Jesus won for us what Esau lost

6 min read

Esau, Isaac’s older son, is slick. He is skilled. He studied in one of the world’s elite universities. He travels all over the world signing big deals. He is a gym buff. His body makes ladies drool – you should see his calves. He is single. Oh, yes, red meat for the ladies. Everyone wants to hang out with him. He is a cool dude. He is the apple of his father’s eyes. When he is in town, he takes his father to five-star Michelin restaurants. To get a table in these restaurants, you need to book six months in advance. He knows a few people. He can pull some strings. No big deal. He is a man of action. He is a man’s man.

Esau has a brother. His name is Jacob. Jacob is a quiet guy who loves to stay at home with his mum. We rarely see him in public. That’s all we know about Jacob.

One day, Esau comes home after his long travels abroad, exhausted and hungry. He finds Jacob in the kitchen cooking a sumptuous vegan stew. It seems Jacob is vegan. “Hey J, give me some that of that. I’m starving”. The bible tells us at this point his name changed to Edom. “Dude”, Jacob, his quiet brother replies, “sell me your birthright”. Esau hesitates. His hunger pangs grow louder. “C’mon J, I can’t give you that. You know I’m the eldest son. Dad would kill me”. Jacob gives him a blank look. “Dude”, he says, “sell me your birthright or you aren’t having my vegan stew”. Esau hesitates but gives in. “Okay, okay, I will. Here’s my plate. Quick”. “Not that quickly”, Jacob replies. “Let’s shake hands. This agreement is as good as death. Cool?” “Okay, okay. Here’s my hand. Shake it quickly. I’m starving”. Esau swears to Jacob and gives him his birthright. Jacob serves Esau his vegan dish. Esau eats, drinks and off he goes. By this act, Esau had despised his birthright.

What is a birthright?

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Why God accepts us despite our foolishness

6 min read

The book of Job has a happy ending. The proverbial “they lived happily ever after” comes through. Job’s suffering ends, and he is blessed with more than he had before. He gets a family. His daughters are the most beautiful in the land. He gives them an inheritance, something unknown in the ancient world. In the ancient world, only the eldest son got the inheritance. So here we see Job, a very progressive man in ancient times. Job lived long enough to see his great, great, great, great-grandkids. (Job 42:12-16)

But as he suffered, he had these three foolish friends who gave him advice on why bad things were happening to him. Apart from the young man, Elihu, the rest, elderly men were just wrong. At the end of the book of Job, God appears, he is angry at them. My anger burns against you and against your two friends, God says to Eliphaz. For you didn’t speak what is right to Job. (Job 42:7-8) God is livid.

God gets angry? An irreligious person may ask. This idea that God gets angry is offensive to those who believe God is only loving. The same people cannot reconcile how God should deal with evil and injustice. How should God deal with unrepentant paedophiles, wife beaters, mass murderers, despots and the like? They turn themselves inside out trying to explain how God should deal with the problem of evil and injustice.

Why shouldn’t God be angry? A God who doesn’t get angry at injustice is not loving. This is a senile old man, an indifferent being. I will not in a million year’s worship or obey this God. Never. God gets angry because he is love and he loves. In a recent TV advert, the voice-over artist says this of Chef Gordon Ramsey, the foul-mouthed, award-winning chef, “he is only angry because he cares”. Even advertising companies know this to be true.

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Is your God big enough to handle your doubts?

4 min read

Abraham and Sarah are old, like really old. God appears to Abraham and tells him the most ridiculous thing ever. You will have a son. Abraham bursts out laughing. Like Abraham really laughs until he collapses on the floor. Like seriously, Lord? Are you for real? Nah, you are joking. Do you know how old I am? Have you seen Sarah lately? Dude, Sarah is old, like old. Everything with her has gone south. Are you kidding me? Abraham informs God (God rolls his eyes) that he already has a son. Why do you need to give me another one? I have this one. Where is he? Bring him here? God tells Abraham, Nah, this one will not be your heir. Isaac the son I will give to you will. (Genesis 17:15-22)

The same Abraham had thirteen years before slept with his maid to satisfy Sarah’s whims. A passive man and adulterer. Many years preceding this event, he had conspired with his ‘sister’ to lie to Pharaoh. God gave Abraham a sinner made righteous a promise, a magnanimous promise.

Sometime later, God appears to Abraham and Sarah. Abraham is savvy enough to know these aren’t the usual guests. He says to Sarah quick make some roti (chapati) and let me get the young man to make some beef curry. They make the dishes and serve the guests. Like a butler, Abraham stands silently as his guests eat. As they eat, the main guest asks where Sarah is. Sarah is in the tent, eavesdropping. The guest says to Abraham, next time this year, Sarah, your wife will have a son. Unlike Abraham, Sarah laughs within herself. “Like I am old, but have you seen Abraham? Can I even enjoy making love? I am too old for such things”, Sarah laughs. The laugh wasn’t audible, but God heard it. Why did Sarah laugh? The guest asks Abraham. Is anything too difficult for the Lord to do? But Sarah denies it, making her a liar. (Genesis 18:1-15)

Sarah doubts, is a liar and thirteen odd years before she made Abraham sleep with Hagar and give her a son. Years preceding this incident, she was a co-conspirator with her husband when they lied to Pharaoh. Sarah is a sinner indeed.

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The God who defends willful sinners

5 min read

Genesis 12:1, now the Lord said to Abram. Who is this Abram? Let me tell you. He is the firstborn of Terah. The family is from Ur and they are idol worshippers. His family has family idols. They pay homage and offer sacrifices to these idols. Every family has one or more idols. The Lord, Yahweh, speaks to this idolater. We have to take a pit stop and address this.  

The Christian faith is notorious for showcasing instances where God spoke to and spoke with people of dubious character. Murderers, liars, adulterers, thieves, schemers, fearmongers, doubters and the like. A good Christian shouts, God is holy, God is righteous. God only deals with people who are righteous and holy as he is. I ask, then please explain how he spoke to Abram and idolater. He spoke to Cain after he had killed his brother and promised to protect him. The good Christian fumbles and look for the exit sign. God speaks to sinners. This is a shocking truth even to me who believes the gospel of grace. I know I’m a sinner. Fact. But that God speaks to me, that’s just not right. 

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If you are suffering, get yourself this friend ASAP

5 min read

A young man speaks up in Job’s conversations with his friends. Job’s friends, elderly and experienced, had spoken first. They had given Job advice on why he was suffering. Much of it is accusations and false assumptions, but elderliness gives them sway. This young man has been holding his breath all the while. He speaks up. Burning with anger, he rages poetic; I am full of pent-up words, and the spirit within me urges me on. I am like a cask of wine without a vent, like a new wineskin ready to burst! I must speak to find relief, so let me give my answers. I won’t play favourites or try to flatter anyone. For if I tried flattery, my Creator would soon destroy me. (Job 32:18-22 NLT)

The young man then rebukes Job for his self-righteousness and then rebukes the older friends for falsely accusing Job. This was a bold move in a culture where the elderly were held in high esteem, their words unvarnished. This young man had some balls, we would say.

Job is me when bad things happen. When bad things happen to me, I quickly look at my performance. Have I been good? Have I been bad? If I’ve been good, why are these things happening? Good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people, right?

This young man could not take it. Yoh Job, you are wrong, and I will show you why. For God is greater than any human being. (Job 33:12 NLT)

A detour of sorts…

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