I had what was, perhaps, a "duh" moment looking at Scripture this morning. In my daily Bible reading plan, I'm reading the story of Jacob and Esau, and how Jacob conned Isaac out of his blessing. Essentially, Jacob received the bulk of the estate, the wealth, instead of the firstborn, Esau.
Then Esau decided he's going kill Jacob. Now, until now, I've always read this, and I think heard it preached, that Esau is angry. That's why he's going to kill. And that's part of his motivation. There's another issue at stake, though, here. The blessing that Isaac received was not just spiritual well-wishes or happy thoughts, but entailed with it the right to receive most of the estate. Between that and the whole birthright-for-stew swap earlier, and Jacob gets basically all of Isaac's stuff and influence.
And who inherits this if Jacob is dead? At this time, Jacob has no wife and no heir. His stuff would go….to his brother, Esau. It's not just anger that's brought murder to the table, it's wealth. It's the response to the scheming: brute force to even the score.
Jacob then flees. Survives, and comes back later. In the meantime, due to Jacob's absence, Esau receives the material inherent in the inheritance. His threat of force satisfies his desire for the stuff.
For the next 20 years, the brothers are separated, the family destroyed. Why? Scheming, greed, violence. These attitudes destroy this family.
They still destroy families. The modern family, especially here in America, sees this modeled on TV, in movies, and too often around their own dinner table. It's not a good thing. It's a bad thing.
Look at Jacob: he thought he could succeed through scheming, yet he didn't count on a violent response.
Look at Esau: he wasn't as bright, but thought strength would even the score.
Look at what happens: Isaac and Rebekah do not go the their graves in peace.
A few practical observations:
1. For the schemer: stop it, before you get hurt. Really. There are people in this world that cannot keep up with you, and they will resort to inappropriate means in response.
2. For the violent: end it. Seriously, there is no need for you to fall back to brute force to make your point. People will respond to your violence, not your point. Where does it end?
3. For the wiser: say something about it to the younger ones behind you. Isaac and Rebekah had, seemingly, been aware of Jacob's tricky nature and Esau's physical prowess. Did they ever instruct the boys to dial it back and to balance themselves? No.
One of the things I think we've lost in our society is this: a respect for our elders, a willingness to listen and thereby balance our own youthful impulses. We watch Band of Brothers and think "I'd like to be a warrior like those men" rather than listening to them: not once do you hear Easy Company suggest wars and violence are good things. My recollection is that Maj. Winters and the others would have given anything for war to be unnecessary ever again, and in fact that was one of their hopes.
We need to listen, to learn, and to restore a willingness to hear the wisdom of the elders in our society. Our generation is making a mess of things, and we're headed downhill in a hurry.
A question for you: Who are (were) the elder influences in your life?