Another Superbowl, and another underdog wins. It was an exciting Superbowl to say the least, despite my not really caring about either team. My Packers and Saints were no where to be found. But it was a good day, because so often, these NFL games are over by half time. It got me thinking about how the Bible is filled with underdogs winning. Today’s passage from Genesis is no exception.
In leading up to today’s OT passage, Abraham has been commanded to sacrifice Isaac, and saved at the last minute. Sarah has died. Abraham has died. Isaac and Rebekah have found each other in love.
Today recounts the birth and youth of Esau and Jacob. If you know the story of these two brothers, you know it is wrought with struggle and conflict. It begins in the womb! A foreshadow of things to come.
Esau comes out all red and like a hairy mantle. Jacob comes out gripping his heel, already trying to jump ahead, which as we know, he does.
As Esau sells his birthright for a little food, I wonder: Perhaps it is best that God chose the younger brother. Esau is not exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer.
For me, it is passages like this one that provide some relief. The customs of the day dictated that the eldest son inherit all, and rule over his younger siblings. For humans, primogeniture is the standard. But not for God. Time and time again in scripture, God chooses otherwise. It isn’t that God is unpredictable and strange, but careful and thoughtful, not bound by rules and human constraints. This is the gospel already breaking forth!
Certainly in the John passage we see this articulated first hand. Jesus says, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in my drink….Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.” John makes a startling theological interpretation, stating that, “there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” The Spirit is breaking forth, and he looks as someone who knows the end of the story and says, “Ah ha! The fullness of time! The Spirit has broken forth and God is on the loose!”
God is on the loose. That’s a bit scary to think about! God is not constrained to an ark anymore, but out amongst us, doing deeds beyond our comprehension. God is turning human standards on their head, and often found siding with the underdog. This is remarkable news—the best news I could get this morning—even better than a 4th Quarter comeback or a Superbowl win for a team with a backup quarterback and that many thought didn’t have a chance.