Saturday, September 29, 2012

The birthright for Esau and Jacob.

Esau and Jacob were the twin boys struggling together in Rebekah's womb back here.
Were these brothers already at odds with each other?  Or were they just practicing womb soccer?
These are the questions we must answer.

Not really.

The boys were born a short time after their grandfather, Abraham, died.

Esau was described as a cunning hunter, and Jacob a plain man.  This is not an insult - in fact the text is complimenting Jacob here.  The Hebrew word used for plain meant whole, complete, or perfect.
That imagery probably falls in line with what you already know about Jacob, as the favoured son of Rebekah.  It pretty much says so in verse 28.  Isaac favoured Esau, the first born, and Rebekah preferred her youngest, Jacob.

One day, Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom.

And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright.
And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me?
And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob.

Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright.
(Genesis 25:30–34)

What's this about giving up and despising birthrights?
The primary point of this account is to show how little value Esau placed on the birthright.  Perhaps he didn't understand its significance, although I am sure his parents weren't negligent in their teachings.  Clearly his immediate physical needs were more important to him than the rights of the covenant.

And we see it all unfold in Genesis 27:1-33.

Esau asking Jacob for pottage - video still(source)

What I want you to understand is this:  Even though Isaac originally thought he was blessing Esau, he did not change the blessing when he realized he had blessed Jacob.  He didn't change the blessing one bit.  He didn't even tack on a curse at the end for Jacob.  Isaac, as a patriarch, recognised that the Lord inspired him to bless the right person.
This story helps us realize that the Lord inspires His servants to accomplish His will in spite of their weaknesses or incomplete knowledge of a situation.

I remember when we discussed this in class, I made the following example:  I had just moved into a new ward (congregation) in a new stake.  If I were to ask for my patriarchal blessing for the first time, I would naturally approach the patriarch in my new stake.  As a newbie, he wouldn't recognised me or know me at all.  But I would still received my blessing.  You could even go in and say you're me, but we would receive our personal blessings.
“In the culture of this time period, the firstborn son received a “birthright,” which included the right to preside in the family and a double portion of his father’s goods and land when his father died.  The birthright son then could take care of the rest of the family, including his father’s widow.  The revelation Rebekah received concerning her two sons probably prepared her to understand that this tradition would not necessarily apply in their family.  Receiving the birthright of the covenant did not come because of birth order but because of righteousness.”  [1]

As an interesting side note ...  throughout the Old Testament, Jehovah is repeatedly called the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  It is significant that you understand not only who Abraham was, but also why the Lord chose Isaac and Jacob to be the first of the house of Israel.  They were all foreordained to their responsibilities, of course.  But through their personal worthiness, however, they justified their callings in the covenant line.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote:

“It appears that anciently under the Patriarchal Order certain special blessings, rights, powers, and privileges - collectively called the birthright - passed from the father to his firstborn son. (Gen. 43:33.) 
In later ages special blessings and prerogatives have been poured out upon all the worthy descendants of some who gained special blessings and birthrights anciently. (3 Ne. 20:25–27.) 
Justification for this system, in large part, lies in the pre-existent preparation and training of those born in the lines destined to inherit preferential endowments.”  [2]

In the patriarchal order this birthright was passed from father to son, who was often, but not always, the eldest son.  Righteousness was a more important factor than being the firstborn.
“Some people criticize Jacob for “taking advantage” of his brother; however, we do not know the whole story.  The story does show what little value Esau placed on the birthright and the blessings of being the firstborn son in the covenant line of Abraham and shows that Jacob desired those blessings.”  [3]
So ... just making sure we're all on the same page here ... Esau traded away something that would be of great value to him in the future (his birthright) for something of little value that could be obtained right away and satisfied an immediate appetite (hunger).
Do you think this happens today?  People trading eternal opportunities and blessings for something worldly or something that satisfies an appetite?

After all had taken place, Esau didn't take this very well.  He was a blessed man, never forgotten by the Lord, “... but like most of us he valued what he had lost after it was gone.  ... He bitterly resolved to get revenge by fratricide when he saw the blessing of transmittal of the birthright actually confirmed upon the head of him to whom he had bartered the right to it.” [4]

What did alert and resourceful Rebekah do?  She averted a double tragedy – if one murder the other, they would be executed by law.  She then proposed to Isaac that Jacob be sent away to find a proper wife in her home land.  Both she and Isaac understood that “their life’s mission would be frustrated if Jacob married as Esau had.” [5]

So Jacob went off to marry.  And we all know how important that is ...

[1] Old Testament Seminary Manual
[2] Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 87
[3] Old Testament Seminary Manual
[4] Rasmussen, Introduction to the Old Testament, 1:47, bold added
[5] ibid

Friday, September 28, 2012

Thought for Friday: Validation.

This is a brilliant short film.  It definitely brightened my day when I watched it!

We all need to be validated.

Thanks to Mara over at A blog above Love.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

What should I have for lunch?

A little mayo
A little more avocado
Some bacon and chicken
Lots of green leaves


Monday, September 17, 2012

A family is forever.

I have a family, here on earth.  They are so good to me.
I want to share my life with them through all eternity.

Families can be together forever, through Heavenly Father's plan.
I always want to be with my own family,
and the Lord has shown me how I can.

The Lord has shown us how we can.

While I am in my early years, I'll prepare most carefully,
So I can marry in God's temple for eternity.

Families can be together forever, through Heavenly Father's plan.
I always want to be with my own family,
and the Lord has shown me how I can.

The Lord has shown us how we can.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Way back in June.

The sun was setting.  It was a windy day.  And our tummies were full of great tucker from a little town down the coast.

Can you believe I'm only just now getting around to uploading these photos?
Back in June, my parents flew down to Adelaide for the long weekend.  They say they were visiting me, but I know what they were really up to.  They were inspecting my living conditions.  Our newly bought house, the work we had done and planned to do, and how I was faring so far away without them.  And ensuring I was looking after Matthew.

Hopefully the weather has made up its mind where you are.

Friday, September 14, 2012

What is the weather in Adelaide?

I could tell you it's nice and sunny; that the long frosty winter has finally disappeared.  But that would be a lie.  In fact, any weather report I give you would be a lie.  The morning weather will be different to the afternoon, so long as this terribly bad transition between winter and spring continues.

And I seem to be really good at taking my oversized umbrella to work on days that turn out sunny, and not on days that end up wet and gray.  I'm clever like that.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Rebekah: the real fairy tale story?

So, what is the value of a covenant?

I've been thinking a lot about this lately.  The past six months, practically, because the Old Testament is all about remembering Christ.  That's the Old Testament in a teeny tiny nutshell.
How do I feel about being born with the Abrahamic covenant as my inheritance?
How much do I value that covenant?

Great effort was made to ensure that Issac married within the covenant.
The people of Israel were taught to not marry outside the covenant.  It was a commandment from the Lord, For they will turn away thy son [or daughter] from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the Lord be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly.

You see, your decision to marry someone affects generations.
Who you marry and where you marry has a huge impact on your marriage, on your children, and on your children's children.  Almost two years ago, Matthew and I were married and we decided to be married for time and eternity.  We made covenants to each other and to the Lord - see here - that now bind us and our posterity together for eternity ... if we are faithful to each other and the Lord.  Sure, we got all dressed up and had a blast on the day - hello, it was our wedding day!
But when all is said and done, the important things were who I married, where I married, and what I promised.

 (source: Old Testament Visual Resources DVD)
Clearly based on the assumption we all have five kiddies.

Choosing a marriage partner is important for everyone, but especially for those who desire the blessings of the Abrahamic covenant, mainly because of the promise of an eternal family.  If a husband and wife both accept and keep the Abrahamic covenant - which is fully received in the temple - they can have the blessing of an eternal family.

This is why great effort was made to ensure the marriage of Isaac was within the Covenant.

Hello Rebekah.

This is how is went down (according to Genesis 24:1-33, 49-60).
Abraham was getting on in years, and must have been worrying about the future of his children, as fathers tend to do.  Both he and Sarah desperately wanted their children to continue in righteousness, and marry someone righteous.  Of course this was especially important for Isaac, because he was the covenant son.  Who he married who affect history.

So Abraham sent his eldest servant, the one who ran the household and property, and together they made a promise that the servant would choose a bride for Isaac, a bride that was not from the land of Canaan, but from Abraham's homeland.  A girl from back home.  They even shook hands (not thighs) on it.

The servant left on his quest, taking ten camels with him.  They were carrying all of Abraham's material possessions, to help in claiming Isaac's bride.  He travelled to the city of Nahor, stopping outside for the camels to drink out of the well.  It just happened to be the same time of day that the women drew their water from the well.  Hello.  So this faithful servant prayed to the God of Abraham that He would show kindness on Abraham, and that the young woman to whom he asks for a drink - if she be the one - she should answer "Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also".  That is how he would know.

And that is how Rebekah entered the story.  In fact, the servant hadn't even finished praying yet, and she walked out of the city with a pitcher on her shoulder, ready to draw water from the well.  Of course, as it turned out, Rebekah just happened to be Isaac's first cousin once removed.  She was extremely beautiful, good and pure.

The servant practically ran over to her, and asked "Let me, I pray thee, drink a little water of thy pitcher."  Rebekah answered "Drink, my lord", and quickly put down her pitcher and gave him drink.  She then said "I will draw water for thy camels also, until they have done drinking."  Remember, there were ten thirsty camels.  That is a lot of drawing water!
And so, the servant offered her a gold earring and two gold bracelets - all quite heavy in weight - and asked who she was and if he could find lodging in her father's house.  This was how he met her family - Abraham's relatives, including her brother Laban - and how Rebekah became betrothed to Isaac.

Rebekah at the Well - Michael Deas

And so Isaac and Rebekah were married under the covenant, similar to Matthew and me.

What did you think of Rebekah's character?  According to Bruce R. McConkie, she is the "patter for what her daughters in the church today can do."  [1]  She is meant to be our example today. 
  • When she said "I will go" (in Genesis 24:58), she was being an example of great faith, having a clear understanding of the importance of marriage in the covenant.
  • Later in her life, when she was having a difficult pregnancy, she went directly to the Lord and inquired about it (in Genesis 25:21-24)Two nations are in they womb, he answered.  We see when Rebekah was troubled and needed divine guidance, she herself took the matter up with the Lord, and he spoke to her in reply.  The Lord truly gives revelation to women who pray to him in faith.
  • When Esau married Judith, the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Bashemath, the daughter of Elon the Hittite, both Rebekah and Isaac grieved (in Genesis 26:34, 35).  It meant Esau had married out of the church, not in the Lord's system of celestial marriage.  This would have brought great sorrow to these parents.  So, when it became time to marry Jacob off, it was Rebekah that ensured everything was done right.  Genesis 27:46 tells us she had great anxiety about this; she must have felt those natural feelings of fear that he too might depart from the teachings of his parents and marry someone who was not eligible to receive the blessings of eternal marriage.  That's why this awesome woman got Isaac's attention (in Genesis 28:1).  We see a mother greatly concerned about the marriage and future of her son, and she prevailed upon the father to do something about it.

We aren't told much about Rebekah's side of this story in the text, simply that she unflinchingly agreed to the proposal.  What does this tell us about her faith?  She would have known who Isaac was, and no doubt the importance of covenant marriage.  Regardless of there not being much detail from her perspective, her astounding character shines out.

You see, your decision to marry someone does affect generations.

[1] Bruce R. McConkie, In Conference Report, Sydney Australia Area Conference 1976, pp.34-35

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

What to do before you're thirty.

I've been thinking about making a list of things to do before I'm 30.
You know, a sort of bucket list before I hit my middle ages.
(various sources)

Strike that.  Saying 'middle ages' makes me think the dark ages would be the next era ...

AHEM.  In exactly twenty days, I will be 28 and a half.  Surely giving myself 18 months to complete a super awesome amazing list of 30 things to do would be enough time.  What do you think?

So what should I put on this list?  Any suggestions? 
Be adventurous for me.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Abraham: The Binding.

It has been a good while since I blogged about our Old Testament lessons at Institute.
A good while ... with three weeks left in the second (last) semester.

I don't know if this is interesting or helpful for anyone out there is the big wide world, but I really should finish what I started.  Yeah!

I have some great news - I found the video I wanted to post back here.
I still remember the time I showed this video to my class, and how it really impacted on the students.  The spirit was strong that night.

I'll get you started by thinking about the following:

Upon what do blessing from God depend?

There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated --
And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated. 
What is the relationship between obedience and faith?

"The fact that certain laws must be observed and ordinances complied with is not the ruling of the Latter-day Saints, but the divine mandate of the Author of our salvation, who has said he will judge all men according to their works and opportunities.  We are merely complying with the teachings of the Master which we have received and which are requisite to salvation.

"If belief alone were sufficient, then even the devils, who fear and tremble, would be saved.  They recognised the Saviour and declared on several occasions that he was the Son of God."  [2]

[1]  Doctrine & Covenants 130:20-21
[2]  Smith, Selections of Doctrines of Salvation, p.204-5
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