Two Brothers – Genesis 25-27

“Two nations are in your womb,
and two peoples from within you shall be divided;
the one shall be stronger than the other,
the older shall serve the younger.”

Sibling rivalry. 

It exists in most families, children trying to figure out who is the “favorite” and then trying to dethrone them.

And in the case of Esau and Jacob, it was obvious who the favorites were – Esau was loved by Isaac because he was masculine, a hunter, rough around the edges, a man’s man. He was born first, and despite what God told Rebekah, Isaac wanted a man like Esau to be his successor.

And then there was Jacob, his mother’s favorite, second by only seconds. His mother told him God spoke to her and he would be his father’s successor. But could he believe her? 

What Jacob lacked in strength, he made up for in cunning. He took advantage of Esau’s moment of weakness and traded his stew for Esau’s birthright. Obviously, Esau didn’t take his birthright seriously, or he would have never made the trade.

But the birthright and the blessing were somehow separated. If Esau could get the blessing, then birthright was empty.

The moment Esau was waiting for finally came. His father was ready to give him his blessing. All would be made right.

But once again, Jacob took advantage of the situation, with his mother’s prompting. He fooled blind Isaac into thinking he was Esau, so he gave his blessing to Jacob.

Oh, what regret all around!

Esau was weeping. Isaac was blessing him with what he could. Jacob ran away in fear of Esau’s revenge. Rebekah never even saw her son again.

Family relationships can be hard. Little do we realize as we are growing up, that the little things we do will set the course of generations to come. In this case, the favoritism of parents, the competition of sons, set the stage for conflict which affect us even today.

What if the story could have been written differently? What if the parents hadn’t played favorites, a united front in parenting? What if the boys had been furiously loyal to each other, defending each other before others? What if they had accepted God’s will and sought it together?

The world today would be a different picture.

What if my story had been written differently? What if I had sought God’s will? What if, instead of competing, I had been forgiving?

Is it too late? 

Saved by Grace – Philemon

  

So, if you consider me you partner,
receive him as you would receive me.
If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything,
charge that to my account.

Don’t you hate those darn “if’s” in life? If you do this, then I will do that? It makes life “conditional.”

And yet, life is conditional. There are tradeoffs and consequences for actions.

First, “If you consider me your partner,” Paul, once again, takes a position of humility, not as Philemon’s leader or elder, but as a equal partner.

After all, they are both sinners saved by grace.

Then, “receive him as you would receive me.” Just as Jesus takes our place in payment for our sins, Paul draws a dramatic picture of Onesimus taking Paul’s place, as a “partner,” not a runaway slave.

After all, they are both sinners saved by grace.

Second, “If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything” Paul acknowledges the wrong done. He knows this is not easy. Onesimus is a sinner who has been saved by grace. Before God, he is holy. But, he still has debts here on earth that need to be reckoned. 

Then, “charge it to my account.” Just as Jesus took all our actions, our wrongs, our debts, and paid for them through the cross, Paul steps into position to take on Onesimus’ debts and put them onto his account. Remember, Paul is in prison. How would he pay? He doesn’t know, but he does know…

After all, they are all sinners saved by grace. 

It’s hard to forgive others, even if they are brothers or sisters in faith. The physical things they did, and maybe still do, grind within us. We want payment. At the very least, we want a confession. It‘s hard to move forward without it.

For me, it’s only when I’ve been able to say in my heart, “OK, God, put it on my account. You’ve saved me when I owed so much more, and you are continuing to save me as I continue to sin. Put it on my account, because I know…”

We are sinners…

saved by your immeasurable, freely given, sacrificial…

grace.