© Jeff Stacey | Last updated: 4 November 2016
4B30. Esau and sometimes Abraham, Sarah, Isaac and Jacob responded with no heart-commitment God:
They did not believe God’s Covenantal declarations and promises or obey His Covenantal requirements
4B30(a) To protect himself, Abraham lied to the Egyptians by denying that Sarah was his wife
Abraham and Sarah contrived a scheme to deceive the Egyptians by saying that she was his sister and not his wife Gen 12:13. So they responded without believing in God’s declarations and promises about their future.
It may be inappropriate to classify any of Abraham’s responses as being with “no heart-commitment to God”. Yet it seems that although his faith in God was great, it had its limits in this situation.
4B30(b) Abraham and Sarah disbelieved God’s Covenantal promise that Sarah would give birth to a son. Abraham instead sought the Covenant blessings for Ishmael
Sarah was afraid and committed further sin. She responded by lying, denying that she had laughed Gen 18:15a.
So their unbelief was obvious although they had both previously obeyed and believed God. They had responded without belief in God’s promise.
Here was one situation where Abraham and Sarah simply could not believe that God’s promise was possible Gen 18:14a. It seems that Abraham’s heart-commitment to God did not fully apply to all issues and situations he faced. Indeed it did not apply at all in this one!
4B30(c) To protect himself, Abraham lied to the people of Gerar by denying that Sarah was his wife
Abimelech the king of Gerar did take Sarah for himself Gen 20:2b. This meant that despite God’s promises Abraham had again allowed his wife to be exposed to sexual violation. So it was again possible that Sarah could bear a child fathered by a man other than Abraham! Or Sarah may already have been pregnant with Isaac!! Gen 18:10a,14b.
Abraham and Sarah had responded without believing God’s promises and even tried to justify their unbelief.
4B30(d) To protect himself, Isaac lied to the people of Gerar by denying that Rebekah was his wife
Fearing for his life, Isaac said that Rebekah was his sister and not his wife Gen 26:7 just as his father Abraham had done twice [4B30(a, c)].
Later his lie was discovered Gen 26:8 by the local Philistine king Abimelech (probably the son or grandson of the previous king Abimelech Gen 20:2b). When interrogated by Abimelech, Isaac admitted his wrongdoing and his unbelieving reasons for it Gen 26:9.
Isaac had responded without believing God’s promises.
4B30(e) Esau sold his birthright to Jacob
So Esau demonstrated that he neither believed in nor valued his right of inheritance to God’s promises as a chosen descendant of Abraham Gen 25:34b.
4B30(f) Esau repeatedly disobeyed God
When Esau realized he had been excluded from his Covenantal inheritance he maliciously thought of murdering Jacob after Isaac’s death! Gen 27:41,42b. Obviously this was NOT doing what was right and just.
Esau had also disobeyed God in other ways. He previously married two Hittite women Gen 26:34. This was contrary to the inferred Covenantal requirement that the chosen descendants of Abraham were to marry only women from among their own people [4A10(b)]. These two wives brought grief and distress for his parents Isaac and Rebekah Gen 26:35, 27:46.
Later Esau heard that Isaac had blessed Jacob again and also commanded him not to marry a Canaanite woman Gen 28:6. So Esau vindictively took a further wife, an Ishmaelite, who was his cousin Mahalath! Gen 28:8-9.
Esau demonstrated that he had no heart-commitment to God, as he neither believed God’s Covenantal promises nor kept His Covenantal requirements.
4B30(g) Jacob only loved Rachel so he did not love and honour Leah as his wife
Jacob had sexual relations with both his wives Gen 29:23b,28a,30a,32a,33a,34a,35a, 30:16b,19a,21,22-23a. Leah bore him four sons. She honoured God for the births of the first two (Reuben and Simeon), seeing them as expressions of His vindication in her misery and rejection by Jacob Gen 29:32b,33b. After the births of Reuben and her third son (Levi) she hoped that Jacob would then love her Gen 29:34b. But after the birth of her fourth son (Judah) she simply praised God! Gen 29:35b.
Rachel was unable to bear children. She became jealous of her older sister Leah and even angry at Jacob! Gen 30:1-2. Then in accord with the custom of the time (and the example of Abraham, Sarah and her maidservant Hagar, Gen 16:1-4) Rachel decided to give her maidservant Bilhah to Jacob as a concubine. This was intended to be on Rachel’s behalf in order to build a family for herself in this way Gen 30:3-4. Bilhah bore Jacob two sons (Dan and Naphtali) Gen 30:5,7 and Rachel thanked God for His vindication of herself! Gen 30:6,8. Later Rachel resorted to using mandrakes to try and overcome her problem! Gen 30:14,15.
Jacob continued to discriminate between his wives. Apparently he even ceased having sexual relations with Leah for a time, probably due to pressure from Rachel Gen 29:35b, 30:9a,15a,16b. So Leah had offered her maidservant Zilpah to Jacob on her behalf and he fathered two sons by her (Gad and Asher) Gen 30:9-13. When pressured through Rachel’s and Leah’s scheming Gen 30:15,16 Jacob resumed sexual relations with Leah and she bore him two more sons (Issachar and Zebulun) and a daughter (Dinah) Gen 30:17,19,21. She again acknowledged God and poignantly still hoped for Jacob to honor and love her for bearing him six sons Gen 30:18,20.
When Jacob was old, his son Judah quoted him Gen 44:27. This statement implied that Jacob had not even recognised Judah’s mother Leah as having been his wife who bore him six sons and a daughter!
Jacob had maintained no heart-commitment to God in this matter. He did not “do what was right and just”, persistently refusing to love Leah as his wife and give her due honour.
4B30(h) Jacob neither condemned his sons’ actions nor showed faith in God
Although Jacob rebuked his sons for their revenge attack, it was not because of their brutality. Instead it was due to his fear that the Canaanites would combine in a reprisal attack and kill all his household! Gen 34:30.
Jacob had declared on arrival at Shechem that Yahweh was his God [4B28(h)]. Yet now he did not honour God by condemning his sons’ ruthless violence. Nor was he confident of God’s protection from the Canaanites despite all that God had promised and already brought him through. So Jacob showed that he had no heart-commitment to God in this situation.
4B30(j) Jacob favored Joseph and Benjamin over his ten older sons
Jacob continued his discrimination against Leah and the two maidservants by not valuing their ten sons. He disrespected and accused them, complained about them and treated them as of little value Gen 42:1,36,38, 43:6, 45:26b. He probably also regarded Leah’s daughter Dinah in the same way Gen 34:1,5b. But he deeply valued Rachel’s two sons as his favourites Gen 37:3-4, 42:3-4, 43:14, 44:20,27-31,34.
Yet despite Jacob’s attitudes to his ten older sons, they generally showed due honour in the ways they spoke to him and carried out his wishes Gen 42:1-2,3,37, 43:1-10,15, 50:12-13. They were also anxious for his welfare and distressed by his grief Gen 44:22,29-30,31,34. At times some of them were concerned to uphold what was right Gen 34:7,31, 37:21,26-27,29-30, 42:37, 43:9,21, 44:6-7,8,9 and showed some sensitivity of conscience about honouring God or being guilty before Him Gen 42:21,22,28, 44:16, 45:5a.
Jacob continually showed no heart-commitment to God in these family matters despite his sons often showing respect to him. He did not keep God’s Covenantal requirement to do what was right and just.