It's Not Fair!

Jacob and Esau and the Birthright-Genesis 25:19-33, 27:1-42, 32:3-21, 33:1-4

Theme: It’s not fair!


          “It’s not fair!”

          Have you ever said that? When? (Discussion)

          Today’s story has plenty of “It’s Not Fairs.” See if you can find them.


          All her life Rebekah had wanted a baby. When she married her wonderful husband Isaac, she thought now it would happen. But it didn’t.

          “It’s not fair!” she may have thought. “I want a baby!”

          So Isaac prayed to God on behalf of his wife, and Rebekah became pregnant.

          She was thrilled… until that baby kicked and pushed and hiccupped inside of her so that she could hardly sleep at night.

          “It’s not fair!” she may have thought. “I didn’t think carrying a baby would be this hard. Why God? What’s going on?”

          God answered her. “Two nations are in your womb; two people will come from you and be separated. One will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.”

          Twins? She was carrying twins? She was so excited. No wonder there was so much kicking.

          When it was time for the babies to be born, the first one came out reddish and covered with hair. They named him Esau. Then his brother came out, holding onto Esau’s heel. They named him Jacob.

          Because Esau was born first, he was the oldest and would inherit the birthright which was a double portion of the inheritance.

          Those boys were as different as night and day. Esau became an expert hunter, an outdoorsman. He was his father’s favorite.

          Jacob was a quiet boy who stayed at home and loved to cook. He was Rebekah’s favorite son.

          Once when Jacob was cooking stew, Esau came in from the field, exhausted. “Give me some of that stew,” he said. “I’m starving.”

          Now it had always bothered Jacob that Esau was the oldest and would inherit the money and the blessing. “It’s not fair,” he thought.

          When Esau asked for the stew, he said, “If you sell me your birthright, I’ll give you some stew.”

          Esau wasn’t thinking straight because he was so hungry. “I’m about to die I’m so hungry, so what good is a birthright to me? Sure, I’ll sell you my birthright for a bowl of stew.”

          So Jacob gave him a bowl of lentil stew in exchange for the birthright.

          Later, when their father Isaac was very old and feeble and blind, thinking he might die soon, he called his oldest son Esau, his favorite, and said, “Take your bow and arrow and go out into the field and hunt some game for me. Then make me a delicious meal so that I can give you my blessing before I die.”

          Esau went out to hunt.

          Meanwhile, Rebekah listened at the door. Since Jacob was her favorite son, she wanted him to receive the blessing instead. So she thought up a trick.

          “Jacob,” she said, “guess what I just heard? Your father asked Esau to go hunting and prepare a delicious meal so he can give him his blessing before he dies. But I want you to have that blessing. So, do exactly what I say. Go out to the flock and bring me two young goats, and I will make them into a delicious meal, the kind your father loves. Then take it to your father so that he may bless you instead.”

          “But Mother, Esau is a hairy man and I am smooth. If my father touches me, he will know that I am tricking him, and it will bring a curse instead of a blessing.”

          His mother said, “His curse be on me, my son, not you. Just obey me and go get the goats.”

          It wasn’t fair, was it, for Rebekah to be deceitful to her own husband?

          But Jacob went out and killed two goats and brought them to her. She cooked them into a delicious meal.

          Then Rebekah snuck into Esau’s room and grabbed his best clothes.

          “Put these on,” she told Jacob.

          He dressed in the clothes which had the earthy, outdoorsy smell of his brother.

          Then Rebekah took some of the hairy goat skin and tied it around Jacob’s arms and neck.

          “Is this is going to work?” Jacob asked.

          “Of course!” she said. “Now take this food to your father.”

          Jacob walked into his father’s room. “My father,” he said.

          “Who are you, my son?”

          “I am Esau, your firstborn. I have done as you told me. Please sit up and eat some of my game so you can bless me.”

          Was it fair of him to lie and say that? No.

          “But how did you find it so quickly, my son?” Isaac asked.

          “The Lord your God helped me.”

          Isaac was suspicious. Since he was blind, he said, “Come closer so I can touch you. Are you really my son Esau?”

          When Jacob came closer, Isaac touched his hands covered with goat skin. “You have the voice of Jacob, but the hands of Esau. Are you really my son Esau?”

          “I am,” Jacob said.

          “Then serve me some of your meal so I can bless you.”

          Jacob dished out the food for his father.

          “Please come closer and kiss me, son,” Isaac said.

          Jacob came closer and kissed him. When Isaac smelled the outdoorsy clothes, he blessed him.

          Was it fair for Jacob to trick his father? No.

          Rebekah listened to every word. When Jacob came out, they probably danced for joy. Their plan had worked!

          Meanwhile, Esau shot and killed some wild game and cooked it into a delicious meal. He brought it to his father.

          “Father, look what I’ve made you. Sit up and eat so you can bless me.”

          “Who are you?” Isaac asked.

          “I am Esau, your firstborn son.”

          Isaac trembled. “Who was it, then, who brought me the other food? I already ate and blessed him.”

          “No!” Esau cried out. “Bless me too!”

          “I can’t. Your brother deceived me and already took the blessing.”

          “It’s not fair! Now he has cheated me twice. First he took my birthright, and now he’s taken my blessing. It’s not fair! Haven’t you saved a blessing for me?”

          “No, I have made him master over you and have given him all his relatives as servants. What is left to give you?”

          “Don’t you have one blessing for me, Father? Please?” And Esau wept loudly.

          “You will live by your sword and you will serve your brother.”

          Because of what Jacob had done, Esau decided to kill him.

          Rebekah heard about it. She summoned Jacob. “Listen, my son. Esau wants to kill you. You must leave immediately. Go to my brother Laban in Haran and stay with him until your brother isn’t so angry. Then I will send for you. This isn’t fair! Here I’ve lost both my sons in one day!”

          Was it fair? Actually, yes. Rebekah got what she deserved for being so tricky and deceitful.

          How about you? Are you fair to others? Do you trick and lie and deceive? Or do you always tell the truth? Do you do the right thing? Do you treat people the right way, even your brothers and sisters?

          But what if someone has treated you unfairly? How does it feel? Do you hold a grudge like Esau did? What should you do?

          Let’s hear the rest of the story.

          Jacob ran away to his Uncle Laban’s where he married two of Laban’s daughters, Leah and Rachel.

          Many years later Jacob wanted to return home, but he was afraid of his brother Esau. He wondered if Esau still wanted to kill him.

          He set out on camels with his two wives and eleven sons, two female servants, and all his livestock and possessions. But he sent messengers ahead with gifts for his brother Esau to try to win his favor. The messengers came back saying that Esau was coming to meet him with four hundred men.

          Jacob was terrified that Esau still wanted to kill him for stealing his blessing.

          But when Esau saw him, he ran to him, threw his arms around him, kissed him, and wept.

          Why do you think he did that?

          Because Esau had forgiven his brother. He no longer held a grudge.

          Did Esau deserve to still be angry? Yes. Why? Jacob had lied and stolen his blessing and his birthright. But in spite of what Jacob had done, Esau forgave him and wanted to be close to him again.

          So, if someone treats you unfairly, what should you do?

          Forgive them and try to be friends again.

          Let’s look at some examples.    

          What if you are not chosen to be on a team? It’s not fair! You think you’re good enough. Are you going to be bitter and angry for the rest of your life? What do you need to do?

          What if your best friend decides she wants a different best friend? It’s not fair! What should you do?

          What if you rake up most of the leaves and your brother only rakes a few, and your parents praise him as much as they praise you. It’s not fair! You did most of the work. What should you do?

          Life isn’t fair. Things will often happen that we don’t like. Will you become bitter and angry, or will you forgive so you can enjoy life again?

          There is only one person we can count on to be fair and always do the right thing. Who is that? Jesus.

Beth Livingston

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *