It’s Monday and that means it’s time again for a post on what lingers as we read through the Bible “cover to cover” chronologically. There are twenty-three of us so far–it’s not too late to join. Bev at Keep on Believing hosts this rewarding study and touches my heart each Monday with her reflections. (And the comments hold a wealth of His love as well.)
WEEK FOUR Genesis 22-41
So, here’s what lingers this week for me…
Sacrifice. As Abraham showed his willingness to sacrifice the dearest thing to his heart, God met his sacrifice and He sent life abundant, making Abraham the father of our faith. “‘Because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son…I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven;…because thou hast obeyed my voice.” (Gen. 22:16-18) Abraham had to know God would provide one way or another, but he had to act in obedience to sacrifice Isaac as God asked of him. To quote F.B. Meyer, “Think not, O soul of man, that Abraham’s was a unique and solitary experience. It is simply a specimen and pattern of God’s dealings with all souls who are prepared to obey Him at whatever cost. After thou hast patiently endured, thou shalt receive the promise. The moment of supreme sacrifice shall be the moment of supreme and rapturous blessing. God’s river, which is full of water, shall burst its banks, and pour upon thee a tide of wealth and grace. There is nothing, indeed, which God will not do for a man who dares to step out upon what seems to be the mist; though as he puts down his foot he finds a rock beneath him.”
Obedience. Abraham’s servant sought Abraham’s God and obeyed to the letter of the directions he was given. He knew and feared Abraham’s God and sought His favor. My favorite verse here is 24:15 that before he had finished praying, his prayers were heard. Also, after God answered, the servant did not fail to bow low and thank Him.
The Lord provides. I found it so dear that the Lord would provide Isaac a new wife in Rebekah as he mourned his mother Sarah’s death in his loneliness.
We are made new in God. (I Chron. 1:34) “the sons of Isaac were Esau and Israel. Not recorded any longer as Jacob, but Israel. The “deceiver” (Jacob) had become “Israel” (one who prevails with God). God blessed Jacob to become Israel, (36:10) whose name itself is still a promise today. Even in this day, Israel will prevail with God. Once God gives us a new name, we have a whole new identity in Him.
Deception and generational sin. First, I am saddened by Rebekah’s plan to deceive her husband in his old age. Second, Jacob is a mama’s boy. And Esau must have been Daddy’s favorite. Deception, family dynamics, and favoritism cause all kinds of trouble. Abraham saying Sarah is his sister, and Isaac doing the same thing in fear, Jacob deceiving Esau for his birthright, then deceiving his father to receive the firstborn’s blessing, to Laban deceiving Jacob to Jacob deceiving Laban, and Joseph’s brothers deceiving Joseph —more deception. anybody see a family pattern? And I haven’t even mentioned the women. What strikes me here, is our children watch us and learn the bad with the good. They were taught these sins, and their hearts received them as options. We must guard our hearts and remember our example.
The pain of Esau. Oh I hurt for Esau when he heard his father’s words, he burst out with a loud and bitter cry and said to his father, “Bless me—me too, my father!” All he wanted in the world was his father’s blessing. Is there not a little blessing you could give me, too? Our children long so desperately for our blessing, our showing delight in them and giving them our favor. It is so easy to be critical and so difficult to remember how much our children seek our approval. My daughter once told me, “Your words sound twice as loud in my head” and I knew what she meant. My words as mother were more important to her than just anyone’s. My words magnified in her heart. Poor Esau who sought his father’s blessing, and poor Isaac for not realizing he had something to offer Esau, too.
The scorn of an unfulfilled woman. From Sarah (scorned and barren) and Hagaar, to Rebekah (meddling mom, drama queen, greedy daughter) and Leah (the unloved substitute wife and bitter daughter) with Isaac, and with their father, Laban, stealing his idols, to Tamar (the vengeful daughter-in-law) setting up Judah, to Potipher’s wife (wanton, adulterous woman) and Joseph, women can be conniving and deceitful in their hearts, without evident remorse. I am reminded how I can justify poor behavior and be self righteous. As a woman, when I am unfulfilled, how spiteful my first tendency can be. I pray for my first response to be His.
Jacob encounters His redeeming Lord. Jacob is running for his life, is lonely and feels the pain of his deceiving his father and having to run from his family. He dreams the famous Jacob’s ladder dream. Christ is the ladder that bridges heaven and earth, and God is never far from us, busying all the angels on our behalf. Jacob is at Bethel—(“House of God”) Then, at his lowest point, Jacob has just made peace with Laban (sort of) and knows he is about to meet Esau in his homeland again. What a journey for him. He is a desperate man at this point—needs to know more than ever He is blessed by the God of his father, Isaac. He knew he had deceived all his life and he probably is pretty sick of himself and his miserable lot about now, confronted with his past. He needs a blessing, and he won’t let go. At Bethel again, Jacob wrestles with an angel and he knocks his hip out of socket which remains a physical reminder for Jacob of God’s presence and his victory with the Lord. Let us never forget our Bethels where we meet our God.
Forgiveness = Peace. Jacob meets Esau again after many years. I am so struck by Jacob’s fear as he knows how he has hurt his brother, and lines everybody up in front of him so he’ll be the last. His brother comes running to him and kisses him in love and forgiveness and loss for a brother he loved, despite what all happened. They were twins. As a twin myself, I know the inseparable closeness of that relationship. I am sure Esau and Jacob felt part of themselves had been severed all those years, and Esau runs in forgiveness and joy. Sweet reunion. I am reminded to forgive easier, and let go of old pain. Life is just too short.
We fail God, but He never fails us. God did not forget Joseph, though the cupbearer failed him. (40:23) People will let you down—it is human nature, but God’s nature is faithful and always in the right moment will “Lift your head” (40:4) God shows us that even with His promises to these great patriarchs of our faith, they doubted and didn’t trust God enough at times. God is so good to show us in His Word that He still embraces us despite our human flaws. Even when we are not faithful, He is.