Of idioms and idiots
"Jacob I loved, Esau I hated” is an idiom, a figure of speech that means a choice has been made between two. It could be, but is not always, a statement of actual hate as we think of hate speech or scowling rejection. Before they were born Yahweh made a choice - as we would think of it – through which of the boys the ancestry of the Christ would develop. No equal treatment, though those God “hates” often get their own separate, special and generous provisos, especially if they do not succumb to idiocy. They would need to overcome resentments and remain steadfast in their devotion toward Yahweh.
Sadly, we rarely do
A choice between two had been made the generation before in the case of Isaac over Ishmael, and would be made again in the following generation concerning Joseph, Jacob’s son by his favorite of two wives. Of Jacob it had been foretold he would, as the younger of twins, be treated as if firstborn. His line would carry the “seed of the woman” forward in anticipation of Messiah (Christ). This is why so much is made of it. The line of Christ was not according to natural selection, but one of divine choice.
On our end of it, dealing with such a choice - even if we are fully aware of the purpose of God - can be tough, but we don’t need to be idiotic in out reactions.
Think of Saul when he heard the happy crowds lining the streets of the capital cheering as David, the young whippersnapper and up-and-coming warrior leader walked toward the king’s residence to make his report. The ladies called out their compliments as they acknowledged their benefit of having such great men as their protectors, “Saul has slain his thousands and David his ten-thousands!” Their cheer was not a slight against Saul, but an idiom of high regard for not just one great warrior, but a generous benefit of two. They were probably thinking something along the line of, “With two great men like Saul and David, how can we lose?”
Too often we behave like idiots
Saul took it personally as an affront and became immediately, and irrepressibly jealous. He had begun to lose his mind and occasionally suffered fits of madness. With the episodes came extreme reactions to David’s presence and the eventual chase of David in wasted effort to eliminate him as contender for the throne for the sake of a dynasty through his favored son Jonathan.
According to a report in Hebrews 12, Esau became bitter upon realization the choice of his brother Jacob was irrevocable. His further recorded history in Genesis reveals his reaction as defiant of his parents and more importantly of God – idiotic. Another familiar case is found in Luke 15 where we discover a father’s favorable dealing with his younger prodigal son upon his return home. The special treatment and celebration over the prodigal’s return caused his older, seemingly more faithful brother, no small angst – also idiotic.
We could be idiots
We won’t always get what we want. Occasionally others may be chosen instead of us, or for the moment, shown more favor. We also won’t always know the reasons why. Saul was told why David was chosen over him, but it isn’t always so. Even if we were to be told, in that moment it might not make sense to us anyway. What we have to work with is our baseline personal devotion toward the will of God and the knowledge that He has good reason for things working as they do when it comes to real or felt rejection.
Peter was taken to school on this very point. Note that in his case, as recorded in John 21, Peter began to realize the different path marked out for his companion John, and when he questioned the Lord, Jesus flatly said,
“What concern is that to you, you follow Me.”
Precisely what I need to hear. “Stu, don’t be an idiot. Whether it is due to mistakes you’ve made that you have been passed over or not, at least as far as you can see it, your response to it will make the difference in your future.”
“Crucified,” is a modern idiom for being dealt with unjustly. It harkens back to the injustice shown Jesus Christ in His execution for crimes that were hung on Him without merit. A criminal was released by the will of the mob and Jesus was instead led off to a cross. Despite the injustices His response throughout was “Father, I remain committed to Your faithfulness toward Me (I Peter 2:23),” and “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing (Luke 23:34).”
Paul seems to have settled such matters in his personal life and work by rehearsing,
“I am crucified with Christ, never-the-less I live, yet not I but Christ lives in me. The life I now live I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
His testimony is loaded. On the one hand, and most importantly, he says that Christ is His substitute in death for offences against God he knew he was guilty of. In that Christ had died for him he was counted as having died and was therefore released from his guilt and set free. Notice he lives by faith in the Son of God what he has done and not in his own merits. But he alludes to a second reality, because in that Christ was crucified unjustly, and suffered in ways He never deserved, those like Paul that identify with Christ also realize they may be ‘crucified’ by an unwitting world that simply wants rid of us. Paul considered himself so and so should we.
Enough for now,
Grace today y’all
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