When Jesus is in the wilderness and being tempted by Satan, he is presented with a problem that seems to be happening before our eyes in real time. Jesus has had nothing to eat. He has fasted for 40 days. Satan comes to Him and says ... "If you are the Son of God, turn these stones into bread." Use your power to transcend the natural order of things. Use your power to meet your physical needs. Submit to your hunger. Jesus replies, "Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God." Spiritual needs are more important than physical needs. Choices are important! It is a good story from Matthew 4.
I retell this story because there is an Old Testament story that sounds like an impatient young man sells his birthright for some stew. It is true that Esau, in our story from Genesis 25, is famished and sells Jacob his birthright to Jacob (who is often scheming). Just two brothers in a conflict that causes enmity and division in their family ... right? Well, it is a little more complex than that.
In the Hebrew world there are long-standing feuds. The Samaritans are hated in Jesus' time because of things that happened in the 720's BC. One cannot fathom the future when he/she is making a hasty choice. So, I will give you a few historic issues that relate to this short little story from Genesis. If you Google the descendants of Jacob and Esau, you will find that Jacob becomes the father of the chosen people, the Jews. Most of you knew that. But who descended from Esau? There are many theories, but the land of Esau, called Edom, is near modern day Jordan. Many Muslim people claim Esau as their ancestor. These include the people of Iraq, the Kurds and the Palestinians. Jewish and American history has been filled with conflict and enmity with these people.
But there is another historic character that arose from Esau. You might have heard of him from the New Testament. His name was King Herod. Yes, this is the same guy from the Christmas story that was dead set on killing the new king born to the Jews. Choices make a difference, sometimes an historic difference.
I say all of this to remind us of several truths in the Genesis 25 story of Jacob and Esau. First, when we aren't willing to wait, people take advantage of us. Jacob takes advantage of Esau. Second, people get angry when they are manipulated. Esau resents and is in constant conflict with Jacob. This resentment lasts centuries and is arguably still happening. Third, and maybe most important, choices matter. I was talking about this uncomfortable truth with the praise team. We all agreed that our choices, often made in a moment, had lasting effects on our lives. Choices, people and decisions are not just fleeting things that have no impact on our lives.
We will be teaching our children about this passage this week. Lessons will include 1) learn to wait for good things, 2) manipulation seems good at the time but results in anger and resentment and, 3) learn that choices matter.
I think this is good stuff to lead our children forward. How about you? Randy