2013 – Smoky Mountains and vicinity – Blue Ridge Parkway
The high price of stew these days
Genesis 25: My stew for your rights as the firstborn.
The unalike twins, Jacob and Esau, have never gotten along, sharing no common interests aside from their both being keenly interested in their own interests! Jacob hangs around the house, preferring the comforts of home to the adventures of the outdoors. Esau lives for the hunt and might be called a “man’s man.” On this occasion Esau’s hunting expedition has been unfruitful and he returns home empty handed and with an empty stomach. Meanwhile, Jacob has cooked some red stew which happens to be Esau’s favorite. When his brother demands a meal, Jacob plays “let’s make a deal” with him. Esau can have his stew if he’ll give his birthright to him. This is a big deal. Their father is wealthy and being the first born gives Esau the rights to the vast majority of that wealth. Esau, though, is interested in one thing: his empty stomach. Without hesitation he makes what is a very good deal for Jacob and a very bad deal for himself. I think we’re living in the age of Esau. Our entire society is focused on living for today. People trade away their sexual purity for a passing feel-good fling. Government spends money it doesn’t have, strapping our descendants with huge debt, to avoid a downturn in the economy and some disgruntled voters. Comfort and pleasure rule the day and like Esau we trade our birthright for a bowl of soup. Anytime I fail to recognize the larger values of life and focus on my current wants I’m in danger of joining Esau in his folly.
Take away: A life without proper priorities is bound to be a wasted life.
We need to make up our minds
Zephaniah 2: You’re a nation without a clue about what it wants.
The prophet describes a coming day of God’s Judgment. The Lord’s about to demand an accounting from them and it’s clear that they aren’t ready for such a confrontation. Zephaniah tells people that they need to get their act together. They need to stop letting other nations be their primary influence and they need to start living as people who are going to face God. They’ve lost their bearings and are now at the mercy of whatever fad happens to come along. For a little known, mostly ignored, minor book of the Bible, Zephaniah has pretty much nailed my society. My nation has lost its bearings. It doesn’t want all those “Christian hang ups” but it can’t decide what values are worth pursuing. Instead, we’ve become a shallow people, more concerned about being politically correct than we are with being morally righteous. Zephaniah’s warning of Judgment Day needs to be heard here and now. Otherwise, our story is likely to end like that of clueless Judah.
Take Away: Zephaniah’s warning needs to be heard here and now.
Walk like an Egyptian
Jeremiah 44: The good is gone.
The survivors of the destruction of Jerusalem not only flee to Egypt, they embrace the idol worshipping culture of their nation of refuge too. It isn’t that big a step. They were already toying with such things before, although before fleeing Jerusalem they had kept a dash of Jehovah worship mixed in with their religious practices. Now that Jerusalem’s destroyed and they’ve deserted that place they think they’re free from God Almighty too. They embrace all things Egyptian. The popular thing to do is “walk like an Egyptian.” Meanwhile, God’s anger toward them increases. Back in Judea when everyone else was either being killed off or carried off to live the rest of their lives in Babylonian exile these people had been spared. “Blest” is probably too strong a word, but it’s clear that they were treated less harshly than were their fellow Israelites. Their response: run the opposite direction, away from their homeland and away from their God. So, again, God’s fed up with them. If they like Egypt so well, they can have it along with the judgment that’s coming to that land. God says to them, “It’s all over; I have nothing good left for you.” I’m not a gloom and doom preacher but passages like this concern me. We Christians are so quick to embrace the current cultural fads. We’re entertained by the same things, buy into the same materialistic values, and, in general, fit into the broken culture of our day. The Lord tells those who fled to Egypt that, if they like Egypt so well, he’ll treat them as he’s going to treat the Egyptians. Maybe we Christians ought to think twice before we get too carried away with “walking like an Egyptian.”
Take Away: We’re in the world but we’re not to be of the world.
My children’s inheritance
Proverbs 20: God-loyal people, living honest lives, make it much easier for their children.
Parents have responsibilities far beyond providing food and shelter for their children. We’re to teach them how to live. In fact, we do teach them whether we want to or not. “Do as I say, not as I do” was dumb the first time it was said and it remains dumb. Kids watch their parents and the values of the parents become theirs. As the years pass grown children are surprised that they not only look more and more like their parents, but they act like them too. This learned behavior can be absolutely destructive as a person finds himself or herself treating their children in some unacceptable way that they, when they were children, promised themselves they would never do. However, there’s a positive side to this. In fact, that’s what God intended when he created us as he did. If I’m faithful to the Lord and honest in my relationships my kids are likely to adopt the same life-style. Their lives will be better lives because of that. The greatest thing I can pass on to my children is not an excellent stock portfolio; it is a rich value system.
Take Away: Ask the Lord to help you be the kind of parent who passes a solid value system on to your children.