“By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come” (Hebrews 11:20).
There was a blessing on both Jacob and Esau from their father Isaac, but though brothers, they were rivals in life from their beginnings to their end and had to live separated as two nations (cf. Genesis 36:8; 37:1).
“And after that came his brother out and his hand took hold on Esau’s heel. . .” (Genesis 25:26). From the time of their birth and throughout their lives the story of Jacob and Esau is a story of rivalry, competition and the promise of blessing and inheritance. We would do well to study their lives to see the pitfalls of ambition, deception, vengeance, and rivalry.
It seems in life there is always a rival: that other, that one person or one thing that is always competing, a nemesis. We face it in all aspects of life: in relationships, careers, personal devotion and commitments.
Who, what is your rival? It is good when we can identify our rival, so we can face reality. Now facing it, how will you handle it? What will you do about it?
We must all now face the reality that rivalry has entered our lives as saints in our relationship with God. This is nothing new. It was the constant struggle with Israel throughout their history. The Prophets had to constantly speak against Idolatry which was a rival to the worship of the One True and Living God, the Almighty. Today, many of us have left our first love and have succumbed to the rival for our affections. The Church at Ephesus had to be chastened of the Lord and called to repentance for it: “Nevertheless, I have somewhat against you because you have left your first love. Remember, therefore, from where you have fallen, and repent, and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly, and will remove your candlestick out of his place, except you repent” (Revelation 2:4-5).
A Rival to Revival: There is a rival to revival that needs to be separated from our lives. Revival will come when the rival is sent away and our full devotion to our Lord is restored. Then there will be no competition for our time, energies, thoughts and dedication. We will be fully given to prayer, study of the word, service, communion, fellowship and sacrifice to God and to our brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. Idols will be cast down; holiness will prevail in our assemblies and the renewal of the true worship of God will be restored. This was the call of the Prophets, and it is the call of the Spirit in our time.
The Spirit of the Lord is dealing with our hearts because this truly is an issue of the heart. Rivals of the Lord are trying to capture our hearts and take over our thoughts. How many prayers are not being prayed because of it? How many acts of sacrifice are not being performed? How many souls are not being saved? How much intimacy is being lost because of a rival?
Jesus called His generation a “wicked and adulterous generation” (cf. Matthew 12:39; 16:4; Mark 8:38). What would He say of ours? The same? But it does not have to be so; we can begin the change; we can see revival. Let us come and work together to remove the rivals.