No Matter What, They Will Do as You Do, Not as You Say (Part 2)

The failings of today’s world are the results of generations of behavior

Well, when I posted Part 1 of this post, I thought that COVID-19 would still be the big deal here in the United States. However, this is not the case, as protests have begun in the wake of the death of George Floyd, a black man killed at the hands of police officers. In the wake of the protests have come riots. COVID-19, for the time being, is an afterthought.

When I realized that I would be posting this week, I started to wonder about what in the world I could say. What hasn’t been said already? What could I have to say that a far more qualified person hasn’t already said?

But I think … regardless of whether or not this has been said, if nothing else, there is a deep connection between the ideas I had planned for Part 2 of this series and what is happening in the United States today.

Those who look up to us, whether they be our mentees, students, children, or even simply someone younger, will follow our example. They will not follow the “rules,” or what we say are the “rules,” because the “rules” are only as good as those in charge of things.

The United States has plenty of “rules.” The 14th Amendment, which grants all citizens equal protection under the law, is one of them.

So, tell me why there are protests and riots in the streets.

Because people don’t naturally follow abstract rules. The 14th Amendment has been, many times, rendered objectively toothless, because people do as they are taught and as they are allowed.

What we are seeing today is the result of generations of people failing to love one another and failing to teach and demonstrate that love to those who would look up to them and learn from them. What we are seeing today is the result of a massive failure to follow Jesus’ commandment:

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” – John 13:34

So, let us see, then, where this end of our Genesis study takes us. I believe, by the end, we will see a very clear connection to what is happening today.

First, we’ll have to jump back into the mess we began to unravel last time. Namely, Abraham’s habit of screaming: “She’s my sister!” when a wealthy king laid eyes on his wife, so they wouldn’t kill him to get to her. Never mind that this method leads to Sarah being put in the harem both times. Who cares about that?

Now, last time we talked about the dubiousness of Abraham’s claim that she was actually his sister to some degree. The only evidence that she was actually his (half) sister comes from Abraham, who has been clearly lying up until this point anyway. It’s possible, based on Ancient Hebrew, that he was exaggerating the truth in some way; that is, she was a female relative to some degree. But, no matter which way you slice it, he was lying rather than trusting in God to take care of the situation, and quite frankly also throwing Sarah under the bus while he did it.

I wrote last time that this pattern of lying rather than trusting in God would be a pattern that would basically lead to a massive fracture in the family of the patriarchs. Let’s follow the pattern through to the end: my main character, Joseph.

Abraham continued this sort of behavior long enough for his son Isaac to pick it up. In fact, in the presence of a powerful king, Isaac pulls the same stunt his dad did on his poor wife, Rebecca. And let me tell you, his wife Rebecca was in no way, shape, or form his sister. She was a distant cousin, but I’m sure you can see that this lie is … bigger.

It’s also important to note that Isaac did this directly after God gave him a blessing, blessed his descendants, and told him to stay in the land of said king.

Isaac!

What are you on?

Do you seriously think God has lied about the blessing and led you only to destruction?

The thing is, I think we do this too.

We have an entire book about God’s commands and promises for those who follow them. I once heard a pastor say: “Do you know how much the patriarchs would have given to have had an entire book of God’s words, promises, and directions?”

We have this book, the Bible, and yet we still decide that we don’t like God’s plan, or trust that He will quite work things out to our satisfaction, or whatever. (Please note that I am very much talking to myself here.)

And, like I said last week and at the beginning of this post: They will do what you do. Not what you say.

If you have anyone who looks up to you in any form, and you want to train them to walk with God and follow His commands, you cannot constantly show distrust in Him. You cannot constantly disobey Him. Of course, we will make mistakes. But if this is your habit, it will become theirs as well. It is why Isaac repeated his father’s error.

And, unfortunately, as we move down to the next generation, things get worse.

If you’ve been following my blog, you’ve heard a lot about Jacob. He was the son of Isaac, and he no doubt heard about these stories and saw this sort of behavior repeated in his father. There’s also another factor at play in the life of Jacob.

His mother, Rebecca.

Jacob was the younger of two twins, and the favorite of his mother. Esau, the older son, was the favorite of his father (having a favorite kid is another questionable behavior that, when Jacob repeats it, will most definitely impact the next generation to come).

Rebecca, it seems, didn’t have much respect for her husband in their later life. Remember when I said that you risk looking like a hypocrite if you say you ought to act one way (in this case, trust in God) and then never act that way yourself (lie about your wife)? It seems this came back to bite Isaac. Being a hypocrite and throwing your wife under the bus never earned anyone respect.

At this point in their elderly life, Rebecca is perfectly willing to trick her now-blind husband into giving the blessing of the eldest son (an ancient Biblical tradition) to her favorite baby, Jacob. Never mind that other kid.

Jacob is perfectly willing to play his part, and they hoodwink dear old dad perfectly.

Esau is none to pleased and decides that he’s going to whack his brother, so Jacob’s parents send him off to stay with Rebecca’s family. By the way, no response from either of the parents is recorded. No lectures and definitely no punishments – another problematic behavior that will affect the next generation (as you can see, these issues are growing exponentially).

The story turns to follow Jacob, and we’ve already explored on other posts some of his failings as a father and as a rather dishonest person in general. Just so we can have a rundown, here’s a list of his behavior from here on out:

  • Chose a favorite wife
  • Chose a favorite son
  • Tricked his uncle so that he ended up with most of the family property
  • Does nothing when his daughter is raped, tacitly agrees that the rapist will marry her
  • Does nothing except get a little put out when two of his sons murder all the men in the town of the rapist
  • Give his favorite son (Joseph) so much attention and praise that his brothers literally lose their minds and sell him as a slave

And this, mind you, is only what is recorded. We can assume from this pattern that there was likely more.

Now, to come back to today.

Let us take a hard look at ourselves today, and examine our own hearts.

Let us take a hard look at this time in the country of the United States.

Why are minorities still suffering the effects of racism? Why are people protesting in order to bring about equal treatment for all in the Year of Our Lord 2020?

This is what we get; this is the result of generations of people following the wicked examples, teaching, and behavior that they learned from others and were allowed to repeat without consequence.

We must follow that command of Jesus, given two thousand years ago and still widely ignored.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” – John 13:34

Trust God. Love others. Model this for those who learn from you and look up to you.

The Bible has given us a very clear example of what happened to a family who struggled with this. The world gives us multitudinous examples of what happens to greater society when this is not done.

Trust God. Love others. And remember who may be watching you.

Published by headdeskliz

Elizabeth Jacobson is the author of Not by Sight: The Story of Joseph. She lives and teaches in sunny California and loves fantasy, science fiction, and historically-based Christian fiction. She has multiple other titles in the works.

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