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?
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.
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.
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.
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?