“And Isaac entreated the Lord for his wife, because she was barren: and the Lord was entreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived. “And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to enquire of the Lord. “And the Lord said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger. “And when her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb. And the first came out red, all over like an hairy garment; and they called his name Esau. And after that came his brother out, and his hand took hold on Esau’s heel; and his name was called Jacob.” Gen. 25:21-26.
In the preternatural birth and the lives of Esau and Jacob, there is unmistakably Divine design and typology. The strange anomaly of this family’s experience obviously dramatized in miniature an experience through which God’s church would one day pass. Rebekah herself was made well aware of this fact when “the Lord said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.” Verse 23.
What is the typology in this throbbing life drama?—Basically that which stands forth in Paul’s interpretation of the equally intense drama of Hagar and Ishmael, Sarah and Isaac. Inspiration unveils the fact that the former pair represent the Old Testament Church and its members, the Jews; and that the latter pair represent the New Testament Church and its members, the Christians (Gal. 4:22-31).
Similarly, though in another phase, Rebekah also represents the church, while Esau and Jacob represent her offspring, the laity. And since the two struggled within the mother before they were born (delivered), the important lesson is that while the church is travailing with her children just before they are delivered, receive the second birth (John 3:3) and are led into the kingdom, they are to struggle within. So, Rebekah’s carrying two sons makes known that the church is carrying within her two classes of people—Esaus and Jacobs.
“There are two opposing influences,” affirms Inspiration, “continually exerted on the members of the church. One influence is working for the purification of the church, and the other for the corrupting of the people of God.”—Testimonies to Ministers, p. 46.
The manner in which Esau and Jacob were born—Jacob’s following Esau ahold of his heel—has very obvious significance: Esau’s leading makes him a type of leaders possessing his character, and Jacob’s following makes him a type of followers possessing his character. This analogy unerringly signifies, too, that the one represents a class which precedes the other in church fellowship. Broadly speaking, therefore, they together represent candidates for a successor ministry and laity respectively.
There is also typical significance in the further fact that Esau was born hairy and Jacob smooth. This outstanding external unlikeness obviously imports some kind of outstanding visible identification of the two classes typified.
God ordained the man to lead and the woman to follow, and as such He created the man hairy and the woman smooth. These Divine marks of distinction reveal that Esau and the class which he represents possess the natural equipment for leader-ship, while Jacob and the class he represents do not. Besides, being the first-born, Esau by birthright was to be the family’s priest. Through him were to come the progenitors of the twelve tribes, the prophets, the princes, and the kings of Israel, even the King of kings Himself, the Saviour of the world.
But the desires, ambitions, and aims of Esau and Jacob, ran counter to their inherited positions. Esau had no special interest in the part of the work which his birthright permitted, whereas Jacob coveted it. Blocked, though, by the law of inheritance from possessing Esau’s part, Jacob in his inordinate longing for the birthright managed to purchase it at the opportune time. Then in order to receive his father’s blessings, he consented to his mother’s conniving to obtain it through deceit.
The tragic lesson is painfully conspicuous: The Esau class who attend the duties of their office less than its sanctity demands, indifferently let it slip from their hands into the eager, reaching grasp of the Jacob class, who do veritably appreciate and prize its obligations, but who, not being natural-born leaders, must acquire the equipment for the holy office by passing through the disciplinary training of some soul-trying experience as foreshadowed by Jacob’s training while he was a fugitive from home. Thus in their providential lot, cast out of the church by their elder brethren, as was Jacob cast out of the home by his elder brother, because of their zeal in God’s service, they gain a training for the privileged work which is to be theirs.
What an inestimable blessing the first-born, the present ministry, are losing! Theirs is the matchless privilege of standing on Mt. Zion with the Lamb and of fathering forth the latter day subjects of the Kingdom, ushering the Kingdom itself, bringing the second advent of Christ, and finally leading the redeemed host into the heavenly Canaan, into the realms of fadeless glory. But they are about to lose out—tragedy of tragedies!
For some tempting mess of pottage they let slip this sovereign privilege! Sadly, they are even now letting it slip away to the Jacob class, the faithful laity, the 144,000 future servants of God (Rev. 7:3; 5:10, Testimonies, Vol. 5, pp. 475, 476).
“As Esau awoke to see the folly of his rash exchange when it was too late to recover his loss, so it will be in the day of God with those who have bartered their heirship to heaven for selfish gratifications.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 182. (Read also Testimonies, Vol. 2, pp. 38, 39.)
“Brethren,” years ago pleaded the Spirit of Truth with the first-born in warning them of their danger of losing their birthright, “if you continue to be as idle, as worldly, as selfish as you have been, God will surely pass you by, and take those who are less self-caring, less ambitious for worldly honor, and who will not hesitate to go, as did their Master, without the camp, bearing the reproach. The work will be given to those who will take it, those who prize it, who weave its principles into their every-day experience. God will choose humble men, who are seeking to glorify his name and advance his cause rather than to honor and advance them-selves. He will raise up men who have not so much worldly wisdom, but who are connected with him, and who will seek strength and counsel from above.”—Testimonies, Vol. 5, p. 461.
“The call to this great and solemn work was presented to men of learning and position; had these been little in their own eyes, and trusted fully in the Lord, he would have honored them with bearing his standard in triumph to the victory. . . .
“God will work a work in our day that but few anticipate. He will raise up and exalt among us those who are taught rather by the unction of his Spirit, than by the outward training of scientific institutions.”—Testimonies, Vol. 5, p. 82.
“Here [Ezek. 9:5, 6] we see that the church—the Lord’s sanctuary—was the first to feel the stroke of the wrath of God. The ancient men, those to whom God had given great light, and who had stood as guardians of the spiritual interests of the people, had betrayed their trust. They had taken the position that we need not look for miracles and the marked manifestation of God’s power as in former days. Times have changed. These words strengthen their unbelief, and they say, The Lord will not do good, neither will he do evil. He is too merciful to visit his people in judgment. Thus peace and safety is the cry from men who will never again lift up their voice like a trumpet to show God’s people their transgressions and the house of Jacob their sins. These dumb dogs, that would nor bark, are the ones who feel the just vengeance of an offended God. Men, maidens, and little children, all perish together.”—Id., p. 211.
Now, as this numerous-phased typology turns round to its next aspect, Esau and Jacob are seen in a further representation of two sinful classes: Esau, both by the color of his skin and by the significance of his name after it was changed from Esau to Edom; Jacob, by the meaning of his name before it was changed from Jacob to Israel.
Singularly enough, as was the color of Esau’s skin red, so was the meaning of his new name, Edom. And as he failed to appreciate and cherish the paternal gift, never fulfilling the meaning of his birth name (“he that finishes”), it is seen that his new name, unlike Jacob’s new name, signifies, not advancement, but rather failure to advance, going on unrestrained in his carnal ways—remaining in his in-born, “red,” character. Hence, the class of leaders which he typifies are to lose out, never to finish their God-appointed work, and never to be transformed from sinners to saints! What a loss!
Not so, though, with the Jacob class. Just as their type, who diligently cared for the sheep, carefully tended to his business, and triumphantly overcame his covetous nature, had his name changed from Jacob (supplanter) to Israel (an overcomer and thus a Prince), so they, too, finally triumphing over their own carnal nature, have their names changed from Jacobites to Israelites, from supplanters to over-comers,—from servants of self to servants of God, from common Christians in Laodicea to exalted princes on Mt. Zion. Thus in their own right the antitypical Jacobites become antitypical Israelites, by acquisition of the priestly birthright they become finishers of the gospel work, and as servants of God they stand on Mt. Zion with the Lamb.
So it is seen that both classes, like their types, have their names changed: the Jacob class, because they cherish, as did Jacob, an imperishable birthright; the Esau class, because they despise, as did Esau, the imperishable birthright, and cherish the perishable glory of this life. The one has a sharp, correct sense of life’s values; the other, a dull, incorrect sense of them.
And though Jacob lacked the natural qualifications for performing the duties of his office, the lack was more than offset by his overwhelming zeal. Regardless, therefore, how much or how little natural talent and acquired training one may have for any position, he will never make a success at it unless he invests in it everything he possesses—throws his whole heart and soul into it. This is one of life’s immutable laws, and it should be remembered by all that it governs prosperity in every field of endeavor whether for believer or unbeliever.
Since one’s loss is always another’s gain, just as Esau’s loss was Jacob’s gain, so the dreadful, irreparable, and priceless loss to the Esau class is to be a glorious eternal gain to the Jacob class.
In gnawing remorse over the realization of his inestimable loss, Esau “found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.” Heb. 12:17. His fate irrevocably types that which is to overtake all who by their works place themselves in the Esau class.
In the stream of this most instructive typology on the subject, we are now carried along to its climaxing feature—” — Shepherd’s Rod, Vol. 1, Tract Ed. pp. 25-32 (to be continued next week with Jacob’s dream)