Friday, August 6, 2010

Day 12: Genesis Chapters 33, 34, 35

Jacob Sees Esau Coming to Meet Him, c. 1896-19...Image via Wikipedia

As I am writing these entries, I see just how much of ordinary family strife and discord is reflected here.  Ordinary families don’t always have ordinary conflicts.  In my family, the order in which cars are lined up in the driveway can initiate a major blow-up because someone will be inconvenienced. 
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the patriarchs of Israel, talked to God and knew his plan, and yet, their family dynamics were awful.  An undercurrent of fear ran through the lives of these men.  Accompanying the fear, each of these men made decisions to deal with frightening circumstances by relying solely on themselves.  Unfortunately, the consequences of these decisions impacted their families for generations.   

In an overview,  Genesis  was about God and man; God reaching out to man; God planning for man's eternity; God relating to man; man's rejection of God and of God's provision; man's desire to be a god in his own right.  In Genesis Chapter 32, all of these parameters are captured as the man, Jacob, wrestles with God. I know, this section is not supposed to be about Genesis 32, I felt led to write more about this chapter. So much hinges on how Jacob's relationship with God is defined and established here.

Before even being born, God designated Jacob as the one to whom God would entrust the covenant promises.  And yet, Isaac, the promised son of Abraham, loved Jacob’s twin, Esau, more than he did Jacob.  When it came time to bestow the blessing, he wanted to give it to Esau, even though Esau had already sold his birthright and had married Canaanite women, thus showing that he didn’t really care for God’s covenant with Abraham.
Instead of praying, Rebekah sought to “help” God by deceitfully procuring the blessing for Jacob.  But this introduced a web of discord that rippled straight through the history of Israel.  As was required of him, Jacob willingly found the love of his life in Laban’s daughter, Rachel.  However, because of his circumstances, he was forced to acquire three other women whom he did not love.  As the family grew, the sons of the unloved wives knew that they were not as dear to their father as were Rachel’s children.  In this family, strife, jealousy, anger, rage, vindictiveness, deception, superstition, etc. began to flourish.

In vying for Jacob’s heart, his sons and their mothers were pitched against each other.  While they lived in Laban’s compound, God was not clearly manifested to them.  I think that when God spoke to Jacob, to tell him to go home to his father’s house, God was also reminding Jacob of his place in God’s plan.  Before Jacob and his family fled from his Uncle Laban, Jacob knew that God would protect him, but he still felt the need to leave without hurriedly, without a celebration or good byes.  Jacob was still afraid of Laban and he still didn’t fully trust God to protect him.
When Laban learned that Jacob had fled, he and his men went in hot pursuit of him.  When he met up with Jacob, he did tell him that God had warned him to leave Jacob alone.  So, they set up a memorial boundary between their lands.
But, as we read on in Genesis 32, Jacob was not much reassured by Laban’s communication about God’s protection for him and his family.  Jacob was terrified of his brother Esau, who twenty years earlier had sought to kill him.  He divided his family up into group so that not everyone would be slaughtered at once.  Then, Jacob prayed to the God of his father Abraham and to the God of his father Isaac.  After asking God for deliverance, Jacob took the situation back into his own hands; he acted in his own wisdom.  He sent lavish gifts of livestock to Esau in the hopes of appeasing his brother’s wrath.
After sending his gifts, his flocks, his family ahead of him, he remained alone on the other side of the Jabbok River.  He was alone, in the darkest night of his soul, when a supernatural being, who looked like a man, wrestled with him all night.  As the day began to break, this man touched the socket of Jacob’s thigh, and crippled him.  This being could have conquered Jacob within seconds of meeting him, yet he allowed Jacob to struggle.  I feel that Jacob was allowed to really understand the extent to which he was vulnerable; to completely comprehend that his resources and strength are limited; that God did not want to function as Jacob’s assistant.  Rather, God wanted Jacob to understand that God is God Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth.
Jacob, whose name meant deceiver, was at that moment changed to Israel, which is derived from the Hebrew word, “to fight” and can be understood to mean, “ God fights for “, in this case,  for Jacob and his descendants.
Even though Jacob could not equally love and protect his family, with the name change, God stepped in and told them all that he was now their sovereign protector and defender.

Enhanced by Zemanta

No comments:

Post a Comment

HostGator promo codes