12–18 March 2017.
In movies, we’re used to the way that the camera always follows the main character. After all, they are the hero of the story. They may meet other people along the way, and other characters may come and go, but the story always keeps us with the hero.
In the story of Abraham and his children, we expect the same. We expect that in each generation the focus will always stay on the hero. God’s promise is given to Abraham, it’s then passed on to Isaac, and from Isaac we expect it to pass down to Esau, Isaac’s oldest (and favourite) son. But it’s not Esau who keeps the story of God’s promise going – it turns out to be his younger brother Jacob. Jacob takes over as the new hero. So we naturally expect Esau to drop out of the story now and be left behind.
Maybe even Esau expects this. After his brother steals the promise, Esau breaks down and cries. He watches as the life he imagined for himself disappears. Maybe he too feels like he is no longer important, that he is now just a secondary character and his hopes for life are over. But that’s not what God thinks.
Back in Genesis 21:8–21, Sarah chased Ishmael and his mother Hagar out into the desert, so that the story of God’s promise could continue with her son Isaac instead. But did that mean that God abandoned Ishmael? No. God promises Hagar that Ishmael too will have a great future, becoming the father of another 12 great tribes (see Genesis 25:12–18). And just because the story continues now with Jacob, that doesn’t mean God abandons Esau either. Genesis 36 shows us that Esau is not forgotten or left out of the story. God leads him and his descendants on to wonderful things of their own.
There are times in our own lives when we worry about this too. We watch as the hopes we had for our lives fade away. We watch as others succeed and do the things we always wanted to do. As a result, we feel like we have been left behind, that we have missed our chance, and the story of our life is over.
But that’s not true. Just because the pathway you had imagined for yourself doesn’t work out, that doesn’t mean that God won’t open up a new path and a new story just for you. Wait and see. Just like with Ishmael and Esau, there are wonderful things still to come for you!
Pastor Stephen Lakkis