Oh Brother! —Adam’s Angle

Some things in life we get to choose. Other things are dropped in our laps.

If we win the lottery, great! But if someone or something we don’t like interrupts our good life — watch out. We go on the warpath.

We make our circumstances our enemy: “If only our company didn’t go under. . . If only I didn’t have to look after grandpa . . . If only that car accident never happened. . .” we tell ourselves, “then life would be perfect.”

And so we wrestle with every outside foe that gets in our way. But as we do so, we miss out on the work that God wants to do in our hearts.

The very thing you think is holding you back may be the thing that is holding you close to God.

Congratulations, You’ve Got Twins!

You can’t choose your family. But God can. That’s what’s so amazing about the story about Jacob and Esau in Genesis.

God had already made a covenant with Abraham to bless all nations through his descendents. But for God’s plan to succeed, Abraham’s family line had to continue. Isaac had already been born and chosen by God to carry on His covenant. But now that Isaac was married and ready to continue the family line, he had a problem: his wife, Rebekah, was barren.

What does a godly man do? He prays. Surely God would answer because, after all, He had a vested interest in making sure His word came to pass.

God did answer that prayer — but in a most curious way. Rebekah had twins.

That seems like a strange way to answer a prayer. I mean, wouldn’t it have been easier for Jacob — God’s choice to carry on the covenant — to have been born first, by himself, so there would no confusion?

Think about it: if Jacob had been an only child, or if Esau was born many years later, we’d probably have a different account of Jacob. We wouldn’t know him as the schemer who tricked his brother out of his birthright. We’d just know him as the next one in Abraham’s line who was fulfilling God’s plan on earth. But God had a point to make.

Enter Esau, and — voila! Drama. Jacob might have been God’s chosen one to carry on the line, but he had character issues. And God was intent on bringing them to the surface.

Soul Surgery

In Jacob’s eyes Esau was the one who was keeping him from living the full life. Esau was the firstborn. He should have been the one to get his father’s inheritance.

But, he despised his birthright and sold it for a pot of stew. Jacob, still not satisfied, later stole Esau’s blessing in a ruse, pretending to be Esau. In doing so, Jacob even blasphemed, claiming that the LORD had given him success in hunting wild game (Genesis 27:20).

Because Esau was in the way, God used him to expose Jacob’s heart: he was the kind of person who would trick his brother out of his birthright, use blatant deception and even blaspheme God’s name in a lie to get what he wanted.

And sick-hearted Jacob was the one God had chosen.

To make a long story short, it was during Jacob’s flight away from his deceptive scheme when God first appeared to him. And God would be with him, teaching him a lesson about dealing deceptively with others through his father-in-law, Laban.

With decades gone by, he would be reconciled with his brother, but no longer as “Jacob” — the one who grasps the heel — but renamed “Israel,” the father of the Jewish nation. But his transformation took time and it took God working on his character.

Not Just Task Oriented

Jacob was a real piece of work. His story might have been different without Esau — that roadblock of a brother. But it seems God isn’t merely interested in bringing His plans to pass; He’s also interested in transforming His people, even by allowing them to come into contact with troubling people and difficult circumstances.

As you battle your circumstances without, don’t ignore the work God wants to do within. That thorn in your side will expose your sinful heart so you can bring it to Him. It will also assure that, in the end, He will get all the glory for carrying out His purposes through earthen vessels like you and me.

—Adam Pivec
10/18/08