Genesis 48: The elder shall serve the younger.

Songdove Books - Scroll

Songdove Books - Dusting BrushThe elder shall serve the younger.  In these early pages of Scripture, this appears to be a reoccurring theme.  Later in the New Testament, Christ would tell His disciples that to be first in the Kingdom of God, one must be the servant of all.  We are told that the first shall be last and the last shall be first.  Even Paul writes to give preference to those who are without, to offer the lesser folk the better places at the table so as to remove any misplaced sense of class at the Lord’s Table.

For some reason, there is a need that God saw among humanity, to be first, the best, better than everyone else at this or that.  Of course this stems from the root of pride that invaded mankind when sin entered the world, so this apparent “need” had to be dealt with.  In God’s Kingdom, education, position, pedigree, and status of any other form you can name, are not what make a person great.  In God’s Kingdom, what makes a person great is how well and how whole-heartedly they willingly served others around them.  In Church life and in Christian business circles, we refer to this as servant leadership.  There is no task that the leader is not willing to do, no matter how dirty or otherwise seemingly demeaning such a task might be.  The servant leader sees to the needs of those they are leading and tends to see their role less as that of leader and more as that of servant.  In spite of mankind’s apparent “need” to be first and sit on top, whenever a servant leader is encountered, they tend to be admired, loved and more greatly appreciated than those who are flaunting their status or defending the ladder they used to get them to the top.

It’s disappointing whenever I run across Christians who have fallen for the worldly attitude and teaching that achieving some level of status means they are above those who do not have that status in whatever avenue of society they are in.  The Church is slowly coming around to realize that God, now just as back when the Scriptures were first written, can use what the world considers “unlearned” men and women to minister and teach in the House of God.  Some denominations recognize this more than others and some still make it quite a challenge to get the necessary pieces of paper before being allowed to minister or teach in their churches.  Suffice to say that even within the Body of Christ, status can still be a stumbling block for those who are not secure in the concept of serving others.  Many who have degrees, masters, and doctorates look on those who don’t with concern and even disdain.

Songdove Books - ScrollIn a rather lengthy passage, the Apostle Paul, who before he was saved, had quite the educational training and held a fair bit of standing within the Pharisaical religious leadership of his day, said the following to the Corinthian church:

For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.
1 Corinthians 1:17-31

It doesn’t make sense to the world that the last would be first, or that the elder would serve the younger, or that the path to greatness is found in servanthood.  But this is what the Scriptures teach.  Twice in Genesis we see the elder ending up serving the younger, the younger receiving the greater blessing than the elder, etc.  Servanthood requires humility toward those being served.  More verses on the subject:

Mark 9:34-35  But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest.  35  And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.

2 Timothy 2:23-26  But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes.  24  And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,  25  In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;  26  And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

Proverbs 15:28-33  The heart of the righteous studieth to answer: but the mouth of the wicked poureth out evil things.  29  The LORD is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.  30  The light of the eyes rejoiceth the heart: and a good report maketh the bones fat.  31  The ear that heareth the reproof of life abideth among the wise.  32  He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding.  33  The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility.

Proverbs 22:4  By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honour, and life.

1 Peter 5:1-6  The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:  2  Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;  3  Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.  4  And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.  5  Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.  6  Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:

Songdove Books - Giotto_-_Scrovegni_-_-30-_-_Washing_of_FeetNow some who read these verses might think they contradict what I was saying about the elder serving the younger.  There is a difference between serving and submission.  One is showing respect and honour, the other is offering the hand of service.  Both are needed in the Body of Christ.  Notice in the last quoted passage above, how the elders are encouraged to be examples to the flock.  They are asked to be examples of Christ-like behaviour, who according to Paul:

Philippians 2:6-8  Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:  7  But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:  8  And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

This book of firsts, the book of beginnings, the book of Genesis, will come to an end soon in my personal devotions.  Even as we come to the end of this book, we continue to see the first mentions of concepts that God would seek to teach mankind throughout the rest of the Scriptures and down through history into our own day and age now.

How are we doing on the servant front?

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