Rev. Ronald C. Purkey, an ordained Baptist minister, claims no originality for this Bible study outline.
However, every Bible study posted on this website has been taught by Rev. Purkey.
To see more Bible study outlines go to page two: More Bible Study Outlines.
SCRIPTURE: Genesis 25:19-34
KEY VERSE: And the Lord said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger. (Genesis 25:23)
· Isaac was the son of a famous father (Abraham) and the father of a famous son (Jacob), and for those reasons he is sometimes considered a lightweight among the patriarchs.
Compared to the exploits of Abraham and Jacob, Isaac’s life does seem conventional and commonplace. Although he lived longer than either Abraham or Jacob, only six chapters in the Genesis record are devoted to Isaac’s life, and only one verse in Hebrews 11 (verse 9).
· Isaac was a quiet, meditative man (Gen. 24:63), who would rather pack up and leave than confront his enemies.
During his long life, he didn’t travel far from home. Abraham had made the long journey from Haran to Canaan, and had even visited Egypt, and Jacob went to Haran to get a wife, but Isaac spent his entire adult life moving around in the land of Canaan. If there had been an ancient Middle East equivalent to our contemporary “jet set,” Isaac wouldn’t have joined it.
· However, there are more Isaacs in this world than there are Abrahams or Jacobs; and these people make important contributions to society and to the church, even if they don’t see their names in lights or even in the church bulletin.
Furthermore, Isaac was a living part of the divine plan that eventually produced the Jewish nation, gave us the Bible, and brought Jesus Christ into the world; and that’s nothing to be ashamed of.
· Isaac wasn’t a failure; he was just different.
After all, the people in each generation have to find themselves and be themselves and not spend their lives slavishly trying to imitate their ancestors. “Men are born equal,” wrote psychiatrist Erich Fromm in Escape from Freedom, “but they are also born different.” Discovering our uniqueness and using it to the glory of God is the challenge that makes life what it is. Why be a cheap imitation when you can be a valuable original?
· No generation stands alone, because each new generation is bound to previous generations.
Isaac was bound to Abraham and Sarah by ties that couldn’t be ignored or easily broken. – By Warren Wiersbe, “B” Books, Genesis chapter 25
INTRODUCTION: When we tell one lie, it usually leads to another...and then another...and then another. But eventually the twisted knot of lies begins to unravel, and when it does, the faith and trust others had in us usually unravels with it. There may be no worse feeling than to have someone who once loved you and believed in you say, “I’ll never trust you again!”
Genesis describes how Jacob brought deceit into his relationship with his brother, Esau, and his father, Isaac. Jacob’s deception would leave its mark on the family for many years to come.
Esau and Jacob were twin brothers. Esau’s name means “red” because of his hairy body and reddish appearance. That reddishness gave him the nickname Edom (Genesis 25:30) and he became the ancestor of the Edomites who lived southeast of the Salt Sea (Genesis 32:3). Jacob’s name means “heel grabber” for he was born holding tightly to the heel of his brother Esau. But Jacob’s name also has the figurative meaning of “deceiver,” for Esau said that Jacob cheated him twice (Genesis 27:36). Jacob was the ancestor of the 12 tribes of Israel (Exodus 1:1-5). By the time Jacob reached the end of his life, he was a person of genuine faith and integrity (Hebrews 11:21).
I. THE BIRTHRIGHT DIVINELY BESTOWED. (Genesis 25:19-23)
INSIGHT: What was the value of the birthright and what did it mean? It means that the one who had it was the head of the house. It also means that the one who had it was the priest of the family. In this particular family, it means that the one who had it would be the one who would be in the line that would lead to Jesus the Messiah.
(Genesis 25:19) And these are the generations of Isaac, Abraham’s son: Abraham begat Isaac.
This is the line we are going to follow. “Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob” is the way the first chapter of Matthew begins. Each of these men had other sons, as we have seen. Abraham had quite a few sons, but the genealogy of those men is not followed. It is the genealogy of Isaac that is followed. You can forget Ishmael and Midian and Medan and all the rest. They will cross paths with the descendants of Isaac time and again, but we will not follow their lines.
(Genesis 25:20-21) And Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah to wife, the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Padan-aram, the sister to Laban the Syrian. And Isaac entreated the Lord for his wife, because she was barren: and the Lord was entreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived.
It is interesting that Rebekah, like Sarah, was barren. But Isaac pled with God on her behalf, and now she is pregnant with twins.
(Genesis 25:22) And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to inquire of the Lord.
The struggle of these two boys, which began before their birth, represents the struggle which still goes on in the world today. There is a struggle between light and darkness, between good and evil, between the Spirit and the flesh. Every child of God knows something of this struggle which Paul sets before us in the seventh chapter of Romans.
Rebekah didn’t understand the struggle which was going on within her, and she went to the Lord with the question, “Why am I thus?”
(Genesis 25:23) And the Lord said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.
God makes the statement to her that the elder shall serve the younger. She should have believed it, and her younger son should have believed it.
II. THE BIRTHRIGHT DISPUTED. (Genesis 25:24-28)
(Genesis 25:24-25) And when her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb. And the first came out red, all over like an hairy garment; and they called his name Esau.
The name Esau means “red” or “earth-colored.” Because he is born first, he is considered the elder. But the elder is to serve the younger.
(Genesis 25:26) And after that came his brother out, and his hand took hold on Esau’s heel; and his name was called Jacob: and Isaac was threescore years old when she bare them.
Isaac and Rebekah had been married for about twenty years before the children were born. The older one was Esau, and they called him “Red,” if you please. Jacob took hold on Esau’s heel; so they called him Jacob, meaning the usurper, because he was trying to become the elder or to take his place -- but God had already promised that to him.
(Genesis 25:27) And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents.
Now we will look at these two boys as they grow up in this home. Here they are, twins, but no two boys were ever more different than these two. They not only struggled in the womb, but they are against each other from here on out. They have absolutely different viewpoints, different philosophies of life. Their thinking is different, and their attitudes are different. At the beginning, I must confess, Esau is more attractive than Jacob. But we learn that one can’t always judge by the outward sign. We must judge by what takes place on the inside. We learn that in this particular case.
“The boys grew.” This fellow Esau was a cunning hunter, the outdoor boy, the athletic type. He is the one we would call the all-American boy today. He went in for sports. He went in for everything that was physical, but he had no understanding or capacity or desire for spiritual things. He was only interested in that which was physical. He represents the flesh.
Jacob was a plain man. I think that you can make of that anything you want to. He lived indoors. He was mama’s boy and was tied to her apron strings. You will notice that he did what she told him to do. Jacob is really a mama’s boy. And this boy Esau is papa’s boy!
(Genesis 25:28) And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob.
Here is the problem in the home. You feel that under these circumstances they are going to have trouble, and they are. When one parent is partial to one child and the other parent is partial to the other child, you have trouble. That is exactly what took place here.
Isaac loved him because he ate of his venison. Esau went out hunting, and he always got something when he went hunting. He brought home the venison. Isaac liked that, and he liked this outdoor type of boy. Rebekah loved Jacob because he was a mama’s boy.
At this juncture the boy Esau is much more attractive than Jacob. He seems to be a more wholesome boy. The boy Jacob is cunning; he tries to be clever. The fact of the matter is that he doesn’t mind stooping to do things that are absolutely wrong (and God will deal with him for this). The interesting thing is that although Esau was very attractive on the outside, down underneath he really had no capacity for God whatever. If ever there was a man of the world, he is that man. He is just a physical man and that is all. That is all that he lived for.
Down underneath in Jacob there was a desire for the things that are spiritual. It took God a long time to rub off all the debris that was on top and to remove all the coverings in order to get down to where the spiritual desire was, but He finally did it. Before we are through with our study of Jacob (and his story goes almost all the way through the Book of Genesis), we will see that he was God’s man all along, although he didn’t demonstrate it until late in life.
Now we are told of an incident which took place in the home. You can well understand that the partiality shown by both father and mother would cause difficulty and conflict. It could not be called a happy home.
III. THE BIRTHRIGHT DESPISED. (Genesis 25:29-34)
A. Jacob was insensitive and scheming. (Genesis 25:29-32)
(Genesis 25:29-32) 29 And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint: 30 And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom. 31 And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright. 32 And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me?
1. Jacob knew that Esau did not value the birthright.
“Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red (notice in your King James Version that the word pottage is in italics, meaning that the word has been supplied by the translators); for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom.” Edom means red or earthy just as Esau does. This man asks for some of the stew, and Jacob saw his chance. He is a trickster and a traitor, and he wanted the birthright. He said, “Sell me this day thy birthright.”
2. Jacob could have fed his brother for nothing:
a. But Jacob exploited his brother by pressing him to give up his birthright.
Jacob sees this, and he says to him, “I’ll tell you what I’ll do, if you’ll give me your birthright, I’ll give you a bowl of stew.” Esau was very happy with the bargain. He said, “I’ll be very happy to do it; what profit is the birthright to me? What do I care about the birthright? I’d rather have a bowl of stew.” That is the value which he attached to spiritual things.
b. Then Jacob gave him a bowl of stew.
Let’s remember that Jacob was wrong in what he did. God had promised, “The elder shall serve the younger.” The birthright is coming to Jacob in God’s own time. But Jacob can’t wait; so he reaches out to take that which God has promised him. He takes it in a clever, tricky fashion. He should have waited for God to give it to him.
B. Esau despised his birthright. (Genesis 25:33-34)
(Genesis 25:33-34) 33 And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob. 34 Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright.
1. He just sat down and ate his stew.
“Esau despised his birthright” is the important thing to see at this point in time. So Esau sat down and ate his stew.
2. He had surrendered his birthright because it meant nothing to him.
Nothing that was spiritual meant anything to Esau. Unfortunately, I’m afraid we have church members like that. They have no spiritual capacity and no understanding of spiritual truths. I believe that the mark of a true Christian is one whom the Spirit of God can teach and guide.
INSIGHT: J. Vernon McGee said, “It is as if a man today had a very valuable heirloom, let’s say an old family Bible which had belonged to his grandfather. Another grandson wants it and offers to give him a quarter for it. So the owner says, ‘Give me the twenty-five cents because I was going to throw the old thing away anyway.’ That is exactly what Esau would have done.” – J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible
Given a choice, I’d probably not voluntarily visit my doctor for a physical exam. I’m inclined to assume that everything is okay and not bother my doctor about it. But since my wife is a nurse, I don’t have a choice. I go in for regular exams.
And given a choice, many of us are a little afraid of spiritual checkups as well. After all, if we check our spirit too closely, we might have to change a habit or two. We might need something like an “attitude-ectomy.”
I suggest that
we get over our reluctance. With God’s guidance, let’s undergo a spiritual
Ears (Proverbs 4:20): Are we hearing God’s Word clearly and with understanding? Are we doing what those words tell us?
Eyes (Proverbs 4:21, 25): Are we keeping our eyes on the teachings that will guide us toward righteousness?
Heart (Proverbs 4:23): Are we protecting our heart from evil?
Tongue (Proverbs 4:24): Is our mouth clean and pure?
Feet (Proverbs 4:26): Are we walking straight toward God’s truth without wavering?
How did you do on your examination? Are there areas where you need to take action? Regular checkups will help to restore your spiritual vitality. – Adapted from David Branon, Our Daily Bread, July 11, 2006
CONCLUSION: Genesis 25 gives us this description of Isaac, Rebekah, Esau, and Jacob.
· Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah.
For twenty years, they waited for a family that did not come. God blessed Isaac in everything but the thing he wanted most. He and Rebekah knew that God had promised descendants (Genesis 15:5), so Isaac laid hold of the promise and prayed. True prayer lays hold of God’s Word (John 15:7) and seeks to accomplish God’s purposes.
· God gave them twin boys who were opposite of each other in every way.
JACOB: God also gave them a revelation that the younger one, Jacob, would carry on the messianic line. For that reason, you would think that Isaac would have favored Jacob but the physical won over the spiritual.
ESAU: He pictures the man of the world who despises the eternal and lives for the temporal. DO NOT BE LIKE ESAU!
THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: “A spiritual checkup is the key to spiritual health.”
* * *
REFERENCES: References used in these Bible studies are the King James Bible (KJV), The Moody Bible Commentary, Dr. J. Vernon McGee © Thru the Bible Radio Network (www.ttb.org), the Scofield Study Bible, the Believer’s Bible Commentary, Dr. Charles J. Woodbridge Bible Outlines, Dr. Lee Roberson’s Sermons, Dr. Charles Stanley: (http://www.intouch.org/), Don Robinson’s Bible Outlines, Women’s Study Bible, The Bible Reader’s Companion Ed. 3, The Nelson Study Bible: New King James Version, KJV Bible Commentary, Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines of the New Testament ed. 4, Dr. David Jeremiah: (http://www.davidjeremiah.org/site/), Dr. Cliff Robinson’s Bible Outlines, Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines of the Old Testament, Dr. Alan Carr’s The Sermon Notebook (www.sermonnotebook.org), With the Word Bible Commentary, Wiersbe’s “Be” Series: Old & New Testaments, RBC Ministries (http://rbc.org/), selected illustrations, and other references.
REV. RONALD PURKEY’S OFFICE
E-mail: Ronald Purkey