What Was He Thinking?

The following is what happens when people do stupid things not understanding the consequences of their actions. The story I am going to tell is about two brothers, but that is as far as their family resemblance goes. The oldest brother is healthy and strong, the younger one is kind of a sissy. And in the days of their birth, the older brother received two-thirds of their father’s inheritance while the younger siblings divided up the rest. The older brother was a hunter, a wanderer; and the younger a sheep herder who took care of his father’s flocks. One day, the older boy went on a hunting expedition and returned a few days later empty-handed, and famished. When he saw the camp fire of his younger brother in the distance, he went to him seeking food. The younger brother who was quick-witted realized this was an opportune time; he offered his older brother a nourishing meal in exchange for his birthright. You may be thinking, “How could somebody be so dumb as to trade a vast fortune for a bowl of food?” But don’t fall off your chair laughing just yet. We are guilty of doing the same. There are times when a person’s immediate physical needs mean more to them than a promised blessing yet to come. This happens in our own life far more often than we will admit. For example, God has told us, “Everything we put our hand to will prosper.” But instead of waiting for the blessing to fulfill itself, we trade it away for some temporary thing we don’t need. The older brother accepted the younger one’s offer and traded his vast inheritance for a bowl of food. The younger brother understood that the man who is blessed is master of the one who isn’t, and the one who isn’t, serves the one who is. After the older brother’s physical needs had been met; he went away with a full belly, happy and satisfied, but the importance of what he had traded away for a bowl of food never entered his mind, until it came time for the blessings to be passed out. And, we, like the older brother, may forget the oaths we make, but a man’s oaths whether written or spoken, are written down in heaven and the Lord God holds us to them. Jesus said this about oaths, “Let your yes, be yes, and your no, no. For anything more than these is sin.” [Matthew 5:37]

There was no love lost between these two men even though they were brothers. The older brother didn’t like the younger one because he was a schemer and a dreamer, and the younger one didn’t like his older brother because he was irresponsible and would rather be out traipsing around the countryside than helping him take care of his father’s great wealth. Add to that the fact their mother loved the younger one more than she loved her hairy, red skinned, older son, but, the father loved the older boy more. I suspicion the father loved the older son more because he wished he had been more like him when he was growing up, and less like the younger one. To make a long story short, the father falls ill, is blind, and is on his death-bed. The time for the father’s inheritance to be passed on to his boys had come. The younger one knew even though the older had traded his birth right for a bowl of food; the blessing would still go to his older brother if he couldn’t in some way trick his father into thinking he was the older brother. So, the younger boy and his mother concocted a scheme to fool the father; and she told the younger son to gather wool and stick it to his body so that when he visited his father, he would feel and smell like his older brother. The boy did as his mother instructed him and went in to his father and received the older boy’s blessing. Needless to say, when the older brother went in to his father and learned his blessing had been given to the younger son; he was fit to be tied, and swore to kill his younger brother right after the father’s funeral.

I said before the younger son wasn’t a dummy. He knew his older brother was upset enough to kill him, so his mother sent the young man away to stay with her kin folks until the older brother calmed down. As we used to say in rural southern Illinois, “He got out of Dodge while the getting was good.” When he arrived at his in-laws home and introduced himself, his future father-in-law put him to work. There he met a young girl, fell in love, and marriage was proposed. His future bride was the daughter of his new boss. He would soon learn his future father-in-law was as much of a deceiver as he is. His boss said to the young man, “Work for me for seven years and I will give you the hand of my daughter in marriage.” The young man agreed to work for his future father-in-law for a period of seven years. When the time was up, he was married; but learned on the morning after the wedding, he had married the older daughter and not the one he was in love with. He had been duped. When he questioned his father-in-law about the deception, his father-in-law told him it wasn’t right for the younger daughter to marry before the older, but he could still marry the younger daughter if he would work for him for another seven years. The young man was so in love with the young woman that he agreed to the proposal. And upon the completion of the second seven year period, the young man was given the younger daughter’s hand in marriage. But now, he had two wives and no way to provide for them. So, the father-in-law proposed to the young man; work for me for yet another seven years, and I will give you sheep and goats so you can provide for your growing family. Believe it or not, this young man was very bright, but it sure seemed like, at least up to this point, he was being outclassed by a wiser deceiver than he. But, as we will learn, there was no quit in this young man, and once again he takes matters into his own hands. He believed his destiny lay in his power to out-think the other person. But, God had plans to bless this young man, and all the earth through him. So, it wouldn’t be fitting if the young man didn’t learn a lesson from his past mistakes and come to understand that God can bless a person without their help, but it is always in the Lord’s timing, and not in ours.

So the young man said to his father-in-law; “For twenty-one years I have labored for my wives and flocks; but where are my promised flocks?” So the young man said to his father-in-law, “Let me have the new born spotted and streaked lambs born to the sheep and goats for my labor, and all the solid color sheep and goats born will be yours.” That sounded like a good deal to his father-in-law since there are very few spotted or streak lambs and goats born in a more or less pure bred flock, so he agreed to the deal. The young man built feeding troughs out of interlaced branches, and when the sheep would come to feed and mate, they would see spots and streaks before their eyes. And as they fed and mated at the interlaced branch feeding troughs; the sheep and goats bore spotted and streaked lambs; thus the young man came to have more sheep and goats than his father-in-law. When his father-in-law learned of what the young man had done, he became upset with his son-in-law. The young man once again realized it was time for him to get out of Dodge; so he packed up all his belongings, his wives and children, servants, flocks and herds, and set out for his homeland. Somewhere along the way someone told him his older brother with four hundred men was coming to meet him, and his father-in-law was chasing him from behind because someone had stolen the family idol. The young man was probably thinking his dastardly deeds from his not so honest past was catching up to him, and both he and his family are caught in the middle of these two advancing groups of people whose intentions are uncertain. The father-in-law caught up to him first, and left when he didn’t find his family idol that had been stolen by someone in the young man’s group. However, a far more serious threat was coming at an alarming pace to meet him. And when the older brother and his army of four hundren men drew into sight, the young man sent out flocks and herds, servants, and family members to greet him first. I don’t know what the man was thinking. His older brother wasn’t interested in the flocks and herds, servants and family members. He was coming for his brother and nothing short of meeting up with his brother was going to slow him down. As the older brother drew near; the younger brother’s heart was pounding in his chest like a sledge hammer on an anvil. Thump, thump, thump, and growing louder and stronger with each approaching step of his brother. It must have felt like someone was on the inside of him beating on his chest as hard as they could trying to hammer their way out. The fear was surely almost overwhelming. The older brother upon coming face to face with his younger brother for the first time in twenty-one years, climbed down off his camel, walked up to his younger brother, grabbed him by the shoulders and gave the younger man the biggest bear hug he had ever received; while explaining to him that he had been blessed mightily during the twenty plus years the young man had been away; and therefore had no need of anything that belonged to his younger brother. I am sure the younger sibling nearly fainted from relief and surprise. First, because of the older brother’s good fortune, and because he wasn’t going to die for something he did twenty plus years before. Like I said, God had a plan for this man’s life and He wasn’t about to let anything happen to him.

Do you realize, if this young man had died on his way home, there would be no Israelites or Christians in the world today. We would have all died with him right there alongside that well travelled dusty road by the hand of a man deceived by his younger brother. But in the wisdom of the Almighty God; He knew in order to prevent bloodshed between the two brothers; if both were blessed, they would forget the past and restore a broken relationship. Now some of you may be wondering who these two men are. So without any further ado, let me tell you. The younger son’s name was Jacob, whose name God changed to Israel, after he had a life changing experience with God on this same trip. And he is the father of the twelve tribes of Israelites in the earth today. The older brother’s name was Esau, and he is the father of the present day Arab nations. What was once forgiven between these two very different brothers is now forgotten; and war between their descendants has been on-going for centuries. The descendants of Esau cannot swallow the fact he sold his birthright privileges to his father’s inheritance for a bowl of food and cheated them out of a tremendous blessing. It doesn’t seem to matter to them that they are not entitled to the blessings Esau would have received. So they are doing all they can to wrest the promised blessings from the hands of the younger brother’s descendants; but that is never going to happen. God held Esau accountable for the oath uttered from his mouth that fateful evening, and his descendants hopes and dreams of taking away the young man’s inheritance will never become a reality. No matter how hard they try to take the land by force; it was transferred to the descendants of Israel legally by their father Esau whose it was to give away. And just like Esau, we do not give a great deal of thought to the words we speak, but God holds us bound by them for better or worse; just like Esau learned. DThrash

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