Sunday, 12 January 2014

(13) January 13: Genesis 31-32 and Matthew 10v24-42

Ask God to open your mind, heart and will to understand, delight in and obey what you read.

To discover:­­
As you read note how Jacob demonstrates reliance on God.

To ponder:
It’s all pretty tense. Just as the Philistines had envied Isaac’s wealth, so Laban’s family envy Jacob. The danger is exacerbated by Rachel stealing the household gods. This may have been for religious reasons, or because having them strengthened a claim to inherit from Laban. Whatever the case, Laban is furious. However, throughout it is emphasized that God provided for Jacob whilst with Laban – in part because of the way Laban treated him. As he promised Abraham: Whoever cursed him (or his descendents) God would curse. Moreover, it is also stressed that God would protect Jacob now. It was the LORD who warned him to go (31v3, 13), and it was the LORD who warns Laban against taking action (31v24, 29). As with Isaac and Abimelech, the tension is relieved by Jacob making a covenant of peace with Laban. Another crisis and potential threat to the continuance of Abraham’s line is averted. Reading this we cannot doubt God’s commitment to bring his promises to fruition or care for us his people.
            There seems a change in Jacob. God reminds him of the memorial at Bethel and Jacob’s vow to make the LORD his God if God cared for him (v13, 28v20-21). And throughout Jacob seems more conscious of the LORD. He credits him for all he has received. He offers a sacrifice after covenanting with Laban (31v54). And he offers a heartfelt prayer for help when, no doubt remembering Esau’s desire to kill him, he faces his brother and four hundred men (32v9-12). Jacob is becoming a man of faith. Indeed, his prayer is a model of how to humbly appeal to God on the basis of his promises.
            Heavenly encounters begin and end chapter 32. It takes place as Jacob re-enters the promised land. This may hint at the land being a new Eden, guarded as it was by angels. The wrestling match marks the change in Jacob. It is a parable of his life. “Israel” means “God strives,” but here implies Jacob striving with God – represented by his angel in the form of a man. Jacob fought against everyone, and even fought for his blessing. He got it. But because he refused to yield God had to break him along the way (32v25). Likewise Israel, the nation that would come from him, fought against God and had to be humbled by exile before Christ could come. And if we refuse to submit? God may need to put us through hardship too if that’s what it takes.

Praying it home:
Praise God for his protection of us on account of Christ. Dare to pray that the Lord would mould you into someone who readily submits to him.

Thinking further:
None necessary today.

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