Esau was a rugged outdoorsman. He was a man of the field who was most comfortable and skilled with bow and arrow. Scripture tells us he was clearly the preferred son of his father. A&E would have loved to create a reality show around his lifestyle. Esau was a mighty man, but he was not a godly man.
In contrast, Jacob was a man of the house; he was more comfortable in the kitchen. He was the one coddled and preferred by his mother. Jacob may well have been the first metro-sexual momma’s boy.
When it came time to receive the blessing, Esau played the role of the man and went to work following the orders of his father. On that same day, Jacob put on his costume and role-played according to his mother’s wishes. Then, following his deceptive plot, instead of standing up for what he had done, Jacob was forced to flee. His father knew he was no match for Esau; Jacob knew so as well. Esau was too much of a man.
When Jacob arrived at his uncle’s ponderosa, he was greatly mistreated. His uncle stole seven years of labor from him, and Jacob stuck around for seven more years of violated contracts. During these years, he found love, but he also found himself following the leadership of his wives. They made deals regarding who would sleep with him, and like a kid, he followed their wishes. Later, when they wanted children through their various concubines, all he said was, “Yes Ma’am.”
After many years, Jacob decided it was time to leave Laban. He did so by secretly gathering his wives and belongings and stealing away in the night. Jacob had no desire to face opposition head-on; this was seen in his leaving Laban and in his meeting Esau. Even as a grown man, Jacob still feared his twin brother; he knew deep inside he was not the man who could defend his family and property. He was always willing to run from any conflict or confrontation. Therefore, Jacob decided to bribe his way into Esau’s world. Then, as the parties of Jacob and Esau drew near to one another, Jacob showed an incredible lack of chivalry and manliness as he sent his servants, wives and children on ahead of him. If disaster was coming his way, they would experience it first.
On this journey, Jacob wrestled with God. This should be noticed and commended, for it may have been the greatest act of valor ever shown by this patriarch. However, his more passive character was quickly displayed again. Tragedy happened as his daughter, Dinah, was attacked and raped by Shechem. As a consequence, Shechem deserved to die. He had no right to force himself upon a young virgin and rob her of her purity. However, following this incident, all that was said of Jacob is, “He held his peace.” This was not true of Jacob’s sons. They acted manly; they took matters in their own hands and fought for the honor of their sister. In the end, Simeon and Levi did right in executing justice upon Shechem, but they sinned greatly in going over the top and extracting vengeance upon the entire city. Justice is one thing; unjust war and murder is another.
After the onslaught, the following conversation took place between the father and his younger vigilantes:
Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have brought trouble on me by making me stink to the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites and the Perizzites. My numbers are few, and if they gather themselves against me and attack me, I shall be destroyed, both I and my household.” But they said, “Should he treat our sister like a prostitute?” (Genesis 34:30-31)
One can almost hear them saying, “Dad, our sister was wronged; she was treated like a whore, and all you are concerned about is your health and prosperity. Come on Dad, somebody had do do something! Come on Dad, man up!” Esau was manly, but he was not godly. In contradistinction, Jacob was godly, but he was not manly.
As men, we want to be both godly and manly, and Jesus Christ is our perfect example. He worked for his bride. He boldly stood against opposition. He was unflinchable in the day of adversity. He was a leader whom people longed to follow and respect. He was a man of truth; he said what he meant and did what he said. He spent himself valiantly for his loved ones, and he will execute justice on all those who wrong his family. He was neither afraid of conflict nor confrontation. Yet, he was tender, kind, compassionate, gentle and meek. Real men do cry, for Jesus was found weeping on several occasions.
Tenderness is a good trait. The same can be said of meekness. Etiquette and manners are to be learned and practiced. Hospitality is the trait of the godly elder and deacon. There is nothing noble about a brutish, unpolished, uncultured bully. We should want to be men of the arts; education is to be highly prized and desired. If we are called “Renaissance Men,” this should be taken as a compliment. Someone has just noted the well-rounded character, skills and knowledge we possess. Hunting, baseball, automobile repair, beer and beards are optional. Every man does not have to look the same and walk to the same beat, but manliness is not optional. Every man must step up, take the lead, guide, protect and die for those under his care.
Therefore, men, I wonder how many of our wives, daughters, sons and parishioners are looking at us, saying, “Father, do something, be the man for us!”
Women, I wonder how much you pray for the father figures in your life? Are you as quick to encourage and submit as you are to belittle and cut the knees out from under your man?
Sons, please look beyond us and to Jesus Christ to find the true measure of a man. We will point you in the right direction, he will model righteous manhood for you.
Daughters, please be careful to whom you give your affection. Have high standards. Find the man who looks most like Jesus Christ. There are many mousey men in the neighborhood. If you are not careful, you will regret the day you attached yourself to such metro-sexual husbands and elders.