Monthly Archives: January 2011

Genesis 28 – Response

Jacob is sent away to marry from Rebekah’s family.  He is given a proper blessing by his father, and instructed not to marry from the Canaanites around him.  I remember in Sunday School always being taught that Esau heard about this and ran off to marry a Canaanite woman to spite his father and mother.  I have also brought that presupposition into my previous readings; so i didn’t pay that much attention.

However, that doesn’t really seem to be the case. The passage says, “So Esau saw that the daughters of Canaan displeased his father Isaac; and Esau went to Ishmael and married” (NASB).  So Esau did not turn away, he simply attempted to fulfill his father’s wishes the only way he reasonably knew how.  He did not marry from the Canaanites, he married from his uncle Ishmael, just as Jacob was sent to marry from his uncle Laban.  It’s not hugely significant, but it’s one of the things that i have never really caught in the many times that i was just reading the passage through.

This chapter contains some interesting theological situations.  For instance, what is described here is a ladder or staircase from earth to heaven.  It is a connection point: a point at which heaven and earth almost touch each other.  It’s a point at which those in heaven have access to earth and those on earth have access to heaven.  Being a dream, I don’t know the extent to which this “stairway to heaven” is literal or figurative, but it does give you reason to pause and wonder how this occurs and how many other of these “stairways” might exist throughout the world.  I also don’t know how important this “stairway to heaven” is overall, but it is a unique feature of this chapter.

What IS more important though, is Jacob’s reaction to the situation.  Instead of ignoring the “dream”, or running away, or trying to rationalize it away, he comes to realization.  He was amazed, and he was afraid, and he was in awe of the situation and where he was; “How awesome is this place!  This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”  Beautiful isn’t it?  So Jacob turns around, sets up his pillow-rock as a pillar, pours oil over it, and calls the place Bethel or House of God.  Then he makes a vow to God that if He will be with him and take care of him, then Jacob will give a tithe (tenth) to God.

What is our reaction to God when He does something amazing?  What do we do when He shows up?  Do we run away, or try to ignore it, or rationalize it away, or try to justify ourselves; or do we fall in awe and wonder?  Do we, trembling, acknowledge God and make His truth a reality in our lives?  Do we pursue that God that we have had a personal experience with?  Do we take God’s truth into our very being and let it change who we are as a person?  Our reaction tells us who we really are.

 

John J. Camiolo Jr.

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Genesis 27 – Influence

Sorry i missed the day yesterday, in the coming days and weeks i may miss a day or two in a row due to other things going on, but i should be back on track fully after that.

As i went into this chapter, i began to realize that Isaac’s story is much shorter.  It seems like i only just started with him, and already he is an old man and Jacob’s story is beginning.  Jacob’s name means “supplanter”, and here is where he, with the help and encouragement of his mother, really sees the fruition of that name.  The name given to him almost seems as if it becomes his life motto / purpose.  It’s funny, because a couple of days ago my friend (and teacher) Fount Shults posted a note on facebook about Death and Life in the Tongue and how what we say has power / influence.

It’s interesting to see the dynamic here between Isaac and his wife Rebekah.  Isaac loved Esau and wanted him to be blessed over everyone around him.  Rebekah however, favored Jacob.  Isaac’s plan was for Esau to gain the honor and blessing, but God had other plans that Isaac was either not aware of, or had ignored.  Either way, his plans were not God’s.  Back in chapter 25, before the children were born, Rebekah inquired of the LORD about them, and God told her that the younger would be greater, and the older would serve him.  Isaac’s plan was the opposite of this.  You can see from the chapter that Issac had planned to bless Esau so that Esau would be master over all.  He had not planned to reserve any blessing for Jacob at all.  That obviously backfired so Jacob got it all.

What about us?  Do we fail to check in with God about the plans and blessings we make?  Are we so set in what we want that we fail to recognize that that may not be what God is planning to do?  I know that i have.  I also know that that can lead to some very difficult situations down the road.

One last thing that i wanted to note from going through this chapter today.  It’s something that i don’t think i realized before.  Rebekah said that she was sending Jacob to her brother Laban’s, and that when Esau’s anger had subsided, she would send for him to come back.  We never hear of this happening.  As far as we know, Rebekah never sent word to Jacob to return.  When he came back he was unsure of Esau’s intent towards him.

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Genesis 26 – Pursuit

It seems like God’s blessing of His people more often than not leads to contention rather than pursuit.  Isaac goes and lives in the land of the Philistines due to a famine in the land of Canaan.  He and all his household.  While he is there God blesses him.  His crops grow a hundredfold.  God continues to bless him in many other ways as well.

You would think that with God blessing Isaac as he does, Abimelech the king of the Philistines would pursue Isaac and the God of Isaac.  You would think that they would want to be connected to the God and man of God who blesses in such ways.  Instead they fear him.  Instead, they send him away.

This leads to contention between Abimelech and Isaac’s herdsmen.  Trouble that could lead to war between the two, what Abimelech feared.  But, Isaac was not interested in stirring up trouble.  He was a peacekeeper who turned away from the conflict.  As a result Abimelech did pursue Isaac, but not for the right reasons.  He pursued a peace covenant with Isaac, not to know more the God that blessed his people so.  As a result, he got his peace treaty / covenant, but it will come at the cost of the nation later on.

It’s also interesting to note that Isaac pursued as well.  He went in pursuit of more wives.  He got what he was pursuing, but at the cost of peace for himself and his household.

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Genesis 25 – Chosen Path

I was tempted to title this chapter “Loose Ends” due to the beginning of the chapter being dedicated to tying up the loose ends of Abraham’s life.  He got married a third time, and had six more children.  He ended up sending them away to the east with gifts and giving all that he had to Isaac before dying and being buried.  As i was going through though, the realization came to me that these children weren’t just loose ends.  They were as much children of Abraham as Isaac and Ishmael.  So while the Bible doesn’t focus on them as much, they had just as much of God’s blessing as Ishmael.  They were still blessed.  They would still become great nations, but their lives simply don’t continue through the story as the others do.  They are not key characters, but neither are they simply loose ends.  They are still the children of Abraham.

The best i could come up with is “Chosen Path”.  This chapter is about multiple paths.  It is about the options and opportunities taken and lost.  No one in this chapter is insignificant in and of themselves.  God simply chose His route.  There were multiple paths and roads to choose from, but of Abraham’s eight children God chose Isaac, then Jacob of Isaac’s two.  Esau squandered his opportunity, …for a bowl of stew and a slice of bread.  Ultimately though, it’s about God’s choice.  It’s not that the others were of less value or worth, they were just not chosen.

How about us?  Do we disregard someone because they have come from a different path?  Do we recognize that all people are God’s children, or do we get so caught up in the fact that they come from a different path that we automatically reject or push them away?  What is more important to God, that they came from a different (wrong?) path, or that they find the Chosen One?

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Genesis 24-2 – Fulfillment

One of the things that i get annoyed with the way things are written in the Bible deals with the repetition.  A huge majority of what is written in the second half of this chapter is simply a repetition / retelling of exactly what happened in the first half.

On the other hand, it is good seeing the complete honesty and frankness with which the servant poses the situation to Rebekah and her family.  There is no mixing of words.  There is no skirting the subject.  There isn’t even any breaking it to the family slowly.  It is what it is, and all that the servant seems to care about is the fulfillment of the promise.  He has been sent on a mission.  He is going to fulfill the promise, and he is not interested in excuses, comforts, or delays.  Are we like the servant when God gives us a purpose / call / mission?  Do we, knowing that God sent us to do it, try to break it lightly to those affected by it, or do we go after it like an arrow from a bow?  Do we, like the servant, assume that because God has called us to do it, that He will make it happen, we just have to act?

I know that in many ways and many times i think more and long before i act.  I hear God telling me, and then i process it and think about it, and try to figure it out before i do it.  The servant’s focus was on fulfilling the promise and on nothing else.  I need to start doing that more.

The other thing that i wanted to note.  When Rebekah finally meets Isaac, there is a very different dynamic going on here in regards to marriage than that we see / understand in today’s world.  Isaac meets her, and the servant tells him the entire story.  Isaac then brings her into his mother’s tent, he takes Rebekah, and she becomes his wife.  There are some interesting implications here.  First off, the word for took is actually a compound word.  It is more literally self-taking, or taking her to himself.  So Isaac takes her into his mother’s tent, takes her to himself (intercourse) and thus she becomes his wife.

The very act of Isaac taking Rebekah was her becoming his wife.  We see the same concept in Genesis 2 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.”  This was / is marriage.  The very act of sexual intercourse is the very act of marriage.  When a man and a woman have sex for the first time, they become one flesh, husband and wife.  There is no ceremony, there is no priest (other than God).  There is only man, woman, God, and the consummation or fulfillment.  Now husband and wife.

So what does this say of us?  How many times have we been married?  Do we have more than one husband / wife?  What now?

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Genesis 24-1 – Sworn

This is going to be a two-part chapter.  I am finding that i can only copy out ~30+ verses in about an hour and a half, which is most of my time limitations for this project each day.  So since this chapter is 67 verses, i have to split this one up into two days; vs. 1-34 today, and 35-67 tomorrow.

The time was coming and going.  Abraham knew that he only had a limited time before his life would end.  He still had some very important business to attend to.  One of those things being; taking care to provide the proper wife for his son.  So he sends his most trusted servant on a mission to return to his home and family and find the right bride for his son Isaac.  It is a quest that his most faithful servant is sworn to fulfill.  Not only that, but also the servant must never bring Isaac there.  The maiden must come to him, or not at all.

This chapter contains two new names / titles for God, or it could possibly be considered one: “…the LORD (YHWH), the God (Elohim) of heaven (Shamaim) and the God (Elohim) of earth (Erets)…”  This is the name to whom Abraham required his servant to swear that he would not get Isaac a wife from among  the Canaanites.

The servant swears and goes, but is still concerned about the fulfillment of the promise, so he does the wise thing.  He brings it before the God of his master.  He wants to be sure that he finds the right person, so he asks God to bring the right girl to him.  God, of course being who He is, is way ahead of the servant, brings Rebekah, and brings reassurance to the servant.

Rebekah shocks me in this passage.  When he first sees her, Abrahams servant, rushes at her.  “Then the servant ran to meet her, and said, ‘Please let me drink a little water from your jar.'”  How would you and i respond to some strange dirty traveler running at us begging us to give them water?  We might be a little freaked out.  What does Rebekah do?  She says “sure”, gives him water, and waters his camels as well.  The servant rewards her by giving her a gold ring and two gold bracelets and then asks to be invited to stay the night.  Wow, the cultural differences there!

How do we react to strangers and those in need?  Jesus says, “those who do so for the least of these my children, do so for Me”.  The letter to the Hebrews says “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.”  The servant (purposelessly) feared the fulfillment of his promise to his master.  Do we (purposelessly) fear assisting / entertaining the stranger because we’re surrounded by those who would feed us a negative report?  Or have we sworn to help those in need?

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Genesis 23 – Dust

From ashes to ashes; from dust to dust.  Her time had come, and Sarah was no more.  After everything that has happened, it’s hard to imagine Sarah (Sarai) no longer being in the picture.  It’s also a signal that though one main character may be gone (and another nearing the end of his journey); a story may take a pause, but history stops for no one.

Life must go on, and Abraham has a responsibility to care for his deceased.  Even in a time of mourning, the work is never done.  Abraham sets about getting the appropriate final resting place for his wife and family.  He already knows what he wants and is looking for.  So he goes to make the transaction and we yet again see his mentality that he will not take what is not his.  He is offered the land and cave that he wants free of charge, but he insists that he will only take what he has rightfully paid for.  Its value resides in what its value is to the one who owns or is seeking it.  If a man is not willing to pay fair price for it, is it worth owning?

 

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