Esau took his wives and sons and daughters and all the members of his household, as well as his livestock and all his other animals and all the goods he had acquired in Canaan, and moved to a land some distance from his brother Jacob. Their possessions were too great for them to remain together; the land where they were staying could not support them both because of their livestock. So Esau (that is, Edom) settled in the hill country of Seir.
One of my pupils didn’t hand his homework in the other day. When I questioned him about where it was he responded that he had been busy the previous night. He made me a promise that he would hand it in to me personally first thing the next morning. Guess what? He didn’t hand his book in and broke his promise. We all break promises from time to time though without thinking. We promise to do something but forget. We promise to phone someone but get caught up doing something else. We promise to visit our elderly aunt at the weekend but would rather spend the time with our friends.
God has made us lots of promises in the Bible. Unlike us, though, God can be relied upon to keep his promises. That’s what we see in today’s reading; God keeping the promises he made to Esau’s ancestors. God made a promise to Rachel, Esau’s mother, saying, “two nations are in your womb, and two people’s within you will be separated” (Genesis 25:23). We’ve seen over the past week or so how Esau’s brother, Jacob, became the leader of a new nation, the nation of Israel. Now we see here that Esau is also the founder of a nation, the nation of Edom. Esau’s is a prosperous and successful nation, with a great deal of livestock, which brought about the separation with Israel. Esau moved away from Canaan because the land could not support his livestock and that of Israel’s. Of course, this was also the fulfilment of God’s promise to Abraham, to whom God said, “‘As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be called Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations’” (Genesis 17:4-5).
We see today that God keeps his promises. This is great news for those of us who place our trust in him and seek to follow him, since we can be confident that all of God’s promises – of which there are many in the Bible (3573 according to several websites I’ve just consulted!) – will be ultimately fulfilled!