Thursday, November 29, 2018

Genesis 29~ What's in a name?~Day 29

Remember that Jacob’s name was given to him because he was “grasping Esau’s heel”?  (25:26).  That sounds cute….but after awhile, in the Hebrew culture, the word Jacob became the jargon for someone who deceives.  Kind’a like today we use the word sodomy because of the behavior first described in the town of Sodom.  So for a while there, Jacob would not be a popular name that would be used amongst Jewish babies!

I bring this up because I see why the Hebrew people would think of deception when they hear the name Jacob.  We read how Jacob deceived both his brother and his dad, (25:31 & 27), and today, ironically,  we read how he himself was deceived.

According to my Bible footnote, a parent, back in the day, would name their child by reflecting the situation at the time of birth (as Rebecca did) or choose a name with a meaning they hoped their child would fulfill.  If a grown child’s name did not end up matching their character, they would change their name!

We are going to read (in a couple of days) how Jacob’s character changed and therefore God changes his name! (32:28)  I think that’s so cool!!  Our heavenly father can change our name! God changes hearts and has no problem changing a name to reflect the new heart.  I wonder…when we get to heaven, will we hear how some of our names had been changed when we became believers…but we just won’t use it yet until we get up there?  Ha, it’s fun to think of heaven and how different it will be…possibly even with different names!

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Genesis 28~ Growing in faith~Day 28

I thought it was interesting that God says, “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac.” (28:13)   He was not the God of Jacob….yet.

There comes a point in every person’s life that he/she needs to choose whether to make God their own or not.  For some people it is one moment in time where they remember making the decision; for others it’s a process.  I think this moment with God (ch. 28) was the beginning of a long process for Jacob.  This chapter shows that Jacob doesn’t quite get the “faith” thing that his dad and grandfather had.  He is bargaining and dictating what a relationship with God should be like according to his way of thinking.  Faith doesn’t come as easy for Jacob as it did for Isaac.  But, God isn’t finished with him yet!  Later we will read how he wrestles with God.  In that chapter (32), we will see a real heart change in Jacob. 

I am encouraged reading this story!  God keeps seeking after those who have a heart bent toward him.  A person may not have “it” all correct when they first start believing, but God continues to mold and change people as they go.  That’s very encouraging, don’t you think?!

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Genesis 27~ God works it out.~Day 27

So this blessing Isaac gives to his son…It’s weird, don’t you think, that the blessing can be so binding, even though Isaac thinks he gave it to the wrong son?

The writer of Hebrews understood how much faith Isaac was displaying in this scene.  “By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future.” (Hebrews 11:20)

This blessing was not a wish or a prayer of blessing, but a prophesy in regards to the future line of the family.  Somehow God had communicated the future to Isaac and in full confidence, Isaac believed God would accomplish all that was predicted.  He believed it to be true, so much so, that when he thought he “did it wrong” he “trembled violently” (27:33).

The point of this story, according to the writer of Hebrews, is the faith that Isaac held in in God’s promises.  Don’t let the deception that was going on detract from the faith story. Bottom line to the deception is that God will still work his plan out, to his glory, even when humans start getting things all messed up.

I like what one commentary said about this, “By faith we may be fully sure of God’s providence, and of his gracious and powerful presence with us.”   

Monday, November 26, 2018

Genesis 26~ Do not be afraid.~Day 26

Have you ever heard your kid say something and think, “Oh my!  He got that from me!” Kids definitely emulate their parents!!  Look how Isaac copied his dad when he lied to the king of the Philistines about Rebekah being his sister.  That was straight out of Abraham’s playbook!  One thing you gotta admire about Isaac, however, is that he fessed-up immediately.  At least he didn’t let his wife go to the king!

Again, like I said yesterday these guys were normal people going through trials just as we do today; infertility, financial hardships and intimidation.  Most of our trails are connected to our fears, don’t you think?  “Will I have a posterity?, Will I have enough to provide for my family? , What will people think of me?, Will I survive?”  Even though our first response to those fears may reflect what we learn from our parents, our ultimate response should be what we learn from our heavenly father.  

“I am the God of your father Abraham.  Do not be afraid for I am with you.” (26:24)

What are you getting out of the reading?  I would love to hear!

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Genesis 25~Praying for God's direction ~Day 25

Reading these stories of the people commended for their faith by the writer of Hebrews, I am realizing, they didn’t have it easy!  It seems God was constantly testing their faith!  Do you ever feel that way in your own life, always being tested?

It’s easy to forget that these characters were people just like us, struggling with the same issues we have today.  What sets them apart from many people today is their faith in God~ no matter what!
Think about it.  I’m sure Isaac knew that a great nation was promised to Abraham.  I’m sure it was in their conversations often between father and son.  And, Isaac was a good son!  He willingly let his dad almost sacrifice him! He also willingly took Rebekah as his wife when he had no say in the matter. (Good thing she was beautiful, and it worked out.  He loved her, but that’s beside the point; he obeyed and went along with it.)  I bet he was thinking. “OK, God, I have done everything you have commanded of me.  Bring on the kids! Bring on that great nation you promised!”…..But then…..nothing happens…..nothing for 20 years!  Imagine the tears he watched Rebekah shed as she dealt with infertility!  Fortunately, she did not make the same mistake her mother-in-law made!  Isaac too, learned from his parents mistake and sought God’s direction with prayer instead (25:21). Good move, Isaac!!

I want that type of faith!  One that seeks God’s direction even when things look like they aren’t going the way they should!  God has a bigger and better plan for me!

This is why the writer of Hebrews said of these forefathers, “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” (Hebrews 111:39-40)

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Genesis 24~ What a love story!~Day 24

This chapter is what romantic movies are made of!  “He looked up, he saw camels approaching.  Rebecca also looked up and saw Isaac.”  (24:63-64)  It sounds like love at first sight, doesn’t it?! 

But, it wasn’t.  It was obedience at first sight.  Everyone involved in this story showed a faith in God and willingness to obey Him!
  1. Abraham- he heard from God and trusted that God would direct the servants steps (24:7)
  2. The servant- prayed and worshipped repeatedly, seeking God’s direction (24:15).
  3. Laban and his father Bethel- recognized the Lord’s blessing and plan (24:31 & 24:50).
  4. Rebecca- willing went with the servant most likely because she too heard the servants account of how God directed him to her.
  5. Isaac - was in the field meditating (his family was monotheistic, so this meditation was most likely directed toward the one true God that his mama told him about).

Nothing was complicated in this story with disobedience, drama or rebellion. It sure does make for a fun, simple love story when one obeys God and seeks his guidance from the very beginning!! 

“So she became his wife, and he loved her” (Gen. 24:67)  I like that type of love story!! 

Friday, November 23, 2018

Genesis 23~Some history on the cave.~ Day 23

I’m so glad Isaac got to have his mom around for the 37 of his 180 years (35:28)!  That’s a good amount of time for a mama to influence her son!  Knowing that Sarah was a woman of faith (Heb. 11:11), you can bet she did her best to pass that faith on to her son!  

On a different note, I thought I would share with you some interesting history on that cave Abraham bought in order to bury Sarah.  We will see in future reading that he himself would be buried there 38 years later.  Isaac and his wife were buried there as well, around 140 years later (35:28).  And get this, Jacob (aka Israel) died in Egypt but his sons took a trip from Egypt up to the cave in Canaan to bury him with his parents and grandparents (Gen. 50:13).  So the tomb got a lot of use, but listen to how  the site continued to get used!!!

All the burials were done in the years of 1600-1500 BC.  Then there was silence about the tomb until Herod the Great (Jesus’ era).  He was really into building! He was the first to build a large structure to commemorate the site for the Jewish people.  Well, we know around 70 years after Jesus, the Jewish culture and holy sights were destroyed or taken over by the Romans.  The Herodian structure stayed standing without a roof for centuries.  Then in the 500’s (the Byzantine period) a simple Christian basilica was built over part of the site.  However, in short order (the 600’s), the Arab Muslims took over the area and built a mosque in tribute to Abraham, their forefather trough Ishmael. 

But, I’m not done!  Then, during the Crusader period (1100 AD) a church was built again!  Yet, again, in a relatively short period of time, 88 years) the Muslims conquered the area again and made it a mosque again!
Here is the final scene on Sarah’s tomb.  From 1188 AD to 1967 it was controlled by Muslims.  Then, in 1967, Israel gained control of the area (first time in 2000 years!).  A synagogue was built under the mosque.  The area was still used by Muslims who now lived side by side with new Israeli settlers. So, in essence, the two are worshipping together! Needless to say, there have been many conflicts and deaths on or near the site ever since.  
What a mess!  Abraham would be “rolling in his grave” if he knew what his decedents were doing! 😉