Family Feuds, tests of faith and - wait, who's 100 and pregnant?!
Welcome to part 2 of The Story reading plan we are doing as XS community! This insane chapter followed through the story of one super important family in the Old Testament.
So the chapter starts with Abram and Sarai (later re-named by God to Abraham and Sarah). God told Abram to pack up all his things, gather up his family around him, and move to a new land. Abram, without really thinking it through much (which you’ll discover he does a lot) decided to go. They settled in a place and God promised that Abram’s children would be blessed with this land. This sounds all well and good, except, Abram didn’t have any children. Oh, also, he was 85 years old.
But in faith, Abram just agreed with God and kept believing what God was promising to him, which was a pretty impressive show of faith. But as time passed, Abram and Sarai decided to take God’s promise into their own hands, and Abram had a baby with Sarai’s slave (this was pretty common back then, because the priority was that a child was born, not really where it came from).
A bit of drama occurred here and there (read the chapter to find out!). But after more time, and more waiting and persistence in faith, God spoke to them and reminded them of the promise he’d given, that they would have a baby together. Sure enough, because God is awesome, Sarah became pregnant. Now they were old. Like very old. Like if you think your parents are lame and old, you ain’t seen nothing. I’m talking great-grandparent age, and yet here they were, pregnant! Is that faith in God, or what? (It was around this time that God changed their names to Abraham and Sarah also.)
So Sarah gives birth to Isaac. This is the first family we start with – Sarah, Abraham and Isaac. Have you ever wanted something so much, that when you finally get it, you can’t imagine ever letting it go? One time I saved up all my pocket money and bought a Tamagotchi (which were a whole, like, $14.95). I then proceeded to never, ever, ever let that Tamagotchi go no matter where I went. I’m talking, wear-it-on-a-lanyard-under-your-clothes-Tamagotchi-obsession. (If you don’t know what that is, Google it). Well if you can imagine your whole life (I’m talking 100+ years) of wanting something, the next part of the story is pretty much mind blowing. Abraham is just chilling one day when God tells him to take Isaac (the equivalent of Abraham’s Tamagotchi), go up to the top of the mountain, and kill him as a sacrifice to God.
And what did Abraham do? Well remember before when I said he often just trusted God without hesitation? Abraham trusted God. They headed up the mountain with firewood other sacrifice gear. I can just imagine Abraham waiting for God to intervene at some point – wrestling as to whether he was actually going to do this. The love he had for his son was so immense, but his faith in God was even bigger. It isn’t until Isaac is strapped over the fire and Abraham is raising his knife to kill his son that God tells him to stop, because he’s proved his faith is strong.
So what was the point of this? This seems pretty cruel and kind of unnecessary doesn’t it? Well the important thing to point out, is that God didn’t actually want Abraham to kill his son. Instead he was testing whether Abraham would even consider trusting God that much a possibility. After all, God had promised Abraham and his decedents pretty important things, and given them a lot of responsibility in the future of His people – this needed to be a faith rooted so deep in trust that it was worthy of this. Plus, we have to remember, it was God himself who gave us his own son to be a sacrifice for our sins. Does this help you appreciate the magnitude of that?
I told you this chapter was intense!
So we skip forward a few years and Abraham and Sarah both pass away. Isaac grows up and marries Rebekah and they have twins – Esau (the manly, hairy one that works in the fields) and Jacob (the quiet, timid, probably less-hairy one who stays at home with his mother).
You know when parent’s say they don’t have a favourite? Well Isaac and Rebekah weren’t so subtle about their likes and dislikes. Jacob was pretty clearly Rebekah’s favourite, and Esau was definitely Isaacs. This was even more undeniable when Isaac decided to leave his entire inheritance to just one of his sons. Can you guess which one?
This causes just a bit of beef between the brothers! Rebekah isn’t too thrilled either. So on the day when old, blind Isaac summons Esau to bless him, Jacob gets in first. He dresses in his brother’s clothes, so he smelt like him, and covered his skin in animal fur to mimic his brother’s hairy complexion (on another note, how hairy was Esau?!?) and snuck into the tent. Isaac was none the wiser, being very blind, and blessed Jacob with everything by mistake, leaving Esau with nothing.
This was the ultimate Family Feud. Esau planned to kill his brother – that’s how far it got. Jacob goes away for a while, but after twenty years the brothers decide to meet up again. Jacob isn’t sure where Esau is at, and if he’s still furious at him. Jacob’s prayers are that Esau has calmed down, but to butter up the situation a bit, he sends him some presents! He sends goats and sheep, camels and donkeys, and bulls and cows in front of him with people, who were instructed to pretty much beg Esau to forgive Jacob.
So finally, Esau and Jacob see each other from far away. Esau has an army of four hundred men – if you can remember, Esau was the big, manly, hairy one, so you can imagine what kind of army he would keep with him. Jacob was pretty freaked out, started protecting his kids and his wives and sorting out how this battle was going to take place.
But instead, big hairy Esau comes charging towards Jacob with his arms out, and embraces him in a big brotherly bear hug. Esau has been blessed by God and is content with everything he could need. The brother’s are thankful for each other, no longer jealous of what the other has, and they rekindle their bromance!
So that’s basically what happens in that chapter! As you can see it’s a bit of a complicated family (can you imagine the Christmas’…oh wait) but it’s also awesome to see how God was working through generations. Next chapter actually continues on with even more descendants of Abraham.
Now you’re all caught up, and keen to read the chapter to discover more, here’s a few thoughts I want to leave you with:
Abraham’s faith was what stood out the most to me in this story. It was such a raw passion for a relationship with God. If you think about it, Abraham didn’t have a bible, or a knowledge with Jesus. He didn’t even have the 10 commandments, or as many stories of God's provision as we have nowadays. Instead, he used the knowledge of God's goodness and grace, and his own faith in His Father to guide his path. It was such a raw relationship. Is God prompting you to simply appreciate your relationship with Him, and simply come to him with an open heart?
Secondly, it was a long time between God telling Abraham to move towns to have a baby, and Him actually blessing them with a baby, but Abraham trusted God through the whole process. How might God be shaping your life now, to prepare you for the future? Are your friendships, relationships, and other life decisions based on what God has called you to do, or are you only thinking about the 'now'?
Thirdly, can you trust that God’s timing sometimes doesn’t mix with ours? Abraham and Sarah tried for years to have a baby, and they never stopped praying for it to happen. Have you given up on praying for something, because God didn’t deliver in your own timing? I encourage you to take up that prayer again, whether it be for a blessing in your life, or in someone else’s, such as a friend to come to Jesus.
And lastly, what can you learn about forgiveness from Esau and Jacob? It was a pretty intense scenario, and God needed to intercede into Esau’s heart to allow him to bring Jacob such forgiveness. Although this part of the story isn’t as much about the brothers’ faith, it shows that God is interceding in relationships, and touching hearts with forgiveness and mercy towards other people.
I hope you enjoyed today’s chapter!