From that time on, Esau hated Jacob because their father had given Jacob the blessing. And Esau began to scheme: “I will soon be mourning my father’s death. Then I will kill my brother, Jacob.” But Rebekah heard about Esau’s plans. So she sent for Jacob and told him, “Listen, Esau is consoling himself by plotting to kill you. So listen carefully, my son. Get ready and flee to my brother, Laban, in Haran. Stay there with him until your brother cools off. When he calms down and forgets what you have done to him, I will send for you to come back. Why should I lose both of you in one day?” Then Rebekah said to Isaac, “I’m sick and tired of these local Hittite women! I would rather die than see Jacob marry one of them.”
Instead of reevaluating his life and turning to God for forgiveness, Esau becomes jealous of Jacob. He was the eldest. The firstborn gets the blessing. Esau did not worship God all of his adult life, and yet he wanted all the good things God had to offer. He almost had it, too.
But, Jacob got in the way. Can you hear what is going on in Esau’s mind?
All that punk thinks about is stupid spiritual things.
He’s always trying to make me look like I don’t care.
He’s always stealing my stuff.
Jacob, my younger brother, who needs to be subservient to me!
Esau hated Jacob
Those boys pretty much tolerated each other all their lives. But, whatever positive emotion Esau may have had towards Jacob turned into bitter hatred. The word for ‘hate’ literally means ‘cherished animosity’ (1). Let me translate for you. Esau justified the anger and hostility he felt towards Jacob. He nursed those toxic emotions with wicked imaginations. Each time he thought about the blessing he lost, or heard Jacob’s name, or laid eyes on his face, he could just ring his neck. Esau could barely keep from torturing him.
Not if, but when
Esau realized that soon he will bury the person he loved most in this world. Overwhelmed from being deprived of the blessing joined with the realization that he may soon lose his father, Esau yearned for emotional relief. In his twisted mind, he comforted himself by planning Jacob’s demise.
In Esau’s heart, Jacob was already dead, so it was only a matter of ‘when’ to kill him. Isaac’s passing would be a good time to kill Jacob and a great way to sooth his own grief. Esau’s thoughtlife was consumed with his plan and he verbalized his thoughts to anyone who would listen.
Rebekah tells Jacob to run
Someone reported to Rebekah what Esau was spreading all over the camp. Immediately, Rebekah took action and warned Jacob of Esau’s intentions. They both knew how impetuous Esau was and that he would definitely carry out his threats. Because Esau was so impulsive, he may not wait until Isaac’s death, and just slay Jacob in a fit of rage. Rebekah knew Jacob was in grave danger and he needed to get away, now!
Go to Laban’s
Rebekah calculated that the safest place for Jacob would be at Laban’s, her brother. He was family. He would be cared for and safe. Rumors of friction in the family must be squelched inside the camp and out. In order for Laban and the surrounding nations not to be privy to any family discord, Jacob will go there with the intent to marry a wife from his own clan.
Isaac and Rebekah endured the abuse from these women to keep peace with Esau. If Rebekah complained about them, Esau would make a stand against his mother to keep the wives happy. Who knows how they would retaliate against Rebekah? She may not even be cared for in her old age. She understood that she wouldn’t share fellowship with her oldest son anymore, and even lose the limited and distant relationship they had up to now.
Broken hearted Rebekah had to make a choice. If she said nothing, Esau would kill Jacob, put all their lives in danger, and the entire family would lose everything. If she made a case against Jacob marrying one of the local women, everyone would understand that Jacob was away to find a bride and would soon return. Esau’s temper would have a chance to cool off and they could continue on with life. However, her relationship with Esau would be severed, she may never see the grandchildren again, and she may end up fending for herself in her later years. Rebekah was between a rock and a hard place. Rebekah always sacrificed her needs to meet the needs of her family. She made her last recorded choice to preserve God’s covenant, the life of her son, and to protect their caravan.
When will Jacob come back?
Rebekah will let Jacob know when Esau was over his loss. Only then will she send for him to return. Never did she dream his parting would be the last time she would lay eyes on Jacob in this world.
Rebekah never saw the prophecy God spoke to her fulfilled in her lifetime. She never saw her boys become two great nations. But, she lived her life by making decisions based upon the words God gave her so long ago. Her vision was beyond the troubles this life presented. It was about the future and her reward was eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:18 NLT
So we don't look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.
Father, when my whole world seems to be falling apart, help me to remember that these problems will not last forever. Even if the outcome is not the way I want it to be, I will make decisions based on Your Word. Give me the grace to make the right choices. Help me to fix my gaze on the future and on eternal rewards. In Jesus Name, Amen.