Time and Space #14: Where was Faith?

Jacob and Esau were duking it out in the womb.  Rebekah fussed at God about the fact that her dream pregnancy was becoming a nightmare, and He just shrugged it off – this was millennia long international conflict in her womb.


Time passed.

The sibling rivalry grew and morphed as circumstances changed.

Then there was that time/space encounter when Esau had a deep need and Jacob had the resources to meet that need.

Jacob knew the prophecy that he would rule over his brother.  He also knew that his brother had been beyond dominant all these years.

He seized the moment to subordinate his brother through force of need.

God had orchestrated time and space to move him one step closer to the fulfillment of the prophetic word.

Or had He?

My father was fond of pointing out that the serendipitous availability of a berth for Jonah on the ship to Joppa was not necessarily from the hand of God.

David was quick to repel the suggestions of his men in the cave that this was God’s time to kill Saul.  They felt time and space were aligned by God for the death of an enemy.  David felt time and space were aligned to give him another opportunity to cultivate trust with Saul.

Two different views of the same precise alignment.

What if the episode with Esau and Jacob’s stew was a test from God, not a gift from God?  What if God wanted Jacob to reach out in a life giving way to the brother who had been crosswise with him from the git-go?

Most of us would concur that God did not need Rebekah’s help to deliver Isaac’s blessing to Jacob.  That one was 100% forced, contrived, manipulated and stolen.

The stew incident involved absolutely no deception.  Jacob was blatant and forthright in his overt, intentional, deliberate exploitation of Esau’s moment of need.

I question whether God needed Jacob’s help there either.

All that is purely speculative.  That was them.  I am a different person in a different world with no such congenital conflict pursuing me!

I am at the opposite extreme from Jacob in my personality.  I tend to avoid my enemies, rather than look for a chance to overcome them.

So what if God has arranged time and space for me to be able to show mercy to an opponent?

And what if I very skillfully avoided being in the same space at the same time with someone who has trashed me in the past?

Is there really any difference between Jacob distorting an opportunity to show mercy to an opponent and my escaping/avoiding an opportunity to show mercy to an opponent?

Perhaps not.

God’s alignment of time and space is not always a fun hug.

Sometimes it is a stunningly painful, strategic event that will color history for millennia.

Copyright February 2018 by Arthur Burk


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6 Responses to Time and Space #14: Where was Faith?

  1. This certainly inspires thought about HOW to handle a time-space alignment. And the fact that it may be a test, and the best response is not the obvious one, or maybe even a trap from the enemy? He clearly has, or at least thinks he has some sway over time-space alignment, since Scripture says he is at least going to try and mess with it. Thank you for this deeper perspective and potential level of synchronization with God in these moments of alignment.

  2. J Belzer says:

    Very thought-provoking questions. Also interesting that Esau was the one singled out and rebuked as godless in this story (Hebrews 12). Thanks for challenging all of us to carefully consider the interpretations of our circumstances & not commit the sin of presumption.

  3. Cynthia says:

    That’s such a great point. It has sent my brain scurrying all over Scripture, looking for more Time-Space alignments that could have rolled differently. For example, Noah is compelling for me – I am now wondering about all of his neighbors & extended family during the 75ish years he was building the Ark. Did God align them in that Time & Space to learn about the coming judgment so that perhaps they could have repented & come aboard the Ark with Noah’s family? And how about the three wives, who had not yet been found & married when Noah received this assignment? THAT was a spectacular Time-Space alignment for them, being saved & becoming the mothers of all of mankind. This is a great mind-boggling new idea. Thanks!

  4. Noeleen says:

    Well we can choose to go with him or not. There will always be a bigger picture. What I find comforting is that he sees and knows everything – the end from the beginning, the depths. We’re all human.

  5. Pastor Sikhumbuzo Moyo says:

    Wow my goodness, profound, Jacob was wise to understand his prophetic position.

  6. Janis Leal says:

    “Not always a fun hug….” and “… strategically painful…,” sometimes like, for me, the resetting of a dislocated shoulder. Definitely not fun, stunningly painful, but definitely, stunningly necessary.

    This whole time-space thing is really messing things around, like time-warps and transports and… but it’s all so immensely good in the most mysterious ways.

    And your questions are thought-provoking, and the poking “what if’s” prod. It’s soooo time to get God-aligned.

    And in all the swirling, I love these posts. Thank you for the grounding yet “out there” thoughts.

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