When the birth of a son lacks with Abraham, he tries to conceive it in the power of the flesh. What is begotten, Ishmael, is not the son of promise. When the birth of a son lacks with Isaac, it leads him to prayer, despite the fact that he knows the promise of God. Infertility must bring the faith into action. The answer to his prayer was still twenty years away. But God is to be entreated. We find that God lets Himself to be entreated several times in the Old Testament (Gen 25:2121Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was barren; and the LORD answered him and Rebekah his wife conceived.; 2Sam 24:2525David built there an altar to the LORD and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. Thus the LORD was moved by prayer for the land, and the plague was held back from Israel.; 1Chr 5:2020They were helped against them, and the Hagrites and all who [were] with them were given into their hand; for they cried out to God in the battle, and He answered their prayers because they trusted in Him.; 2Chr 33:13,1913When he prayed to Him, He was moved by his entreaty and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD [was] God.19His prayer also and [how God] was entreated by him, and all his sin, his unfaithfulness, and the sites on which he built high places and erected the Asherim and the carved images, before he humbled himself, behold, they are written in the records of the Hozai.; Ezra 8:22-2322For I was ashamed to request from the king troops and horsemen to protect us from the enemy on the way, because we had said to the king, “The hand of our God is favorably disposed to all those who seek Him, but His power and His anger are against all those who forsake Him.”23So we fasted and sought our God concerning this [matter], and He listened to our entreaty.; Isa 19:2222The LORD will strike Egypt, striking but healing; so they will return to the LORD, and He will respond to them and will heal them.).
Isaac hath prayed the LORD for his wife. Although God has promised to multiply his descendants, He prays for it. This is an important indication that God’s promises encourage us to pray. God’s promises form the basis of our prayer (Dan 9:2-32in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, observed in the books the number of the years which was [revealed as] the word of the LORD to Jeremiah the prophet for the completion of the desolations of Jerusalem, [namely], seventy years.3So I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek [Him by] prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes.). Although Isaac prayed for this blessing for many years and the answer did not come, he did not stop praying. The Lord Jesus exhorts us to pray always and not to become discouraged (Lk 18:11Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart,). If we do, we will experience that we are not seeking God’s face in vain (Isa 45:1919“I have not spoken in secret,
In some dark land;
I did not say to the offspring of Jacob,
‘Seek Me in a waste place’;
I, the LORD, speak righteousness,
Declaring things that are upright.
Rebekah has her own dealings with the LORD and asks Him why she is expecting twins. She receives an answer from the LORD. The two boys are two peoples, each with their own place on earth, determined by Him.
It is not written here that God hated Esau. That is written in Malachi 1, that is to say, only fourteen hundred years later, after Esau in his descendants has shown his true nature of godlessness and revolt (Mal 1:2-32“I have loved you,” says the LORD. But you say, “How have You loved us?” “[Was] not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the LORD. “Yet I have loved Jacob;3but I have hated Esau, and I have made his mountains a desolation and [appointed] his inheritance for the jackals of the wilderness.”). If Esau had suited himself in the place God gives him here, even before his birth, he would have received the full blessing of it.
Jacob reveals already at his birth that he wants to master Esau in his own way, that he wants to receive the blessing of God in his own power (Hos 12:4a4Yes, he wrestled with the angel and prevailed;
He wept and sought His favor.
He found Him at Bethel
And there He spoke with us,
). Esau, the stronger one, comes out first, but Jacob’s hand holds the heel of Esau. He wants to be as it were ahead of Esau. By doing so, he indicates that he wants to seize the birthright and the related blessing.
The name he gets alludes to this. “Jacob” means “heels holder”, with the thought of holding the heel to bring someone down (cf. Gen 27:3636Then he said, “Is he not rightly named Jacob, for he has supplanted me these two times? He took away my birthright, and behold, now he has taken away my blessing.” And he said, “Have you not reserved a blessing for me?”). This name he would live up to many times in his life through his actions. Jacob is interested in the blessing of God, unlike Esau, but he wants to secure it by tricks.