Our God Makes Leaders Out Of Cowards And Elders Of The Deceitful

Recently I found a new title on Dove Booksellers, “Forsaken Firstborn” a study of how God seems to choose the “wrong” one rather than the one that should be the heir. We find this pattern in the Old Testament. God chooses Isaac over Ishmael. Jacob is chosen over Esau, his twin, even thought he is a stinker. Judah is chosen over his older brothers to be the father of the principal tribe of Israel. Joseph is chosen over his older brothers to be the one to deliver his family even though his brothers reject him. Jacob then blesses the younger of Joseph’s sons to be the chosen son.

Jacob Blessing his Grandsons - C V Vos

Jacob Blessing his Grandsons – C V Vos

As an oldest son I hope that senior birth order is not always the source of perdition and divine rejection. However this does seem to point to the spontaneous, creative and even, if I may say, playful nature of God who makes leaders out of cowards and elders of the deceitful. It gives me hope. Then a thought seized me that I had never thought before. Jesus, the first born, the beloved, was abandoned on the cross. Here the divine pattern is played out in a cosmic way. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.” is the cry not just of Jesus but also of all the forsaken firstborn.

We are the descendents of Adam the firstborn yea even the forsaken firstborn alienated by sin. Jesus became for the forsaken firstborn. If that were the end of the story it would be a tragedy. But it is not the end of the tale. Jesus is not the forsaken firstborn he is the firstborn of those that sleep. His resurrection is for the forsaken firstborns and all those who have wasted their inheritance (and we all have) in the far country. The good news is that like Jacob the heel grabber who was reconciled with his forsaken older brother Esau, we too are reconciled by the death of Jesus who died as the forsaken firstborn, risen from the dead that we too might not be forsaken but have not only life in the age to come but life and that life full in this present time. Praise be to God who gives us the victory.

Quiet Ticking

I was born in 1951 and reared in the nineteenth century. The houses of Elizabeth Leary prompt my memory. They remind me of my great-grand father’s farm house. I grew up a mile from this house where great uncle Byrd, his wife Lila and his unmarried sister Myrtie lived during my childhood. Uncle Byrd (named for Admiral Byrd) was a bugler in World War I.


As a child I remember sitting in the front room of the house visiting the old folk with my dad. Sitting there in front of the fire in Winter the conversation would trail off and a comfortable silence would settle in — the wordless communion born of long intimacy — the ticking of great-grandfather John’s clock marking the time. It is one of the powerful memories of my childhood. After years of looking I found a clock that added a ticking to my office. It is an old Ansonia clock that does not keep perfect time but does remind me of the sound of my childhood in that house in the country-side of Alabama.