Monday, February 20, 2012

Through the Whole Bible: Genesis 27

Moving through the whole Bible into Genesis 27 (link) gives us a peak into inheritance politics in the 20th Century BC. And that peak is not pretty, is it?

We have two sons, one loved more by mom than by dad and the other, well, the opposite. Neither son gets along, and the expectation is that dad's passing is near at hand. So, a little trickery, a little razzle-dazzle, and momma's boy gets the primary inheritance.

Then he has to hightail it out of town for fear that his brother will solve the divided inheritance problem once and for all. This would be bad.

Now, here are the things I think we can find here:

1. Don't cheat your brother out of his inheritance. That's a bad play. Seriously.

2. Don't show favoritism among your children. That's tough sometimes, but it's necessary. Your kids will most likely outlive you and need to live with each other.

3. Be equitable with your blessings. Really, there's no cause to bless one above the others.

4. Honesty is the best response to any situation.

5. Be careful you do not attempt to help God out. Genesis 25 contained the promise that Jacob would exceed Esau. I would expect that both Rebekah and Isaac remembered this, and that Esau and Jacob knew it too.

Esau likely wanted to overcome that problem. Jacob and Rebekah may have felt justified in their actions because of that promise. Yet was it necessary?

It really was not. Esau revealed by his character that he would not excel as the leader of the family: between despising his birthright and picking his wives to aggravate his mother and father, he shows the character of a junior high student (or an American politician). Jacob shows more intelligence, strategy, and cunning.

Of course, he uses the cunning in the wrong way, but that's part of the point. He did not need to put his effort into stealing the blessing or finding a way to survive: he could have put it into securing the family and growing in godliness.

Unfortunately, we have a tendency to be a lot like this family. We know certain things to be true, but we can't stand them. We will:

#1. Know that God has specifically said certain things will not work. Take a look at Scripture about marriage, parenting, church work, evangelism, government operations, finances, even business…yet we try anyway. We try to overcome what God has said and make it work. We turn to Esau: despise our birthright as bearers of God's image and do our own thing.

Come back to the book and do what the Lord God has said will work. At the very least, quit trying to do what He has said won't work. That's a start.

#2. Means matter. Ends, really and truly, are in the hands of the Sovereign God of the universe. We cannot guarantee, with 100% certainty, what will happen with any effort. Therefore, our goal ought to be to make our means match what the character God has shown we ought to be.

Rebekah and Jacob show us twisted means, even though they head towards the right end. We have to be cautious not to attempt to accelerate or adjust God's plan. He's working in us to create a certain kind of character, one that will endure throughout eternity, not just a few short decades.

#3. Everyone matters. It is not for us to pick and choose who we think is worthy of love and compassion. Everyone should receive that respect.

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