v 23. And the Lord told her, “The sons in your womb will become two nations. From the very beginning, the two nations will be rivals. One nation will be stronger than the other; and your older son will serve your younger son.”
Do you ever wonder why there is such bitterness and division in what we call the Middle East? It is here in the story of Jacob and Esau that we come up against a division that is as old as the nation of Israel itself. It goes back beyond the Crusades or the rise of Islam. It even predates the occupation of the land by Joshua and the Israelites returning from slavery in Egypt.
Bitterness and national rivalries soon became a part of the wonderful world that God made, and we see that continuing in our day and age.
I am writing this when all the news is full of Brexit and the deep divisions that exist still in our national and international relationships. The coming year will probably see significant changes in many areas of life and this should prompt us from the very beginning to pray for our nation and its leaders. They need wisdom and courage to plan effectively and unite people rather than divide them.
In our last Growth Group, back at the end of November, we were thinking about the part that prayer has in our lives. May I encourage you as an individual, and then as Growth Groups, to make a special point of praying for national and international situations in the year ahead. It is all too easy to focus on personal and community needs and overlook the wider situations in society. In his letter to Timothy Paul says the same thing. ‘I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.’