“When Jesus had finished giving instructions to His twelve disciples, He departed from there to teach and preach in their cities.” When i read this, I take it as Jesus instructing and sending out the disciples and while they are sent out to do the work of ministry, He is going to their home cities to teach and preach. It seems almost like a mentality of, “You go take care of these places and meanwhile I have your back. I am going to make sure your families and friends are taken care of. ” It’s like His reaction to their stepping out is to take care of those they care about.
Meanwhile, John the Baptist, the one who recognized Jesus conception from the womb and leapt in his mother’s womb at His presence, the one who prepared the way for Jesus, the one who told Jesus that he couldn’t baptize Him because he was not even worthy to untie His sandals, the one who heard the voice of God (YHWH) speaking and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Jesus, the one who said, “He must increase, and I must decrease”, that John; He has set for too long and has come to the point of wondering and doubting that which He had previously known beyond a shadow of a doubt. So he sends his disciples, the ones that are left, to Jesus to ask if He is the one. Jesus reaction is not one of disgust that John is even asking such a thing and reacting in such a way, but His reaction is to tell them to observe and report. That that is the answer for John’s doubt. There is no criticism of John, only comfort.
Meanwhile, Jesus begins to respond to the reaction of the cities He has already been to. He had preached, and taught, and healed, and done miracles, and called them to repentance, yet they had not. They had continued doing what they knew was wrong and treating Jesus teaching like a passing fad. So Jesus pronounces “Woe” on them. They rejected the message, so that reaction is going to affect their standing on the judgment day.
Finally, Jesus calls for a reaction from the people. The conclusion to the chapter is, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
So what is your and my reaction to His message?
John J. Camiolo Jr.
Everything has finally settled down. The masses have found a semblance of peace and are ready to handle themselves while Moses goes up the mountain again. God calls Moses, and he responds. He returns to Mount Sinai for 40 days and 40 nights again where he brings two new stone tablets for the LORD to write on.
This is the same type of incident as before, but things have changed. There are definitely some key and significant differences. One of the beautiful things that happens here is that Moses relationship and connection with YHWH appear to have made some definite improvements. He is there for the same role and the same purpose as he was before, but Moses seems to have more responsibility as well as more depth in relationship with YHWH. The connection is much more direct and face to face. So much so that when Moses comes down this time, his face is shining so brightly that the people can’t even look at him. Their response is to fear him, and it is only after covering his face with a veil that he is able to come before the people. This covering of God’s glory, outpouring through Moses, continues each time he meets with YHWH. The veil becomes a constant reminder of Moses connection and response to God.
During this time on the mountain, YHWH decides to make note of the people’s tendency towards idolatry, He makes it clear to them that they are to destroy ALL evidence of the nations that exist in the land of Canaan, and to tear down anything that represents their false gods. This is more than just a command. This is a mandate. This is the direction that the people must take, even though God already knows that they are not going to. It is a notice that must be made and a direction that must be followed.
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.
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?