Imagine a situation in which a very prominent and influential person lies and deceives repeatedly to gain an advantage over a rival. Imagine also that this rival seems impulsive and very unstable, threatening retaliation for not being treated fairly.
Does this sound familiar? Do you recognize this sad and discouraging story?
If you were to open the Bible and read Genesis 27, you would see this very situation played out between two brothers. I like to call them: crooked Jacob and unstable Esau.
Jacob, whose name means deceiver, lies three times (27:19, 24) to his visually-disabled father, Isaac, to steal the blessing that was intended for his older brother, Esau. Oh, and by the way, Jacob does it with the help of his mother, Rebekah. Sadly, Isaac has been bamboozled by his very own wife and son, and Esau by his mom and brother. As you can imagine, when Isaac and Esau grasp what has transpired, anger (33, 34) and bitterness (41) take hold, and Esau plots to kill his brother, Jacob (41).
Is this not a sordid, distasteful and immoral affair? And it involves the LORD God’s chosen people whom He plans to use for the blessed redemption of the nations (Gen. 12:1-3)!
When I was reading and studying this passage for the purpose of preaching it to our church, I could not help but compare it to the current election cycle. You may not think or feel the same way I do, but frankly, I personally find myself very discouraged, even despairing, over the options as I think about who I might vote for to be president of the United States, for example. In this race it seems like today is yesterday’s news: Each of the candidates say things that cause us to question their stability and judgment. At times I feel like I am “Phil Connors” (Bill Murray) in “Groundhog Day.”
I get it, we live in a politically polarized world, and no candidate is perfect, but is this election cycle the best that we can do as Americans? I have even found myself asking: “God, is this You judging us by giving us over to our collective American selves?” Where is God in all this?
In Genesis 27, God seems utterly absent. The only time the LORD God is mentioned is in a false or deceitful sense for selfish gain (20). Did the LORD God abandon His people? Quite the opposite. The LORD God was not causing or approving their deception, bitterness, revenge and cluelessness, but He was using it to pass on the blessing of redemption to the nations (33) to accomplish His purpose for the praise of His great glory. In Jacob’s time, and in times like ours, we must dig really deep and ask ourselves: “Do I (we) really believe God can use all things for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose? Can God bring something good from this (Rom. 8:28)?”
Fact: God used crooked Jacob and unstable Esau for His glorious purpose! Is there anyone or anything He can’t use?
When things seem out of control, our confidence in God, or lack thereof, should never lead to cynicism, apathy or fatalism. We should be prayerful, alert, informed, engaged, hopeful and biblically obedient in all things, but we must not despair. We have the only reason we need to be confident; we have the One true God Who alone is powerful enough to use anyone and anything for His purpose.
Perhaps God is using this election cycle to remind us that there is only One person Who is worthy of our complete trust and full devotion, and He is not up for election. Even when leaders fail and disappoint, we have a God Who is faithful and will not fail.