Monday, 25 July 2011

Racing through the generations

After a few days of not being very well i am catching up on my reading before tonights Bible Reading Group and so here are some very basic and general thoughts on Genesis 29-41!

Their's a lovely romantic story about how far a man will go for the love of a woman as Jacob ends up serving years on Laban's farm to win the hand of his daughter Rachel. But yet again, things never go smoothly. Why anyone ever trusted an oath or promise made to them is beyond me, because they seem to be broken left, right and centre when it suits. Laban is at fault this time - happily taking Jacob's loyal service for 7 years and then negating on his promise of Rachel's hand in marriage in return. In the end he gets Rachel, accompanied by younger Leah for the promise of 7 more years labour. Jacob settles for this as his love for Rachel is so strong.

Lots of sons follow as well as the inevitable envy and rivalry between two competing wives as to who can produce the best dynasty. Jacob negotiates a parting with Laban, they agree and lo and behold! Jacob tricks and deceives Laban completely and makes off with the best flock.

after much messing around Jacob and Laban agree on what seems like a fairly serious and binding agreement before Jacob heads off to meet Esau who he first plies with gifts and blessings to try and win his favour. If it wasn't clear to me before, it is now, that Jacob is incapable of speaking to anyone straightly and honestly. His way is to deal with flattery and manipulation, never wanting to upset anyone but deceiving them afterwards. A totally damaging way to deal with people.

Jacob then wrestles with God, a strange and mysterious story - often used as a symbol for our intellectual and emotional wrestling with God over tragedy and doubt before the grand reunion with Esau - who incidentally seems rather non-plussed by all the over-the-top gifts and just wants to make up. Again Jacob agrees to meet him again in a little while and then does the opposite.

Another disturbing account in Chapter 34 involving the rape of Dinah and the honour killings to avenge the shame. But not before a pacifying agreement has been reached with the town for their conversion through circumcision and then during their recovery the place is ransacked.

Jacob recieves a change of name to Israel, at Bethel, where he consecrates himself to meet with God in a clear and deliberate way - challenge for us today when we gather for worship/prayer perhaps? - then we trot through Esau's descendents before reaching one of my heroes of the OT - Joseph.

Joseph in a nutshell:

- greatly gifted lacked grace to go with it - sometimes we can have too much gift for our level of grace!
- sold for pieces of silver - wasn't someone else treated the same way
- served faithfully in whatever situation he was in - God wants our best wherever we are
- in face of temptation flees doesn't dally with it
- in prison - grows in grace - acknowledges that any interpreting abilities he has come from God
- faithfully delivers messages from the Lord even when they are hard
- but tries to help his own cause rather than let God's time overrule
- eventually wins out after learning that all the glory and honour for his abilities go to God

God's purposes working out despite his servants best efforts!

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