OT: Gen. 26:17-27: 46
Today's theme: character flaws.
Esau is not so great at wife selection, choosing two Hittite women who cause his parents grief. He also has a touch of false victimization ("Jacob stole my birthright!" Well, no, sweetie--you gave it to him). But the main problem is that he is just so impetuous. That impetuousness can probably account for his first two flaws, but it definitely accounts for the rage he feels at Jacob. What bothers me is not so much that he is angry or even that he wants to kill his brother (though that last part is bad), but that Rebekah knows that he's going to calm down and "forget" it ever happened. I've always thought Esau was good for being so forgiving to Jacob later in life, but now I'm beginning to think he's just dumb. He burns hot and cold; he feels, therefore he does. In short, like yesterday's reading alluded to, that's why they call him "Red." He's just a hothead. (Quick paraphrased movie quote: "Why do they call you Red?" "I don't know. Maybe it's because I'm Irish." Anyone? Anyone?)
Not that Rebekah and Jacob are better. On the contrary, Esau may be a big, dumb brute (sorry Esau--I really do like you!), but these two are conniving manipulators. They go to great lengths to deceive Isaac and steal Esau's blessing. It may have been Rebekah's idea, but when he's in the room with his father, Jacob lies and lies and then lies some more. He even has the nerve to invoke God, telling Isaac that he found the game so quickly because "The Lord your God gave me success." You lying liar! (Okay, I may be a touch judgmental today.)
Now, here's my conundrum. These extravagant deceptions actually add up to fulfilling God's promise to Isaac. It's not like Sarai, who took matters into her own hands and messed everything up. All this lying and manipulating is fitting perfectly into God's plans. And the Bible doesn't seem to pass judgment on it one way or another. I recently read in a Beth Moore study the author's opinion that God feels no need to justify His morality to us specifically throughout the Bible. So in other words, He doesn't swoop in and provide caveats every time something shady goes down. But still, it seems weird that the divine path to Israel goes right through these lies and deceit.
On the other hand, it is oddly comforting that God puts up with these guys. I know it has less to do with them and more to do with His plan, but just the fact that He shows them so much grace gives me hope for the rest of us!
NT: Matt. 9: 1-17
This seemed like a really short reading today. It included Matthew's shortened version of the paralytic being lowered through the roof (sounded like the same story to me, at least), the calling of Matthew, and some words from Jesus. I think it is interesting how in the last reading, Jesus had people asking to follow Him, and He kind of shot them down, but this time, He goes right up to a tax collector and asks him. Increasingly, I'm finding the calling of the disciples to be an interesting, somewhat confusing process. I also love Jesus' words, "I desire mercy, not sacrifice." He repeats those a couple times elsewhere in Scripture. They always speak to me, because my personality could "sacrifice" all day. In other words, if there was a list of right actions to be done, I think that would be great. Give it to me, and I'll check them off one by one. But to actually show mercy, to love your brother deeply from the heart, to be forgiving...those are much harder. As someone who was raised a Christian, I find the external things to be almost second nature sometimes. But Jesus is interested in the heart. That's always convicting to me.
"The Lord is King for ever and ever; the nations will perish from his land." That is why it is better to be a Monarchist than to belong to a particular political party. (Thanks, Larry, for the terminology.) I'm not a Democrat or a Republican; I serve the King.
Prov. 1: 9-10
Short but sweet. "Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine." Sounds like a verse my dad would like. He loves those giving ones, as do I.