Tuesday, 14 January 2014

(15) January 15: Genesis 36-37 and Matthew 12v1-21

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

To discover:­­
As you read consider the purpose the list of names serves.

To ponder:
The account of Esau explains the source of the peoples Israel would encounter in her later history. It also records the ongoing fulfilment of God’s promise to bless and bring nations and kings from Abraham’s offspring (36v31). Moreover, we see Esau’s descendents moving East, leaving Jacob’s in the promised land (36v7-8). Striking too, is how the account affirms the Bible authors’ careful recording of facts.
            37v2 records the final time the phrase “this is the account of” is used. Previously it has marked out the creation (2v4), then Adam, Noah, Shem, Terah, Ishmael, Isaac, Esau and now Jacob. It tells us the book to date has been explaining the origins of the nation of Israel – the twelve tribes that would be born from Jacob’s twelve sons.
They form yet another dysfunctional family – and so much like Isaac’s. Favouritism, ensuing jealousy, hatred and murderous intent are seen once more. Jacob, the one who deceived his father is deceived by his sons. And Joseph himself is not without fault. He shares his dreams in a boastful and quite insensitive way. To share two dreams is to imply the matter is firmly decided by God (41v32).
There is warning here, not just with respect to our biological families, but our church family too. God calls messy people. We also can be prone to jealousy and hatred of those who seem favoured or more gifted than we are. But the rejection of Christ by the Jews is patterned here as well. He was the one God destined would be bowed down to by his brothers. Yet instead they plotted and brought about his own death. They even gave him up for money as Joseph’s brothers did.
By contrast, after his sin in 35v22 Reuben displays better character. He stands apart from his brothers and seeks Joseph’s protection. Likewise, our calling is to be ready to stand apart for Christ. The focus is also on Judah who, moved by a sense of brotherliness, was the one who suggested selling rather than killing Joseph (37v27).

Praying it home:
Thank God for the gift of our church family. Pray Christians would bear with one-another in love, and be ready to stand apart from the crowd in doing so.

Thinking further:

Although God reveals the future to Joseph in dreams, with the beginning of the account of Jacob we find a certain lack of God actually appearing or speaking to individuals as he had done previously - until he speaks to Jacob in chapter 46. Although such things would occur at other times, they seem in some sense a special mark of the time of the patriarchs, with God speaking even to the Philistine Abimelech (20v3). We do have some idea of what these experiences entailed: Sometimes God appeared or spoke by a vision or dream in which it was as if things were actually seen or heard (15v1, 31v11). At other times it was by a more face to face appearance of the angel of the LORD (16v9). The consistency of these explanations makes it likely that when we simply read conversations individuals had with the LORD, it was by one of these means. For example, in 35v1 we’re just told God speaks to Jacob. However in 35v9 we read “he appeared to him again,” implying v1 was an appearance too. The detail given as to what God says certainly implies he was actually heard.

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