Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Running, Wrestling, and Reproducing, this is the story of the evolution of Jacob.
Chapter 28:10-22 So, Jacob is running away from his brother and is on his way to Haran to stay with his Uncle Laban when he has a dream. In his dream, there is a stairway to heaven (insert Led Zeppelin melody here) with angels going up and down the stairs. Then God talks to him and lets him know yet again that he will have plenty of descendants. This time though he adds this really great verse that I love, “What’s more, I will be with you, and I will protect you where ever you go. I will someday bring you safely back to this land. I will be with you constantly until I have finished giving you everything I have promised.” Jacob wakes up acknowledging God and sets his pillow (a stone…ouch) up as a memorial pillar and names the place, Bethel, or “House of God.” And just when you think Jacob is coming around and is finally going to submit to God, he basically says, “Okay God, IF you keep that little promise you just made, about protecting me and bringing me back to this land safely, I guess I will make you my God and I will tithe to you” ….as if he is doing God a favor. Jacob has gone from a bratty, deceptive little kid to a cocky young adult, but don’t give up on him just yet, watching his evolution has been my favorite part of the Bible so far.
Chapter 29 (and part of Chapter 30) is basically a trashy romance novel minus the penis euphemisms (not, that I‘ve ever read a trash romance novel….). It starts out innocent enough as Jacob arrives in Haran and seeks out his Uncle. He is having a conversation with some shepherds about where to find his uncle, when he sees Uncle Laban’s daughter Rachel. I love, love, love this next part. Jacob sees Rachel and recognizes her has his cousin so as it was customary in those days, he goes over to give her a kiss on the cheek. As he kisses her, his eyes fill with tears, and he is instantly head over heels in love with her. After a month of working and living with his uncle, Laban offers to pay Jacob for his work, but Jacob doesn’t want money, he wants Rachel. And so it is agreed upon that Jacob will work for 7 years to “pay” for Rachel. Talk about a love story! I can’t remember the last time I worked 7 years for anything other than a paycheck! But don’t get too wrapped up in the romance, coming up next, Jacob the deceiver has the tables turned on him. Laban tricks Jacob by sending his older daughter Leah into Jacob’s tent after his wedding to Rachel. So once Jacob has blindly slept with Leah, he has no choice but to marry her. He is still in love with Rachel though, and is obviously furious with his father-in-law. Laban tells Jacob that he can have Rachel too, as long as he promises to work for another seven years. Laban gives him Rachel a week later and Jacob actually keeps his promise to Laban by working for another 7 years. Then the text clearly states that Jacob loves Rachel more then Leah….poor Leah. During the next 7 years Jacob turns into a baby making factory. God allows Leah to have kids to compensate for her feeling unloved by Jacob. First she has Reuben, then Simeon, then Levi and then Judah.
Chapter 30 Okay, here’s where the romance novel turns into a trashy romance novel. Rachel starts getting jealous that she is not having any babies, so she yells at Jacob about it, as if it’s his fault. After a huge fight, they decide to solve this problem by prayer…..just kidding! The book of Genesis would not be has interesting if everyone actually turned to prayer for their problems! What really happens, is that they decide to solve Rachel’s infertility dilemma by having Jacob sleep with Rachel’s maid Bilhah. Bilhah pops out two more sons for Jacob, Dan, and Naphtali. So Leah gets jealous and gives Jacob her maid, Zilpah to sleep with since she stopped having babies after the birth of Judah. Zilpah gives birth to two more sons, Gad and Asher. One day the oldest son of Jacob and Leah brought home roots from a mandrake plant for his mother Leah, and Rachel wanted some (it is safe to say that if you are fighting over a root, you have reached new lows of insecurity and jealousy). So Rachel says to Leah, “I’ll let you sleep with Jacob if you give me some mandrake root.” So Leah and Jacob make their 5th son, Issachar, and then a sixth son, Zebulun, and then finally a daughter, Dinah. Then God decides to give Rachel a son from her own womb instead of from her servant Bilhah, and she names him Joseph. Yes, that Joseph, you know the one with the Technicolor dream coat? Remember him. With all the sex Jacob had been having I’m not sure how he managed to get any real work done. But work he did, and his wealth started to increase. He had finished paying his debt to Laban so he asked to take his wives and children back to his homeland. Laban begs him to stay offering him any wages he wants. Jacob strikes a deal with him (I guess he hasn’t learned his lesson) and says that he will stay if Laban agrees to give Jacob all of his livestock that is speckled or spotted, and all of the dark sheep as his wages. As soon as they agreed, Laban removes all the livestock that is supposed to go to Jacob and gives it to his sons, who moved the herd 3 days distance from Haran. The next part is weird. Jacob takes fresh shoots from a bunch of trees, then sets them up by the watering troughs so that the animals would see them when they drank water and mated. This method apparently created offspring that were exclusively streaked and speckled. I’m not sure if this is something God made possible or if this was a farming practice of this time period, but the details don’t matter, all that matters is that it worked. Furthermore, Jacob only used this tree shoot method with the stronger animals so consequently his flock of animals were stronger than his Uncles.
Chapter 31 This causes tension between Jacob, Laban and his brother in laws, so after God speaks to Jacob in a dream, he decides to gather up his children and wives and return to Bethel (the place where Jacob turned his stone pillow into a memorial) without telling Laban. On their way out of town, Rachel decides to steal some of her fathers idols, but she doesn’t tell anyone what she has done. Three days later, Laban realizes that Jacob and family are gone so he gathered some relatives and went after him. Laban and his men catch up with Jacob in seven days. Laban confronts Jacob about leaving so suddenly without giving him a chance to say goodbye to his daughters or grandchildren. Then he brings up the fact that he is missing some idols and accuses Jacob of stealing. Jacob tells him to search everywhere for his stolen items and search he does. He never finds the idols though because Rachel is up on her camel sitting on them and when her father tries to search her camel she basically says, “back off Dad, I’m on my period.” So, like all men who are totally grossed out by women’s menstruation , he backs off. After some arguing, Laban and Jacob make a peace treaty and set up a pile of stones to commemorate the terms of this peace treaty.
Chapter 32 So Jacob and crew are back on the road to Bethel and after they are met by some angels of God, Jacob decides it’s time to mend fences with Esau so he sends some messengers ahead of him to tell Esau, “Humble greeting from your servant Jacob…” the messengers return with the news that Esau is on his way to meet Jacob….with four hundred army men. Jacob is terrified, even though God had already promised him that he would make sure he and his family returned home safely, so he divides his flocks and servants so that if one group is attacked the other groups might have a chance at survival. Jacob turns to prayer (a very novel idea), and reminds God that he was promised a safe journey…as if God forgot. Then, Jacob makes a present for Esau. Since Hallmark doesn’t make a, “I’m sorry I stole your Blessing” card, Jacob sends his messengers back to Esau with livestock gifts, in hopes that Esau will be friendly towards him. So up until this point everything seems normal and logical, so naturally their has to be some sort of crazy supernatural event…..brace yourself it’s good. After sending his children and wives across the Jabbok river, Jacob has a wrestling match with God (more on this phenomenon in the Questions that got answered by….” section). After wrestling all night with God, God finally touches Jacobs hip and dislocates it. Then he asks Jacob his name, when Jacob responds he says, “I am changing your name to Israel because you have struggles with God and Man and have won.” Then Jacob asks for God’s name but doesn’t get a response. Instead Jacob gets blessed, and then he names the place of the wrestling match, “Peniel which means “face of God.”
Chapter 33 Pretty soon, Jacob sees Esau coming with his army. He positions his concubines and their children first, then Leah and her kids behind them and Rachel and Joseph behind Leah (talk about playing favorites!). Esau immediately runs to Jacob and kisses him and they are both in tears at the sight of each other. The rest of chapter 33 is the brothers getting reacquainted and assuring the reader that Esau has completely forgiven his brother. They part on good terms and Jacob went off to settle with his family in Shechem while Esau went back to Seir.
Chapter 34 This next chapter is a very sad story about Jacob’s children and their less than admirable choices. Dinah, Jacob’s only daughter goes to visit some friends in the area when a local prince named Shechem rapes her. Jacob tells his sons about the rape and they are all very upset as you can imagine. Meanwhile Shechem, the rapist, tells his father Hamor that he is in love with Dinah, and he wants to marry her. Both men go to Jacob and sons and ask for their permission to have Dinah as Shechem’s wife. Jacob’s sons say, “Sure, but you, and every male in your city, has to be circumcised.” The King and Prince agree and everyone is circumcised right away. Three days later, two of Jacobs sons, Simeon and Levi, took their swords into the city and slaughter every man there. They rescued Dinah and removed all the women, children, and livestock from the city and the rest of the brothers help burn the entire city down. Jacob is angry at Simeon and Levi for taking revenge, because now everyone in the surrounding cities will most likely come after Jacob and his family to avenge the people of Shechem. But Jacob’s sons argue that they were justified in committing murder because their sister was not to be treated as a prostitute.
Chapter 35 After the mass murder, God tells Jacob he needs to move to Bethel. Jacob tells his family to destroy all their idols (it’s about time!) and to clean up before the move. Jacob takes all of the idols and their earnings and buries them beneath a tree. God protects Jacob and family as they travel to Bethel, and once they get there Jacob builds an altar. Soon after their arrival, Rebekah’s nurse dies. God comes to Jacob in a dream and reminds him that his name is not Jacob, but Israel, and then reiterates the “may descendants,” and “promised land” covenant he made to Abraham. Next is the surprise birth of Benjamin from Rachel, who dies just after an excruciating labor. Then there is a brief paragraph about Ruben (Jacobs oldest son) having sex with his fathers concubine. After a brief reminder of who the 12 sons of Jacob are, and who the babies mamas are, chapter 35 concludes with the death of Jacob’s Dad, Isaac and his burial by both of his sons Esau and Jacob, which makes me feel nostalgic because Isaac and Ishmael burried Abraham together. Brotherly love is very important to God.
Chapter 36 Not much to report here, just the family tree of Esau. It is also mentioned that Esau settled in the land of Seir because him and his brother were so filthy rich that the land of Canaan could not support their multitude of livestock.
Things I loved:
I loved to watch the transformation in Jacob from a mischievous little boy who deceives everyone to a responsible man who wrestles with God and wins.
I love that all of the characters I have read about are average Joes. God does not choose heroes, he creates them.
Laban is a great example of how God uses bad situations to His advantage. All the things Laban did to Jacob were unfair but they served a great purpose. Jacob getting a taste of his own medicine and being deceived and forced to work so hard for what he wanted matured Jacob and turned him into the man that God intended him to be.
Things I Did Not Love:
Jacob having sex with all of those women. I know it was socially accepted during this time period, but as a woman, I was a little offended.
Jacob’s sons committing murder…..was that really necessary guys?
Questions to Ask God When I Get To Heaven:
I want more details on the wrestling match. I feel like there is a multitude of lessons to learn from it and I have only begun to scratch the surface.
Questions That Got Answered By Doing This Bible Study:
I have read about some pretty amazing miracles and supernatural happenings. Did they really happen or are they metaphors/fairy tales/embellishments? Yes, they happened. You can’t believe in some of the miracles like Jesus rising from the dead but not believe in other miracles like Jacob wrestling with God. Each of the miracles in the Bible served a purpose and accomplished something that couldn't be accomplished in any other way. I do not think that we should waste our energy contemplating if or how God accomplished these miracles, that would be missing the point. What our energy needs to be focused on is what we can learn from these events.
In verse 32: 22, who was the “Man” that wrestled with Jacob? I believe it was God in the form of a man. After the wrestling match in verse 30, Jacob says “….I have seen the face of God and my life has been spared.” To further back this theory up, the author (Moses) writes the word “Man” with a capital “M.” Everywhere else in the bible, when referring to God, or Jesus a capital letter is used (He, Him,).
If the “Man” was God, why did it say that he realized he couldn’t win in verse 25? Obviously he could win because in verse 25 be barley touches Jacobs hip and it knocked out of joint. I think the phrase “he could not win,” and “Let me go, it is nearly dawn,” was not God admitting defeat, rather it was God expressing that Jacob was not going to back down from the wrestling match and God needed the wrestling match to be over and done with since Esau and his army were on their way.
Why did the man ask Jacobs name, if the “Man“ was God, didn’t he know Jacobs name? In my opinion, He wasn’t asking, “What is your name?” he was asking, “Who are you?” So when Jacob answered, “Jacob, the deceiver” it became apparent to Jacob and to God that that was not a fitting title for him anymore. The wrestling match was a pivotal point in Jacobs life. Hence, the name change to “Israel.”
What does God want us to learn from the Wrestling match? The wrestling match is by far my most favorite part of the bible thus far. I think there is a lot to learn that I haven even began to understand. But for now what I have learned is this: Before the wrestling match, I don’t believe that Jacob had a relationship with God. Sure, he believed in him, but he only referred to him as, “the God of my father Isaac,” or “The God of my grandfather Abraham.” He never builds an altar to worship God, like Isaac and Abraham did, he builds “memorial pillars.” And yes he talks to God, but he was probably talking to other “Gods” and idols as well. Just before he wrestles with God and his fear about his brother killing has overcome him, he begs God to save him and I believe the wrestling match was the only way that Jacob became “saved.” Once he wrestled with God, he began a relationship with God. Jacob was the grandson of Abraham, but that want enough. God wants us to want him, and in the definition I found to the word “wrestle” was the word “effort.” God demands effort. Yes, God chose Jacob (and Isaac and Abraham for that matter) but Jacob needed to choose God as well. I think another interesting point is that even after Jacob’s hip was knocked out of joint (which I imagine was excruciating!), he still did not let go of God. He simply went from fighting with God to clinging to God, and it was in his clinging that Jacob finally realized how much he needed to be with God. He needed God so desperately that he clung to him even after his hip came out if socket. I also think this is a beautiful metaphor for why God allows us to experience such hardships in our lives. When we are afraid or injured (physically or emotionally) that is when we are the most vulnerable and when God can really communicate with us clearly.
When did Jacob realize he was wrestling with God? I think it was after his hip was knocked out of joint, up until then I assume he thought he was wrestling with a robber or with Esau.
Final thoughts: I am finding that the most far fetched and random stories are the ones that I am learning the most from. As with most things in the bible, the wrestling match between God and Jacob has been speculated to be a metaphor much like the pillar of salt thing. When I am reading the bible and a shocking story or a story that seems like it doesn’t fit (noah being dunk, enoch disappearing) happens I don’t think the issue is weather or not it literally happened. I think the issue is why did God include this in the Bible? And, what does he want us to learn from it? After all, those stories must stand out for a reason.
Monday, March 29, 2010
It has been a while since I blogged! Sorry, things have been crazy lately. I have been having vertigo (it is very hard to type, when you can’t see straight!), my husband has a knee injury, and we got a dog! I could blog about these subjects for days but I know that everyone who reads my blogs are only reading them for one reason: THE RESOLUTIONS duh! So here are the resolution updates.
Resolution #1: One the plus side, since we are almost to our $10,000 goal, we have started all the preliminary things that go into construction. We have had the plans drawn up and are waiting for clearance from the county to begin building. On the negative side, now that my husband is hurt, we might have to use some of the money we saved for medical bills, and, even if we don’t have to dip into the garage fund, there is still the issue of actually building the garage since John is on crutches and he was to be the main builder of the garage.
Resolution #2 and #5 are still going strong. It is amazing how God can just take away your desire for certain things and replace them with healthier options. I should have given up those things years ago…..but maybe the timing wouldn’t have been right.
Resolution #3 What a difference keeping my mouth shut has made!!!! I have notice obvious positive differences in the relationships around me. And to my surprise it is actually getting easier, and is becoming more of a lifestyle.
Resolution #4 and #7 I would love to update you on these ones but I am currently gorging on goldfish crackers and a diet coke and I don’t want to get anymore artificial cheese on the keyboard than I already have…..
Resolution #6 I am through the book of Genesis and I hope to post the last two blogs of Genesis by the end of the week. Having the weekly Bible study has really been great and I am learning so much.
Thanks everyone who messaged me to ask why I hadn’t blogged in a while, it is nice to know my blogs have been missed. Thanks for the continued support and encouragement. I am going to work on my blog about Jacob now….
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Major resolution news!!!!! Less than a month ago our garage fund was at $1,580.25This was a huge accomplishment for us considering we managed to save this amount in just 2 short months. Then we got our tax refund back and two days later, when I walked to my mail box we received a major blessing from God…..past due child support courtesy of the US government intercepting my ex-husbands tax refund!!!!! Brace yourself…….Our garage fund goal is $10,000.……. We are now at $8,695.25 in less than 3 months.!!!! With this amount we can begin the process of drawing up plans, laying concrete, getting permits and buying some material. Thank you God for caring about the little things like getting my husband into a garage. A garage is not something that we can take to heaven with us but it will sure make life on earth a lot more comfortable!
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
It is time for #4. Yes, I know I have plenty of time before my Memorial-Day-weekend-bridesmaid dress- goal but I need to get back on the healthy wagon soon or I will have to go shopping for brand new bigger clothes….which is a direct violation of #1. So loose the weight I must, and I started with my eating today. I will hopefully be able to get back to walking by the end of the week when the weather finally clears up. I am going to start posting my daily food journal on my blog, real interesting, I know, buut at the very least it will keep me motivated and accountable. So I am officially giving my readers permission to give me a hard time if I eat junk! Don’t feel bad, show no mercy, the 15lbs needs to come off ASAP!! Here is what I ate today:
Breakfast: 2 pieces of Ezekiel toast with light margarine
Snack: 100 cal low fat yougurt
Lunch: 10 Triscuits, 1 can of cooked chicken with 1tbs of light mayo, 3 large strawberries
Snack: 5 Triscuits and 1 slice of cheese
Dinner: 1 serving spoon full of Hamburger Helper, 2 serving spoons of broccoli with ½ serving spoon of rice pilaf
Thursday, March 4, 2010
I have made an executive decision about resolution #3. I can not bear the thought of maintaining silent around my children for a whole day for fear that they will feel ignored or neglected. So, I will put this resolution on hold until my children are teenagers, and they are giving me the silent treatment so much that they won’t notice that I am being silent as well. Until then, I am making an amendment to my earlier resolution. When I feel inclined to speak, I will remain silent for 7 seconds before I comment or question. Seven is a very holy number, so my prayer is that God will use that 7 second window to let me know if I what I am about to say is stupid. I have really been working on keeping my mouth shut when I would have otherwise spoken for the past couple of months. Let me just say that it has worked wonders. Unfortunately, I can’t blog about any of the good things that have come from not speaking, because all of my stories involve people that read my blog. It would compromise my relationships with these people to speak of our private conversations and the things I wanted to say, but didn’t. The main point I am trying to make, is that I have always regretted the words I have said more than the words I have not said. As a society, we underestimate the power of the spoken word in both it’s positive and it’s negative aspects. If you say you are sick, well then sick you will be. If you use a name, good or bad, to describe someone, they will surely live up to that word. Thoughts can have power, but the spoken word does have power. Thoughts can be controlled, once words are spoken they cannot be taken back. The gift of speech and the ability to bond, and express ourselves through speech is something special that God has given almost exclusively to women. Men speak too of course, but I think we can all agree that they do not speak as often or as intensely as women do. Women need to be careful with our God given gifts such as speech, and we need to make sure that we use this gift to honor God alone.
Monday, March 1, 2010
Fraud, furriness and the filling up of water wells, No this is not an episode of Malcolm in the Middle, this is the story of Isaac, his naughty children, and his insubordinate wife…..hmmmm maybe Malcolm in the Middle is a spin off of the story of Isaac, just a thought.
I wish I could say, don’t worry, the story of Isaac is only 4 chapters long. But it doesn’t matter I still found plenty to write about.
Chapter 25:19 When Isaac was 40 years old, he married Rebekah who had trouble getting pregnant. So, Isaac prayed for her to have a child and almost 20 years later, God answered his prayers and Rebekah became pregnant. Rebekah must have been having horrible gas, and morning sickness, because she is quoted as asking God, “Why is this happening to me?” Geeze, you think she’s be a little more grateful seeing as how she tried to get pregnant for nearly two decades. Anyways, ever patient, God explains to her that the sons (yes, I said sons, as in twins) in her womb are destined to be two rival nations, and that the descendants of the oldest brother will always serve the descendants of the younger one. So D-Day comes and the twins enter the world fighting. Poor Rebekah….no epidural for her as the first boy comes out with the second boy holding onto his heel…literally. I am so glad I gave birth in the 21st century with 21st century medicine. Anyways, the flames of sibling rivalry are fanned when Isaac and Rebakah name the boys. The first born is named Esau, which means “Covered in hair.” And the second twin is named “Jacob” which means, “He deceives.” I’m not sure what their parents were thinking naming their children this, because as we all know, children live up to their names. There is nothing mentioned about their early childhood but based on the way they came into this world, it is safe to assume that they both spent a majority of their early years in timeout…..or being flogged. Esau became a hunter, which is appropriate because his hairiness probably provided him with very good camouflage. All that is said of Jacob is that he “liked to stay home,” I guess the term couch potato had not been invented yet. Isaac favored Esau, and Rebekah favored Jacob. We don’t need Dr. Phil to tell us that this is never a good parenting tactic. One day as Esau was out hunting and providing for his family, Jacob was inside watching the Food Network and cooking stew (sorry, do I sound biased?). Esau comes home famished, from hunting for who knows how long, and asks his brother Jacob for some food. Jacob says, “Sure, I’ll trade you a bowl of soup for your birthright (refer to the “ Questions that got answered…” for more on birthrights),” and without much thought, Esau allows his hunger to control his better judgment as he makes the trade. It’s pretty much all down hill for Esau from her on out.
Chapter 26 I thought I was having déjà vu when I read the next chapter. Turns out that it was actually a case of like father, like son. Remember Abimelech? He was the king from chapter 20 that Abraham lied to, then in chapter 21 Abraham makes a treaty with him? Well, Isaac and Rebekah had to move to Gerar due to a famine, so when Abimelech’s men ask about Rebekah, Isaac says, “she is my sister.” Any guesses on what happens next? Well, it’s not the same exact thing that happened to Abraham, but it might as well be. Abimelech catches Isaac feeling up Rebekah, and is obviously very upset about being lied to. God blesses Isaac anyways with lush crops and livestock to spare. Next there is this big long boring part about conflicts over water rights, and Abimelech kicks Isaac and family out to the valley. Gerar Valley to be exact. Then there was more arguing over water wells so Isaac and Rebekah moved to Beersheba. God appears to Isaac and reassures him that he will be blessed…..yadda yadda,…..lots of descendants,….. Blah, blah , blah, so Isaac builds and altar. But wait, we haven’t heard the last of Abimelech. In the final part of chapter 26 he finds Isaac and offers him an alliance. They celebrate with a feast then take a solemn oath of nonaggression. Then there is a prelude into the next chapter, stating that Esau married Judith and Basemath (both pagans), who made Isaac and Rebekah’s lives miserable. Okay, so now me and Esau have three things in common: hairiness, love of soup, and love of upsetting our parents.
Chapter 27 Okay, so now this is where the story of Isaac turns into, “Days of our Lives.” Isaac is almost blind and is basically on his death bed when he asks Esau to make him his favorite meal, so that after he eats he can pronounce his blessing over Esau (for more on this “blessing” read the “questions that got answered….”section). Like any good woman, Rebekah is eavesdropping and she wants Jacob, being her favorite, not Esau, to receive the blessing (talk about your dysfunctional family). In Rebekah’s defense, her actions did fulfill what God had told her when she was pregnant, that Esau and his descendants would have to serve Jacob and his descendants (25:23). Once Jacob stole Esau’s blessing, it would make Jacob the official owner of the family birthright. However, the way Rebekah went about fulfilling Gods promise was wrong. She did not trust that God would make Jacob the head of the family, so she took matters into her own hands, which as you can guess turns into a catastrophe. Anywho, back to the story. Rebekah talks Jacob into tricking his father into thinking that he is Esau. Isaac gives Jacob Esau’s blessing even though he is skeptical. Just as the blessing is finished, Esau comes back from his hunting trip and discovers that his brother has stolen his blessing, which means that Jacob is now the official owner of the birthright. He weeps and begs his father to give him a blessing too. The best Isaac can do is to promise Esau that after a time of serving his brother, he will be free from him. Which is not much compared to the list of blessings Isaac accidentally gave Jacob. Esau is filled with hatred and decides to murder Jacob (I’m having a Cain and Able flashback), but before he can, Rebekah tells Jacob to flee to Haran to see his uncle Laban (Rebekah’s brother). Rebekah then tells Isaac that she does not want Jacob to marry one of the local Hittite women.
Chapter 28:1-9 Isaac accepts the fact that Jacob is now destined to be the head of the household, so he blesses him (intentionally this time), and sends him off to Uncle Laban’s house telling him not to marry a local woman, but to marry one of Uncle Laban’s daughters. Esau gets wind of this and is upset, so he went to his Uncle Ishmael’s house (Isaac’s half brother), and married one of Ishmaels daughters. Although, I’m not sure why.
It is really starting to concern me that the only characters in the Bible I can relate to, are the ones that end up causing so much controversy. First Hagar, then Ishmael, and now Esau. I think I need to go pray.
Things I loved:
*25:21 God made Isaac wait for his wife to get pregnant just like his father Abraham had to, but Isaac did not make the same mistake his father did by getting a concubine pregnant. A lot of children tend to repeat the mistakes of their parents. Isaac was not perfect and he did repeat at least one of his fathers mistakes that we know of (lying to Abimelech), but when God promised him a child he believed God and waited, and God blessed him with not one, but two children at the same time.
* 26:1-11 Abimelech. It is safe to assume that this is not the same Abimelech that Abraham deceived, but nonetheless, the Abimelech family seem to be very tolerant and understanding. They were deceived in a particularly cruel way, and yet they forgave and even offered both Abraham and Isaac an alliance.
*26:12 Even after Isaac lies to Abimelech, God blesses him. Yet another example of Gods unfailing love and patience toward his children.
*26:17 I was pretty bored reading about all the water rights conflicts, but looking back on that section (and reading a lot of research on the subject, refer to the, “Questions That Got Answered by doing….” section), I can now see the lesson of peace that God wants us to get out of this section. There are so many examples in the Bible of the way God expects us to live our lives. One of the ways that we are to live, is in peace. Heaven is a peaceful place and as Christians, we are not meant to cause conflict, we are meant to keep peace in our homes and in our lives. I need to keep this in mind when a conflict arises. I believe that turning away from conflict, even if it means relocating like Isaac had to do, is necessary and is full of rewards. And I don’t just mean the earthly reward of not fighting, I am talking about heavenly rewards as well. That being said, I do think that sometimes God calls us to be warriors and fighting sometimes is necessary. But the amount of battles we must fight are a lot less than the compromises we must make for peace sake.
*27:45 When sending Jacob away, Rebekah tells Jacob to stay with his Uncle until his brothers fury is spent, then she says, “….Why should I loose both of you in one day?” I interpret this as Rebekah expressing sorrow for loosing Esau to his anger and his intentions to murder. Rebekah must have known that in choosing murder, Esau had chosen a life without God, which I imagine to be one of the most heartbreaking scenarios as parent can experience. Even though Jacob was her “favorite” she still loved Esau.
Things I did not love:
*Okay, I’m not going to name any names here (Rebekah, Sarah, and Abraham!) but I am really getting sick and tired of everyone taking matters into their own hands. I mean, I know God blessed us with free will and everything, but come on!!!! When God tells you that he is going to take care of things, like giving you a child, or giving your younger son the birthright, let him! God is so unbelievably patient. By now, I would have struck everyone down with leprosy or something.
Questions to ask God when I get to heaven:
* Why did Esau marry Ishmael’s daughter? Was he trying to upset his parents more, or was he finally trying to please them? I wish we knew more about the relationship between Isaac and Ishmael. Like I said in the Abraham blog, I never found any evidence that these brothers hated each other. So maybe it pleased Isaac and Rebekah to see Esau married to one of Ishmael’s daughters.
Questions that got answered by doing this bible study:
* What is a Birthright? A birthright is a special honor or privilege that was given to the oldest son of every family. This included leadership over the family when the head of the household died, as well as a share of the family inheritance. The head of the household (the father) had final say over who has the birthright. If he feels that the oldest son is unfit he can give the birthright to another son. The birthright is not officially put into action until a blessing is spoken over the chosen person just before the death or resignation of the head of the house hold.
*Why was Esau indifferent to handing over his birthright? He might have been indifferent because the birthright trade off would not be official until his father blessed it, therefore he probably assumed that he would still get the birthright since he was favored by his father Isaac and perhaps Isaac didn’t know that he had traded his birthright for a bowl of Cambell’s.
*Wasn’t it unfair for Jacob to tempt Esau with food? Upon first reading the part about Esau trading his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of soup, I felt sympathy for Esau. I felt that Jacob had taken advantage of Esau’s hunger to gain what he wanted. This is only partially true. Yes, what Jacob did was wrong. He wasn’t named “he deceives,” for nothing! But Esau was not a victim. He had a choice. Everyone of this time period knew the importance of a birthright, Esau included, it‘s not like he didn‘t know what he was giving up. In the New Testament, there is a story about Jesus fasting for 40 days in the wilderness and then Satan tempting him with food. I believe that one of the many reasons this story was included in the Bible was because of Esau. Jesus proved that it was physically possible to go without food and to withstand temptation through the power of God. Jacob obviously wanted the honor of the birthright more than Esau. He wanted it bad enough scam his brother into trading it. No, it was not fair of him to so this, and it was obviously Gods will for him to have the birthright, but Jacob shouldn’t have taken maters into his own hands. God would have found a better way for Jacob to claim the birthright without the seed of hatred that this action planted in Esau.
*What is a blessing? A blessing can mean a lot of different things depending on the person, place and time period. People in America today tend to think of a blessing as “well wishes” for someone. The word “blessing” as referred to in the story of Jacob and Esau was a ceremonial, legally binding oral contract. A blessing was given by the head of the household to his intended son when he was near the end of his life. A blessing was the official handing over of the birthright and all the privileges that, that entails.
*If Isaac meant the blessing for Esau, wouldn’t it have gone to him even if Jacob was the one in the room? No. Like I mentioned before, a blessing was a legally binding oral contract. Once Isaac spoke those words, there was no going back. I believe also, that Isaac, being a man of God, recognized that since Jacob received the blessing, that it was Gods will for Jacob to be his heir. I also believe that deep down Isaac knew that it was Jacob because of how hesitant he was to perform the blessing in the first place.
*Why couldn’t Isaac give Esau the blessing once he found out that he was deceived? Again, Isaac would have broken the law had he revoked Jacobs blessing. It’s not like Isaac had an unlimited amount of birthright/blessings to hand out. There was only one, and Jacob got it!
*Abimelech. The Abimelech that Abraham deceived was probably not the same Abimelech that Isaac deceived. The name Abimelech literally means “Son of a King.” It was a common name of Philistine kings, much like the name “Pharaoh” was of the Egyptian kings. This is good to know especially since we will being seeing the name Abimelech in later books of the bible.
*What can be learned from the water rights conflict? After Isaac tricks Abimelech, into thinking that Rebekah was his sister, you would think that God would punish him, but God does the opposite and blesses him…..majorly. But as is true today, once things start going good in your life, the devil is waiting right their to attack. And attack he does. The devil uses jealousy among the philistines to provoke them into filling up Isaacs water wells with dirt. This is such an assault on Isaac for so many reasons. #1, those wells were dug by Isaac’s father Abraham‘s servants, so they must have been sentimental to him. #2 During this time, if someone dug a well on some property, they didn’t go to the escrow office to make it official with paperwork, they dug a well to stake their claim on that land, so those wells being filled up with dirt was not only illegal, but it was also an act of war. #3 Gerar was a desolate place located in a desert. Those wells were the only source of water, if someone filled them up with dirt, that meant that they wished death upon you, which would surely happen without a working water well. From Isaac’s reaction we can learn a great deal about his character. He had every earthly right to go to war with the Philistines but he instead chose peace by moving away from the conflict. This eventually paid off because Abimelech finds him and offers him a peace treaty.
When I saw this portion of my Bible, I thought to myself, “It’s only four chapters long, this will be short and easy!” that was 10 days ago. I have learned so much about God from such a little section. He is consistent, patient and he wants to bless us regardless of our actions. I can’t wait to read what’s coming up next. Stay tuned for the on going saga of Jacob….
Our February goal was to save just under two-hundred dollars for the garage fund, so can somebody please explain to me how we ended up with $762.76?! All I can say is that God cares about the little things. You would think he’d be a little to busy, performing miracles and listening to prayers, but no, he has somehow fit my husbands garage into his busy schedule. This brings the Garage Fund total to $1,580.25. March is going to be a great month financially for us as well, because I will start seeing the money from my new job and we will be getting our tax return back. There is also a good chance that I could receive some back child support in the form of my ex-husbands tax return! Bottom line: After the month of March we should be half way to our goal of $10,000!!!!
In other resolution news, #6 is well underway. Not only have I been faithfully reading my bible and understanding it better than ever, but I have also been given permission from my pastor to turn my journey into a bible study. Starting this Sunday I will be leading a group of women in a bible study from Genesis to Revelation. I have broken up the Bible into 127 sessions which means that #6 will be finished in 2012, if I stay on the schedule of reading and reporting/discussing at least one Bible session per week.
#7 has it’s ups and downs. For the past two weeks I have only had 1, two liter bottle of Diet Coke. What’s interesting is that like with any other drug, my caffeine tolerance is so minimal that one glass of D.C will keep me buzzing all day and unable to sleep at night. I wonder when the government will step in and officially name caffeine as an illegal drug.
That’s all or now everyone, thanks for the continued support and prayers. If anyone is interested in joining the Bible study, contact me for details.