Summary: The prediction that Esau (the elder) would serve Jacob (the younger) turns out to be a key principle in biblical leadership.
1. Majority Rules
A rabbi was at odds with his congregation. The president of the synagogue said, "Rabbi, we must have a conference to settle this dispute once and for all." So the rabbi, the president and the ten elders met together to discuss the issue -- but the rabbi soon discovered that he was the sole dissenting opinion. After some discussion, the president of the synagogue announced, "Let us now vote and let the majority rule." When the votes were collected, the president said, "Rabbi, you are outvoted eleven to one, we have the majority."
The rabbi rose to his feet, "So you think you are right and I am wrong because of a vote. Well, think again, for I will call on the Holy One of Israel to give us a sign that I am right and you are wrong." Immediately, a deafening clap of thunder sounded, accompanied by a brilliant flash. The mahogany table they were gathered around was cracked in two. The room was filled with smoke and the president and the elders were thrown to the floor, but the rabbi remained standing -- untouched and triumphant.
The president synagogue slowly rose from underneath the table. His hair was singed, his glasses where hanging from one ear and his clothes were in great disarray. Finally, after some time, he responded saying, "Alright, alright, so it is eleven to two. But we still have the majority!"
2. This is often the perception we have of church direction -- the majority rules; as a result there are missteps in our walk with God
a. Biblical authority can be neglected
b. Worldly authority can be embraced
3. God's way of leadership often goes against the grain of our worldly thinking
a. Serving, Sacrificial Leadership -- Mark 10.42-45: 42 And Jesus called them to him and said to them, "You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
b. An unexpected principle -- Genesis 25.19-28 (especially verse 23 -- the elder to serve the younger)
1) Two Nations
2) God's determination to work through Jacob (God does the unexpected)
3) Esau was an independent, frontier man -- shrewd in worldly ways
4) Jacob was a man of the tent/community
5) Worldly-wise men may not make the best elders; the best elders learn by sitting at the feet of the Father
4. Consider the role of Elders as they sacrificially serve the Younger:
I. The Elder Shall Serve the Younger Because He is Qualified
A. By Experience
1. Not a recent convert -- 1 Timothy 3.6
2. A successful family leader (church is a family, not a business enterprise or a military fortress) -- 3.4-5
3. He has a good report within the community -- 3.7
4. He is aware of the times in which we live -- (3.7)
B. By Character (Fruit of the Spirit)
In the 17th Century, there was a young man named Paul Gerhardt. Because of the patronage of a German Duke he became a powerful influence on the church of his day. Gerhardt's family was very poor. And he helped out by being a shepherd for a small flock of sheep and goats on the edge of the forest.
One day a hunter came out from among the trees and asked the lad how far it was to the nearest village.
"Six miles, sire," he replied, "but the road is only a sheep track and can easily be missed."
"I've lost my way and I am very tired," returned the hunter. "Leave your sheep and show me the way. I will pay you well."
"No, Sire" said Gerhardt. "I cannot do that for they would stray into the forest and be stolen or eaten by the wolves."
"Never mind; your master would never miss one or two and I would pay you more than the price of one or two sheep."
"But, sire, my master trusts me with these sheep, and I have promised not to leave them."
"Well," said the hunter, "Let me take care of the sheep while you fetch me food from the village and a guide."
"The sheep do not know your voice and would not obey you, sir."
"Can you not trust me? Do I not look like an honest man?" asked the hunter with a frown.
"Sir," said the boy slowly, "You tried to make me false to my trust, and break my word to my master. How do I know that you will keep your word to me?"