Friday, January 13, 2017

"But Honey, I'm Doing This for You and the Kids!"

Genesis 33.14 NIV

Self-centered by H5L5N5“So let my lord go on ahead of his servant, while I move along slowly at the pace of the droves before me and that of the children, until I come to my lord in Seir.”

Who is the most important person in a man’s life? Is it himself? Does he put his wife and kids through hell to get where he’s going? Is he bluffing his way there with, “But Honey, I’m doing this for you and the kids”?

Jacob was the most important person in Jacob’s life. As he prepared to meet Esau, Jacob possessed a singular and not-so-holy ambition… to save himself! Self-preservation surfaced as priority number one.

What’s yours? Self-fulfillment? Self-enjoyment? Self-indulgence? Self-advancement? Self-...? To get where they want to go, most guys are strategic. They work smart, hard, and fast. No time to waste. A man’s financial and professional neck is on the line.

Self-centered by H5L5N5Jacob had a specific strategy too. He dispatched nearly 600 valuable animals in five separate droves to Esau and his 400 men (Genesis 32.23-16). Hopefully his gift would serve as a peace offering and soften Esau’s offended heart. “Jacob thought, ‘I will try to appease him by sending gifts ahead of me. When I see him in person, perhaps he will be friendly to me’” (Genesis 32.20b NLT). Jacob arranged his handmaids and their children in the front, next Leah and her children, and finally his favorite wife Rachel and his favorite son Joseph in the rear (Genesis 33.2). Behind all of them, Jacob positioned his most favorite person... himself! From the back of the line he would enjoy maximum protection and the greatest insulation from his angry brother. Jacob would be last to face Esau.

On the day of reckoning in a moment of truth, Jacob had an epiphany. He got over himself, took a major risk, and assumed true leadership for the very first time.

“He himself passed on ahead of them and… came near to his brother.”
Genesis 33.3 NASU

Self-centered by H5L5N5Jacob got religion. He was saved from himself. He stepped up to his role as sacrificial leader. Jacob finally placed his family’s interests ahead of his own. No more would his wives and children be forced to endure a pace and lifestyle designed to insure the interests of Jacob. It was now as it should be… the greater good for the people he loved. From now on, whatever was in the best interest of Jacob’s family came first.

“So let my lord go on ahead of his servant, while I move along slowly
at the pace of the droves before me and that of the children,...

The cartoon above is used by permission of the artist Hélène Lefébure. You can check out her funny and honest work at "The Accidental Bookseller ~ my life without George Clooney" (


Anonymous said...

Dave, loved the discussion on Friday morning. Good to see how relevant these biblical events are and how many lessons there in fact are for every day life today. As always, I appreciate your leadership on both Friday and Sunday mornings.

My journal entry for Friday:

Back in Chapter # 4 of Genesis, we are introduced to Lamech, Noah's father who introduces vengeance into the world by killing "a man for wounding me, a young man for injuring me. If Cain is avenged seven times, then Lamech seventy seven times."

Genesis ch 4, vs 23-24.

In chapter 34 we have the story of Dinah and the Shechemites. Simeon and Levi take revenge to a new level in this story. I highlighted some key words in the story which lead up to the event:
"violated," "defiled," "grief," "fury," "disgraceful," and "deceitfully." The final result is an act of vengeance so out of proportion with the initial offense that it boggles the imagination.

Growing up I was tauight that there were essentially two different Gods: the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament. The first God had an anger management problem and the second God was peaceful and fun-loving. When I became a Christian and truly began to read the bible, I realized that the Two Different God's Theory was at least a grotesque exaggeration and at worst a complete misunderstanding of the true nature of God. The bible passage frequently qouted to justify this belief system is Leveticus, ch 24, vs 17-22.

"If anyone takes the life of a human being, he must be put to death. Anyone who takes the life of someone's animal must make restitution--life for life. If anyone injures his neighbor, whatever he has done must be done to him: fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. As he has injured the other, so he is to be injured. Whoever kills an animal must make restitution, but whoever kills a man must be put to death. You are to have the same law for the alien and for the native born. I am the Lord your God."

For too long people have quoted these verses to give credence to the Two God Theory. But what is often understood as a justification for revenge is actually a call for justice and reciprocity. God is not so much demanding an Eye for an EYE, but rather, One eye for an eye and One tooth for a tooth. If my neighbor cuts down a tree on my property, he owes me one tree, not ten. I don't have the right to demand more than what was taken from me. And I certainly don't have the right to kill my neighbor and his family and then burn his house down.

Simeon and Levi would use a sledgehammer to kill an ant. If these two had been aware of God's basic and common sense laws of justice and reciprocity, Shechem would have been severely punished, but the rest of this calamity would have been prevented.


dt said...

Good reminder, Dave. dt