Year 2 Day 274
Read - Genesis 36
Message - Scott Woodburn
Perhaps you’ve already discovered that Genesis 36 isn’t a riveting read. It has been called the “Book of Esau” for it outlines the generations of Esau’s descendants. You may be tempted to skip chapters like this one. There are quite a few of them in the Old Testament and who wants to read endless lists of names? Brothers and sisters, I’d urge you to read all of God’s Word and especially the chapters that our hearts urge us to skip. All of Scripture is God breathed.
Yet the fact remains that Genesis 36 is a tough read, so what are we to do with such a passage? Let me suggest a couple of little signposts. Firstly, God is sovereign over pagans and He is faithful in His dealings with them. Isaac was tricked into blessing Jacob but regardless he blessed Esau too. Isaac declared about his favourite son “Behold, away from the fatness of the earth shall your dwelling be, and away from the dew of heaven on high. By your sword you shall live, and you shall serve your brother; but when you grow restless you shall break his yoke from your neck.” (Genesis 27v39-4)
Esau didn’t receive the blessing he longed for but his father did bless him and as Moses tells us the story of Esau in chapter 36 we see that Esau did indeed flourish. We’re told that “Esau is Edom” (v8) and in that land there were kings and cities long before there was any king over Israel (v31). Indeed when the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness, the Edomites were doing quite well for themselves. God reigns over the righteous and the wicked.
Yet we shouldn’t see Esau’s prosperity as a sign of God’s saving favour. The second signpost I want you to see is that Esau was not the child of promise. We are told that he deliberately chose to live away from his brother (v6). This isn’t a trivial detail. Esau prospered under the sovereignty of God but Esau did not love the Lord. God reigns over the righteous and the wicked and He blesses pagans every single day…yet they do not repent and choose to remain away from Christ.
Finally as Moses outlines the family tree of Esau he is setting the stage. Esau is Edom and the Edomites will become fierce enemies of the people of God. The Edomites rejoice when Jerusalem is destroyed. Amalek (v16) becomes a thorn in the flesh of the Israelites and then in the days of Christ, King Herod is an Edomite. Genesis 36 reminds us again that the kingdom of man will always rage against the kingdom of God.
So this chapter is easily skipped but shouldn’t be. As Moses writes name after name after name he shows us that our God knows the name and number even of those who hate Him. He isn’t unaware of the schemes of the enemy and in fact He is sovereign over their ways and plots. Wicked nations may seem to grow strong and mighty but ultimately they all fall before the gaze of Christ. Despite what we once thought, this chapter isn’t a chore but an instructive delight.
Esau is Edom but Christ is Lord.
Q37 What benefits do believers receive from Christ at death? The souls of believers are, at their death, made perfect in holiness, and do immediately pass into glory; and their bodies, being still united to Christ, do rest in their graves until the resurrection.