Genesis 35 final–Life marches on

Rachel gave Israel the man another son–Benjamin. She also gave Israel another tribe. In the process, she gave her life. A great loss to Israel. But, with now 12 sons the family was complete.  They were home and life as a nation was to continue. One thing Israel could count on was that things would remain challenging. Interfamily strife, death and struggle is inevitable even among God’s chosen. 

So it is in our lives. We no matter how centered in God’s plan are destined to meet life head on. And in it, we will face trials of every kind. The trick is to stay the course and not lose hope or faith. That is what sets us apart from those that are Godless. God will never leave or forsake us. That is the gift he promises. Take it and believe. 

God bless you. 

Leaving Bethel, Jacob and his clan moved on toward Ephrath. But Rachel went into labor while they were still some distance away. Her labor pains were intense.

After a very hard delivery, the midwife finally exclaimed, “Don’t be afraid—you have another son!”

Rachel was about to die, but with her last breath she named the baby Ben-oni which means “son of my sorrow”. The baby’s father, however, called him Benjamin which means “son of my right hand”.

So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath that is, Bethlehem.

Trust and Obey–Genesis 35 part 2

 Sometimes we forget the importance of reinforcing our message.  Fortunately, God does not.  Jacob returned to Bethel, as God instructed.  When he reset and cleaned up his life and the life of the tribe, God protected and blessed them.  Once they arrived, God pulled Jacob aside and reinforced the message–You are my chosen one “Israel”.  The commitment I made to Abraham, and your dad Isaac, I now also make to you–Your Land, Your nation. Trust and follow me and you will change the world.  So that was sealed with a new pillar and a new commitment. A personal commitment.

God does the same for us, his chosen.  with the gift of the Holy Spirit, he personally marks us as the new chosen.  The spirit guides, comforts, directs and teaches us.  But, it also personally seals us as part of the family of God.  We simply need to trust him.  His covenant is unbreakable, so also should our trust in him be.  “Trust and obey, for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey!” Hymn lyrics acknowledged!!!

God Bless You

After Jacob returned from Paddan Aram,[c] God appeared to him again and blessed him. 10 God said to him, “Your name is Jacob,[d] but you will no longer be called Jacob; your name will be Israel.[e]” So he named him Israel.

11 And God said to him, “I am God Almighty[f]; be fruitful and increase in number. A nation and a community of nations will come from you, and kings will be among your descendants. 12 The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I also give to you, and I will give this land to your descendants after you.” 13 Then God went up from him at the place where he had talked with him.

14 Jacob set up a stone pillar at the place where God had talked with him, and he poured out a drink offering on it; he also poured oil on it. 15 Jacob called the place where God had talked with him Bethel.[g]

Reset –Genesis 35 

Idols, murder and maybe had overtaken Israel and his tribe. So God said it was time for a reset. He sent them back to Bethel. Back where it all began. 

For their part, the Israel family repented, cleaned up and took everything that stood between them and God and buried it. In exchange God safely delivered them to their home. They were not bothered by any of the folks that would destroy them simply because God interceded. 

As we travel with God on our journey, we often allow things in the world to come between us and the lord. When we do it can become equally chaotic. But, if like Israel, we reset and put away the things that stand between us, we can reset and regain the peace and protection his freedom affords. God wants us to enjoy an untangled life–but it has to be our choice. So reset and return to your first love. 

Then God said to Jacob, “Get ready and move to Bethel and settle there. Build an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother, Esau.”

So Jacob told everyone in his household, “Get rid of all your pagan idols, purify yourselves, and put on clean clothing.

We are now going to Bethel, where I will build an altar to the God who answered my prayers when I was in distress. He has been with me wherever I have gone.”

So they gave Jacob all their pagan idols and earrings, and he buried them under the great tree near Shechem.

As they set out, a terror from God spread over the people in all the towns of that area, so no one attacked Jacob’s family.

Dinah–WHAT!! Genesis 34

This Story is unbelievable–yet in a godless world, it makes sense.  Dinah goes out to meet the neighbors–she is raped.  Her rapist and his family, after the attack, think…She’s awesome, I want to marry her! They then go to Israel and seek his permission to bring son and daughter together in marriage.  In fact, to simply become one big happy family.  Everybody wins, right…But wait she was raped!!!!!

When a culture is godless, the value of life and others is minimalized and self interest is made King.  Hamor and Sheckem  saw the attack as an opportunity to merge the peoples–Jacob and his family saw this as the way these men were going to treat him and his family.  As such, The boys wiped Hamor, Sheckum and the tribe out. That is why God was clear–Israel was to remain separate from the Canaanites.

We may not be able to choose where we live, but we can choose how and with whom we live.  We have to live with Christ as our lead and his standards as ours.  Selfless not selfish.  We value life and others–we don’t simply use them.  Further, we cannot look at others that abuse and exploit the lives of others and think, Öh well, that is just how they are. We shall never approve of those that self absorbed and abusive.  Be Holy as God is Holy!

God Bless You

When Jacob heard that his daughter Dinah had been defiled, his sons were in the fields with his livestock; so he did nothing about it until they came home.

Then Shechem’s father Hamor went out to talk with Jacob. Meanwhile, Jacob’s sons had come in from the fields as soon as they heard what had happened. They were shocked and furious, because Shechem had done an outrageous thing in[a] Israel by sleeping with Jacob’s daughter—a thing that should not be done.

But Hamor said to them, “My son Shechem has his heart set on your daughter. Please give her to him as his wife. Intermarry with us; give us your daughters and take our daughters for yourselves. 10 You can settle among us; the land is open to you. Live in it, trade[b] in it, and acquire property in it.”

11 Then Shechem said to Dinah’s father and brothers, “Let me find favor in your eyes, and I will give you whatever you ask. 12 Make the price for the bride and the gift I am to bring as great as you like, and I’ll pay whatever you ask me. Only give me the young woman as my wife.”

There Is No Place Like Home! Genesis 33-Final

Two decades of turmoil, a complete change in character, 4 wives, 12 kids and one peaceful brother later–Israel is home.  Not simply Israel the man, but also Israel the people.  They returned to the land God picked for them and set up house. None of his family had ever set foot on this Land that would be theirs.  Yet, God declared and it was home.  The faith of Abraham started a legacy that would last over 4000 years. We have to respect God for his word, his plan and his devotion to those whom he has chosen.

Now, in 2015, we, as his adopted children, are also his chosen, and like Israel, we have God’s seal on our lives.  We also will face decades of turmoil.  We will also watch as our Lord transforms us into his image–we will never be the same.  We will live among our enemies and be with them, but not like them.  God calls us to live like ambassadors in a strange land. We refuse to get so attached to this land that we regret or refuse leaving it.  Like Israel, we possess our treasures–we do not allow them to possess us. It is our goal to pitch our tents and live as though what we have is all because of God’s covenant to us.  We live with grateful hearts and humble spirits–like Israel.

God Bless You

But why do that?” Jacob asked. “Just let me find favor in the eyes of my lord.”

16 So that day Esau started on his way back to Seir. 17 Jacob, however, went to Sukkoth, where he built a place for himself and made shelters for his livestock. That is why the place is called Sukkoth.[a]

18 After Jacob came from Paddan Aram,[b] he arrived safely at the city of Shechem in Canaan and camped within sight of the city. 19 For a hundred pieces of silver,[c] he bought from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem, the plot of ground where he pitched his tent. 20 There he set up an altar and called it El Elohe Israel.[d]

Oh Brother–Genesis 33 Part 1

It was inevitable.  Israel returned home to meet his brother.  All he had was God’s promise, to protect him.  When he arrived he expected the worst—but, it did not happen. Rather than revenge, Esau simply wanted to hug his brother’s neck.  The reunion was sweet and the reception was kind. Jacob was protected by God. Esau had plenty and didn’t want anything from his brother.  Still, Esau saw a different man than the brother that left.  He was trying to give his brother treasures, he was protecting his family and not himself.  The selfish and deceitful Jacob was now a humble and faithful father, husband and brother. 

When we are made new in Christ it is obvious to all.  Our new nature is a treasure that is welcomed by many.  We can leave our past behind and become the people we were called to be.  We may face some opposition because of our faith, but we will face little because of our character.  Israel’s brother saw the difference and accepted him for who he was.  God’s people can be a light to the world.  When we stand out and can truly bring peace in the chaotic world we live in.  We need to humbly present ourselves to others and allow God to handle the rest—walking daily and following closely.

God Bless You

Jacob looked up and there was Esau, coming with his four hundred men; so he divided the children among Leah, Rachel and the two female servants. He put the female servants and their children in front, Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph in the rear. He himself went on ahead and bowed down to the ground seven times as he approached his brother.

But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept. Then Esau looked up and saw the women and children. “Who are these with you?” he asked. Jacob answered, “They are the children God has graciously given your servant.”

Then the female servants and their children approached and bowed down. Next, Leah and her children came and bowed down. Last of all came Joseph and Rachel, and they too bowed down. Esau asked, “What’s the meaning of all these flocks and herds I met?”

“To find favor in your eyes, my lord,” he said. But Esau said, “I already have plenty, my brother. Keep what you have for yourself.”

10 “No, please!” said Jacob. “If I have found favor in your eyes, accept this gift from me. For to see your face is like seeing the face of God, now that you have received me favorably. 11 Please accept the present that was brought to you, for God has been gracious to me and I have all I need.” And because Jacob insisted, Esau accepted it

The Name Change–Genesis 32 Part 2

This is the turning point in the history of God’s people—God changed Jacob’s name. Why is that a big deal…Well God was not simply changing Jacob’s name, He was changing Israel’s identity. When Jacob left his parents home he was “The Deceiver”. He always had an angle and always served his self interest. Now as he returned, he was no longer that guy. He was now the guy whose tenacity and faith helped him build a family and the beginnings of a nation. He was God’s chosen patriarch for God’s chosen people. We are not hearing from the Prime Minister of “Jacob”, Isaac or Abraham—no we are hearing from the Prime minister of Israel.

We who know Christ as our savior have the same experience. We meet him as lost one, heathen or wretched sinner—but by trusting him–we become “redeemed one”, saved and chosen. We move from lost to family. 2 Corinthians 5:17 sums it up nicely, “If anyone is in Christ, they are new creations. The old is gone and behold all things are new.” Like Jacob, we are changed to be God’s chosen and we experience all the rights and benefits that being family enjoys. That is why we call each other brothers and sisters! Praise his name!!!

God Bless You

This left Jacob all alone in the camp, and a man came and wrestled with him until the dawn began to break.

When the man saw that he would not win the match, he touched Jacob’s hip and wrenched it out of its socket.

Then the man said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking!”But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

“What is your name?” the man asked.He replied, “Jacob.”

“Your name will no longer be Jacob,” the man told him. “From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won.”

“Please tell me your name,” Jacob said.“Why do you want to know my name?” the man replied. Then he blessed Jacob there.