Posts Tagged ‘Birthright’

Genesis 28:1-9 – HOW TO AVOID MISSING THE POINT ENTIRELY

Missing the PointIt was the first time I had spoken before Doc Gibson, a respected theological professor. Having been given a classic passage in the Old Testament on which to speak I had spent many hours reading every book and commentary I could find. By the time I came to speak I was exhausted from lack of sleep but felt I had something worthwhile to offer. The professor, however, after hearing what I had to say, told me that I had missed the point entirely. I was devastated. In a few minutes he summed up my blind spot and I went home a little annoyed, affronted, embarrassed and feeling sorry for myself. Over the next few days I reflected on how I could face the professor, but I kept coming back to the only conclusion I could make – he was right! How could I have missed something so obvious? Taking his advice, and seeking to diligently “find the point”, I was greatly encouraged at the end of the next year when I won the preaching prize.

All of a sudden in Genesis 28, Jacob, not Esau, has the full support of his father. Isaac has just blessed Jacob (Genesis 28:6), instead of him. How does Esau feel about all this? Understandably he feels he has been robbed. It’s as if he has caught the thief, laid charges but somehow on a technicality the case has been reversed so that the thief is awarded the damages. There is no justice. He is upset, rejected, annoyed, angry, hostile towards his brother, struggling to find answers. But hasn’t he also missed the point?

Jacob, his brother, is told not to marry a Canaanite and is sent to Syria to find a wife (Genesis 28:7). He is to go back to Rebekah’s family in Padan-aram, and marry one of his own cousins, one of the daughters of his uncle, his mother’s brother, Laban. Repeating the blessing of Abraham over Jacob (Genesis 26:3-5), Isaac, his Dad, tells Jacob that he will be a father of a great nation, and his descendents will own the land of Caanan. And just like that, by necessity, Jacob is propelled from the presence of his family.

It is obvious to Esau from this conversation his Dad has with his brother that his parents don’t approve of his choice of wives (Genesis 28:8). This has been clear since Genesis 26:34-35. If you had married Hittite wives (Canaanites, Philistines, Genesis 26:34), how would you feel listening to this go down between Jacob and his father Isaac? Esau, as impulsive as ever and so desperate to win back his father’s approval, does the only thing he can think of. Since Jacob is sent off to marry his mother’s niece, he will marry his father’s niece. That should solve the problem.

If you remember the story, Ishmael is the son of Abraham and Hagar. Abraham was married to Sarah and couldn’t have any children so Sarah gave Hagar, her servant, to Abraham as a surrogate mother. Hagar bore Ishmael (Genesis 16:1-4, 15). No Hittite blood here. Esau hopes his marriage into Ishmael’s family will please his parents. He wants to fix things outwardly by marrying someone who is not a Canaanite, but he missed the point entirely!

Esau’s descendents are called the Idumeans. One famous descendent is king Herod, who features in the Christmas story, is the Idumean who tried to take the throne of David, but who was merely a puppet king of the Romans. He was the Idumean who tried to kill Jesus after he was born by slaughtering every male child in Bethlehem two years and under. Unfortunately he highlights the characteristics of the Idumean line.

Although Ishmael was Abraham’s son his family line did not have faith in God. Esau aligned himself by marriage to Ismael and to the Hittites and although he was from the line of Abraham he did not have the faith of Abraham. Esau is still so spiritually blind that he just doesn’t get it! He thinks any connection by marriage to Abraham will regain approval with his Dad, but marrying into the family of Abraham is not the point! All through his life he has opportunities to submit his life to God. Even in marriage he misses the opportunity to marry a woman of faith and to serve God from his heart, but he is not interested.

He misses the point concerning his birthright! He misses the point concerning his blessing! He misses the point concerning his marriage! A birthright, a blessing and a marriage are all associated with responsible spiritual leadership under God. A birthright bequeaths spiritual leadership, a blessing bestows spiritual leadership and a marriage is a betrothal that gives expression to spiritual leadership as we submit to eachother and to God. He misses the point on 3 counts. But the invitation of this passage is that you don’t have to.

You have a birthright in Christ that has been bequeathed to you, a destiny to fulfil that is yours. In Christ you are blessed with the blessing of Abraham, blessed to be a blessing. The Bible says His Church is in marriage relationship with Christ, His bride. The invitation to have a personal relationship with God is yours. He loves you and wants a relationship with you. What would be the point of Christ dying for your sins if you were to gamble with your life at the Cross and not get the point of relationship with Christ?

Pastor Ross

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Genesis 27:30-38 – WHAT ABOUT ME?

What About Me?

What About Me?

No presents were opened until my father-in-law came to the tree. He was the revered head of the family and it was his responsibility to cut the meat, say grace at meals, and hand out the presents on Christmas day. The anticipation for the kids was enormous. Everyone received a gift. The atmosphere of family was palpable.

To continue with the Christmas analogy, it’s as if Isaac decides that Esau would be the only one to receive a gift that year. It’s as if Esau says “I’ve been nice. I’ve prepared the Christmas dinner. Now give me my present, Santa.” In Genesis 27:31 (NLT) Esau’s approach to his father is self-interested and direct. “It’s Esau, your firstborn son. I’ve done as you told me. Here is the wild game. Now sit up and eat it so you can give me your blessing.”” 

Esau has already given away his birthright but he was desperate to receive his father’s blessing. As binding as a legal document, it will activate and bestow leadership, a double portion of the inheritance and spiritual responsibility upon his son. Financially the best Christmas present he could ask for.

Isaac says “Then who just served me wild game? I have already eaten it, and I blessed him just before you came. And yes, that blessing must stand!”” (Genesis 27:33 NLT). The question is rhetorical. Intuitively, both of them know who has received the blessing. Both of them know for whom it was intended, but when it dawns on Isaac that he has been tricked, he’s so shocked by the implications that he trembles uncontrollably. He can’t take back the blessing

It all makes sense to Isaac now. His suspicions have now been verified too late. “Your brother was here, and he tricked me. He has taken away your blessing”” (Genesis 27:35 NLT). It was never really Esau’s gift to have anyway. Esau is devastated. Genesis 27:34 (NLT) says “When Esau heard his father’s words, he let out a loud and bitter cry. “Oh my father, what about me? Bless me, too!” he begged.”

“What about me?” The cry of one who sold his birthright and forfeited the blessing that was passed down from Abraham. The cry of many who want God to answer their prayers but don’t want to come under His authority in any way. In Genesis 27:36 (NLT) Esau exclaims, “No wonder his name is Jacob, for now he has cheated me twice. First he took my rights as the firstborn, and now he has stolen my blessing. Oh, haven’t you saved even one blessing for me?” The “CHEAT” and the “VICTIM” (“Jacob” means “Cheat”. Who names their son “Cheat”??)

Isaac realises that the blessing he has given is fairly comprehensive. In Genesis 27:37 (NLT) Isaac says “I have made Jacob your master and have declared that all his brothers will be his servants. I have guaranteed him an abundance of grain and wine—what is left for me to give you, my son?”

That’s when the big man breaks down and cries. This was something he had really wanted from his father, even if he didn’t really include God in his life. Genesis 27:38 (NLT) says “Esau pleaded, “But do you have only one blessing? Oh my father, bless me, too!” Then Esau broke down and wept” (See Hebrews 12:14-17).

Like the rest of his family, Esau wants to divert or change God’s purposes. He wants God’s blessing but wants to do as he pleases. (Gal. 5:16-24). What stops Isaac from taking back this blessing when he discovers the deception? Why is this blessing not pronounced null and void? It seems that Isaac finally realises that his desire to bless Esau instead of Jacob is wrong (Genesis 27:33f). Abraham’s blessing is not withdrawn but endorsed.

It was wrong for Isaac to secretly seek to bless Esau with the blessing God intended for Jacob. It was wrong for Rebecca to seek to bring about God’s will by deceptive means. It was wrong for Jacob to seek to impersonate someone else and expect to be blessed. It is wrong for Esau to try to change God’s purposes. Let’s face it, we are all dysfunctional because of our sin, but God turns cursing to blessing. Fortunately Christ came to die for our sin. All of us have the opportunity to have peace with God and live under His promises. All of us have the opportunity today to receive forgiveness and the gift of eternal life this Christmas by believing in Christ. It’s interesting to think that God’s promises are offered in the midst of our sin to bring us forgiveness and reconciliation to God. The Abrahamic blessing is designed to bring a Saviour into the world through whom the world would be blessed. He was born into our dysfunctional world and we celebrate His birthday this Christmas. Happy Christmas!

Pastor Ross

Genesis 27:1-4 – DAY OF DESTINY – YOU ARE SO NOT INVITED!

Dear God, You are So NOT INVITED!

Can I really control my own destiny or is it predetermined for me? Can I frustrate fete or the plans of God or am I able to choose what I want for my life? What about Isaac and Rebekah? What about their sons, Esau and Jacob? I mean, none of them will admit to you that they are all trying to bypass and tamper with God’s will, but that’s what they are trying to do in Genesis 27. Can God’s will and purposes be thwarted? This story will be passed down for generations as an example of how the stubborn and hurried choices we make to determine our own future can go wrong, and how, despite our dogged desires, God is still able to accomplish His purposes.

Esau. Skilful with weapons. A sportsman/hunter. A man’s man. A Father’s favourite. Isaac loves his rugged outdoorsman son, Bear Grylls. Jacob, his other son, is a Mummy’s boy. That’s where all the trouble begins. Favouritism.

If Isaac had been reading his diary lately he would have been reminded that God told Rebekah “The sons in your womb will become two nations. From the very beginning, the two nations will be rivals. One nation will be stronger than the other; and your older son will serve your younger son” (Genesis 25:23). Jesus would eventually come from the line of Jacob, NOT Esau. He has spoken with Rebekah about this promise. Isaac knows that Jacob is supposed to receive the father’s blessing. Now he is intending to disregard God’s will. Is he blind? Well, as a matter-of-fact yes, totally (Genesis 27:1), but what I mean is he is making a big mistake!

A little further back in Isaac’s diary and we read that Esau isn’t interested in the family or in a relationship with God. Esau SOLD HIS BIRTHRIGHT to his brother for a pot of stew! (See Genesis 25:27-34 – Bear Grylls and Master Chef.) Irresponsible!, Perhaps he needs to go into the army for a season and learn a little discipline. He is definitely not suited for being CEO of the family business or leading his family spiritually. More suited to taking tourists on Safari. He doesn’t appear to have a spiritual bone in his body.

Isaac is not stupid. He knows the will of God, and he still wants to do things his own way. Hebrews 3:12 (NLT) says “Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God.” Now totally blind and well over 100 years old, Isaac thinks he’s going to die soon (Genesis 27:2. Understandable (How could he know he would live 40 years more – Genesis 35:28-29)!

He decides to act quickly and covertly to give Esau, not Jacob, the family blessing. Instead of killing one of the flock and celebrating a feast with family and friends, he asks Esau to go out and kill some game and prepare that instead. Then he would bless him and bestow leadership, inheritance and the spiritual responsibility upon him.

But how absent of celebration this blessing will be. How empty and devoid of congratulations! This is like a 21st birthday party without a cake and a mother’s kiss! Without music and laughter! Isaac acts in secret. He calls only Esau (Genesis 27:1)! He chooses a substitute feast and a secret celebration. No personal cost. As if God doesn’t notice! In Jeremiah 16:17 (NIV) God says “My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from Me, nor is their sin concealed from My eyes.”

Esau does not believe in God. It’s worth asking – Can I really send God a “You are so not invited to my destiny” Card and still expect the blessing of God? I know at times I have tried to control God and tell Him what I want Him to do for me as if He is a genie in a bottle. It makes me wonder what other ways I deliberately try to ignore, neglect, disobey and reject God?

Isaac leaves God out of his plans. Can I really expect the blessing of God when I refuse to include him in my decisions? I can’t receive what God wants for my life through the false hopes and dreams of my parents. The blessings of God, the Father, are given to those who are the children of God through faith in Christ. Galatians 3:14 (NLT) says “Through Christ Jesus, God has blessed the Gentiles with the same blessing He promised to Abraham, …THROUGH FAITH.”

The invitation God gives comes in the form of a Covenant promise and a sacrifice. The promise was Eternal life. The sacrifice was paid on the Cross when Christ died for our sins. Christ sacrificed His life for our sins in order to bestow the blessing of Eternal life. He invites you to believe in Him and receive the promised blessing today.

Pastor Ross

Genesis 25:23-34 – DOES GOD HAVE FAVOURITES?

Favouritism

From birth ESAU has thick red hair over his body. Esau means “Hairy”. His twin brother JACOB has an unfortunate name too. It means “to defraud, deceive, to displace”. His name carries the idea of displacing someone, to replace or unseat someone. As Jacob is being born he is found holding onto his brother’s heel, as if he is trying to trip him up. This is a picture of things to come.

Esau is the FAVOURITE SON of Isaac, his firstborn and tradition demands that he be groomed for family leadership, but Esau doesn’t seem to take his role as firstborn too seriously.

Jacob is Rebekah’s FAVOURITE SON. She no doubt remembers the prophecy given to her by God at his birth. Did Rebekah share with her favourite son Jacob what God had promised as he grew up, that somehow one day he would inherit the promises of God given to Abraham and pass them on to the next generation? Was it the SPIRITUAL INTEREST that Jacob showed that edged Rebekah towards favouritism?

I know that our cultural predilection is to blame our parents for our flaws, rather than take responsibility for our own thoughts, words and actions, but was it IRRESPONSIBLE for each parent to have a favourite son and did this cause unnecessary friction in the family? Perhaps Isaac and Rebekah took it too far? The Bible doesn’t tell us.

But what about GOD! Does He have FAVOURITES? In Romans 9:13 (NASB) God says “JACOB I LOVED, BUT ESAU I HATED.” Isaac and Rebekah don’t go as far as that! It doesn’t say of Isaac and Rebekah that they HATED the other son, only that they each LOVED one of them. Is this just exaggerated language to emphasise God’s CHOICE of Jacob over Esau?

Ephesians 1:3-14 (NLT) says “we are UNITED WITH CHRIST. Even before He made the world, God loved us and CHOSE US IN CHRIST to be holy and without fault in His eyes. God DECIDED IN ADVANCE TO ADOPT US into His own family by bringing us to Himself THROUGH JESUS CHRIST. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure…Furthermore, because we are UNITED WITH CHRIST, we have received an INHERITANCE from God, for HE CHOSE US IN ADVANCE, and He makes everything work out according to His plan.” We are PREDESTINED! CHOSEN! Did we have a choice? Does God choose to send some to hell and others to heaven? Is this what He means when He says He hates Esau and loves Jacob?

It seems to me that the words UNITED WITH CHRIST, IN CHRIST, THROUGH CHRIST are more important than we think when it comes to being CHOSEN. When I believe in Christ I APPROPRIATE His Righteousness. His Righteousness becomes mine. When I believe in Christ I appropriate ETERNAL LIFE. His life becomes mine.

It seems to me that God chose only ONE PERSON, the Lord Jesus Christ, and IN HIM I APPROPRIATE what is HIS when I believe in Him. Because HE is chosen before the foundation of the world I too am chosen. And I am chosen IN HIM to live out HIS HOLINESS. His purpose from the beginning was that when I believed I would appropriate His Holiness and live a holy life. He is set apart for the purposes of God and I am too in Him. God has only One favourite – His Son Jesus. But when I am found in Him I too am a favourite son. I put on Christ and God sees me as He sees Jesus.

Born into the family of God I have a BIRTHRIGHT. I receive all the riches of the things that God has PROMISED from the beginning of time to those who believe. It doesn’t come to me AUTOMATICALLY because I am a good person or born into a Christian family or because I go to Church or live in a “Christian” country. It comes because of the RELATIONSHIP I have with Christ and the fact that I am IN CHRIST. Because ONE person was chosen before the earth was created, many have the opportunity to believe and enter into the promises of God. I am CHOSEN IN HIM.

One of the things that A BIRTHRIGHT carries with it is the PRIESTHOOD of the family. Fathers consecrate their firstborn sons to God (Exodus 22:29). They look after the family concerning their spiritual life in serving God. The firstborn has the responsibility of building and worshiping God at the altar (Genesis 22:9; 26:25; 35:1; etc.), as well sharing God’s word and His promises to his family.

We all know the story. Esau sells his BIRTHRIGHT to Jacob because he is hungry for some stew. Red hair. Red stew. Red name. In the red regarding his BIRTHRIGHT. Edom (Red) is an appropriate name.

Hebrews 12:16 (NLT) says that Esau was “IMMORAL OR GODLESS” despite being a firstborn son. This is evident in that he “TRADED HIS BIRTHRIGHT as the firstborn son for a single meal”. I suppose when this transaction was made it was made in front of witnesses for this to be official. Stupid thing to do. “He showed CONTEMPT for his rights as the firstborn.” (Genesis 25:34 NLT) Perhaps Jacob was doing him a favour. Esau was hungry for PHYSICAL things. Jacob was hungry for SPIRITUAL things.

Have you DESPISED YOUR BIRTHRIGHT? The invitation is to believe in Christ. When I believe in Christ and what He has done for me by dying on the Cross for my sins I enter into the things that God has promised before the world was created. Chosen in Christ.

Pastor Ross

Genesis 25:24-27 – BEAR GRYLLS VS MASTER CHEF

Bear Grylls and Master Chef

He is an outdoorsman, an adventurer, a survivor, best known for his television series MAN VS. WILD”. He climbed Mount Everest at 23 and has excelled in sailing, skydiving, karate, climbing cliffs, parachuting from helicopters, paragliding, and along the way he has eaten snakes and deer droppings and other disgusting things in order to survive.

Recently BEAR GRYLLS came to our Church (Hillsong Church, Australia) and spoke about his adventures and about his faith in God. He describes his faith as the “backbone” of his life. He promotes the Alpha Course on the basics of the Christian faith.

The Bear Grylls of the Old Testament was ESAU, only with more body hair. Esau was a great hunter, a sportsman, an outdoorsman. Today he would have been chosen as the captain of the Rugby League team and he’d have his own survival TV show.

JACOB, his twin brother, was the total opposite to Esau (obviously not identical twins). He stayed around home, much less adventurous. Today he would be training as a Master Chef, writing recipe books, with his own restaurant called “BIRTHRIGHT” known for its great stew.

Being a FIRST BORN SON brings certain privileges. A first born son in Old Testament times is given the overall LEADERSHIP of the family, the SPIRITUAL AUTHORITY of the family as well as a DOUBLE PORTION of the inheritance. Esau is a firstborn son, if only by a few seconds so this is his BIRTHRIGHT. This is how it is always done. Or is it?

God is not subject to our expectations. He sometimes cuts right across social and cultural expectations and CHOOSES people indiscriminately for His purposes? Or at least it seems that way. We’ve seen this already in Genesis. Neither Seth nor Isaac are first born sons, but they are given the responsibility by God to carry the promises of God down through their generations. What is going on here?

Why does God want to BY-PASS Ishmael and choose Isaac? Why does He want to arbitrarily choose Jacob over Esau? Perhaps it’s NOT arbitrary at all! Is it that God FORESEES that Esau will not be interested in the things of God, that he will never be positive towards God or His promises? Is God stressing the importance of PERSONAL BELIEF in Him, of SPIRITUAL qualifications?

Romans 9:6-13 (NLT) clarifies things further by saying “… NOT ALL who are born into the nation of Israel are truly members of God’s people! Being descendants of Abraham DOESN’T make them truly Abraham’s children … Abraham’s PHYSICAL DESCENDANTS are NOT necessarily children of God..”

Abraham is described as the SPIRITUAL FATHER of those who have faith and believe in Romans 4:11f. It goes on to explain that God’s promise to Abraham and his descendants was based on a RIGHT RELATIONSHIP with God that comes by FAITH in the promises of God which ultimately speak of faith in Christ.

Romans 9:10-13 is amazing. Listen to this … “When Isaac married Rebekah, she gave birth to TWINS. But before they were born, before they had done anything good or bad, she received a message from God. (This message shows that God CHOOSES people according to HIS OWN PURPOSES; He CALLS people, but not according to their good or bad works.) She was told, “Your older son will serve your younger son.” In the words of the Scriptures, “I LOVED Jacob, but I REJECTED Esau.”” Why was Jacob loved and Esau rejected? Was it because Jacob would be a man of faith who would carry the promises of God to his descendants?

Ishmael and Esau are FIRSTBORN sons but they are not AUTOMATICALLY chosen by God simply because they are firstborn sons. Neither do Isaac and Jacob receive the inheritance of the promises of God because they deserve it or earn it or work for it in any way. I don’t claim to understand it but God CHOOSES them before they were born with the FOREKNOWLEDGE that they would make a POSITIVE non-meritorious response towards Him and His purposes for their lives. Here is the SOVEREIGNTY of God and the FREEWILL of man in perfect TENSION, which has frustrated both Calvinists and Arminianists down through the ages ever since.

Ephesians 2:8-9 (NLT) says “God saved you by His GRACE WHEN YOU BELIEVED. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” Titus 3:7 (NLT) says “Because of His GRACE He declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.” 

When Jacob believes he looks forward to the promise of the Saviour through whom all the nations of the world will be blessed. He looks forward to Jesus. We look back. Romans 4:23-25 says “It was recorded for our benefit, too, assuring us that God will also count us as righteous IF WE BELIEVE in Him, the One who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was handed over to die because of our sins, and He was raised to life to make us right with God.”

One thing I know is that God loves the Bear Grylls and the Master Chefs and every other person upon earth and longs for every one of us to believe Him and His promises. He gives every person the invitation and the opportunity to be born again into the family of God as they place their trust in Christ and come under His authority for their lives.

Pastor Ross