One lesson from the life of Esau is who and where we came from doesn’t necessarily define who we are or will become. Another takeaway is to recognize the good around us and become wise to the frequent folly of “following your heart” after what appears to be good. This is why Messiah Yeshua wants us to learn how to be “complete,” not lacking in anything.
At first glance, the trustworthiness troubles of Abraham, his son Yitzkhak (Isaac) and grandson Ya’akov (Jacob) can be disturbing, considering they are pillars of faith in the Kingdom of God. How can we forget Ya’akov’s “red, red stuff” deal for the birthright his brother, Esau?
Rather than a descent into “truthiness,” their legacy for the commonwealth of Israel is growth from faith-fickle to faithful. In this week’s Torah portion (תולדות Toldot, “generations,” Gen. 25:19–28:9), we follow Ya’akov’s journey to becoming a “new man,” renamed Israel (“struggles with God” or “rules with God”). That “rebirth,” pictured via Ya’akov’s dream of a ladder between Earth and Heaven, is why Yeshua (Jesus) likened that ladder to Himself (John 1:43–50).
The name of the Torah portion חיי שרה Chayei Sarah means “life of Sarah,” but it starts with the matriarch’s death. We see how Abraham works hard to find a final resting place for her, but her death had a huge impact on Yitzkhak (Isaac) as well, affecting him for years. Her death also played a larger than life role in how Abraham’s most trusted servant, Eliazer of Damascus, set out to find a suitable wife for Yitzkhak to carry out Abraham’s legacy.
It’s all too easy in today’s crave-the-cutting-edge lifestyle to forget who got us to where we are today. Abraham is called “father of us all” because his trust in God is the model for saving faith in God’s Son, Yeshua haMashiakh (Jesus the Christ) (Rom. 4:16–5:2). In this week’s Torah portion, חיי שרה Chayei Sarah (“Sarah’s life,” Gen. 23:1–25:18), we learn how important Abraham’s wife Sarah is in The Way from our old way of life to our new one in Mashiakh.
“Now these are the records of the generations of Yitzkhak, Abraham’s son: Abraham became the father of Yitzkhak.” (Genesis 25:19 NASB)
The struggles of Yitzkhak and Yishma’el explored in Torah section Toldot or Toledot (“generations” or “accounts”) were very similar to the later struggles of Ya’akov and Eysau. We see why in Romans 9:6-24. We have two sets of men: Yitzkhak and Ya’akov vs. Yishma’el and Eysau.
When we are pushed to our limits, God promises us that the ways of the Kingdom of God are far more profitable in the long term than trying to avoid pain. That’s what Abraham and Sarah learned over many years of their lives. It’s all the more relevant today for increasing social and physical pressure put on believers in the Holy One of Israel and the Anointed One of God. This lesson of faith is the backdrop of the Torah portion (parashah) חיי שרה Chayei Sarah (“life of Sarah,” Gen. 23:1–25:18).
Where we came from and who our parents are doesn’t necessarily define who we are or who we will become. We need to recognize the good around us and become wise to the frequent folly of “following your heart.” This is what we can learn from the life of Esau, the brother of Ya’akov and son of Yitzkhak, detailed in the Torah section תּוֹלְדֹת Toldot or Toledot, covering Gen. 25:19-28:9.