Monday, January 25, 2010

The Younger Son

I have all these great books on prayer I want to read, but then I joined a group of girlfriends in reading the whole Bible in 2010. Which is something I have been wanting to do for a while but really does take some discipline because when I get lazy and skip a day or two, the catch up reading can take quite a bit of time. Today we finish Genesis which has been a fascinating read. I am also doing a new Bible study at church on the life of David. I am finding some great nuggets of truth but the reason I love reading the whole Bible is that I get a sense of the WHOLE story. Today as I did both my Bible study reading on David's anointing by Samuel and also the story of Jacob's blessing of Joseph's sons is how God so often chose the younger son over his older brothers. For Seth, Adam's third son, that was necessity after Cain his first born kills his brother Abel. It is Seth's name that is registered in the genealogy from Adam to Noah in Genesis 5:3. Later in Genesis 27 we read the story of Jacob and Rebekah deceiving Isaac to get the father's blessing for Jacob the younger. I am not sure why they felt the need to deceive because in Genesis 25:23 it says,
The Lord said to her,
"Two nations are in your womb,
and two peoples within you will be separated;
one people will be stronger than the other,
and the older will serve the younger."

Again and again we will see the younger brother being chosen over the older brother. Joseph and the coat of many colors, his brothers resented so much that they sold him into slavery and told his father Jacob he had been killed. Later when they are reunited in Egypt and Jacob is on his death bed blessed Joseph's two oldest sons Manasseh and Ephraim, in that blessing he intentionally placed the second born Ephraim ahead of the first born. In I Samuel 16 we see the Lord telling Samuel to go down to Jesse's family and to anoint the one the Lord chooses. The seven oldest sons are brought before him but none of them is the chosen one. It is not until David, a younger brother is brought from the fields where he was tending sheep, that Samuel hears the Lord say, "Rise and anoint him, he is the one."

I have heard all these storied separately. All the stories of younger brothers chosen by God or preferred by their father. The jealousy they feel, the resentment that is very real as they are overlooked in a time when being first born was tantamount to all. I don't know why God went against the cultural norms so often. Why he chose the least among them at times. I do know that when God calls the unexpected, the weak, the faltering, to greatness, the fruit of their work can only be attributed to God. 2 Corinthians 12:9 "But he (the Lord) said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'" We may not be the most worthy of God's calling, but we don't need to be. Because God's power is so much greater than our weakness.

The other thing I find fascinating about these stories is the forgiveness that the victims have for their brothers. Esau was so angry at Jacob when he found out that Jacob had deceived their father and stolen his blessing. Jacob had to flee from Esau's anger. But later we find them reunited together, with Esau having forgiven Jacob. Joseph weeps when he sees his brothers for the first time in Egypt where Joseph has been put in charge of the grain distribution. And in the end of Genesis when his brothers ask for his forgiveness after the death of their father Jacob, Joseph answers them,
Don't be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don't be afraid. I will provide for you and your children." Genesis 50:19 - 21

Reading these stories as a whole, having the two, my one year Bible reading and my separate Bible study, layering together, shows me more of God's story of redemption. It started not on the cross with an unexpected man, experiencing unfair pain, to forgive an undeserving people. It started at the beginning. And over and over again throughout the Bible I see stories pointing to the redeeming work of Jesus.

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