Choosing the Future
Give me grace, Lord Jesus, as I seek You now. Instill in me Your gentleness and quiet my overwrought spirit.
Read Genesis 25:1-34
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love” (Francis of Assisi, 1182-1226). Simple, yet truly profound!
Here we see the hostile after-effects (18) of the family division which began when Abraham banished Hagar and Ishmael (21:8-21). It’s a division with ongoing consequences today. Muslims believe Ishmael is one of the progenitors of the Arabs and an ancestor of Muhammad. Muslims do not reject the Isaac line; they regard Moses, David and even Jesus as great prophets, but they believe Jews and Christians have lost their way. They hold that Islam alone preserves the pure truth, tracing itself back to the faith of Abraham. Might the understanding of a common physical and symbolic descent from Abraham form a basis for resolution of tensions?
Long-term hostilities will also result from tensions between Jacob and Esau. Some want to see this unusual birth as evidence of predestination. It is better to see it as demonstrating that not even the most powerful traditions, in this case the rights of the firstborn, are more important than God’s purposes. Still today among God’s people, there can be difficulty in discerning when and how to change. Change for its own sake is not good, but neither is stubbornly holding on to the way things are.
We should be careful not to side with either son in the matter of the stew and the birthright. Esau comes across as thickheaded, careless of his family responsibilities and disrespectful of his birthright. Just because Jacob is eventually the one through whom God’s purposes are advanced does not excuse him from taking advantage of his brother and sowing the seeds of future conflict. Jacob could have chosen to act more graciously. God’s promises need not shape everything that will transpire before their ultimate fulfillment. What the recipients like Jacob do along the way will affect the future, for good or for ill.
Can you think of occasions when your decisions and responses brought trouble in relationships? What lessons did you learn from them?
Enable me, Lord God, to follow You sincerely, acting rightly, loving selflessly and choosing wisely. I know that pleases You.
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