Isaac was extemely grateful, that Rebekah took that responsibility from him. An interesting question would be; how long would the Lord’s patience last, if Rebekah had not ended it then and there?

    Marriage is between a man and a woman, because the Lord wants it that way. Shared responsibility means that, when we make wrong choices or have not made a choice, we can always seek forgiveness and repent. Then mercy and justice kicks in or in other words, our redemption awaits us, because the atonement of Jesus Christ takes over.

    Ever wonder, what went on between Adam and Eve, when they discussed, which to choose, the tree of knowledge of good and evil or the tree of Life Eternal. From my observations of husbands and fathers on earth, the earthly husband or father would have taken responsibility without a thought of using their eyes of faith.

    That’s the beauty of men of God, they seek after the Lord’s Word and they do not press on, unless they can do so with surety in doing His will.


  9. Eduard A. Erdtsieck on September 7, 2008 at 10:24 am

    Quin, #4: I like your idea of the story being “pro-femine”. I like your thought that Rebekah had a “sense of responsibility and ownership of “his” [Isaac's] Priesthood and she made decisions based upon what she felt was right rather than what might have been expected of her.”

    Those concepts are the essence of a marital covenant relationship with God. Often, time runs out and we still don’t understand fully what the Lord’s want us to do in regards to our relationship. He does not give us the answers, but let the Holy Ghost guides us. Moses’ 10 commandments are relatively easy, you either do or you don’t. The judgment here is legal and individual by our own chosen or appointed legal authorities.

    Jesus Christ tries to convince us “to love God”, “to love the enemy”, “to forgive everyone”, “to love our neighbor as we love ourselves”. When asked by religious authorities of His time, which were the most important laws, He told them there were 2 great commandments, “to love God” and “to love our neighbor” and that everything worldly is based on it.

    Unlike the law of Moses, judgment in this situation is not legal nor individual, but is solely His. Jesus Christ is the righteous judge on whether our relationships in this world meet the Law that rules in Heaven. Remember, Adam and Eve’s transgression was the reason that we live under the law of Moses. We have a veil placed over this world, so that we are not distracted by the Law in Heaven. That way we are all equal before the Law of Heaven, when we appear at His Court, when His day on earth returns.


  10. Eduard A. Erdtsieck on September 11, 2008 at 8:29 am

    rp, #5: There is no symbolism between the stories of Jacob and Esau and Adam and Christ.

    Adam is a repentant transgressor and Jesus Christ, the perfect creator, who assisted Adam in regaining his spiritual inheritance.

    There is a comparison between Jacob and Esau and Cain and Abel. Both Esau and Abel lost things through the acts of others. Esau lost his spiritual inheritance under God’s covenant with Abraham. Abel was murdered by Cain and lost his earthly inheritance.

    Eventhough Esau sold his birthright, he remained in control of Isaac earthly possessions. Jacob had to live many years with his uncle Laban, where he earned his own possesion. He later returned and they reconciled.

    Since Abel was murdered, he lost his right to earthly possessions temporarily. Cain could not restore Abel’s right to earthly possessions, because he was only a man and a wicked one at that.

    Jesus Christ, the only Begotten Son of Father in heaven on earth condescended to come down to earth to bring into play His plan for the redemption of mankind and to bring Cain and others to justice.

    Jesus told His followers that He fulfilled the law “of Moses”, meaning that He is the righteous judge with the authority to carry out judgments against all violators of the law. He won’t do it by Himself, as a King He has a kingdom and people who will assist Him in that task.



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