תולדת/Generations

Torah: Genesis 25:19 - 28:9

Haftarah: Malachi 1:1 - 2:7

Brit Chadashah: Romans 9:1-13

Jacob and Esau_edited.jpg

In our portion, we read concerning the birth of Jacob – “Afterward his brother came out with his hand holding onto Esau’s heel – so he was named Jacob” – Genesis 25:26. The name Yaakov, shares its root with the Hebrew word “akev,” which means heel. As in the heel of a foot. The name, Yaakov actually means, “Holder of the Heel.” This is prophetically important since his name seems to point back to the prophetic warning in the Garden when Adonai said – “I will put animosity between you and the woman – between your seed and her seed. He will crush your head and you will bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15) – referring to the promised Messiah, who would give His life upon the Tree, and then resurrect back to life. Because Isaac named Yaakov, “Follower of The Heel,” it seems to also give us a better understanding of what was happening shortly before the birth of Jacob and Esau. As it is written, “But the children struggled with one another inside her, and she said, ‘If it’s like this, why is this happening to me?’ So, she went to inquire of Adonai. Adonai said to her: ‘Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from your body will be separated. One people will stronger than the other people, but the older will serve the younger’”- Genesis 25:22-23.

 

Throughout history both Jacob and Esau would be at odds with one another – and eventually people would descend from both – from Jacob would eventually come the Jewish people, and from Esau, the Edomites – who, according to tradition, would eventually be called Rome. Spiritually speaking, Rav Shaul would later identify the children of Adonai as belonging to Jacob, and that children of the flesh as belonging to Esau – “That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God; rather, the children of promise are counted as seed… As it is written, ‘Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated” – Romans 9:8; 13.

Among early Messianic scholars, Rome would be forever be an adversary to Israel and the Jewish people along with its religious, governmental and financial systems. As it is written, “How Your enemies have mocked, Adonai, how they have mocked the Footsteps of Your Anointed One (Your Messiah)! – Psalm 89:52. Again, prophetically speaking this Psalm indicates not only reveals how the enemies of Adonai would treat the Messiah, but it also describes the conditions of the world shortly before the Messiah’s return. In addition, Edom (Rome) would set up its own religious system that would “mock” that of Israel’s – especially in regards to the Torah, the Sabbath and the Feasts. As it is written, “He will speak words against the Most High, and will continually harass the kedoshim (holy ones) of the Most High, and will try to change the appointed times and law” – Daniel 7:25a.

 

In one early Jewish Mishnah it appropriately predicts the conditions of what it will be like in the generation of “The Footsteps of the Messiah” – “In the Footsteps of the Messiah, insolence will increase and the cost of living will go up greatly; the vine will yield its fruit, but wine will be expensive; the government will turn to heresy, and there will no one to rebuke; the meeting-place of scholars (congregations) will be used for licentiousness (sexual immoral behavior)” – Mishnah Sotah 9:15. The Mishnah goes on to say that, “Each day’s curse will be heavier than that of the preceding day” – Mishnah Sotah 49a. Of course, long before these words written, Messiah Himself would say of the days shortly before His return that, “Nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. But all these things are only the beginning of birth pains” – Matthew 24:7-8. The Brit Chadashah would go on to say, “But understand this, that in the last days hard times will come – for people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, hardhearted, unforgiving, backbiting, without self-control, brutal, hating what is good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to an outward form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid these people!” – 2 Timothy 3:1-6. The Brit Chadashah goes on to say – “But evil men and imposters will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived” – 2 Timothy 3:13. According to these prophetic words, the future doesn’t seem so bright does it? Yet, according to early scholars there’s reason for such words – as they asked, “What possible good could come from giving us such somber and dark prophecies?” These dark and somber prophecies do indeed serve a purpose. Early scholars concluded that if the Scriptures and Messiah had not warned us of such things, would we be listening? Would be on the alert or watchful? Would be anticipating His Return? One early scholar wrote, “If the Torah had not foretold us of this situation, it would have been so perplexing that the Jewish people would have become dispirited. But now that the Torah has told us what to expect as the era of exile finally draws to a close, Jews can take heart, and can tackle their divinely-appointed tasks with zest” – Rebbe Shlita. Rav Shaul would also write concerning these days – “Be on the alert! Stand firm in the faith! Be men of courage! Be strong!” – 1 Corinthians 16:13. 

Messiah would also go on to remind us that during these dark and troublesome times, the most important thing for us to remember is our divinely-appointed task – the Gospel. As He said, “This Good News of the Kingdom shall be proclaimed in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come” – Matthew 24:14. With our own eyes, we can see how these words are coming to pass in our day. The world seems to be headed towards destruction – wickedness, lawlessness, corruption and even sexual deviancy are accepted, while righteousness, faith, hope, G-D and especially Messiah are mocked and hated. Many in the government have embraced chaos, destruction and death, rather than peace, love and life. Even worse, many who claim to be in the Body have been deceived by those in power and come to accept the very things that the Scriptures tell us not to – sinfulness, abortion and even baseless hate. Many have also embraced fear as a means of comfort, safety and convenience. Over and over again, Messiah warns us to remain watchful – to be on the alert during these days. He warns us not fall into deception or, to follow false messiahs that will come in His Name. Messiah said, “Be careful that no one leads you astray!” – Matthew 24:4. Upon the Mount of Olives when He said these words, it pointed to the words of Zechariah when he prophesied that the Messiah will return after the times of Jacob’s troubles – which would be caused by Edom (Esau). One day (very soon) the Messiah will return upon the very place where He spoke these words and gave us His warnings to remain alert and watchful for His coming. As it is written, “In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives which lies east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a huge valley. Half of the mountain will move toward the north and half of it toward the south” – Zechariah 14:4-5.

Torah rightfully predicts the struggle that will continue between the godly (Jacob) and the wicked (Esau) until the day of Messiah’s return in this portion. While indeed trouble will come upon the earth, Messiah tells us not to fear. Just as Jacob struggled with Esau throughout his life, so too, we as believers will struggle continue to struggle with those who are of the world until Messiah returns for us. The struggles between Jacob and Esau provide for us a picture of the difficult days that will come upon the world and people of Israel before Messiah’s return – as it is written, “Oy! For that day is monumental. There will be none like it – a time of trouble for Jacob! Yet out of it he will be saved!” – Jeremiah 30:7. Messiah doesn’t call these days “birth pangs” for no reason. Childbirth is a struggle – a time of trouble. However, it also a time of transition – from the peaceful protection of a mother’s womb and then into the harshness of the world. Thus, we are in a time of transition once again – from the harshness of this world and into the peace of Messiah’s Kingdom. 

This portion reminds us that we must keep alert – that we must pay attention and keep not only our eyes open, but also our ears, so that we may hear the Footsteps of the Messiah as He is indeed preparing to return. Let us remember, the enemy may have bruised His heel, but Messiah will crush the enemy’s head with His heel. 

Shalom