Genesis Day 56: Ready—Fire—Aim
Ready—Fire—Aim... that old saying for people who pull the trigger before they know what they ought to be firing at.
At issue is whether or not we are aiming at the right target.
So... what is the right target?
Not a small question.
You may be tempted to skip over this chapter in Genesis. I find it offers an opportunity to reflect.
It reminds me of a quote from Stephen Covey that goes something like, “Nobody ever laid on their deathbed and wished they spent more time at the office.” I heard it during a season of my life when I was spending a lot of time at the office.
Do your best! Strive for excellence. Hit the bullseye. Many of us have been encouraged with these and similar words. Yet on our deathbed will we regret what we spent our life aiming at?
It would seem like Esau has accomplished much. His family was so large, and they had so much stuff, that they had to move to a bigger place.
He has more than a large family. He has birthed a nation. The nation of Edom. He has settled in a tough geographical location consistent with the blessing his father pronounced on him. Yet he has settled.
To do so required he go in and conquer another people. He did. There were kings that came from Esau—long before Israel had any.
It would seem as if he did his best. Or did he?
He is the child of Isaac. Isaac was the young man who, while laying on a pile of wood, saw God intervene and spare his life. Did Isaac not teach Esau about God?
My comments are not meant to judge Isaac. Parents know how tough it is to pass on faith to their children. It’s not just about if you try hard enough. Every generation must decide for itself what to place its faith in.
And that’s the point.
We know Esau did not place his faith in Isaac’s God.
We know Esau intermarried. People who study this lineage point out that his wives come from a wide range of people. We know the cultural pressure intermarriage brings. Esau faced it with his wives. It is not just marriage. Esau also conquered a land, yet their culture would still be present, adding to the pressure to integrate foreign practices. And maybe even a lust or desire or admiration for foreign practices, if that makes sense... it isn’t just “well, we need to let them live their way,” but maybe even, “hm... we like their way! We know God told us not to... but they make it look fun!
This pressure had an effect because we also know from archeology that the nation of Edom contained many idols.
Esau has become great, but at what price? Has his greatness come at the expense of his integrity? Did the pressures of conforming to the world lead to him no longer follow the God of his father, the God of Abraham, the One True Living God?
I struggle as I write those questions about Esau. I must look in the mirror and ask myself:
These idols are front-and-center in ministry. We worship big in the USA, and that includes ministry. I need to have the courage to admit those idols infiltrate my heart—even as I seek to serve God.
I also struggle a bit theologically. I know God’s plan for the world comes through Jacob. I know our God is in control of everything. Yet I struggle because if I simply write off Esau as part of God’s plan, then I feel like I am giving myself permission to write off the people in my life who have turned from God—and that violates the Great Commission. I need to trust that God is sovereign, and in parallel obey Him. He has not told me who, in the end, will turn to Him. I must therefore keep inviting others to meet Him through His Son Jesus.