20181110 Parsha Toldot – What are you hungry for?
Today’s Parsha is Toldot, Histories, or genealogies. This is the shortest of the begats that I know of in the Bible. It simply says “Abraham begat Isaac”. This is important because Isaac was the son of promise. Ishmael was not.
The ages of these men when they had sons is interesting. Abraham was 100 when Isaac was born. Isaac was 60 when Jacob and Esau were born. Rebekah gave birth to Jacob and Esau when she was between 35-40. Abraham died at 175 years which made Isaac 75 and Jacob and Esau 15.
If any of you ladies had children at that age you must know that it was not as easy as if you had been 20 years younger. Rebekah had that same experience. She was having so much trouble with her pregnancy that she went for Adonai and asked Him why it seemed like there was a war going on inside her. The Lord told her it was because there were two nations inside her and that indeed the two nations would struggle against each other.
Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from your body will be separated. One people will be stronger than the other people, but the older will serve the younger.
Genetically speaking, Jacob and Esau were twins, but not identical. They came from two separate eggs. Esau was the first born and was covered in red hair like a fur coat. Jacob on the other hand was not remarkable other than holding on to Esau’s heel as he was being born. Jacob looked like most babies. You know, somewhere between Winston Churchill and Mr. Clean.
As the boys grew up Esau became a very proficient hunter and outdoorsman. While Jacob was not. The Bible describes him as “tam” תם . In Bible usage it means perfect, complete, sound, wholesome, morally innocent, having integrity. I have read commentaries by the sages that explained that Jacob stayed home and tended to the business of the family.
The Bible says Isaac loved Esau because he liked the taste of wild game and Esau could supply that. But Rebekah loved Jacob. The Bible doesn’t tell us why she loved Jacob but she did. Maybe it boils down to the argument ending phrase “just because”.
As the story of Jacob and Esau unfolds, we see a lot of intrigue and rivalry between the boys as well as the parents. The relationships between the four of them could prompt us today to say they had a dysfunctional family.
The twins were about 15 when Abraham died, and according to some accounts, during the period of mourning over Abraham’s death, the episode of the lentil stew transpired. Esau had been out hunting and evidently had not been particularly successful. He came back home exhausted and very hungry.
Jacob, the mild one, had made a lentil stew that was seasoned with something that made it red, which was a cultural dish when a family was mourning the death of someone. Esau, the wild one, asked Jacob for the stew and Jacob agreed if Esau would relinquish his birthright that actually was handed down from their grandfather Abraham.
In ancient times, the birthright was a very important and sacred thing. It belonged to the firstborn. The family name and titles were to pass along to the eldest son. He would also receive a chief portion of the inheritance. But it was more than just a title to the physical assets of a family. It was also a spiritual position, and in the case of the people of God, God would lead the family through patriarchs, or fathers (Hebrews 1:1-2).
Additionally, in the special case of Esau and Jacob, that meant the one to whom belonged the birthright was the one through who the covenant promise made to their grandfather, Abraham, would be realized. Ultimately, the Messiah would come through the holder of the birthright and bless the nations of the earth. Esau was the firstborn, and the birthright was his. But like many, he failed to appreciate its value and sacredness. Possibly because it had been spoken over him as a child that he would not inherit, so as a self-fulfilling prophecy, he ensured that he did not. Regardless, Jacob was hungry for a blessing, and Esau settled for some stew.
There are several references for other men losing the physical and spiritual inheritance that was readily available to them, had not chosen to forfeit their birthright.
According to 1 Chronicles 5:1,
The sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel—he was the firstborn, but when he defiled his father’s bed, his (physical) birthright was given to the sons of Joseph son of Israel—so he is not reckoned as the firstborn in the genealogical record.
That pulled Joseph’s sons, Ephraim and Manassah back into the Jewish genealogies, instead of them being excluded into the Egyptian culture.
When we get to the appointment of the Priesthood for the newly formed nation of B’nei Israel, Numbers 8:18 tells us that the Lord took the Levites in place of all the firstborn sons in Israel, putting the spiritual authority and inheritance onto the Descendants of Reuben’s brother Levi, instead of Reuben’s sons.
King David fathered 19 sons and one daughter. After a series of betrayals, murders, some unspeakable sex crimes, and multiple other family infighting, David appointed Solomon, his 10th son to receive both his Kingship and his Priestly role over the nation of Israel.
Many times, we read stories like this and perhaps ask ourselves what in the world does that mean for me. We live in a different world. Different times, different cultures.
You might think that we don’t have that in today’s world. But we do have a birthright. Each of us who is a believer in Yeshua HaMashiach has a birthright. With it comes blessings as well as responsibility. The one who received the birthright was to be the spiritual leader in his family. He would be responsible for ensuring that the children were taught the ways of the Lord. Tragically, many have despised their birthright by rejecting the call to repentance and following God’s word so that we could be the leader God would have us to be.
Are we leading our families in the way of the Lord? Are we following Yeshua’s mandate to make disciples within our family, disciples of our co-workers, disciples of our employees? Have you despised your birthright in Yeshua because of something that someone has said over you? Do you cling to your brokenness, rather than walk in the victory, authority, and inheritance from your Father?
Three ways you might be forfeiting the benefits that you have in Yeshua are
A. Chasing worldly mammon
B. Staying Comfortably numb
C. Getting Dizzy with the Busy
In order to fill the void within us, many of us pursue careers, higher salaries, fancy cars rather than the Shema. 1 Corinthians 3:12-15 tells us
Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work will become clear. For the Day will show it, because it is to be revealed by fire; and the fire itself will test each one’s work—what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss—he himself will be saved, but as through fire.
Or maybe, if our personality is less intense, instead of distracting ourselves with a hunt, as Esau did, we are content to be complacent in our mediocrity and pursue nothing at all. Netflix binging is a routine habit of the comfortably numb believer, distracting one from the call of being sacred, called to something higher, walking in the Birthright. Consider the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25. The third servant who buried the talents, rather than use what he had been given was severely reprimanded:
But his master responded, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! You knew that I reap where I didn’t sow and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you should have brought my money to the brokers, and when I came I would have received it back with interest. 28 Therefore take the talent away from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents. 29 For to the one who has, more shall be given, and he shall have an abundance. But from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. 30 Throw the worthless servant out, into the outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Finally, an easy one to get lost in at this time of year is Dizzy with the Busy. One of Yeshua’s best friends was gently reprimanded to appreciate what has real value, rather than to be so preoccupied with activity that the important work of being with Him was forsaken in favor of busywork. Luke 10: 39-41 tells the story of Martha.
Martha had a sister called Miriam, who was seated at the Master’s feet, listening to His teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving; so she approached Yeshua and said, “Master, doesn’t it concern you that my sister has left me to serve alone? Then tell her to help me!” 41 But answering her, the Lord said, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and bothered about many things; 42 but only one thing is necessary. For Miriam has chosen the good part, which will not be taken away from her.”
So the question remains, what are you hungry for?
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Matthew 5:6
You know it; the Shema and it’s call to you. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and strength. It is hard to do that and still devote your heart, soul and strength to the bowl of Esua’s red stew.
We have a birthright of blessings. One of the greatest blessings I see as a believer is being part of a fellowship, a family, where HaShem is my father, Yeshua is my savior that sticks closer than a brother, and I have a worldwide family. I can call on that family to support me, pray for me, encourage me.
Yeshua said in John 14:15 “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” Since He existed before the beginning of the world AND He is the Word, then that means we still keep Torah as best we can. If we are disciples of Yeshua, we buy into the Tanakh (Old Testament) AND the Brit Chadashah (New Testament). That’s part of our birthright.
But there’s something else to which I want to draw your attention. When men ask are you a disciple of Yeshua, do you point to all the mitzvot you have completed since last Yom Kippur? Do you tabulate how much money you put in the little green box on the back of the auditorium? I hope not. Yeshua gave his definition of being His disciple.
John 13:35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
This is NOT a new commandment, but a clarification of the SAME instructions given to us in the second half of Ten Commandments. Showing love and consideration to each other is a wonderful heritage and birthright. Don’t despise your birthright by disparaging those with whom you disagree personally, philosophically, politically, or even theologically.
A soft answer turns away wrath. The get in your face attitudes and antics that we see in today’s political arena have no place in a Messianic Congregation. How will men know who we are? By how much we love.
Prayer: Father, we need Your eyes. We want to see things the way You do. Let us hunger for righteousness that only you can satisfy. Lord, let us be filled with Your Ruach HaKodesh and constantly pursue the more excellent prize of who You are. Don’t let us be satisfied with the things of this world, but instead be sons and daughters of righteousness who are eager to love. Eager to make disciples of the fallen around us. We choose to answer Your call to love the way You love. Give us eyes to see and ears to hear.
In the name of Yeshua…