November 17, 2009

A Tug of War

Genesis 25:19-34

The babies jostled each other within her …
Genesis 25:22


We begin our lives in the safety of our mothers’ wombs. If a baby moves vigorously in the womb we may joke, “That child will become a soccer player.”

In answer to Isaac’s prayer, God made Rebekah’s womb fruitful. Then things got worrisome: her twins jostled each other so much that she asked God about it. The boys and their descendants will be at odds, God told her. There would be a struggle between the deceiver Jacob and the red-haired Esau and between their descendants. And, against all tradition, the older would serve the younger.

Because it was not the custom for the younger son to behave like a firstborn, Esau struggled with God’s will to bless the nations through the younger Jacob.

Similarly today people struggle with God’s will to bless the world through the church. What makes the church so special? Jesus Christ, no one else.

The church Christ built is secure like the womb. Within its embrace believers from all nations grow in faith until the time of our delivery into the fullness of God’s kingdom. In the meantime, many find it grossly unfair that the church is so important for the future of the world. That’s because, like Jacob, Christians are not very believable instruments of grace. But then God chooses unlikely things in the world to do great things.

Keep our eyes on you, Lord, so that we may be instruments of surprising grace in a world struggling with the way you bring it good news. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.

About the author — Arie C. Leder

Dr. Arie C. Leder is the Martin J. Wyngaarden Senior Professor of Old Testament Studies at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He previously served as pastor at Ebenezer Christian Reformed Church, Trenton, Ontario, and with Christian Reformed World Missions in Latin America. He teaches courses on the Pentateuch and on historical books of the Old Testament.

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