The Coolness of the Elder Serving the Younger

The elder shall serve the younger is a common theme in the Old Testament (that big section you have to skip to get to “the good stuff”).

One of the best examples is young Joseph being chosen to save his older brothers resulting in their worship of him. Amazing turn of events that makes no human sense. David, the youngest, was chosen over his older brothers to be king. Isaac over Ishmael and Jacob over Esau wrap up the Top Four examples.

I always thought it was just God messing with people, showing that His wisdom is the opposite of man’s wisdom. Keeping people on their toes so they don’t take things for granted.

But I recently came across an idea I think has some weight to it, see if you agree.

We are all born in the flesh and then we are called to be born again, or to be spiritually reborn. Our spirit is thus the younger and the flesh will always be the older. But by the grace of God that teaches us to deny ungodliness and by the Spirit that puts to death the deeds of the flesh, the older flesh will be in submission to the younger spirit!

I like that. I’m sure this is not original with me, I sort of kind of saw it in the writings of Thomas Watson, but he did not elaborate, sort of just mentioned it in passing. That’s a cool deal though!

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6 comments

  1. paul walton

    Interesting thought, but Jesus breaks that mold, we know in the very least that two of his younger brothers James and Jude went on to serve Him.

  2. jeff

    There are many examples where the younger serve the elder. The younger serving the elder is the mold; the elder serving the younger breaks it. But God seems to like breaking this mold, I think the flesh nature serving the spirit nature explains why. Certainly most stick with the older flesh the whole time. The exception is when the spirit dominates.

  3. paul walton

    Speaking of breaking molds Tim Challies has a good post today about the conversion of Paul. God choosing at that time in History to convert the church’s worst enemy. It got me to thinking, actually when it comes to God’s sovereignty there is no mold for how He does things. Except in the fact that the common element in all His workings is faith, only faith can break the mold of a man’s sinful condition.

    I know we have our differences concerning faith in the conversion of someone’s soul, but certainly grace and faith work together, and I believe we both hold the view that they are gifts. And the only way a believer can overcome the flesh daily is by faith, and living by faith is hard, it’s goes against our sinful nature that isn’t completely vanquish.

    Perhaps there is something there in your analogy about the younger serving the older in respect to the Spirit and flesh, but the only way we can overcome the flesh is by faith, and by knowing God’s promises for those who walk by faith.

  4. jeff

    More directly, the power to overthrow the flesh is in the Spirit of God. Faith is the doorway into grace and one of the acts of grace is the mortifying of the flesh by the Spirit, thinking of Romans 8. A house divided cannot stand. We are dead to sin but alive unto God so let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body. The Spirit overcomes, if not fully in this earthly tabernacle, then certainly in the glorified body to come.

    “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:”

  5. paul walton

    So true Jeff the power to overthrow the flesh is by the power of the spirit of God, so why do so many born-again believers struggle with overcoming sin? Folks who are truly born-again I believe, commit sins that they know will destroy their testimony, perhaps even their lives. Pastors who are bound up up in porn, husbands who cheat on their wives, on and on, the issue is faith, or more to the point lack there of. They have stopped trusting in Christ as their treasure, I don’t believe all who fail morally didn’t have a true conversion, but they stopped trusting in Christ, they lost sight of the promises that He is more than enough. Faith means trusting all that God promises to be to us in Christ Jesus.

    “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.”
    Who is the Him that Paul is talking about? It is Christ!
    This is what Paul discovered by God’s grace, through the gift of faith.

  6. Frank Z.

    I like the way you resolved it Jeff, but you only explained it as it pertains the individual soul.

    Another way of stating it is that the “younger always serves the elder” but that the definition of the elder is the one who has the most wisdom and the most faith.

    It should have been that the one who was physically older, should have had the greater wisdom, the spirit growing with the flesh; but sin has marred that. So now we must sometimes disallow the fleshly claim, and look to the spiritual qualifications to determine who is the elder.

    It is similar to the way true Israelites are defined. Not by flesh, but by faith.