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Sunday, December 28, 2008

(8) The End of the Beginning, Genesis 46-50

We have seen the beginnings. Throughout Genesis we have read about the perfect become imperfect due to man's ambitions, obsessions, unfaithfulness and pride. But through all of the shortcomings of man we also see that one thing hasn't changed from the beginning; God is faithful and His promises are always fulfilled. Sometimes they aren't done in our timing or our liking, i.e., Isaac didn't want to be sacrificed, Jacob didn't want to be picked, the whole lifespan of Josephs' younger years. But in the end, it all works out for the good for those who love Him. That is why Paul wrote a little passage in the book of Romans 2000 years later:
  • 28 and we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and who have been called according to His purpose.

The question remains though, if He calls you will you answer like Abraham or run like Jacob?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

(7) To Forgive, Divine, Genesis 37-45

The rights of the first born included things like headship of the tribe or family and a double portion of the inheritance. But it was a common practice for a father to give that right to the firstborn of the wife he loved more. Joseph happened to be the former. His brothers resented that because Joseph was number 11 in line. But if you read about his brothers they forfeited their inheritance rights by their own actions. Reuben committed incest. Simeon and Levi committed murder. And in short, the rest plotted against Joseph which showed their hearts were not what God wanted to use. For the time being Joseph would be the deliverer of his people.

We also read that Jacob is the man of God who is ready to be used. The final sign of this was the changing of his name to Israel. The word "Israel" means "protected by God". This was a covenant. The name change is a permanent sign by God. Jacob will no longer try and make a deal with God. he knows he will be protected. There are no more ifs.

Joseph probably had the most to complain about more than any other character in the Bible, possibly enough to even be compared to Job. But he never lost his focus. He never lost his relationship with God. And that is odd knowing how wishy-washy his father was with the relationship with God. Somehow Jacob must have installed Abraham's and Isaac's beliefs on him. God never forgot about Joseph either. He made him prosper even in the "pit" of his life. If we hold on to this truth, Never will I leave you, then life can be what we want it to be. The problem is we don't acknowledge God in many situations except the hardships. He is knocking on the door but it is up to us to let him in.

After 22 years of separation and a lot of time to let his anger burn against his brothers, we never hear of such an emotion coming from Joseph. Even when he had the opportunity to get revenge, his compassion showed in the end. Many time we can't do that. His brothers tried to kill him and he forgave them. but we can't even forgive if someone says one harsh word that doesn't even mean anything in the end.
To forgive is divine, but it should also be human.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

(6) Wrestling With God, Genesis 25-34

The life of Jacob is probably misunderstood by most people. When we think of Jacob we remember the saying, "The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob". So we think Jacob was a man of God and lived his life according to God's Word. But did he? Let's examine periods of his life and make a conclusion.
  1. Born with a twin brother, but when Jacob came out he was grasping on to Esau's heel. This was a prophecy about how these two brother's would struggle with each other their whole lives. Even in the womb Jacob and Esau struggled with each other.
  2. Jacob's name means "deceiver". What a horrible name to give to your child, but apparently it will fit his life very well.
  3. When the boys were becoming of age, Esau came in to get food since he was hungry from his work. Jacob deceived his brother into forfeiting his birth rite. And when it came time to get his inheritance he deceived his own blind father by pretending to be Esau. Would a man of God use deceit like this just for an inheritance?
  4. When Jacob went to go work for his uncle and to find a wife he tried to deceived his uncle as well. It failed this time but he still tried to use his skill as a liar.

There are other passages that can be used to see the true character of Jacob, but when it comes down to it, Jacob had no idea who God really was. Jacob was a man who knew what he wanted, but it was not God. God uses him however to start the nation of Israel.

When Jacob meets his wives he is well into his 70's. He agrees to work for her love for 7 years but is tricked by his uncle into working 7 more. By this time he is an older man but God still had not unleashed His plan completely to Jacob. Sometime God does not move because it is not the right time yet. Or it is because we have chosen to move in another direction away from God. Jacob was good at fleeing. He fled Esau after tricking him. He fled his uncle after obtaining his wives. But most of his life he fled from God. Each time he fled he needed to reconcile with the one he fled from. But to reconcile a man so stubborn, a man needs to be broken.

When we read the story about Jacob wrestling with God it's hard to understand why God couldn't overpower him. This is a translation problem. When we read this we are probably thinking more on the lines of physically overpowering him. But, it is probably more on the lines of breaking Jacob's stubborn will. We know Jacob now as being bull-headed, deceiving, and out-spoken. Apparently he had not learned that God should be in control. So God gave him something to remind him for the rest of his life, a torn hip socket. God will get through to us one way or another. The question is will we let Him do it the easy way or the hard way?

Often in life we think that our struggle is with a situation or another person when it is ultimately with God. The only time our struggles end is when we completely surrender to God. Jacob's name was changed to Israel, which means protected by God. Jacob should no longer live like a man of deception but live like a man who is protected by God.

It took him his whole life but when he finally recognized his struggle was with God, he changed. The promise of Israel and a Messiah was now finally ready to move ahead. Great things can happen when we let God do what He can do without our stubbornness getting in the way.

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