Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Reflections: What Just Happened? Jacob and Esau Part Five Genesis 33

Reflections: What Just Happened? Jacob and Esau Part Five Genesis 33

According to wikipedia a plot twist is “ a change in the expected direction or outcome of the plot f a novel, film, television series, comic, video game or other work of narative.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plot_twist)  The director M. Night Shyamalan has pretty much based his career on using plot twists.  We expect his movies to have a twist at the end but we don’t expect this in the Bible.

The story of Jacob and Esau ends with a plot twist.  When Jacob flees his home it is because his brother Esau wants to kill him!  Over the next 30 years we have the story of Jacob in Padam-Aram but we do not have the story of Esau.  We expect Esau to want revenge and try to kill Jacob.

This is not what happens.  When Esau meets Jacob he gives him a big bear hug!  Esau doesn’t want Jacob’s gifts.  Esau wants to help protect Jacob in his travels.  This is a plot twist.  The mystery is even deeper because we don’t know why Esau has changed so much.

It would seem that in the last 30 years instead of allowing the hurt Jacob caused him fester.  Esau has learned to forgive.  Esau let go of the pain caused by Jacob.  Esau let go the feelings of betrayal caused by Jacob.  Esau let go of his hatred of Jacob.  Esau learned to forgive.  This must have been a hard lesson to learn but Esau learned it.

When we first met Jacob and Esau they were not the kind of people we would hold up as examples of how to live as one of the LORD’s people.  Now at the end of their story they have become the kind of people we would point to as examples to follow as we try to live as the LORD’s people.  How are you living?  Are you the young Jacob and Esau or are you like the older mature Jacob and Esau?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Reflections: Blessings Jacob and Esau Part Four Genesis 31.2

Reflections: Blessings Jacob and Esau Part Four
Genesis 31.22 - 32.32

“Let me go, for it is daybreak” said the man.
“I will not let you go unless you bless me.” Replied Jacob.
The man asked “What is your name?”
“You name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with man and have over come.” (Genesis 32.26 & .27)

Jacob’s story is our story.  In fact I would say that most of the stories in the Bible are our stories as well.  We find the struggles, triumphs, set back and successes of the men and women we read about in our own lives.  The truth of these stories is not that they just happened once but that they continue to happen.

Jacob has for years been trying to make his way in the world far from home.  He starts life deceiving his brother and father.  The middle of his life is spent working for his uncle who keeps taking advantage of him.  The relationships he has with his wives and children are dysfunctional.  Jacob is responsible for most of the mess he is in because of some sinful and selfish choices he has made.

The one hope we find is that the LORD is with him.  Jacob isn’t always with the LORD but the LORD is always with Jacob.

At the end of his story Jacob flees his uncle and heads back home.  He knows he must face his brother, Esau, whom he stole a great deal from.  Unknown to Jacob he has to meet the LORD first.  After a night of wrestling with the LORD, the LORD wants to go but Jacob won’t let Him.  Instead Jacob wants a blessing first.  What blessing does the LORD give Jacob?  Confession and Change

The first blessing is Confession.  The LORD asks for his name.  The answer is “Deceiver.”  He has lived up to the meaning of his name.

The second blessing is change.  The LORD changes his name from Jacob/Deceiver to Israel/God Wrestler.  Israel is no longer the deceiver, he is now someone new.

Just like Jacob we can not receive the blessing of change from the LORD without first admitting who we are and confessing it.  Only then can we be changed into what we are supposed to be, Israel.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Reflections: Where is the LORD in This? - Jacob and Esau Part Three

Reflections: Where is the LORD in This?
Jacob and Esau Part Three
Genesis 29.1 - 31.21

“I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land.  I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised” - The LORD (Genesis 28.15)

“If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking ... then the LORD will be my God.” - Jacob (Genesis 28.20 - .22)

On a quick reading of Jacob’s story from this point until he returns home, it is hard to see that the LORD is watching over Jacob.  For instance, Jacob arrives in Paddam Aram meets Rachel and falls in love with her.  He makes a deal with Laban to marry her after 7 years of work and Laban agrees.  When the time comes for the wedding Jacob ends up marrying Leah instead.  So, after a little confrontation, Jacob has to work another 7 years in order to marry Rachel.  How was the LORD looking over Jacob here?

Then Lea and Rachel have what can best be described as a baby making contest between each other.  This contest cause the family to become a toxic place.  The family conflict started here will ripple throughout the rest of the Book of Genesis.  Where is the LORD in this?

Jacob’s time in Paddam Aram is not a happy time.  He has been tricked by his uncle Laban.  His family is ripping itself apart.  But the LORD is with Jacob.  Towards the end of this part of his journey Jacob asks Laban for permission to leave.  Laban essentially won’t let him go but the LORD comes to Jacob’s aid.  The LORD tells Jacob what to do in order to have a large flock of sheep and goats.  The LORD also warns Jacob that it is time to go.

It is not always to see where the LORD is in a bad situation.  We may think He is not watching over us, but the LORD is always there with us.  We are His people.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Reflections: The Potter at His Work - Jacob and Esau Part Two

Reflections: The Potter at His Work
Jacob and Esau Part Two
Genesis 28.10 - .22

“If God will be with me, an will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the LORD shall be my God, and this stone which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house; and of all that you give me I will surely give a tenth to you.” - Jacob (Genesis 28.20 - .22)

After stealing the blessing from Esau, Jacob flees to his mothers homeland.  One night on the road Jacob is in need of a place to stay.  So he grabs a rock and curls up for the night.  Unknown to Jacob the place is not safe!  Something wild and wonderful is about to appear and change Jacob forever - The LORD.

In a dream the LORD appears to Jacob.  In this dream the LORD makes a covenant with Jacob.  It is the same covenant the LORD made with his father and grandfather but now it is with him.  In this covenant the LORD promises to give Jacob the land he is sleeping on and descendant to fill this land.  Then the LORD tells Jacob he and his descendants will be a blessing to all the families of the earth.  Finally the LORD makes two last promises to be with Jacob where ever he goes and the Jacob will return home.

Jacob is stunned to discover that the LORD was in that place and that the LORD would make such promises to him.  Jacob makes a vow that if the LORD lives up to this promise Jacob will make the LORD his God.  As we saw last week Jacob’s life is messed up.  He has tricked and stolen from his family but the LORD is working on him and through him to bring about something wonderful.

Friday, May 03, 2013

Reflections: The Potter Starts His Work - Jacob and Esau Part One

Reflections: The Potter Starts His Work
Jacob and Esau Part One
Genesis 25.19 - .35 & 27.1 - 28.9

Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was barren.  The LORD answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant.  The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, “Why is this happening to me?”  So she went to inquire the LORD.  The LORD said to her,
Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated
one people will be stronger than the other and the older will serve the younger. (Genesis 25.21 - .23)

Imagine you are a young Israelite who is hearing the story of your people and your God for the first time.  You are making your way through Genesis.  You know that the LORD has chosen your people.  You know that your ancestors weren’t perfect but they were great men and women who should be imitated.  You are feeling good about yourself and then you hit the story of Jacob and Esau.  This is not the kind of story you expect.  You expect that the story of the LORD and the Patriarchs would be of people getting better.  Instead the children of the promised son can be seen as scoundrels!

They start off rough but the LORD will be working on them all their lives. Esau begins as a red, hairy guy who marries Canaanite women and loves to hunt.  Jacob begins as a quiet single guy who is a liar and a thief.  What is going on?  Neither Jacob nor Esau are the kind of people the LORD wants them to be but the LORD has just started working on them.   We know more about Jacob than we do about Esau but as you will see it is clear that they both grow and mature in unexpected ways.

How rough are you?  Our lives now may be a mess but the LORD is an expert at taking messy lives and cleaning them up!  He has a plan for you!

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Starting Again

I hadn't paid attention to my blog in a long time!  Recently someone read a couple of my posts and asked why I hadn't kept it up to date.  I didn't have a good reason so I decided to start it back up.  The plan is to post about once a week maybe twice.  Again it will be a combination of inspirational/devotional thoughts and randomness I encounter along the way.