Pastor’s Pen September 20, 2017

“Jacob said to his father, ‘I am Esau your firstborn. I have done as you told me; now sit up and eat of my game, so that you may bless me’.”   Genesis 27:19

“That’s not fair!” There’s not a parent or grandparent or aunt or uncle among us that has not heard this lament from some kid who thinks their older brother got the best deal. We’ve said it too, or at least thought about it. Somebody younger got the promotion we thought we deserved. The newest person on the team took credit for our idea and received praise for it. I do all the work and my younger sister always gets to have her way. “No fair,” we cry, and we’re probably right.

Jacob cried “no fair”; from the time he was born. Arriving in the world just moments behind his older twin Esau, Jacob is said to have come into the world holding onto the heel of his brother. It was as if he was trying to jockey Esau out of the way from the beginning, so that he could get his “me first” wish.

But Jacob didn’t come first. He arrived second, which meant the difference between winning the lottery and being handed a useless receipt. The first born, like royalty, inherited the family crown. Only one could be king. Only one could inherit the family business. Only one would be the boss of the estate when the father died. There was but one position of CEO, the man in charge. And it was men. The birthright to inherit and the blessing to receive it went to the first-born son, to whom all other cattle and livestock, children and wives, relatives and homes belonged. No fair indeed.

No wonder Jacob cried foul. Yet Jacob could have trusted God to provide a path and a purpose for him. After all, he was his mother’s favorite. He could have trusted God to fulfill a prophecy given to his mother that the true elder son would serve the younger. But he did not.

Jacob conspired with his mother to cheat Esau out of his birthright and his rightful blessing. He lied to his father on his deathbed, essentially getting the will changed to make himself heir. And he lived in exile from his brother who rightly returned home enraged and heartbroken when he learned what his younger brother had done.

We love this juicy story, an ancient tale of intrigue and deceit as compelling as contemporary reality t.v. We love it until we notice that God chooses this loser Jacob, this scoundrel whom we want to see caught and convicted for his crimes. God chooses whom God chooses. God uses whom God uses.

Seldom do we have enough information at hand to comprehend God’s redemptive work in the long arc of history. Rarely can we see how God will bring good out of this current disaster. Like Jacob we want to take the situation into our own hands, imagining that we know best how to fix any certain mess.

Then comes Jacob. In this story we see clearly that God rarely calls upon us for advice. God doesn’t seem to require our consultation or interference to accomplish God’s plans. In fact, like a great poker player, God seldom blinks. If we earnestly desire to know God’s will and to live it, we have only to live close to the one who bestows unexpected blessing out of betrayal, and creates certain hope out of despair.

Prayer: God, you know that we want to please you. Help us to become less grabby for what we think we deserve and more grateful for the daily blessings you place into our waiting hands. Amen

God’s grace, mercy and peace,

Pastor Anna V. Copeland