Moses has, with YHWH’s direction and doing, successfully brought the people of Isreal out of their bondage in the land of Egypt. He has brought them to Mount Sinai, the Lord’s / YHWH’s mountain, and brought them face to face with God / YHWH. From there, YHWH has given the people direction, understanding, and instruction. They have built a tabernacle for YHWH to go with them, and it is getting ready for the people to start heading out.
In the meantime, the people need to be prepared. They will be taking the promised land. They will be fighting battles and defeating nations of people who had allowed their sin to consume them to the point of their being vomited out by the land they live in. As such the men of Israel need to be aware of who they are, what they are capable of, and how many of them are going out to war. So God / YHWH calls them to do something simple. Number yourselves. Figure out how many there are who can fight and go to war. So every male 20 years old and older has to register by their families and tribes. They must make themselves known and be prepared for war.
So the leader of each tribe goes about getting their people registered. In the end, all the males 20 years old and up of the sons of Israel amounts to 603,550 men. Not counting women and children under the age of 20, and not even counting one of the tribes. The Levites have been set aside to serve the LORD / YHWH. As such, approximately 1/12th of the people aren’t even considered for the census That is a lot of people!
What’s amazing to me is that just over 500 years before this census occurred, God made a promise to 1 elderly man and his elderly, barren wife;
“Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father’s house, To the land which I will show you; And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing; And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” (Genesis 12:1-3)
“I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth, so that if anyone can number the dust of the earth, then your descendants can also be numbered.” (Genesis 13:16)
So from 2 elderly and barren people and a promise from YHWH, around 500 years later is this huge, massive nation divided into 12 tribes with an army of over 600,000 men aged 20 and older with 1/12 of them not even involved in that number. Now that’s what I call fulfilling a promise!
What kind of promises has God / YHWH made in your life? Are they promises you are working to fulfill, or are you trusting completely in Him to do all the work and fulfill them for you? Think about it…
I am so glad that I do not have to do God’s work for Him. I am so glad that all He requires of me is obedience. I don’t think that i could handle the stress of the work that God does… that certainly is a silly statement isn’t it. The point is, God was the one who did the work of hardening and softening Pharaoh’s heart. God is the one who did the miracles in Pharaoh’s presence. God is the one who fulfilled His promises to the people of Israel. It wasn’t Moses, it had to be God, Himself.
There have been times in my life where God has told me what He was going to do in my life, and then i have attempted to make it happen on my own. One guess as to the result… yup! I failed miserably! Months later, God did it. You would think that after that i would learn my lesson. Nope, i continue trying to do YHWH’s work for Him.
One thing i did want to make sure that i touch on is vs. 2-3 “God spoke further to Moses and said to him, “I am the LORD; and I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name, LORD, I did not make Myself known to them.” The word LORD is the Hebrew word יהוה which is JHWH / YHWH / JHVH / YHVH. This includes only consonants. Traditionally, with vowels this word has been pronounced as Jehovah. However, as time has gone by, there has been mounting evidence that there is a mix of words here. It is believed that while the consonants are natural to the word, the vowels are not. The vowels come from Adonai (אֲדֹנָי) meaning “my lord” making יהוה (YHVH) into יְהֹוָה (Yehovah). The concept here is that in the 10 commandments YHWH says not to use His name in vain. As such the priests who would read the law to the people would protect them from using His name in vain by not even saying the revered name of God out loud to them. So whenever they came to the word YHWH, the priests would say Adonai instead. As a result, over the millennia the true vowels to the name YHWH were lost.
Some would say that that is not the case, that those vowels are actually the correct vowels for the name, but even with a very limited understanding of the history and tendencies of the Israelite people and the legalism of the Pharisees of Jesus time, i’m much more inclined to go with the vast majority of scholars and say YHWH.
Either way, i find it interesting that YHWH first tells His true name not to Abraham, Isaac, & Israel, but rather to Moses and His people in Egypt.
Well, Genesis is almost done. It is the beginning’s end. I really liked copying this chapter down. It was easy to process and write as there is a solid thought on each line (or in the least a solid chunk of a solid thought). It makes the process, oh, so much easier!
Israel has some final words to say to each of his sons. It is here that Jacob makes changes to the natural order of his progeny. Reuben was the firstborn, but here he officially loses that honor and privilege due to his hasty actions of sleeping with his father’s concubine. Yeah, now that was smart, Reuben </sarcasm>! Simeon and Levi are next in line, but they both lose that honor due to their rash decision to annihilate the Hivites (chapter 34) whose prince raped their sister Dinah. In fact, Simeon ended up receiving no natural inheritance at all when the Israelites reentered the land of Canaan.
So that left Judah to become heir apparent. He received the lion’s share of the blessing and inheritance (and gave some to Simeon because it was too much for them). Judah also received the blessing of having the Messiah, the Christ, come through his line.
It’s interesting to note that this is probably the last time that Joseph specifically gets named in the listing of the sons/tribes of Israel. From now on, Joseph’s place is taken by the half-tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh (Joseph’s two sons that Israel claimed as his own in chapter 48).
After charging his sons (i like the way this brings the word “charging” into a clearer understanding than the way we recognize it today) to bury him with his fathers in the cave at the end of the field bought from Ephron, Jacob finally breathes his last.
What do we do to ruin our inheritance? Are we like Reuben, Simeon, and Levi allowing our rash, unthinking, and angry natures to destroy our blessings? Is that even possible? Think on these things.
Also of note, there are some interesting names of God that appear in this text: Abir Yacob (Mighty One of Jacob), Ra-ah (Shepherd), Eben Yisrael (Stone of Israel), Shaddai (Almighty), and of course El (God).
Well, that’s three pens i have gone through now. I ended up switching from fountain style to ball point style, and i definitely don’t like the difference in quality of the ink. The fountain style is definitely scratchier on the paper while the ball point writes smoother, but the ink and quality of writing i get with the fountain style definitely makes it a better quality pen overall.
If faith in action is the theme of Abram/Abraham’s life, and blessing the theme of Isaac’s, then wrestling / struggle appears to be a major theme of Jacob’s life. In chapter 30 we see Jacob’s wives, Leah and Rachael, struggling together to bear sons for Jacob. They go so far as to follow in his grandparents footsteps and bring their maids into service to bear children for them. Jacob gets angry at Rachael for her blaming him for her being barren, and finally God opens her womb and she is able to bear.
Meanwhile, Jacob is struggling with his uncle Laban who is expecting Jacob to work for him for basically nothing. Since Jacob’s arrival, Laban has been blessed more and more. He appears to be becoming wealthy at Jacob’s expense. Meanwhile, Laban appears to continue to have an attitude that Leah, Rachael, and their children still belong to him. With that kind of attitude it’s no wonder that Laban had struggled with being blessed before Jacob’s arrival.
By the end of the chapter progress has been made. Leah has borne six sons and one daughter, and her maid has borne to Jacob two sons. Meanwhile Rachael’s maid has borne Jacob two sons for her, and God has finally blessed her by opening her womb and she has borne Joseph. All have overcome.
Meanwhile, Jacob is finally getting paid for his services to Laban. He gets the spotted, speckled, and striped sheep and goats, and God is blessing him. He is overcoming his Uncle Laban’s greedy behaviors.
Do we feel like we are constantly struggling with no success? I know that i feel that way at times. So often it seems like i am working so hard, and the success is so limited. I know that God is taking care of me and blessing me, but it is easy to focus on the struggle and lose sight of the times and ways God has helped me to overcome. We will have trials, troubles, and tribulations in life. They can be walls that block our way, or just bumps in the road. God gives us the strength to succeed and overcome. What do you have to thank God for today?
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?
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?
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?
Proof that i do make mistakes.
Take 2: The second time’s a charm (or more of a charm) in this case. I actually pulled out the page that my first version of Chapter 22 was on and just redid the entire page. Here’s a picture of the first version.
A very long time ago i stopped believing in coincidences. I kept seeing God’s hand at work in what seemed to be insignificant and random situations. I began to understand and see God’s work and has His hands even in the little things. Sometimes i would start to see the connections right away, other times it would be a while before it started to become clear. Other times i never saw any connection at all. As a result, i try to make it a point to keep an eye out for those kinds of situations.
So i have been trying to find the connection between the event (my messing up that chapter), the missing verses (7-8), and the content of the chapter. So far i haven’t made any connections. I find it interesting that the two verses that are missing are the dialogue between Abraham and Isaac about where the sacrifice is, and that Abraham tells him that God will provide (has provided?) it. It almost seems like the missing page is like the missing sacrifice… only they don’t really connect beyond that statement. I know, i’m pulling at straws here… but then sometimes when you pull at straws, you end up finding a horse that you would not have found if you had just let the straw go.
In this chapter, Abraham takes a risk. It’s not really a risk… at least not the kind he thinks, but it sure must seem that to him. On the one hand, he loves his son very much. This is the son that he has been wanting and waiting for for possibly over a hundred years. This is his promised son. Yet God, the LORD, YHWH turns around and tells him that he must give up / sacrifice his son. This is the same God who had promised and provided him with this son. This is the LORD that gave him this joy in his old age. This is the same YHWH who now asks him to do the impossible. So what does he do? He obeys.
What seems to Abraham to be a loss is, because of his obedience, an amazing blessing in disguise. God sees / helps Abraham to see that he loves and worships nothing more than YHWH. As a result, what could have been lost, became a symbol of love. So what does that mean for us? Do we have something that we are risking putting between us and God? Is there something that we make more important to us (lord over us) than the LORD Himself? That could be a relationship, a job, a self-centered attitude, a grudge / unforgiveness, a theology (belief about God), or something else entirely. God may be asking you or i to give that thing up on the alter to Him. Are you, am i willing to do what God calls us to? What could happen if we do? What will happen if we don’t?
What is it about promises? We make them. We take them. We keep them. We break them. How much do they really mean? What are they really worth?
For instance, God made a promise towards Abraham and Sarah that they would have a son. He fulfilled it, and at the time that He said that He would as well. Sarah finally received the fulfillment of God’s promise with the birth of Isaac. Hagar also had received, and receives again a promise that Ishmael would become a great nation. In this chapter God provides for her and Ishmael, taking a step towards the fulfillment of His promise towards them.
At the same time, other promises are, and are not made. Abimelech, seeing that God blesses everything that Abraham does comes to Abraham seeking a promise. He reminds Abraham of his kindness to him in regards to the incident with Sarah. Abimelech had been righteous in his actions and dealings, so God had prevented him from sinning by sleeping with Sarah and he acted righteously towards Abraham. So, knowing that God blesses all that Abraham does, he comes to Abraham seeking a promise that Abraham and his descendants will never deal falsely with Abimelech and his descendants. Together, Abraham and Abimelech make a covenant with each other that neither would deal falsely with the other. So the promise is made. At the end of the chapter, we see just who Abimelech is. He is a Philistine king.
We know, especially from Judges and Kings, that this promise is not kept. The Philistines are the primary antagonists to the Israelites in Judges and Kings. They attempt to make the Israelite people their slaves. They even steal the Arc of the Covenant. Their promise has no lasting value.
What’s more, is the promise that they didn’t make. They made a promise with Abraham, whom God was blessing, but they never pursued a promise with the God of Abraham. They were more focused on the things of the world that they ignored the very source of Abraham’s blessings. They never pursued the true God. That was a promise lost.
In looking at the promises and fulfillments; I suppose that the value of a promise is very much dependent upon who is making what promise, to whom, and why? What promises have we made, and to whom? Are we fulfilling our promises?
This is one of those chapters that sometimes i just don’t get. So God has been blessing Abraham everywhere he goes. God has watched over him, taken care of him, prospered him, protected him, etc., etc., etc., but Abraham still see the need to fear people’s response to him and the beauty of his wife (who is by the way, more than 100 years old at this point). He allows them to take his wife away… why? Because he doesn’t think that God can/will protect him? I mean come on Abraham!
I have to be careful about what i say and how i criticize Abraham in this situation. God treated him as if he had done the right thing, or at least as if he had not done the wrong thing. Just because i don’t understand it, doesn’t make it not true.
What i can say though, is that King Abimelech appears to be the righteous one. He takes Sarah, who he believes is unmarried, treats her well, doesn’t touch her, listens to God, returns her to Abraham, and gives Abraham gifts for himself and sacrifices to cover all sins. Because of Abimelech’s righteousness God protects and speaks to him. If he had not been righteous to start with, he would not have heard from God, and he would have been destroyed, he and his family.
Do we reside in the righteousness of God? In a situation like this would we have heard God calling out to us?