A Tale of Four Brothers

Cover of "Four Brothers (Special Collecto...
Apropos of nothing except the title. Seriously, I have no idea what this movie is about.

Imagine for a moment that you had two sons, who we’ll call Jacob and John. Jacob and John are stubborn, strong-willed, and resistant to punishment, so when they hit their teenage years, there’s a lot of chaos in the house. Sometimes you have to punish them severely, and on at least one prior occasion you had to follow through on the, “As long as you’re going to live under my roof, you have to follow my rules,” threat and kick them out for a short time. But even in the midst of punishing them you make it clear that you do love them and that you are only punishing them so that they will be proper heirs to your name and your vast holdings.

One day, after things have settled down a bit, you hear about a boy named Luke who has no father or home of his own, so you send out John to bring him to live at your place. After they arrive, you tell Luke, “If you are willing, I’d like to adopt you as my son so that you will be brothers and fellow-heirs to my sons Jacob and John.”

“So what do I have to do?” Luke asks.

“Just accept the adoption and love me and your brothers,” you say. “Oh, there are household rules that you’ll need to learn, but I understand that it’ll take you awhile to learn them. I also know that you’re used to doing things a bit differently, that you’re used to different foods and different holidays, so we’ll make some accommodations to make the transition easier for you.”

Luke accepts and this makes Jacob furious. He’s angry with you because he feels like you’re pushing him out in favor of Luke (who used to bully Jacob and John in school), he’s angry with John for bringing Luke in, and he’s of course angry with Luke, and refuses to accept his adoption. There’s a huge fight between him and John over it, and you have to tell him to leave the house until he cools off.

John and Luke are both upset by this, but you explain to them. “Don’t be troubled. Jacob is for now against my plan because of Luke, but when the time is right I will bring him back in so that all my sons will be in one house and of one family.”

Time passes and eventually Luke goes out under your orders to bring in another homeless young man named Frank. You make Frank the same offer as you did Luke and he also accepts. However, he soon starts to resent John and Jacob for being born into the household and having a particular part of the inheritance that has been set aside for them. He gets Luke to join with him in ostracizing John and demands that John follow the more lenient rules that you gave to him and Luke instead of the rules you had established with Jacob and John years beforehand. When John refuses, Frank starts trying to force him out of the house, even viciously attacking and abusing him, heedless of the fact that if not for John’s obedience, neither he nor Luke would have been adopted.

Word of this reaches Jacob and further embitters him against all three of his brothers. You find out that Frank has even been tracking down Jacob at school and attacking him, telling him, “Father hates you now! He’s replaced you with me and Luke. If you ever want to come back into the house, you have to submit to me and then maybe I’ll be able to get father to let you back in.”

How would you feel when you found out what Frank had been doing to your sons? How furious would you be? Might you not even consider disowning Frank and throwing him out of your house for the sake of protecting John and bringing Jacob home?

How furious then must our heavenly Father be at the treatment of his firstborn, Israel, at the hands of the nations whom he generously opened his arms to!

Replacement theology agrees with Frank that Jacob was cast out and replaced by the adopted sons. Dispensationalism denies that Frank and Luke were truly adopted in order to preserve the promised inheritance for Jacob. Both forget that John, symbolizing the remnant of the Jewish people who still believe in Yeshua, even exists! Both assume that in order to be part of the Lord’s household now, that John is supposed to give up all of the household rules and customs that existed before Luke and Frank were ever brought in.

“There is no more Jew or Gentile!” the Christian cries,1 but no one forces a Greek Christian to give up philosophy, or a Roman Christian to give up his toga, or a Scythian Christian to give up his horses, or an American Christian to give up his Constitution. Only the Jew is supposed to sacrifice his unique and literally God-given cultural heritage to “prevent division.” When the Church has proclaimed, “There is no more Jew or Gentile,” what they have really meant is that there is no more Jew!

Does that seem right to you? It doesn’t seem right to the Holy One either, as we’ll see in the next couple of posts.

1 Rom. 10:12, Gal. 3:28, Col. 3:11

5 Replies to “A Tale of Four Brothers”

    1. I understand, but think of it as a kal v’chomer (a fortiori) argument: If the adopted child demanding that the natural-born children give up their household traditions is clearly wrong, then how much more is the adopted children demanding that the Jews give up the very Torah of the Holy One?

      I’ll be building on that over the next several posts.


  1. Nice job with this story and how you tied it all together at the end. Yup, it’s understood that the Jew is the one who is supposed to change to ‘prevent division.’ I have even been told that keeping the Sabbath is ‘too divisive.’ But obeying the house rules is not what’s divisive. Disobedience is.

    Thanks, and keep it up!


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