Genesis 35:22b – 36:8 For any organisation to flourish, its leaders must possess divine favour
Genesis 35:22b – 36:8 For any organisation to flourish, its leaders must possess divine favour
Now there were twelve sons of Jacob — 23 the sons of Leah: Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn, then Simeon and Levi and Judah and Issachar and Zebulun; 24 the sons of Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin; 25 and the sons of Bilhah, Rachel’s maid: Dan and Naphtali; 26 and the sons of Zilpah, Leah’s maid: Gad and Asher. These are the sons of Jacob who were born to him in Paddan-aram. 27 Jacob came to his father Isaac at Mamre of Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron), where Abraham and Isaac had sojourned. 28 Now the days of Isaac were one hundred and eighty years. 29 Isaac breathed his last and died and was gathered to his people, an old man of ripe age; and his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.
1 Now these are the records of the generations of Esau (that is, Edom). 2 Esau took his wives from the daughters of Canaan: Adah the daughter of Elon the Hittite, and Oholibamah the daughter of Anah and the granddaughter of Zibeon the Hivite; 3 also Basemath, Ishmael’s daughter, the sister of Nebaioth. 4 Adah bore Eliphaz to Esau, and Basemath bore Reuel, 5 and Oholibamah bore Jeush and Jalam and Korah. These are the sons of Esau who were born to him in the land of Canaan. 6 Then Esau took his wives and his sons and his daughters and all his household, and his livestock and all his cattle and all his goods which he had acquired in the land of Canaan, and went to another land away from his brother Jacob. 7 For their property had become too great for them to live together, and the land where they sojourned could not sustain them because of their livestock. 8 So Esau lived in the hill country of Seir; Esau is Edom.
This section sees a fitting conclusion with the estranged brothers, Esau and Jacob being joined together to bury their father. The line up of both camps in tribal formation signifies a mandate towards nation building. Even as the descendants of both brothers exercise good governance, both experience very different outcomes. The nation of Edom was destroyed by Babylon while Israel continues to prosper until this day. The secret to Israel’s blessedness and longevity lies in the divine favour that God bestows to Israel’s founders and leaders. Today’s devotion teaches us that for any organisation to flourish, its leaders must show themselves worthy to obtain divine favour.
Now there were twelve sons of Jacob… Now these are the records of the generations of Esau.
As Jacob’s name is changed to Israel, Esau’s name is also changed into a national name, Edom. Both lines are now presented in tribal formation with twelve names each.
The 12 sons of Israel: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, Benjamin, Dan, Naphtali, Gad and Asher.
The 12 sons of Edom: Teman, Omar, Zepho, Gatam, Kenaz, Nahath, Zerah, Shammah, Mizzah, Jeush, Jalam, Korah.
The number 12 signifies completeness in terms of tribal/political governance. It is highly likely that Edom’s list is contrived by the narrator to project a sense of mandate towards nation building. Israel, on the other hand is given the promise of a nation leading to a company of nations. While the kingdom of Edom was destroyed by Babylon in the 6th century BC, Israel continues to prosper until this day.
Isaac breathed his last and died and was gathered to his people,
The family that was shattered at the departure of Jacob for Paddan-aram was restored when Jacob returned to Canaan. What was meant as a temporal arrangement became a thirty year pilgrimage. Nothing was recorded concerning Rebekah apart from the death of her nurse, Deborah. Nevertheless, this section sees a fitting conclusion with the estranged brothers, Esau and Jacob being joined together to bury their father.
Then Esau took his wives and his sons and his daughters and all his household,
“For their property had become too great for them to live together” is most likely a euphemism for an amicable settlement of irreconcilable differences or conflicts of interests. A few factors may be at play here that caused Esau to cede Canaan to his brother. Either he no longer had the desire to keep the laws that came with the covenant, or he perceived the hill country of Seir as being more conducive than Canaan. Whatever it is, divine providence paved the way for an amicable solution, away from a potentially nasty confrontation. With Esau out of the way, the stage is now set for God to fulfil his promises to Israel.
For any organisation to flourish, its leaders must possess divine favour.
Both Edom and Israel built their respective nations, each with 12 sons and their tribes. Edom’s conquest of the Horites at Mount Seir attests to their greatness. This is further strengthened by the impressive list of kings that precedes any ruler in Israel. Indeed, God’s word is true that the older will serve the younger (see Genesis 25:23) and God is raising up an even greater Israel capable of subjugating Edom. Not just Edom but a company of nations as prophesied by the mouth of Balaam,
“I see him, but not now;
I behold him, but not near;
A star shall come forth from Jacob,
A scepter shall rise from Israel,
And shall crush through the forehead of Moab,
And tear down all the sons of Sheth.
“Edom shall be a possession,
Seir, its enemies, also will be a possession,
While Israel performs valiantly. Numbers 24:17-18.
Edom was destroyed in 6th century BC, but Israel continues to flourish and prosper until this day. The secret to Israel’s blessedness lies in the divine favour that God showed to its founders and leaders. No doubt, good governance is important to the wellbeing of a nation. But in order for any organisation to flourish and bear fruit continually, its leaders must possess divine favour. And in order for a leader to obtain divine favour, he must show himself worthy to receive it. A survey of Jacob’s life reveals the traits that are worthy of God’s favour:
- He seeks divine favour as if his life depends on it. Esau, as a young man vehemently seeks his father’s favour over God’s favour. Jacob on the other hand seeks God’s favour to the extent that he will deceive his father and brother to obtain it.
- He lives according to the good values and holy traditions of the church. Esau defies the Abrahamic tradition by taking wives among the Canaanites. But Jacob obeys his parents and leaves for Pandan-aram looking for a wife.
- He obeys divine directives. Esau despises the holy land and left for the hill country of Seir. But Jacob, in staying true to the divine directives and remains in the promised land.
- He lives to fulfil the vision of God’s kingdom. Esau lives for the goal of self-preservation and self-enrichment. Jacob lives to bring God’s blessing to all the families of the earth.
Governance enables a family or organisation to work cohesively and efficiently towards a common goal. Good governance is important as it makes the organisation efficient and controllable. And every family or organisation must endeavour to build good governance. However, what keeps any family or organisation flourishing and bearing fruit is not just good governance but divine favour. Governance pertains to blessing oneself and living comfortably. But divine favour pertains to being a blessing to others and living life abundantly. Only when leaders live to become a blessing to another family or organisation will they be counted worthy to receive divine favour.
What does divine favour do for us? We will see divine favour at work in Jacob’s life and among the children of Israel in the coming chapters:
- Divine favour write-off our sins and blesses us when we repent. Jacob’s deception against his father and brother were not held against him.
- Divine favour turns unfavourable circumstances to our favour. God turned the tables on Laban and prospered Jacob.
- Divine favour ordains and prepares us for greater works. Jacob’s 30 year pilgrimage was instrumental in preparing him to succeed Isaac as the covenant holder.
- Divine favour gives us hope through the word and angelic appearances. Jacob’s encounter with God and the angels gave him hope and security to face the challenges ahead.
- Divine favour blesses us so that we may become a blessing to the world.
- Divine favour blesses our descendants so that they may keep on being a blessing to the world.
Nevertheless, many focus on enriching themselves thinking that they will only enrich others when they have accumulated sufficiently for themselves. Sadly, many became so entrenched in their self-centred lifestyle they could not extricate themselves from it. Their conscience became cold and seared towards the plight of others. As a result, they rendered themselves unworthy to receive divine favour that can bring eternal blessing to their descendants and to the world.
Do you have a constant sense of insecurity that robs you of your trust in God, our Provider? And there seems to be a voice speaking negative things and surfacing unpleasant memories to instil fear and anxiety. Cast those voices into hell immediately when you sense them coming: In Jesus’s name, I command you, the one who ______________ (speaks negatively, reminds me of my failures, petrifies me etc) to be cast into hell and never return.
Do you always find yourself missing out on good opportunities in your life? You can work towards receiving God’s favour today by doing what Jacob did:
- Always be humble and bear in mind that God holds the key to your success.
- Seek to do what is right despite temptations and tribulations.
- Remember the things that God has instructed you to do and accomplish them.
- Always put the interest of the community above your own.
Dear Lord, I thank you for putting the Holy Spirit within me so that I may live a life worthy to receive your favour. I acknowledge that good governance and human effort alone will not suffice in bringing true blessing to my family and organisation. I will endeavour always to put the interest of others before mine. Strengthen my soul to walk in the truth and to serve out of goodwill. Grant me divine favour so that I may be blessed to be a blessing. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.