Why Moses Includes Esau’s Genealogy

But the main reason why Moses recorded this [the genealogy of and promises about Esau] was to show that our Lord Jesus has wicked, unruly cousins and kinsmen. Easu’s children were part of Jesus Christ’s family; they were kinsmen of the Israelites in blood but not in heart. They were of their ancestry, but in terms of religion and temper entirely distinct. Oh Lord Jesus, help all pious hearts to take comfort in this whenever they see their close relatives in the world fall away from the truth of the Gospel for the sake of temporal welfare and the fat hills of Seir where Esau dwelt.

It is an everlasting shame to Esau that he forsook the flock that honored our Lord Jesus. Oh, what a shame it will be to all apostates who have willingly fallen away from those who love the Lord Jesus!

The faithful children of Jacob did not take offense at their cousins for continuing in their stubborn hardness of heart even though they had become great and powerful lords. Oh Lord Jesus, help me not to be blinded by any of the splendor or pomp of Your foes. Help me not to take offense at their stubbornness and pride, but to preserver steadfast in You until my end.

Besides this, the Holy Spirit suggests that mingled with this wicked generation there were yet some pious hearts who knew and confessed the Lord Jesus; for as far as Moses was concerned, it all had to do with the Lord Jesus. He wrote nothing but what pertained to the history of Jesus Christ.

Yes, even among His enemies our Lord Jesus has some pious hearts of whom He is well aware, even though we do not see them. Elijah thought that he was all alone, but our Lord Jesus told him that He still had seven thousand who loved Him (1 Kings 19:18). That is what it means when Psalm 110:2 says of the Lord Jesus, “Rule in the midst of Your enemies.”

O Lord Jesus, You know those who are Yours (2 Tim. 2:19). You recognize the fragrant roses in the midst of the thorns; You keep them in sight. You will pluck them up and bring them into the heavenly paradise. The prickly thornbush of Your wicked, distant relations, on the other hand, You will cut down and cast into the fires of hell. O Lord Jesus, comfort Your dear, believing roses who are pushed to and fro in the midst of Your enemies. Strengthen them in their faith, that they not be choked out by the ways of the wicked, and take them to life everlasting. You will distinguish between those who openly persecute Your Gospel and the goodly, simple people who are not able or allowed to make their confession, and yet in their closet call on Your holy name. All these we commend to the mercy that You showed even to many of Esau’s children.

Although Esau was a wicked man, yet not all who were born of him imitated his ungodliness. Korah too was an impetuous man (Num. 16:1ff.), yet from him came pious children commemorated with great honor in Psalm 42, 44-49, 84-85. and 87-88. O dear Lord Jesus, turn the children of the wicked today also, lest they do as King Ratobodus [died 719, pagan ruler of Frisia], who preferred to join his father and grandfather in hell than to be the first in heaven.

But here, dear Lord Jesus, I see a reflection of Your graciousness and mercy. You not only desire to show Your mercy and goodness to the children of the godly when they continue in their godliness, but also to honor and love the children of the wicked when they oppose the evil of their parents and are endeared to Your name.

Valerius Herberger The Great Works of God, Parts Three and Four The Mysteries of Christ in the Book of Genesis, Chapters 16-50 304-306