Friday, November 30, 2018

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday December 2, 2018

Over 181,000 readers worldwide

(Teach all generations to love and obey GOD)
(Deuteronomy 6:1-9)

   It is my belief, that, we cannot profess to have faith in GOD, and then, turn around and perpetually disobey HIS Word, day in and day out, through our behavior. False religion, by definition, means trying to reach GOD by ways in which GOD HIMSELF did not prescribe. It is one thing to “recognize GOD”, but it is quite another thing, to “obey GOD”. The Christian only becomes “legit” when he or she begins to fear GOD more than they do man, and what man can impose upon their lives in this world.
    In Deuteronomy 6, verses 1-9, GOD calls for HIS professed followers to give a wholehearted commitment to HIM. Here Moses tells GOD’s professed people that all of the commands, laws, and regulations that the LORD told him to teach them must be strictly obeyed, when they enter into “the promised land” that GOD was about to give them. They were also to pass down a “legacy of faith” to their children and grandchildren so that they too would learn to fear the LORD as long as they live (Vs.1-3).
    In verse 4, Moses begins by reciting the first of three parts of what is now known as “the Shema”. Even today it is recited by devout Jews twice a day (also see Deuteronomy 11:13-21 and Numbers 15:37-41). These verses stress “the unity of GOD” and “the importance of loving HIM and HIS laws”.
   Over in Luke 10, verses 25-29, one of the teachers of religious law, probably a Pharisee, stood up and posed this question to JESUS, asking, “What must I do to receive eternal life”. Ironically JESUS gave the same answer that HE had given to the religious teacher who had asked “Which is the most important commandment?” in both Matthew’s Gospel (Matthew 22:34-40), and, in Mark’s Gospels (Mark 12:28-34).
    There (in Matthew and Mark) JESUS began by reciting the opening line, of the first part of the three-part “Shema”. “Hear O Israel; the LORD is our GOD, the LORD alone. Then JESUS says that we must “love the LORD THY GOD with all thy heart, soul, mind, and strength” (JESUS adds the word “mind” to this list, and I’ll explain why in a minute).
    This kind of love calls for a thorough commitment to GOD that is both personal, and, whole of heart. In fact, it speaks to the whole of the make-up of the human being, which is as follows;

·         The heart”, which is the center of human life,
·         The soul”, which is the “self-conscience” life of all men,
·         The mind”, which is the entire thought process of man, and
·         The strength”, which is the entire physical power of man.

    In other words, we should “love GOD with every fiber of our being”, and it is no accident that this is also what is covered in the first four commandments (see Exodus 20:3-11), where GOD tells us, in effect, that our love for HIM must be;

·         Totally loyal (verse 3),
·         Totally faithful (verse 6),
·         Totally trusting (verse 7),
·         And, we must show total reverence for HIM at all times (verse 8).

Next, JESUS states that we should “love our neighbor as we love ourselves”. This calls for a commitment of “the mind”. As only JESUS can, HE quite literally adds this command to the Shema, and brings into focus, the fourth part of the fiber of the human being. It is not a coincidence that HIS commandment also represents the summation of the remaining six commandments of GOD found in Exodus 20, verses 12-17;

·         If we love each other, we can certainly begin with honoring our own parents.
·         If we love each other, we are not likely to intentionally, or maliciously take another’s life, which by the way, is made in the image of GOD.
·         If we love each other, we will not commit adultery against our spouse with another person.
·         If we love each other, we won’t steal from each other.
·         If we love each other, we won’t lie on each other, or falsely accuse each other.
·         And finally, if we love each other, we won’t jealously desire anything that belongs to someone else.

    And so, here in this passage JESUS is saying, that, everything GOD commands us to do is of the utmost importance to HIM, and that, the Ten Commandments can really be viewed as being only two. And both of them, or all ten of them, are of equal importance to GOD.  
    JESUS concludes by saying, “If we do them, we will live”. There HE means that we will live eternally with GOD in Heaven. And here in Deuteronomy 6, verse 2b, Moses tells the people of Israel the same thing about this life right now, “If you obey all HIS laws and commands, you will enjoy a long life” here on earth. Amen.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander


Friday, November 23, 2018

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday November 25, 2018

Over 180,000 readers worldwide

(GOD works through difficult circumstances)
(Genesis 30)

   In Genesis chapters 30-31, GOD begins to set the stage for Jacob’s decision to return to the “Promised Land” of Canaan. Competition between Leah and Rachel for Jacob’s affections now intensifies as Rachael, who is down four babies to none, decides to get into the game by giving Jacob her maidservant, Bilhah to wed and bear him a son through her. Rachel, by now, had become so frustrated that she had begun to blame Jacob for her barrenness. This, of course, was ridiculous, and her silly accusations angered Jacob very much. He then reminded his beloved Rachel that only GOD has power over childbirth.
    And so her maidservant slept with Jacob and became pregnant, and bore him a son, and Rachel named the boy “Dan”, which comes from the Hebrew word “dananni”, which means “GOD has vindicated me”. Then Bilhah became pregnant again and gave Jacob a second son, and Rachel called his name, “Naphtali” from the Hebrew word “niptalti”, which means “I fought”, because she fought with her sister, Leah.
    Leah, now realizing that she wasn’t getting pregnant anymore, decided to use her sister’s strategy and she gave her maidservant, Zilpah, to Jacob to wed and bear him children in her stead. Zilpah became pregnant and bore Jacob yet another son, and she named the boy, “Gad”, which means in the Hebrew, “fortune”, because it expressed “how fortunate she felt she was” to have so many sons. Then Zilpah bore Jacob another son, whom she named “Asher”, which means “blessing”, and so the name expressed “the joy that Leah felt” to have given Jacob six sons.
    Now a “mandrake is the root of a plant, historically found in the Mediterranean region where Jacob and his family lived at that time. The plants from which the root is obtained are also called "mandrakes". Mediterranean mandrakes are perennial herbaceous plants with ovate leaves arranged in a rosette, with a thick upright root, that is often branched. It blooms bell-shaped flowers and ultimately produces yellow or orange berries.
    Because mandrakes contain “halucenogenic tropane alkaloids”, and the shape of their roots often resembles human figures, they have been associated with a variety of superstitious practices throughout history. For centuries mandrakes have been used in witchcraft and magic rituals, and, as a fertility drug, and in many cases, by ordinary people as an aphrodisiac. Even today mandrakes are still used in pagan traditions such as Wicca and Odinism.
    Here in this passage of Genesis it is both Leah’s, and Rachel’s obvious intent, to use mandrakes as either a fertility enhancement, or, at the very least, as an aphrodisiac so that they can bear more children for Jacob. Here in verse 14, we see Reuben stumbling upon some mandrake plants while he was harvesting the wheat fields. Knowing what these plants were used for, he brought some to his mother, Leah, as an offering to give her a leg up, if you will, on Rachel in the ongoing baby-making contest.
    When Rachel, who was more enamored by paganistic practices than Leah, saw Leah with the plants, she begged her to give some to her, but Leah angrily replied, “NO! Wasn’t it enough that you stole my husband? Now will you steal my son’s mandrake roots too?” Not giving up that easy, a desperate Rachel offered Leah her appointed night with Jacob, if she would give her the mandrake roots, and it is on those terms that Leah finally agreed.
    That evening as Jacob was coming home from the fields, Leah went out to meet him to tell him that she had traded some mandrakes to Rachel in exchange for her appointed night with him. And so Jacob slept with Leah that night and she became pregnant with her fifth son, and she named him “Issachar” which is derived from the Hebrew word “skartika” which means “my hire”. This suggests that she felt that GOD had blessed her with another son because she gave her servant girl, Zilpah, to Jacob for a wife (v.18). However, GOD was actually trying to show her that it is “HE”, not “mandrakes and witchcraft”, that have power over the births of, not just all people, but indeed, as we shall eventually see in this chapter, over animals, and, all things that come into this world.
     To prove HIS point further that HE has power over childbirth, GOD allows Leah, who didn’t eat the mandrakes, to become pregnant again by Jacob, and she bore him another son and called his name “Zebulun” which means “honor”, because she felt that now Jacob would finally honor her the way she thought he should. Later she also gave birth to a girl, and she named her Dinah.
     Meanwhile Rachael, who ate the mandrakes, had not become pregnant anymore for about three years at that point, and it was because GOD was also showing her HIS sovereignty over childbirth. Apparently after she had learned her lesson by watching Leah give birth to three more children, without the aid of mandrakes and witchcraft, she repents and GOD, as a result of her repent, shows her mercy after she prayed to HIM for HIS help.  Here GOD finally allows Rachel to become pregnant and she bore her first son for Jacob, and she named him “Joseph”.
    And so GOD took away the disgrace of Rachel’s attempt to use witchcraft to produce children for herself, and, after she repented, GOD finally gave her a son of her own flesh. And the name “Joseph” which suggests “another son”, shows her faith in GOD that he would deliver to her, yet again, another son, in the future (Benjamin). 
Genesis 30:25-43

   It was not long after Joseph was born that Jacob told Laban that he was ready to go back home to Canaan. However Laban, not wanting Jacob to leave, because of how rich he had become since Jacob had been there (Vs.29-30), begged Jacob to stay, and in fact, offered him to “name his own price”.
    However, despite the great offer by Laban, Jacob declined it, and then, he came up with a suggestion of his own, which actually has him going back to work for Laban for “a percentage of the gate” as we might say here in 21st century vernacular. Here in this passage Jacob requests that Laban;

“Don’t give me anything at all (in other words “open up the door, I’ll get it myself”). Just do one thing, and I’ll go back to work for you. Let me go out among your flocks today and remove all the sheep and goats that are “speckled” or “spotted”, along with all the dark colored sheep. Give them to me as my wages. This will make it easy for you to see whether or not I have been honest. If you find in my flock any white sheep or goats that are not speckled, you will know that I have stolen them from you”.
    Speckled animals and dark colored animals were much more of a rarity among sheep and goat, than white ones were, at least in those days, and so here in verses 34-36, we see Laban pounce on that offer, seeing only advantages for himself. Also, Laban, being the crook that he was, quickly came up with a scheme to cheat Jacob out of his newly “agreed to” wages. Here he greedily, and connivingly, sends his sons out into the fields to remove all of the existing speckled, spotted, and dark colored animals out of the flocks, and then, drive them three-day’s journey away from where they lived, so Jacob would not find them.
    However, Jacob, whether or not he realized it at the time, had come up with a plan that ultimately, can only be controlled by GOD. His plan relied solely on “birth”, something that I said earlier, “Only GOD can control”. And even though Jacob would use “witchcraft” (Vs.37-43) as a part of his plan, and may have thought at the time, that it was what was going to do the trick for him, later on (Genesis 31:7-12) we’ll see him confess that it was not his “human ingenuity” or expert use of witchcraft and tricky, and nor, was it his use of “selective breeding” (Vs.41-42), that caused his success, but rather, it was “GOD’s OWN Divine Intervention” that extricated him from Laban’s web of deceit. Stay tuned.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website

Friday, November 16, 2018

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday November 18, 2018

Over 180,000 readers worldwide

Genesis 28:10-22

   In the previous passage (Genesis 28:1-9), we see how Esau’s spiritual life was continuing on a downward spiral. However, here in verses 10-22, we’ll see Jacob’s spiritual nature began to rise and elevate to a, much needed, higher level. Just like his father Isaac had to learn, here we see Jacob about to learn that GOD resides in more than just one place, as he begins his 450-mile trip to Padan-aram to live with his uncle Laban.
    In the Hebrew, the word “Bethel” means “House of GOD”, and it is “a good place” to be for humans. However, sometimes, for example when our hearts are not right, it can equally be a hard place to abide in. In our minds, the house of GOD is a place where GOD is always near, and it is a place where we feel that GOD has always responded to us favorably. To Abraham, Hagar, and to Isaac, it was Beer-lahairoi, and to Moses it was Mount Sinai, and still to King David, it would be the pastures of Bethlehem, or even Jerusalem. 
    However, one can always gather from the lives of faithful men and women of GOD in Scripture, that, without a doubt, GOD is absolutely everywhere, all of the time, whenever we need HIM, and, even when we think we don’t. HE is near us, whether we want HIM to be or not, and, HE absolutely sees all, hears all, and knows all that we do.
    Every one of us must make an account for the deeds done in our lifetimes, and whether or not we believe that GOD exists, becomes totally irrelevant. And so the whole world, in that sense, becomes a “Bethel”, or, “house of GOD”, WHO is the CREATOR of it all.
    In Genesis 28, verse 10, Jacob arrives at what he thought was “a good place” to set up camp for the night. As it turns out, this would be the place where Jacob has his, now famous, “Dream of the Stairway to Heaven”, and it is a vision that is based solely on the grace of GOD. Here GOD appears to Jacob for the purpose of assuring him that the promise of blessings, favor, and protection that was passed on to him by his father, Isaac, was indeed legitimate, and was also with him at the present time.
    This dream would serve to ignite “a worshipful response, and vow of loyalty” that can be vividly seen in Jacob’s “spiritual walk” from this point forward. In fact, Jacob, who had walked with a bit of a “spiritual limp” up until that time, would now walk away from this experience with a clear understanding of the constant presence of GOD. He would, from then on, have confidence, that, wherever he went, GOD would bless, protect, and keep him for the remainder of his life, as long as he adhered in obedience to HIM.
    After leaving Beersheba, Jacob traveled toward Haran and at sundown, he stopped and set up camp at a place called Bethel where his grandfather Abram had camped many years earlier after leaving Haran (sin city). He found a stone and used it for a pillow and dosed off to sleep. As he slept, he dreamed of a stairway that reached from earth all the way to Heaven. And he saw the angels of GOD ascending and descending upon its steps.
    Jacob acknowledged this life-changing event with the LORD, and then, proceeded to make a personal commitment of his own to GOD. Here he makes a vow that the GOD of his fathers would also be his GOD, and he placed a stone upright to commemorate the place where GOD had responded to him so gracefully.
    In addition, he vowed to give back to GOD, a tenth of everything that GOD blessed him with (Vs.20-22). It is a comforting feeling when we can come to rest in the thought that GOD is near to those who aspire to obey HIM, and HE is indeed with us, wherever in the world we may go, all the time.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

                                           LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website

Friday, November 9, 2018

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday November 11, 2018

Over 179,000 readers worldwide

(Jacob steals Esau’s blessing)
(Genesis 27)

   Genesis 27 shows us how “parental favoritism” can literally tear a family apart and destroy the relationships of the siblings, potentially, forever. The parental favoritism of Isaac and Rebekah was exposed to us in Genesis 25:28. There we see that Isaac favored Esau, the oldest son, while Rebekah favored Jacob, the younger son. This attitude by the parents ultimately led to a fragmented relationship between Jacob and Esau that would last for the rest of their lives, and also would affect their families for generations to come.
    This chapter begins, where we see an aging Isaac, now, almost totally blind, call for Esau, his oldest and favorite son, as he feels that it is now time to pass on the blessings and promise of GOD to the next generation. And even though he was aware of GOD’s message to Rebekah (Genesis 25:23) that the Covenant promise would be passed on through the youngest son, Jacob, instead, he seemed to be dead set on following Hebrew tradition, and his own mind, rather than following the course that GOD has already set for them.
    In those days, the “oral blessings” of a father had the same force as a “written Will” has in today’s society, and that oral blessing would always stand up in court. Here Isaac shows us how important it is to pass down, not just a gift of material things, but also, it is more important to be able to pass down “a legacy of faith”, or, in other words, pass down the wisdom of “the importance of having an experiential relationship with GOD”.
    Nevertheless, Isaac’s sin of “favoritism” toward Esau had blinded him to the fact that Esau had exhibited a disregard for “spiritual things” throughout his entire adult life. He placed absolutely no value whatsoever on “spiritual reasoning”. He always made it perfectly clear that he was only interested in the moment, and, in satisfying his physical needs, whatever they might be, at the time (Genesis 25:29-34).
    Here in this passage, it seems as though Isaac is foolishly trying to force GOD’s hand toward Esau, when he had known since before the boys were born, that, “Hebrew tradition” would not prevail in this case, but rather, “GOD’s Will” would overcome his selfish  desires. And as I stated before, GOD’s Will, had already been made known to he and Rebekah, before she gave birth to the boys.
    And so, while Isaac was preparing to hand off his blessings to Esau, as GOD would have it, his plans were overheard by Rebekah, and she quickly began to hatch up a scheme of her own. However, Rebekah’s scheme, as crooked as it may seem on the surface, was more in line with GOD’s plan, than what her husband was trying to do.
    Rebekah, who by now was in “panic mode”, immediately ran to Jacob, her favorite son, and let him in on what his father was about to do. Then she instructed Jacob to go out to the flock and bring her two fine young goats. Jacob reluctantly replied, “He (his father Isaac) won’t be fooled that easily. Think how hairy Esau is and how smooth my skin is! What if my father touches me? He’ll see that I’m trying to trick him, and then he’ll curse me instead of blessing me”.
    In verse 13 of this passage, we get a glimpse of how motivated and determined Rebekah is to successfully carry out her scheme. There she tells young Jacob, “Let the curse fall on me, dear son” (if they get caught in this scheme). Just go and do what I tell you. Go out and get the goats”. I guest she was saying in effect that, “I’d rather see myself in Hell, than for you to miss out on this blessing from your father, my favorite son”.
    Rebekah finally convinced Jacob to play along and he went out and retrieved the goats, and she prepared one of Isaac’s favorite meat dishes, from them. Then, she took Esau’s best clothes and dressed Jacob in them, and afterwards, she made a pair of gloves from the goatskin of the animals they had just killed. She also placed some of the goat’s hair around Jacob’s neck.   
      After Rebekah prepared the meal and added some fresh baked bread to the menu, she told Jacob to take it to his father and pretend to be Esau so that he might deceitfully intercept Esau’s blessing from a blind and unwitting Isaac. And so Jacob did as he was told, and carried the food to his father.
    Arriving in Isaac’s presence, Jacob is given another opportunity to change his mind, and not go through with this seemingly crooked scheme, but as fate would have it, he doesn’t. In verse 18b, Isaac asks him, “Who is it? Is it Esau or Jacob? Instead of telling the truth, Jacob claimed to be his older brother, Esau.
    Ironically, in verse 20, Jacob is met with another question from Isaac, in which the answer, on the surface, might sound like a lie, but here the young man answers with wisdom from GOD that he did not know he had. Here Isaac asks him, “How were you able to find it (the meat) so quickly my son?” And an unwitting Jacob responds, “Because the LORD your GOD put it in my path! He had no idea how right he was.
    By allowing Rebekah to overhear Isaac’s conversation with Esau, GOD was placing the blessing of Isaac directly in the path of Jacob. Deep in his heart, Isaac knew that he was supposed to pass down the blessing to Jacob, but because of his steadfast adherence to tradition, and his desire to do what he wanted to do, he was determined to pass it down to Esau, “his oldest and favorite son”.  
    In verse 21, unable to depend on his “sense of sight”, and still not convinced that the person standing before him was Esau, Isaac asks his son to come closer so that he might be able to use his “sense of touch” to make a determination. Isaac’s “sense of hearing”, was detecting what he thought may be the voice of Jacob, and he wanted to be sure that he wasn’t just being paranoid, because his conscience, probably by now, was convicting him because he was seeking to go against what he knew was GOD’s wishes (to anoint Jacob instead of Esau).
    Because of the goat’s hair that his mother had put on him, Jacob passed the touch test. Isaac accepted the food from him, and ate it. Still feeling a little leery, probably because the meat didn’t “taste” exactly like it should (wild game has a different taste from domesticated goat meat), Isaac decided to use the only other sense he had, his “sense of smell”, to try and make absolutely sure that it was Esau, and not Jacob.
    And so in verse 26 of this passage, Isaac asked his son to kiss him, that way he would be close enough to be able to see if he smelled like someone who had been out in the open fields, the way Esau always smelt. Jacob was able to pass the “smell test” because the animal skins that he was wearing emitted an outdoors smell like the animals of the wild. And so now Isaac was convinced, and he unwittingly blessed Jacob, who GOD had chosen, and thereby, had to later deny Esau, whom he had chosen.
    When Esau returned from his hunt with the wild game, Isaac had to break the bad news to him that Jacob had tricked him out of his blessing. Esau let out a loud cry, and as I said earlier, not being able to fully grasp the spiritual implications of what it all meant, he asked his father to give him the blessing too. Isaac regretfully had to explain to him that there can be only one blessing of this sort, and Jacob had received it, and “it was irrevocable”.
    By this time, Isaac, no doubt, had realized how GOD had usurped his foolish, selfish plan to do things his way. He knew that he had tried to tamper with GOD’s plan and failed miserably, literally destroying Esau in the process. And as a result of what happened, Esau hated Jacob, and he made a promise to himself that he would kill him as soon as their father, Isaac, had passed away.
    When Esau began to share his sentiments concerning Jacob with others, one of the people he told passed the news on to Rebekak. As a result, Rebekah sent Jacob away to her uncle Laban’s house in Padan-aram (450 miles away), where she thought he would be safe. However, again, as the LORD would have it, now the stage was being set for Jacob to learn a hard lesson of his own, of what it feels like, to be deceived. Stay tuned.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

                                           LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website

Friday, November 2, 2018

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday November 4, 2018

Over 178,000 readers worldwide

(Jacob and Esau)
(Genesis 25:19-34)

    Here begins the history of the family of Isaac, the son of Abraham and Sarah. When Isaac was 40 years old he married Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel, the son of Nahor, Abraham’s brother. Rebekah had a brother named Laban, and they all lived in Padan-aram before she was brought to Beersheba by Abraham’s servant, Eliezer, approximately 37 years before Abraham died.
    Rebekah is one of several women in Scripture who were unable to bear children until GOD miraculously intervened. Sarah, Rachel, Hannah, Elizabeth, and the unnamed mother of Samson, were all mothers, who experienced humanly impossible births during their lifetimes. Rebekah’s case, however, was unique in that, her pregnancy yielded “twin boys”, named Jacob and Esau.
    Scripture tells us that there was strife between her two sons that began, even before they were born, and in fact, while they were still in the womb. This, now famous, conflict continued on throughout most of their lives, and even carried over into the lives of their descendants in future generations. In fact, much of the suffering of the Israelites, who were Jacob’s descendants, came at the hands of the Edomites, who were Esau’s descendants. These storied conflicts are prominently chronicled throughout the pages of the Old Testament, from Genesis to Joel (Joel 3:19).
    Here in Genesis 25, verses 19-34, we see the very origins of this conflict between two brothers who, even in their physical appearances, were strikingly different (v.25). The LORD had already foretold to Rebekah that she carried within her womb, two rival nations. HE also told her that the descendants of her firstborn son, Esau, would be the servants of her younger son, Jacob.
    In this story of Jacob and Esau, there is some confusion among many people today concerning the difference between “birthright” and “blessing”. However, according to biblical tradition, and, in Deuteronomy 21, verses 15-17, the birthright is determined by the “order” of the births of the sons within a given family. It is the right of the firstborn to receive a “double portion” of his father’s inheritance. This is something that is laid out in the “Law that was given to Moses by GOD HIMSELF”, and therefore, could not be altered by man.
    In this account of the early life of Jacob and Esau, we see that, because Jacob was able to recognize the value of “the spiritual” over “the physical”, where his brother Esau could not, he was able to gain Esau’s “birthright” away from him, by way of his own willingness to let it go, and not so much by Jacob’s trickery.
    This act of aggression by Jacob had absolutely nothing to do with Esau’s “blessing”, however, because the father, Isaac, still retained the right to “bless” his sons in any way he saw fit. That is why, later on, when Rebekah and Jacob deceived an aging and blind Isaac (Genesis 27), and stole Esau’s “blessing”, they took something from him that they had absolutely no right to, whatsoever.

Genesis 25:27-34

   As Isaac and Rebekah’s sons grew up, Esau became a skillful hunter, while Jacob was more of a homebody, or, as we might say today, “a mama’s boy”. Isaac loved Esau in particular, because of the wild game that he would bring home, which he loved to eat. However, on the other hand, Rebekah favored Jacob, who enjoyed staying close to home and helping her with chores around the house.
    One day when Jacob was cooking some “red” stew, Esau arrived home tired and hungry after one of his hunts.  Here in verse 30 we see the origins of how Esau got his nickname “Edom”, which means “red”, as he requests from Jacob, a bowl of this aromatic, delicious looking red stew. Jacob then cunningly replies, “All right, but you must trade me your birthright for it”. Surprisingly, a hungry Esau replied, “Look! I’m dying of starvation! What good is my birthright to me now?” Jacob then insisted, “Well then, swear to me right now that it is mine”.
    Then Esau foolishly swears an oath to Jacob, agreeing to thereby sell all his “rights as firstborn” to his younger brother. He ate the “lentil stew” (and so the stew apparently didn’t even have any meat in it) and went on his way, totally indifferent to the fact and ramifications of what he had just done, all because he placed no value on spiritual things, as his younger brother Jacob did.
    When Esau ceded his birthright to his brother Jacob that day, we are shown a picture of someone, who was seemingly, totally indifferent (didn’t care one way or the other) to the far-reaching effects, and impact of his decision. He seemed to have no idea that he had given up the right to become the father of the Jewish nation, GOD’s chosen people.
    Jacob, on the other hand, whose name means, quite literally, “the supplanter”, or “one who replaces”, would go on to father the twelve sons, who would give birth to the twelve tribes of the coming nation of Israel. This marked the beginning of the rivalry, in earnest, and it would forever change, and quite literally destroy, the relationship of their families for generations to come.
    Rivalries brought on by jealousy and deceit, are as old as humanity itself. The tragic case of Cain and Abel (Genesis 4:6-16) give us our earliest glimpse of the destruction that these things can have on family relationships. Many siblings since, have contemplated, and even carried out murder, or suicide, because of their feeling of being unequal to their brothers or sisters.
    We as parents must be able to address our children’s behavioral problems early, in a positive way that emphasizes their strengths, and moves their minds away from those habits and behavior that can one day bring harm to themselves and to others. Our goal must be to alter their negative behavior, while, at one and the same time, preserving their positive self image.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander