Posts Tagged ‘inheritance’

EsauLook, Esau was a simple man. He enjoyed simple pleasures and an outdoor life. Although he becomes bitter when his twin brother Jacob betrays him later, there is no real animosity at this point in the story. Esau, like most young men and teenagers, was not forward thinking. He was living a good life and no reason to believe anything would change. What would his birthright change for him?

Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished.He said to Jacob, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!” (That is why he was also called Edom. Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.”“Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?”

I looked it up, the implications of losing one’s birthright as first born son. Financially, it would be substantial, since the birthright actually takes the value of another son. Therefore, if Esau and Jacob were the only sons, the inheritance would be divided three ways: one for Jacob and two for Esau because of his birthright. But it’s possible, in Esau’s eyes, he didn’t need it or want it. Abraham was a truly wealthy man, like the Bill Gates of our world, sometimes the difference between inheriting 14 million or 7 million is almost moot. It’s a lot of money either way.

But we are a nation of money counting. Why, even people who share lottery tickets figure out their share before a single number has been drawn. We cannot imagine anyone not wanting their “fair share.”

Of course, this is all speculation. Perhaps it is like the commentators say, Esau was such a buffoon, he gave up his birthright share for a cup of soup. Maybe he didn’t really consider it binding. Who knows? But clearly, it was Jacob who was intent on the omen of God’s words to his mother, that he, the younger, would rule the older. Perhaps Jacob was the studious one and knew that the family laws of first born would prevent the predicted outcome. He just had to be sure. And like his grandparents Abraham and Sarah, he believed he had to step in and help things along. Jacob, taking matters into his own hands (along with Mom), in an effort to hurry things along, changed the course of everything.

How often do I do the same thing? How often do I push matters along because God seems to be acting (or reacting) too slowly?

God forgive me for taking advantage of the Esau’s in my life who don’t see situations the way I see them. Forgive me for leapfrogging over those people and their way of life. Forgive me for not trusting your way, your timing, your promises.

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All of us carries an inheritance from our ancestors and passes one along. Sometimes through nature (through the blood lines) or by nurture (environment and family life). We are the middle managers, standing in the gap between our history and our future.

Genesis 19:36b-38
So both of Lot’s daughters became pregnant by their father. The older daughter had a son, and she named him Moab; he is the father of the Moabites of today. The younger daughter also had a son, and she named him Ben-Ammi; he is the father of the Ammonitesof today.

There is much speculation about Lot’s daughters and why they did what they did. We are told they were virgins and yet they were promised to men of Sodom (who did not heed Lot’s warning to come with them). We know that Lot offered them to a crowd of men who were not interested in his daughters (they wanted the “angels.”) When they finally flee Sodom and later, even Zoar (the only small town on the plain that was saved), they end up in the mountains.

And here is my question: How long were they there? I am not saying that time excuses them, but I have a sense that years had passed before the daughters made this extreme choice. In those times, women without children (particularly those who were barren) were considered cursed and often outcast. By referring to their father as old, the implication is that his death might  put them in crisis.

Nonetheless, whether justified in any way or not, the result created two young men whose long-standing heritage were two of the most pagan (including human sacrifice) and violent peoples. A similar result happened when Sarai gave  Hagar, her handmaid, to Abraham and Ishmael was born.

Through no real fault of their own, these sons were cast into a destiny.

In our own lives, we will never really know what future we are setting in motion when we send our children forth. We cannot know if they are part of a long line, pre-determined by our genealogy or if it begins with us. The cycle of life in our age is complex now and crosses all borders. I suppose, this is just another form of the Butterfly Effect.

For me, today, the only reliable impact I can have, besides doing the best I can as a parent, is to pray; to embrace the presence of my God in the now who exists through all of time.

I have three adopted children, all with traumatic beginnings. By bringing them into our family, we made the first dramatic change to the course of their lives. I cannot help but wonder what will be their inheritance now.

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Obedience stories really, that’s what most of the faith stories are all about. The ancients heard a call and followed, even though they did not see what was promised, they believed the One who called.

Hebrews 11:7b-8
By faith Noah . . . built an ark to save his family. . . . By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.

There are a few prerequisites in these faith transactions. As noted earlier, one must believe that God exists. Once a person is past that hurdle, the next one is to trust that God is sovereign and can do all things, change all things, maintain all things. And God’s motive is pure.

So far, these traits pretty much go against human norms. We tend to disbelieve what we cannot see, we are slow to trust (particularly those in authority because we have observed so much abuse of power), miracles seem few and far between, and finally, our motives are usually self-oriented.

Nonetheless, there are humans who have traveled upstream. We have these old examples, but I need to look for contemporary examples. Is it possible to recognize the men and women of faith in the midst of their lives? Maybe not. Perhaps it is history that gives context to faith. That would make sense.

Something to ponder today: who is hearing God clearly enough to follow despite the appearance of conflict, blockades, poverty, global change, and fear. What is the message?

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Wood Engraving by Gwen Raverat

Whenever the word inheritance comes up in scripture, my mind vaults to the story of the prodigal son [Luke 15] who is given and subsequently wastes his birthright share in “wild living.” But an everlasting inheritance can’t be expended, nor can it be given ahead of time, or can it?

Hebrews 9:15a
[Christ, the Messiah] is therefore the Negotiator and Mediator of an [entirely] new agreement (testament, covenant), so that those who are called and offered it may receive the fulfillment of the promised everlasting inheritance. . .

So many Christian people are quite focused on the heavenly bequest and even use the promise as an appetizer to entice others into becoming followers of Christ. It sounds a little like the lottery, as though they are saying, if nothing else works out down here on Earth, at least we know we’ll have entry through the pearly gates and streets paved with gold; at last, a life of leisure with no pain, no worries, and no kids (only kidding on that last one).

But is that the point? Are we supposed to be toughing it out here because we can count on this inheritance later? This would be like our own children making no efforts now and simply waiting around until the parents kick off and the 401K’s are distributed.

I think the everlasting inheritance supersedes time. Just as there is no time in God’s world, our heritage is not limited to our death and subsequent afterlife. Instead, it was precluded by Christ’s death and the distribution included the Holy Spirit who lives in and among us now.

You want to spice up the Four Spiritual Laws or your personal proselytizing, then start including the wonder of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us now, who partners with us in this life, who draws us into being better Humans, who stimulates our internal compass toward those in need, to pricks our conscience, and teaches us to love others by loving us.

This is the everlasting inheritance that is here today.

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An idolater cannot see the inner way. The appeal of the outside world, where sensuality, lust for things and love of money prevail, blocks the path to the riches of God which are the inheritance of a believer: peace, love, joy, contentment, relationship.

Ephesians 5:5
For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

It’s not so much that all these things and behaviors are “bad” per se, but they cannot coexist in the same space with the things of God, that’s all.

More about idols.

(FD 3)

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Of the people in my world, few are under the rigors or traditions of Jewish law. Instead, we have allowed ourselves to be directed by the laws of modernity, culture, and the man-made rules and traditions of the institutionalized church.

Galatians 4:1a, 2-3, 4a, 5
What I am saying is that as long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a slave, . . . He is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. So also, when we were children, we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world. But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, . . . to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.

When John the Baptist and Jesus shook up the Jewish people by announcing the long-awaited Messiah and the fulfillment of the ultimate promises that went back as far as Abraham, people freaked. They understood the implications of a Messiah in their world. They understood the law would be superseded by whatever He brought along. They understood there was an inheritance involved.

We don’t.

By “putting on Christ,” I am no longer just female or American or middle class. I am the seed of Abraham because Christ is the seed. [Gal 3:26-29]

It reminds me of the sad stories of wealthy men and women passing their money, their companies, their knowledge, and all their worldly goods to their descendants but it’s all destroyed or lost. The inheritance was full of promise but it was unrealized.

I feel like a modern day prodigal, wasting away the gifts of the Christ. I am a slave instead to my lifestyle, my debt, and my self-image. I am perpetuating 20th century goals and dreams to my children.

What does it really look like to wear Christ in the world?

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