Just realized this passage accidentally got skipped, so I'm adding in this post.
Accompanying Bob Deffinbaugh sermon: Jacob, Joseph, Jealous, and a Journey to Egypt
Accompanying Keith Krell sermon: A Hairy Tale
Deffinbaugh points out that the primary purpose of this chapter has already been realized. God would command the Israelites to destroy all the Canaanites except the descendants of Esau - so they had to know who they were.
That is not to say there is no value in this passage for us today.
We see here that, though Esau had no regard for spiritual things, he was a man of character. He had graciously received Jacob back upon his return from Haran, and when prosperity necessitated it, he moved away to allow Jacob to use the land (36:6-8). In fact, if God had elected one of the twins based on their likeability, He may very well have chosen Esau. But God's election is not based on our likeability or our works - and we see this in the example of Jacob and Esau.
We also see, that though Esau was not elected by God, he was still a recipient of common grace as seen by the prosperity he enjoyed in his lifetime.
Krell makes some other points. Not only did this record protect the Edomites, it also was a record of God fulfilling His promise to Esau - giving him his own identity, nation, and history. God is faithful and can be trusted to keep His promises.
This record also showed that Jesus was not born through the family line of Esau. It was very important to keep track of all the genealogies to show which ones were included and excluded from the line of Jesus.
The record also shows us that everyone counts in God's eyes. Everyone is made in His image, and He cares for each of us.
Krell also describes four principles we can learn from this passage.
First, success by the world's standard does not equal a family blessed by God. Esau lived for short term gratification, trading his birthright for a bowl of red stew (which we are to be reminded of by the use of Edom, which means red, in v1), taking more than one wife, and taking Canaanite wives all of whose names had something to do with beauty or sensuality. Esau's children were strong leaders and succeeded according to worldly standards, but had nothing to do with God. We need to take care to teach our children what is truly important in life, and to live that way ourselves.
Krell made an interesting point here...
Esau represents the natural man—strong, capable, independent, able to cope with life’s problems with his own resources. Who needs to depend on God for things when you can take care of it yourself? Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and their barren wives, represent God’s way of working. He humbles our pride by shutting us up with problems we are incapable of solving—problems like barren wives in the face of promises to make us into a great nation. Then, when we call on Him, He proves Himself mighty to save.
Second, material blessings do not equal spiritual blessings.
To his credit, Esau was not greedy. When he saw Jacob, after their 20 years apart, he declined Jacob’s gift by saying, “I have plenty, my brother. Keep your things.” But it’s possible to be generous, contented people, but still to be living for material possessions, not for God. The danger is that our material prosperity dulls our senses with regard to our desperate need for God. The Lord warned the church in Laodicea, “... you say, ‘I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,’ and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked” (Rev 3:17). We American Christians, who have been so blessed materially, need to be careful to become rich toward God by laying up treasures in heaven (Luke 12:13-34).
Third, political power doesn't equal spiritual power. Esau's descendants quickly became chiefs and kings, long before Jacob's descendants.
In the short-term, the Edomites became chiefs and kings in this world, but in the long-term, Jacob’s descendents would become kings and priests of the most high God. It is so important for you and me to have patience to wait on the fulfillment of God’s program....
God wanted His people to see what results when a man lives apart from Him. From this one man, Esau, an outwardly good man, a likable man, a successful man from the world’s perspective, came the godless nation Edom, which often plagued the people of God.
Fourth, wordly (temporary!) fame does not equal eternal recognition by God. Esau's descendants quickly rose to power and fame, but they have long since been forgotten. Jacob's descendants, on the other hand, spent years in lowly employment and even slavery, but the Israelites are here and will be until the return of Christ.
the recognition that counts will come soon, when we stand before the Lord Jesus Christ and hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your master” (Matt 25:21, 23). In that day, real success and failure will be unveiled. Until that time, we should be careful to not make a big deal about earthly success or failure. Only God knows who is truly successful and who is not (1 Cor 4:1-5).
Krell ends his sermon with a powerful challenge:
While we still live, we all have a choice: to join Jacob and his descendants in waiting patiently for God to fulfill His covenant promises to us, as we labor for His coming kingdom, or to look over at Esau, prospering in the world, and join him in the pursuit of secular success. If we succeed by worldly standards but fail with God, we have failed where it really matters. Whether we fail or succeed by worldly standards, if we succeed with God, we will have true and lasting success. You are writing history. Every day you live, the choices you make, the things you say, and the actions you take are becoming a part of history. You are influencing the eternal destiny of others (one way or the other). How you conduct yourself in your marriage, with your children, in your work, and in the community is incredibly important! You are leaving a legacy for those who will follow in your steps (Prov 20:7). I urge you, please live your life with eternity in mind (Eph 5:15-16).
Tomorrow's scripture focus: Genesis 37