Jul 13, 2020
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Thanks for joining me today for "A Little Walk with God." I'm your host Richard Agee.
A story in the Book of Genesis reminds me of what I'm seeing across the United States today. It goes like this:
Isaac, Abraham's son, had two twin sons, Esau and Jacob. Esau, the older, became Isaac's favorite, a hunter, rugged, and ruddy. Jacob was Rachel's favorite. Based on the rest of his life, I wouldn't call him a "mama's boy," but he stayed around the camp more than his older brother.
Esau went hunting one day and came back from the fields hot, tired, and hungry. He found Jacob cooking a stew and demanded of his brother, "Let me eat some of that red stuff, for I'm famished!" (That's when Esau got the nickname Edom, which means Red in his language.)
Jacob saw an opportunity and said, "Sure, for the price of your birthright."
We don't understand what that means in this country. Our parents make wills and usually divide their property evenly among their children, and that's the end of it. Or they might give specific amounts or specific assets to their children or grandchildren, but their wills dictate how the state will dispose of their assets on their death. It didn't work like that in Jacob's time.
Three thousand years ago, no one wrote wills. Instead, communities developed traditions as to what happened to assets when the patriarch in the family died. The birthright was pretty important. The oldest son received the birthright, a double portion of the assets of the father. That meant since Jacob had two sons, when he died, his possessions were split three ways, and Esau, as the oldest even though by just a few minutes, would receive two-thirds of the inheritance, and Jacob one-third. The oldest son became the new patriarch as part of the birthright. Of course, in those days, daughters received only a dowry to get them married off to a groom and nothing else.
So, when told Esau despised his birthright, that is a harsh statement. It means Esau cared nothing about his father or his father's name. He essentially said Isaac's assets and the role of carrying on the family names of Abraham and Isaac meant less to him than a bowl of soup. Remember, by this time, Isaac had become one of the wealthiest men in the region. He had hundreds of flocks, cattle, and workers to care for them. For Esau, who could have it all, he just gave it away.
How does that story fit with what goes on today across the country?
In every major city, we see groups tearing down statues, vandalizing buildings, shouting about our slave ridden history. Now children die in our streets at the hands of some of these same insane thugs. The problem with removing history is that we forget. And when we forget, we will repeat what happened.
Is everything in our history bright and shiny? Of course not. There are some bleak times all of us would like to forget. Some of those statues being removed would provide great teaching points that remind us never to forget those dark times in our past. They would tell us never to go back to those days and make those mistakes again. They would remind us we can be better and live brighter lives.
Instead, we create enormous divides between us, particularly as this cry of "Black Lives Matter" reaches across the country but says nothing about stopping the crime raging against their own. I agree black lives matter. So do brown lives, and white lives, and red lives, and all lives. God created a menagerie of human beings and desires for us to build relationships with each other. How can we hope to have a relationship with a holy God so unlike us, if we cannot have a relationship with our fellow humans who are exactly like us except for the color of our skin? It boggles my mind.
We sell the best and worst parts of who we are as a nation for a bowl of soup. Is that what we really want? Across the last 244 years, we built an economy like no other in the world. Some can scoff at it if they like, but no other country provides the support and relief we do when a disaster hits somewhere in the world. We come to leveryone's aid like no one else. We do it not just because we can but because we desire to help others in distress.
We have this outcry about poverty in our nation. Across thirty years of active military service, I've been privileged to see parts of the world; most Americans do not get to see. I've seen poverty. It's not here. Visit Haiti. Visit Africa. Visit places in Central and South America. Visit places where tyranny under the hand of countries where socialist and Marxist ideologies prevail, and you will find real poverty. But that's as far as my political thoughts will take me today. The reason is Jesus lived in an age of tyranny and never spoke out against his government. Paul lived under the cruel hand of Nero, but never spoke against him.
My treatise is to remember history. Don't let the past disappear because right or wrong, it has made us who we are today. We are quickly slipping away from them influential force we have been for the last 75 years because we are choosing to forget those lessons. We are choosing to let forces intervene and tear our country apart by trying to wipe away our history, the good with the bad. We despise our history and sell it to the lowest bidder – for just a bowl of soup.
Esau felt the consequences later. As Isaac neared death, he called Esau in to give him his blessing. Jacob had deceived Isaac with Rachel's help and took the elder son's blessing. Now Esau lost the birthright and would serve his younger brother. Centuries later, as we follow their bloodlines, those two brother's descendants still fight each other.
Will we forget our history, and allow ourselves to fall into another civil war? Will we forget the past and end up with sides aiming at each other with ever-increasing lethality? We have a short window of opportunity for leaders to sit across a table with level heads and listen to each other. We can make a difference through dialog, understanding, embracing change. We will not make a difference through violence. We will only see more lives and families and communities destroyed if violence continues.
We must all stop. Learn from the past. Listen to our counterparts. Really listen. Quit thinking my way is the only way. It isn't. Neither is your way the only way. The only way is God's way if we could only realize as a nation and as a world that he made it, and he has a plan for it. If we will seek him, find him, and go wherever he is, we will find peace.
You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more Bible-based teaching. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn't, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.