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Unraveling the Unconventional

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I want to discuss a few things in this post, so I’ll jump in.

Older serving the younger?

When you read this prophecy in Genesis 25:23, it’s essential to see this correctly.  In the stories of Isaac/Ishmael and Jacob/Esau, the older will serve the younger.  But we could also say the first will serve the last.  Just because something comes first in order does not mean it’s first in prominence.  

Think of Adam.  Adam is called the first Adam.  Jesus is called the last Adam.  See?  

The world’s system values the order of things: first in class, firstborn, and first in position.  God values something else.  

Jesus said it best in Luke 22:26, “But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest and the leader as one who serves.”  

Seeing the Prodigal Son Story Biblically

On Sunday, as I worked through Genesis 25:12-34, I mentioned the prophecy given to Rebekah that the “older shall serve the younger” is found throughout Scripture.  I rattled off several examples.  

But one example that I passed quickly over was the Prodigal Son story in Luke 15.  If you’re familiar with that story, this will be repetitive, but if you’re not, here’s the gist:  a father had two sons.  His youngest son wanted his inheritance to be spent on his desires, and his older son stayed at the family ranch and worked.  While the younger brother was off in a foreign land, squandering his inheritance, the older brother faithfully worked alongside his dad.  One day, while eating with the pigs, the younger brother came to his senses and realized that he had it good at home and decided to return.  The father, who waited eagerly for his return, saw the prodigal return, ran and embraced him, and decided to throw a party for him. The older brother was furious and told his dad that he was the one who deserved the party, not the reprobate son.  The father reminded him that all he had still belonged to him and that he should rejoice that his younger brother had returned.  

This familiar story is told to an exciting group of people.  Luke 15:1-3 says, “Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, ‘This man receives sinners and eats with them.’ So he told them this parable:”  Notice that Jesus is speaking to the Pharisees and scribes who were complaining that Jesus received sinners and eats with them.  This parable is about sinners coming to repentance.  But it’s also about ethnic Israelites acting like the older brother.  It’s about people coming to repentance and being children of God, while ethnic Israel was self-righteous and missed the point.  

This is why Jesus would say to them in Matthew 21:43, “Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits.”

God’s Sovereignty and Human Responsibility

When we read Romans 9, we can walk away discouraged or confused. It is (in my opinion) the most challenging chapter in the Bible to understand. That chapter reveals that God has made decisions about human salvation. If we’re not careful, we will make the wrong decisions about what this means.  

For instance, we might say that because God had chosen to prefer Jacob over Esau, Esau had no choices, and his decisions were futile.  We might do the same with our choices and decisions.  God has already determined; therefore, we can do nothing about God’s decisions.   But that is a misunderstanding of how God works out His purpose of election.

God made humans with the ability to make real choices that have real effects. My decision to write today will have real effects, your decision to get up this morning will have real effects, and our decision to trust Jesus will have real effects.  We are the only creature on earth with this ability.  Our regular, everyday choices are how God does what He’s predestined to do.  He’s done it this way because He is sovereign, and we are responsible for our decisions. 

These two parallels- God’s sovereignty and our responsibility- are the mysterious ways God works out His plans.  We act, but God is already working.  We choose and are responsible for those choices.  It may not make sense to our finite minds how these two things (God’s sovereignty and our responsibility) work together, but it does to God.  He has made us this way, and He has predestined all things for the glory of His Son.   

Esau, who was not chosen to be the son of promise, made real decisions that had real effects.  Selling his birthright was a tragedy, yet he decided to do it.  His sinful decisions had real effects.  God did not reveal until later (much later) that His choice was Isaac.  We will never know God’s predestined plans and purposes on this side of heaven.  Our job is to be faithful and responsible.  God’s job is to work out all things according to His glorious purposes.  

We can trust God’s plans because they come from His perfect character and wisdom.  In other words, God’s will is what you and I would do if we had perfect knowledge and goodness.    

From the Cheap Seats

To watch or listen to the sermon described in this post, please click here.

Have a great week! Christ is King!

In Christ, 

Dave York

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Unraveling the Unconventional

When you read this prophecy in Genesis 25:23, it’s essential to see this correctly.  In the stories of Isaac/Ishmael and Jacob/Esau, the older will serve the younger.  But we could also say the first will serve the last.  Just because something comes first in order does not mean it’s first in prominence.  

Think of Adam.  Adam is called the first Adam.  Jesus is called the last Adam.  See?  

The world’s system values the order of things: first in class, firstborn, and first in position.  God values something else.

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