Still processing Super Bowl XLIX, I think of another pair of teams this morning. A pair of individual players, actually. In September 2013, Manning Bowl III resulted in Peyton’s Broncos defeating Eli’s Giants in the last regular season game in which the brothers would ever face each other. It’s noteworthy that this was the third time out of three that particular result happened.
A similar rivalry is found in the middle of the book of Genesis. Technically the first round was won by Esau – being born first. But when his twin brother, Jacob, followed him out of the womb he had a firm grasp on Esau’s heel, not only earning him his name, but also foreshadowing some relational dynamics. In the first story we have of them following birth, Jacob the homebody is inside cooking some stew when Esau the hunter comes in from the open country. Jacob negotiates Esau’s birthright out of his famished brother for some of the stew. Now, Jacob seems despicable, but let’s not look past how easily Esau would sell away something upon which, in his time and culture, no value could really be placed. The third Isaac Bowl took place as the aging father lay on his bed no longer able to see. When Isaac called for Esau to give him his final blessing, Jacob duped him and caused him to switch the blessings. Isaac ended up giving a prophetic word that Esau would serve his brother but that when the time was right he would throw the yoke from his neck.
Jealousy, envy, pride, ego, bitterness, resentment, and selfish ambition remind us of that first tragic act. Broken relationships are not something we have to struggle to relate to. They are part of our condition. But this morning I am particularly amazed at Isaac. A supporting role at this point in the story, really. He reminds me that even in the midst of an imperfect condition, words matter. Integrity is one of the only evidences of true character. So what does he do when he finds he’s been deceived? He does not take back his blessing. Words are powerful. Blessing has great spiritual significance. Covenant sees through the good and bad alike, faithful to the end.
Prayer: Father, I hear a message from you that has echoed since that first pair of siblings – I am my brother’s keeper, my sister’s keeper. Help me to turn from bitterness to service, from resentment to celebrating the wins of my neighbor, and from selfish ambition to seeking the good of others even before my own. Amen.