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7

Seek and Find

Key References: Genesis 25:21-34; 32:22-30; Patriarchs and Prophets, chap. 18, pp. 195-203; The Bible Story (1994), vol. 2, pp. 32-35; Our Beliefs, nos. 11, 3, 10

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“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7).

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God blesses us when we persistently seek a relationship with Him.

People are so different! Some of your friends love nothing more than being outside; other friends are more quiet. Most of the time our differences make our friendships more interesting. Sometimes, however, those differences lead to trouble.

Before their mother, Rebekah, knew that she was carrying twins, she wondered why the “baby” inside of her was so active. It seemed as though there were two babies continually fighting with each other. She prayed and asked God why this was happening, and God told her that she was carrying twins. (See Genesis 25:21-23.) Two nations and two kinds of people were inside of her. “One people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger” (verse 23).

The first baby was covered with so much red hair that they named him Esau, which means “hairy.” Then the second baby boy was born. Because he was holding on to his brother’s heel, they called this baby Jacob, “grabber” or “heel-holder.”

Unfortunately, Rebekah and her husband, Isaac, each had a favorite child. Because Esau enjoyed hunting as he got older, he was Isaac’s favorite. Jacob, on the other hand, enjoyed staying home with his mother, learning to cook and take care of the goats and sheep; he became his mother’s favorite.

One day when Esau came home from a hunting trip, he was starving! He found Jacob cooking a delicious-smelling lentil stew and asked for some. Jacob remembered the promise that God had made years before and thought that this was his chance to make it come true. “First sell me your birthright,” he told Esau. The birthright was the privileged power and inheritance given to the firstborn child. Carelessly Esau replied, “Look, I am about to die. What good is the birthright to me?” But Jacob insisted, “Swear to me first.” Esau swore to his brother and thus gave up his birthright (Genesis 25:31-34). Then he ate quickly without another thought about what he had done.

Years passed. Jacob moved away from home and eventually married two sisters, Leah and Rachel. His flocks of sheep and goats grew at a tremendous rate, making him a very wealthy man. But he thought often of his mother and father, and he wanted to go back to his home.

Finally he rounded up all his servants, his children, and his herds and began the long journey. As he neared the town of Edom, where his brother lived, Jacob remembered the birthright and realized that Esau might still be angry. Suddenly he was very nervous about his family’s safety. So he sent some of his men ahead with this message: “Your servant Jacob says, I have been staying with Laban and have remained there till now. I have cattle and donkeys, sheep and goats, male and female servants. Now I am sending this message to my lord, that I may find favor in your eyes” (Genesis 32:4, 5). But the return message was less than friendly: Esau would meet Jacob with an army of 400 men! Jacob was frantic with fear.

Jacob decided to spend the night seeking God’s blessing and asking Him to soften his brother’s heart toward him. As Jacob was praying during that dark moonless night, he felt a hand on his shoulder. He became afraid thinking the person next to him was an enemy, and they began to wrestle. All night long he wrestled with this person whom he could not identify. As the sun slowly crept up on the horizon, the stranger touched Jacob’s hip, and it immediately went out of joint. The stranger said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”

Somehow Jacob suddenly knew that he had wrestled with God all night. He panted, “I will not let you go unless you bless me” (verse 26). Then God changed Jacob’s name to Israel, the overcomer. Because Jacob (now Israel) had held on to God, his life would be different from that moment on.

Though exhausted, Israel limped toward Edom. Way off in the distance he saw a cloud of dust grow larger—and nearer. He knew it was Esau, coming with his 400 men, expecting to meet his selfish brother, the cheater who took away his birthright. But Jacob—that is, Israel— had much changed since then. He was now a new person.

As Esau approached, Israel bowed low seven times before him. Esau ran forward toward his brother with his arms outstretched. At last the brothers hugged each other. Both of them were in tears. Jacob’s life and his relationship with his brother were changed after the night he spent with the Lord and came out an overcomer, as his new name, Israel, indicated.