Athlete, God works Evil For Good

*This devotional series was written by the AIA staff team at the University of Virginia

Read Genesis 25:19-34

Isaac's life can feel a bridge between Abraham and Jacob. We know relatively little about him. Yet we do see his faith in this chapter as he prays for barren Rebekah to conceive a child (25:21), an heir to the covenant promises of God. He waits 20 years for God to provide (25:20, 26), without resorting to faithless schemes as Abraham did.

God answers his prayer with twins, who duke it out in the womb. Custom dictated that the oldest son would receive the inheritance and, in this case, be the conduit of God's covenant with Abraham. God, however, does not work according to human custom or expectation.  

Does this mean that Jacob was justified in stealing Esau's birthright as the firstborn son?  Not at all. Jacob, the heel-grabbing trickster, will not learn to trust in the Lord for a long time.  Esau, on the other hand, will always be remembered for valuing his immediate hunger over his inheritance.  Yet God frequently works to accomplish his good plans in the midst of, through, and in spite of human sins and schemes. He does not condone the actions, but is able to work evil for good.

Questions for Reflection & Prayer

1. We cannot stand outside of our lives to see how God is going to work across our lifespan, but Scripture allows us a bird's eye view the lives of people like Isaac, that we might see his faithfulness to his covenant promises.  How does God's faithfulness to Isaac and Isaac's prayerful patience speak to you?

2. God's election of the unexpected and unimportant (by human standards) is a common theme in Scripture.  This is seen preeminently in Jesus' birth to poor parents from an obscure village.  Are there any ways in which you are approaching your relationship with God according to human measures rather than God's grace?  Are you viewing other people according to human standards or with God's eyes?

3. We may wonder how God could let Jacob get away with this, but God is in control and Jacob's scheming will eventually come back to him.  Are there evils you see in the world, or right around you, which you have no control over and with which you need to trust God?

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