Abraham gave everything he owned to his son Isaac. But before he died, he gave gifts to the sons of his concubines and sent them off to a land in the east, away from Isaac.—Genesis 25:5-16, NLT
Throughout history, first-born sons and daughters have enjoyed a ccertain advantage in hereditary laws and customs, although the modern tendency has tended to distribute inheritances more equitably. Nevertheless, birth order continues to assign special roles and ways of thinking. When firstborn sons and daughters try to assume leadership over their brothers and sisters, the younger ones sometimes seek out a new space where they can develop their own leadership under their own criteria. Sometimes the youngest child has a special relationship with the parents, who cling to him or her in hopes of security in their old age. Every family has its own culture.
Immigration offers one of the ways many sons and daughters in today’s world wind up displaced from the family hearth. Abraham obligated his younger sons to move to migrate from Canaan, in effect converting them into exiles, although one must recognized that their nomadic lifestyle would have prepared them for a certain instability. It seems that Abraham did not want those sons to compete with Isaac, to whose descendents he bequeathed the divine promise to become the owners of Canaan.
Some immigrants today may feel resentment toward their parents, who failed to establish them in their native land. They have not even inherited the possibility of staying in their country, much less houses and lands. In such cases, bitterness only sharpens their suffering. Instead of that fate, they should walk in the faith of Abraham, going to the place God will show them (Genesis 12). God is not limited to any one place, and if God has not yet shown us our place of rest, surely the encounter lies further down the road.
Dr. Joseph Castleberry is President of Northwest University in Kirkland Washington. He is the author of Your Deepest Dream: Discovering God’s Vision for Your Life and The Kingdom Net: Learning to Network Like Jesus. Follow him on Twitter at @DrCastleberry and at http://www.facebook.com/Joseph.Castleberry.