ISSL Reflections September 11 2022 Genesis 25:19b-34 Post 3

Take note of, “… the one shall be stronger than the other; the elder shall serve the younger.”

How does that come about?

Genesis 25:19-34 New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition

These are the descendants of Isaac, Abraham’s son: Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah, daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan-aram, sister of Laban the Aramean. Isaac prayed to the Lord for his wife because she was barren, and the Lord granted his prayer, and his wife Rebekah conceived. The children struggled together within her, and she said, “If it is to be this way, why do I live?” So she went to inquire of the Lord. And the Lord said to her,

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

When her time to give birth was at hand, there were twins in her womb. The first came out red, all his body like a hairy mantle, so they named him Esau. Afterward his brother came out, with his hand gripping Esau’s heel, so he was named Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them.

When the boys grew up, Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field, while Jacob was a quiet man, living in tents. Isaac loved Esau because he was fond of game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.

Once when Jacob was cooking a stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was famished. Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stuff, for I am famished!” (Therefore he was called Edom.) Jacob said, “First sell me your birthright.” Esau said, “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?” Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.

It’s natural for “one to be stronger” than another.

But is it natural for the “elder to serve the younger”?

For many eons the law of succession was for the oldest to inherit the property and leadership in families. It was just “natural.”

But maybe not in the Kingdom of God?

What was that “the meek … will inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5)

There is a lot in the “Sermon on the Mount” (Matthew 5-7) and in Jesus’ parables that turns what we think is the natural order in the world upside down. Some are given to calling the Gospel counter-cultural.

Maybe we need to pay attention to when the institutional norms of our culture are so out of sync with the Gospel some action on our part is needed.

And maybe it is not always what we count as “strong” that is counted as “strong” from the Gospel perspective.

{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

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