An entire chapter recording the genealogy of Esau… Did a question flood your thoughts that went something like this, “How do we possibly see You, Lord, in this mind-numbing list of names?” I confess that was my initial thought. But this is His inspired Word; therefore every bit must be relevant.
So why did God inspire Moses, the man of God, to chronicle the records of the generations of Esau? Why a lengthy list of names with no substantial details, no elaboration of events unfolding, no stories? God’s Word describes countless stories within its pages, but not here. Within the absence of human stories is this unmistakable reality; there is only one story that matters… His.
Consider His Story
1) His Story communicates the fulfillment of His Word. In a chapter containing little more than a list of names, we see the LORD repeating Himself; and we know when He repeats Himself…pay attention! Five times God conveys that Esau is Edom, or the father of the Edomites.
“Now these are the records of the generations of Esau (that is, Edom),” (36:1); “So Esau lived in the hill country of Seir; Esau is Edom,” (36:8); “These then are the records of the generations of Esau the father of the Edomites in the hill country of Seir,” (36:9); “These are the sons of Esau (that is, Edom), and these are their chiefs,” (36:19); “These are the chiefs of Edom (that is, Esau, the father of the Edomites), according to their habitations in the land of their possession,” (36:43).
Five times! Why? This fact has tremendous significance; for in this genealogy we see the fulfillment of His Word spoken to Rebekah regarding the twins she carried. “The Lord said to her, ‘Two nations are in your womb; and two peoples will be separated from your body; and one people shall be stronger than the other; and the older shall serve the younger,’ ” (Genesis 25:23).
It is His Story, and what He desires will be accomplished. “So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it,” (Isaiah 55:11).
2) His Story communicates the destiny of man. As God had foretold in Genesis 25, Esau’s ancestors become the nation Edom. “These then are the records of the generations of Esau the father of the Edomites,” (36:4). Man’s destiny is in His Hands, it is His Story, “and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation,” (Acts 17:26).
3) His Story is about Him, not us. We read name after name, but no accounts of individual stories. The Edomites do become a nation, a nation of pagans who ultimately become brutal enemies of God and His chosen people “They have said, “Come, and let us wipe them out as a nation, that the name of Israel be remembered no more.’ 5 For they have conspired together with one mind; against You they make a covenant: 6 The tents of Edom and…,” (Psalm 83:4-6). There is nothing in the Edomites to record, for the stories of men must always magnify and glorify His Story.
How do we respond to His Story?
* Let us stand strong in the reality that He will accomplish what He has decreed. No man, no organization, no demon will rewrite His Story; it is His Story to fulfill. Do we believe He will accomplish all He has promised? When we struggle to believe, let us ask Him to strengthen us through our time in His Word, by the power of His Holy Spirit; in desperate sincerity we too can cry out, “I do believe; help my unbelief,” (Mark 9:24).
* Let us examine ourselves: in whose story are we trusting for our eternal destiny? It is only His Story that brings eternal life. “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26). Jesus left no room for doubt, it is only our belief in Him that securely and infinitely establishes our eternity.
* Let us learn to live sacrificially for the sake of others, and to grow in boldness to share the Gospel, so that many others may share in His Story. There is coming a day when another list, an eternally consequential list of names will be revealed. “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire,” (Revelation 20:15). Let us purposefully share the good news of the gospel, and pray that as a result, many would become part of His Story and find themselves included in His Book of Life!