Saturday, February 03, 2018

The War Within

Isaac relates personally with God as he prays for his barren wife, having been married 20 years with no children, and she conceives. We will come again to these prayers for offspring. But we consider today Rebekah’s question of Isaac/God, “What is going on in there?”

I’m not sure at the time if she could have known that she was carrying twins. What she knew is that there was a war within. We could read the phrase, “they jostled one another,” though that would be mild. The word is used in other contexts to say that she experienced a “pulverizing,” two bulls in a china shop. Esau was delivered first, but the brothers were still hard at it, with Jacob emerging holding firmly to Esau’s heel.

The battle within Rebekah during the days of her pregnancy was a microcosm of other battles soon to follow. Isaac and Rebekah were not of the same mind, with Isaac determined to bless his older son, and Rebekah scheming to younger Jacob take his place, in accordance with God’s word, but probably not out of desire to do His will. She wanted what she wanted. Don’t we all.

And then of course, there would be the ongoing struggle between the cheated Esau and the opportunistic Jacob - death threats included. And there was the tug-of-war between Jacob and Laban, with one taking his daughters, but the other stealing his years.

But perhaps the most important war within was Jacob’s, and, by the way, your’s. Like Isaac, we are often weak-willed where we should be strong. Like Rebekah, we are strong-willed where we ought to be submissive. Like Laban, we take all that we can get, even if it means bending the truth. Like Esau, we are driven by our appetites, and like Jacob, we find ourselves skilled at deceit and manipulation. We all struggle at some level with the war within, helpless to solve it until we are delivered.

When the Hebrew Old Testament was translated into Greek, the Jewish scholars chose to use the word skirtaō, used only by Luke in the New Testament, a situation like Rebekah’s, except opposite. Elizabeth was carrying John the Baptist in her womb when Mary appeared, pregnant with Jesus. And Elizabeth felt John leap (skirtaō) as a calf in its stall, not in striving, but in gladness. And that’s what Jesus does, freeing us from our jostling desires, and replacing them with inexpressible joy. The war within will be replaced by peace within, and we look forward to that delivery date.

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