By Michael E. Brooks
“So when her days were fulfilled for her to give birth, indeed there were twins in her womb. And the first came out red. He was like a hairy garment all over; so they called his name Esau. Afterward his brother came out and his hand took hold of Esau’s heel; so his name was called Jacob” (Genesis 25:24-26).
We have a student at Khulna Bible College named Borun. Recently I made a trip to Borun’s home village and upon arriving saw a young man whom I at first took to be Borun. I had to look hard to tell that it was not. When I commented upon the mistake in identity to a companion he laughed and said, “He is Borun’s brother, Orun”.
That explained the resemblance, I thought, but as the day progressed continued to be struck by how alike they were. Finally I asked who was the older, and Orun said it was he. Then I asked, “How much older?” His reply explained a lot: “One minute, we are twins”.
Borun and Orun remind me of Jacob and Esau, who also were born almost together. In the Biblical story Esau, though older by no more than the one minute of the Bangladeshi twins, was counted the firstborn, with the birthright and blessing due him as custom and law provided. There was no more difference between the ages of the two sons than the distance between hand and heel, but it was enough. He was the elder, and that was all that mattered.
In spiritual matters there are many areas where a tiny difference is vast in consequence. Saul kept God’s command to utterly destroy the Amelekites, except for the sparing of one person, the King (1 Samuel 15:9-11). Yet God regretted making Saul King of Israel and tore the kingdom from him (actually from his descendants) and gave it to another.
A small distinction, we might think, but it made a huge difference in the history of Israel as well as in the destiny of Saul and his family.
King Agrippa came very near to believing Paul’s proclamation of the Gospel (Acts 26:28), but just failed to act in obedience. Assuming the standard English translations of the text are correct (some speculate that Agrippa is speaking sardonically as if saying, “You don’t really think you can persuade me so easily do you?, but there is no evidence for such a rendering), Agrippa was removed only by a small amount from true, saving faith. Yet he fell short, and there is no record of his ever traversing that last gap.
A very small amount of time may make a big difference. It takes only seconds to respond in faith, to help another in need, or to breathe one’s last. Paul encourages us to “redeem the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16).
In other words, we should use our time as effectively and efficiently as possible, because much evil exists to defeat us, causing our lives and souls to be lost. The Hebrew writer reminds us of the Old Testament exhortation, “Today, if you will hear his voice, do not harden your hearts” (Hebrews 4:7).
Orun is only one minute older than his brother, but he is clearly and definitively the elder son. So we must be aware of the small things that matter so much in our lives, both now and for eternity. Let us not be deceived into thinking that a little difference is of no importance. Such is obviously not the case.
By Michael E. Brooks