A born leader? No way!

Genesis 25:19-34

We have high expectations for leaders.  But what would we expect of a leader of a new nation (called Israel) being formed to live according to God’s ways, a theocracy, a nation to worship the one God instead of all the other little local deities?  What would it take to lead a nation that was supposed to become a model for justice and truth to the whole world?  What would we expect of its founding leader?  Truthfulness?  Fairness? Strength of character? Charisma? Integrity? Trust in God?  Probably.

But what if we found out that the leader of God’s new nation was not anything like what we would expect.
                                                   
And so the story continues from last Sunday.  Isaac and Rebekah, the couple with the match made in heaven, had waited 19 years for Rebekah to get pregnant.  Since Isaac had been a miracle baby himself, he had grown up hearing stories of his parents, childless and aged, being promised by God that they would have a son.  Having learned from his father Abraham, Isaac knew what to do.  He prayed for Rebekah to have a baby.

This time God answered with miracle twins…NOT identical twins, but two very different brothers who didn’t get along.  Esau, the older, was athletic, “hairy,”  with a passion for hunting, an expert marksman and the apple of Isaac’s eye.  Jacob, the younger twin by a minute, was a homebody who enjoyed hanging around the tents with the women and servants and children.  He learned how to cook and had developed this great recipe for bread and hot lentil stew.

But Jacob wanted more.

Perhaps because of all the attention Esau got from his dad over hunting, Rebekah had consoled younger Jacob by telling him what God had once told her when she was pregnant and scared: that Jacob the younger would be the one to lead God’s new nation.  Was that the impetus behind Jacob’s idea of exchanging some of his mouth watering stew for Esau’s birthright?  (The birthright was an extra share of inheritance of the family’s wealth along with the right to be the clan’s leader.)  When Esau came back one afternoon, tired and hungry from an especially long hunting trip, Jacob saw his opportunity: he drove a hard bargain with his famished, impulsive brother in order to get a bigger slice of the family pie.

So who would you choose for a leader?  Esau, the older one, the famed hunter, the strong but impulsive one?  Or Jacob, the younger, wily, quietly manipulative homebody?  Or maybe neither of them?  Do either of them have the characteristics of truthfulness?  fairness? integrity? trust in God?
Neither seems to take after grandfather Abraham!  If you think their leadership potential is questionable now….wait until you hear what comes next! (Next week) 

But let’s leave Esau and Jacob for a moment, because this story ultimately isn’t about them and their leadership qualities anyway.  It’s about God’s crazy grace in spite of  the qualities they don’t have. It’s about God choosing people not because they are worthy or deserving, but because God is gracious.  It’s about God starting a nation with ordinary people with deep flaws, with people that we wouldn’t expect to turn out to be leaders.  While we might have expected God to start a nation with someone who had a little more potential in the honesty and faith category, God doesn’t take the easy way.

Which leads to the bigger story that our lives are caught up in.  The gospel is always more about who God is, not who we aren’t.  It is about what Christ has done, not what we are going to do.  It is always about God’s generous grace and faithfulness working in our lives in spite of us.

So check in occasionally in the weeks to come as we continue to visit the book of Genesis and see how God’s generous grace unfolds.