Friday, June 28, 2013

I Changed my Mind!

A couple of weeks ago, I was feeling a bit like life sucked. For various reasons which come and go. And I just thought: Why does it have to be like this? Then I started to think about Isaac (who is next in the Hebrews 11 series) and all the things he suffered.

Wa-ait. What did Isaac suffer?

Per Wikipedia:

"Isaac was the only biblical patriarch whose name was not changed, and the only one who did not leave Canaan. Compared to those of Abraham and Jacob, Isaac's story relates fewer incidents of his life. He died when he was 180 years old, making him the longest-lived patriarch."

Isaac living the dream
Isaac was married, he loved his wife, he had two sons (twins Jacob and Esau), and he died snug in his bed at an overripe old age. Sounds lovely. Why would such a person...a person seemingly untested wind up in the Hall of Faith?

By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future - Hebrews 11:20

Stumped. Why is this a big deal? Why is it an act of faith for Isaac to bless his children? It's a big deal because this is both Isaac's suffering and his claim to fame. It's a big deal because in the end Isaac didn't get what he wanted, but rather had to submit to what God wanted.

Isaac had made Esau his choice, but God's choice was Jacob.

God's choice regarding them is revealed to Rebekah prior to their births:
And the Lord said to her,“Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you shall be divided; the one shall be stronger than the other, the older shall serve the younger.”
 - Genesis 25:23

Romans 9:11-13 states that God made choice of them before any wrong had been done on the part of Jacob or Esau. Before there was an older or a younger, before Esau sold his birthright (Genesis 25:29-34), God said: "I choose Jacob." 

Why?! Unknown. This kills me. I wish I could know...but I don't. I just have to accept that God's sovereign will is right.
Why the little dogs? Why does one have a chef's hat?!

Isaac couldn't accept this, at first. Knowing what the Lord had revealed to Rebekah (b/c, let's trust she didn't keep this a secret), Isaac still planned to bless Esau with the blessing God had already apportioned to Jacob. Why? Because Isaac really loved his son Esau. But we know the story, Jacob dressed up like Esau in order to trick Isaac into blessing him (see Genesis 27; yep, the whole chapter).

But, I'm still like: where is the faith?

The faith is in that Isaac decided to trust God's choice. You can see it in the way he blesses Esau, and in the way he accepts and confirms the blessing on Jacob.

Then Isaac trembled very violently and said, “Who was it then that hunted game and brought it to me, and I ate it all before you came, and I have blessed him? Yes, and he shall be blessed.”
- Genesis 27:33

There's a lot of thoughts on "trembled very violently." Maybe he trembled because he was PO'd. Maybe he trembled because he realized he had been fighting against God's will as expressed in Genesis 25:23. Regardless, I hear acceptance and burgeoning faith in "Yes". Sometimes it take us a long time to get to "Yes".  And after that he blesses Esau with the blessing God had chosen for him, a life of service to Jacob. For a time. It's not what Isaac wanted for his favorite son, but it's what he blessed him with, according to God's will.

What does this have to do with me? I think maybe I have a hard time getting to "Yes." It seems faithless (to me) to try everything else in your power only to succumb to "Yes." But clearly, God will even count our reluctant submission as righteousness.

I shall end with this parable: 

“What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’“‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. 
“Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go. “Which of the two did what his father wanted?” “The first,” they answered. Jesus said,“Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him. 
 - Matthew 21:28-32

The first son changed his mind. He thought better of his own way, and found himself doing the will of the Father. He believed what the Father wanted of him was better. That kind of faith counts.

We can change our minds too.