Random thoughts on Jacob and Esau

You know those times when you want to post something on your Livejournal, but you’re not entirely sure you’ve got something to put up here? I’m in that place, so I’m posting the last thing I wrote – my notes for yesterday’s Sunday School lesson. I’m not holding my breath, but you never know, there might be some desperate Sunday School teacher out there who can make some vague use of it…

JACOB AND ESAU

Esau sells his inheritance
Jacob cons Esau out of their dad’s blessing

“Everything’s so expensive these days, like this Bible. And talk about a preachy book. Everyone’s a sinner – except this guy…” Homer Simpson
“That the Scriptures are brim full of hustlers, murderers, cowards, adulterers and mercenaries used to shock me. Now it’s a source of great comfort.” Bono

Things to note:

* Isaac and Rebekah are playing favourites – Isaac thinks manly-man Esau is the best son, Rebekah prefers Jacob. This ALWAYS leads to trouble. In a few chapters, it’s going to lead to major problems for Isaac’s grandson…This family just doesn’t learn…

* Esau’s willing to sell his birthright for a bowl of soup – considering he’s the manly-man, he’s a real drama queen – “I’m starving, I don’t need my inheritance because I’m going to just DIE of starvation!” Jacob’s willing to take advantage of this, mainly because Jacob’s a bit of a hustler and he takes after his mom’s side of the family (and that’s going to come back and bite him in the bum later…). What’s really important here is that the birthright isn’t just Isaac’s money – it’s God’s promise to Abraham to be the father of a great nation, to bless the world through Abraham’s descendents. Esau’s only thinking of his stomach, and maybe Jacob, albeit in a dodgy sort of way, is thinking about God’s promises (as well as the money…). Esau’s not thinking of the big promise – he’s thinking of that bowl of soup, and maybe that’s why God will later describe Himself as “the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” (not as “The God of Abraham, Isaac and Esau”, as the line of succession should legally be…

* And then things get worse for Esau. Rebekah convinces Jacob to pretend to be Esau so he can also steal the blessing Isaac’s going to give to Esau. In order to do this, Jacob has to cover himself with animal skins, and even that nearly doesn’t work – Isaac may be blind but it’s almost as if he suspects something (read the story – he’s doing everything he can to try and catch Jacob out, but Rebekah’s out-thought him…). Everyone in this family is conning everyone else!

* God honours both the blessing and the birthright, even though both had been obtained in dodgy ways – why? Maybe because Esau’s only thinking about the material world, while Jacob also wants the spritual things – maybe that’s why God honours everything, even though he has to go on and straighten Jacob out…Jacob may do some bad things, but maybe Esau as inheritor of the Covenant would be a disaster…

* So why does God accept people who are dodgy?

* Look at Zacchaeus – he’s a corrupt tax-collector, and he’s short (and I’m the sort of person who wonders – ‘short-short or midget-short’?), and when he hears Jesus is in town, he wants to see him. Of course, no-one’s going to give up a place in the crowd to make way for a nasty piece of work like Zack, so he climbs a tree. Jesus spots him, and tells him to get out of the tree, he’s going to lay on a meal for Jesus. Now, the crowd hate this and use it to grumble and slag of Jesus (“He’s gone to be the guest of a sinner!”), but that meeting CHANGES ZACCHAEUS’S LIFE – he pays back everything he’s stolen, complete with interest. Jesus could have written the guy off – he didn’t, and look what happens, he gets a result.

* Go back to Homer’s quote – pretty much everyone in the Bible is weak/a jerk/a conman/ a loser/ an outsider/ a criminal/running away – except for Jesus, obviously. Why doesn’t God give up and call it a day?

* Matthew 9:11-13 – it’s all about God’s grace (and pretty much explains Bono’s quote too – when you’re young and self-righteous, the idea of dodgy people being loved by God is offensive. When you’ve made a few mistakes…Well, grace is way more understandable…)

* Esau got what he wanted in the end, but Jacob got something far greater, because in some way at least, he was seeking God, even in the beginning when he was acting like a conman…

* …Because of Matthew 7:7 – “Ask and it shall be given to you; seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you…”

* God wants us to find him, and He’ll use any situation to help in that – even Jacob’s hustling.

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