Gen devos 26-30

Daily reading: Read Genesis chapter 26
Food for Thought: Abrahamic echoes….
When you read Genesis 26, I think you are meant to hear an echo of Abraham. Notice the chapter opens with Isaac encountering a famine (similar to Gen 13), and fleeing to find refuge elsewhere. But the Lord intervenes, and implores Isaac not to go to Egypt but to stay in the land where the Lord dictates. Staying where the Lord said to stay in spite of the famine, or the severity of the circumstances would result in blessing. The Lord promises to be present with Isaac, he promises to bless him, promises him descendants, and to give the land to he and his descendants as well as confirm the oath given to Abraham (Gen 26:3). Also, the Lord would make his descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and through Abraham bless the whole word (26:4). I don’t know if you caught it or not, but in 26:5 Abraham is portrayed as obedient to the Lord’s requirements, commands, decrees, and laws. Look at verse 6, “so Isaac stayed in Gerar.” In other words, Isaac was obedient to the Lord’s word too! The faith that Abraham lived out before his son Isaac was being emulated and embraced by his son Isaac. What an important lesson for us as fathers today, and as mothers. Our examples are observed by our kids. How are we doing? If we are honest with ourselves, I am sure we have ups and downs. I know I do. I sometimes don’t always come across as very kind, compassionate, loving, gentle, joyous, peaceful, or patient. The truth is: our kids already know we aren’t perfect. We don’t need to pretend to be. They are really good at detecting sincerity and honest attempts at following the Lord in all areas of our lives. They are also really good at detecting phoniness on our part. Abraham’s life was messy, full of ups, downs, triumphs, falters, and forgiveness. We can expect the same. God knows that at the end of the day we want to be faithful to him, and his ways. Do you children know this? If you haven’t talked to your kids lately about your relationship with God and or them, do so today. Ask forgiveness for anything that needs to be forgiven, prayer together. Love much. Tears are healing.
Isaac’s life wasn’t perfect either. He stays in Gerar, and lies about Rebekah being his sister. But he comes clean, and the Lord blesses him for doing so. God will bless us as well if we are willing to have real conversation with our kids, and with each other about our relationship with the Lord. By real conversation I mean dropping the water line. I think most of the time we forget that we are like ice bergs. You only really see about 10% of an ice berg. This is the part of us that when we pass each other in the hallway at church, we say things in response to the question, how are you? “I am fine, or good.” What if we are honest about the times we are so good, or about the times we haven’t done so well? The Bible says that we are to confess our sins to one another (Jas 5:16). What are leaving underneath the 90% that we don’t share with others? Hurt, guilt, worry, fear? We don’t have to hide who we are. The community of believers is to be a hospital for sinners. We are all recovering, stumbling, sometimes sinning followers of Yahweh. May we learn to be real with one another. If we want our kids to have a vibrant relationship with Jesus, we need to drop the waterline. Because when we are hurting and don’t get help, we have a tendency to hurt others.
Reflection:
1. What stood out to you today?
2. What is one thing you can take away from this chapter?
Prayer:

Daily reading: Read Genesis chapter 27
Food for Thought: The trickster does it again…
Jacob is one of the patriarchs of Biblical faith that we hold up as a great example. Before he is a great man of God, he is a trickster and pawn in Isaac’s family between his father’s wishes and his mother’s intentions. Jacob had already earlier finagled the birthright away from his older brother Esau, now we read how Jacob was successfully able to steal the blessing Isaac was reserving for his firstborn son.
We are a little shocked if we are honest, as we read these stories. The author of the text is quite open about the failures and foibles of his people. In Gen 27 husband and wife are pitted against one another in securing the father’s blessing to their favorite child. Isaac had called in Esau and told him to hunt some wild game, prepare him a tasty meal and bring it to him (27:3-4). Little did Isaac or Esau know, Rebekah was listening and had other plans. Rebekah calls Jacob in, and concocts a plan to thwart Isaac’s plan for blessing (27:5-10).
Jacob doesn’t really say no to his mother’s scheme, she even provides a layer of goat hair for Jacob the smooth skinned guy that he was. Apparently Esau was a hairy dude! When I think of Esau after reading Gen 27, I have Chewbaca in mind for some reason. As the story unfolds, the tension builds, Jacob dressed like Chewbaca goes to visit his father, and offers him a tasty meal and tricks his dad into blessing him. Just as he is leaving from the provision, and prosperity that his father pronounced upon Jacob and his descendants Esau returns only to find out, that he was tricked once again by his brother.
Let’s keep in mind here, Isaac is an old man at this point and is near death. His eyes had failed him, so he has to rely on his other senses, and they aren’t all working right either. But he leaves Jacob lord over his relatives. Esau is angry and is plotting to kill his brother (Cain and Abel part two), but Rebekah learns of his assassination plot and sends Jacob to her brother’s place in Haran (27:43). I think this reveals much about Jacob, and the plot that is going to unfold. In order to fully secure his father’s blessing, Jacob has to leave the land of Canaan. Not only are the descendants of Abraham aliens and strangers in Canaan, now Jacob has to flee for his life. Once again the Abramaic promise is in jeopardy! Or is it? What will happen to Jacob on this journey, will he make it safely, will he return to Canaan? Stay tuned and keep reading.

Reflection:
1. What stood out to you today?
2. What is one thing you can take away from this chapter?

Prayer:

Daily reading: Read Genesis chapter 28
Food for Thought: Stairway to heaven…
We learn pretty quickly in Gen 28 that even though Jacob would be traveling to Paddan Aram (or Haran) that was indeed not alone. For when he stops for the night to rest, he has a dream of a stairway reaching from the heavens to earth with angels ascending and descending on it. In addition to seeing this awesome sight, he sees the Lord standing above the stairwell, and Yahweh gives to Jacob the same blessing he had given to Abraham (land, numerous descendants, and blessing the whole world). We aren’t told much about Jacob’s early upbringing. He most likely would have been familiar with the stories of his grandfather, and his father, and how the Lord was acting in history to reclaim humanity and the earth for his purposes. I imagine as a young man, Jacob may have just thought these stories he heard about how God had called Abraham out of Ur, and how he provided his father his bride, were stories that maybe he couldn’t quite get his head around. That is until he sees this great site.
This place, where Jacob thought was just a rest stop was where heaven and earth intersected. The text points out that Jacob was unaware that God was in this place. How many times do we miss the presence of God in our days? When we are at work, at home, at the store, or at school? This vision was a reminder that God wasn’t through with Jacob yet. God blesses Jacob with the Abrahamic blessing, and Jacob vows his life in allegiance if Yahweh would uphold his end of the deal. Jacob will learn over the course of 20 plus years that Yahweh also keeps his end of the deal!
When we read Gen 28, we need to also remember John 1. In John chapter 1 we read about Jesus calling his first disciples and we read of a conversation between Jesus and Nathanael. Jesus had seen him under the fig tree before Phillip called him, Jesus calls him a true Israelite, and then Nathanael declares Jesus to be the son of God, and the king of Israel. Jesus then tells Nathanael that he will see heaven open and the angels of God ascending and descending on the son of Man” (John 1:43-51). In other words, Jesus is the place where heaven and earth meet. Jesus is the axis point between God and man. Jesus is the true Bethel! Jacob saw the same sight in the desert, and was willing to pledge his allegiance. Nathanael learns the true identity of Jesus is also ready to pledge his allegiance. Knowing what we do know about the presence of God in Jesus, are we willing to pledge our allegiance to him? Just like Jacob, God isn’t through with us yet. He has a plan for us. We too are a part of this great story of God’s reclamation of the earth, and those who bear his image. Jacob is so moved by what he has witnessed that he takes that stony pillow of his and makes it an altar, serving as a reminder that this place was Bethel (the house of God). Are will willing to let God remake us over? Because of our baptism into Jesus, and the arrival of the Holy Spirit, we become mobile Bethel’s!
Reflection:
1. What stood out to you today?
2. What is one thing you can take away from this chapter?
Prayer:
Daily reading: Read Genesis chapter 29

Food for Thought: The trickster gets duped…
Jacob’s name means “grasp the heel,” or “deceiver.” Little does he know that his uncle Laban is quite good at turning the tables on people as well. Jacob is no doubt relieved to have found his uncles home, and he meets Rachel a shepherdess. Jacob agrees to work for Laban seven years to receive Rachel as his wife. Because Jacob was head over heels for his bride to be, the time flew by. On the wedding night, Laban pulls a switcheroo, and lo and behold in the morning “there was Leah” (Gen 29:25). Jacob was not into Leah so to speak, and he is upset, but at the end of the bridal week, he also gets Rachel as his wife too.
I feel bad for Leah. Jacob doesn’t love her quite like he does Rachel. But as chapter 29 continues to unfold, we see the Lord has much different plans than Jacob does. Leah is able to have children, she has four kids pretty quickly; Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah. All the while, Rachel is barren. The descendants of Abraham are no strangers to barrenness. The Lord will open Rachel’s womb, and she will have two children (but I don’t want to get to far ahead).
I do want to draw your attention to the fourth child of Jacob and Leah. His name is Judah. Right now in the unfolding of the story of Abraham’s descendants it may not seem significant, but through Leah, the unloved wife of Jacob, and through her fourth born son will come some of Israel’s most significant names, David, Solomon, Jesus! Contrary to what our circumstances say about us, or to us now, God is bigger than whatever obstacles we experience. If God in his wisdom and foresight can provide the Messiah through the womb of an unloved older sister, God can turn our hopelessness to hopefulness. I want to share something I am borrowed from Aubrey Van Buskirk’s facebook status from last week: “Only God can turn a MESS into a MESSage, a TEST into a TESTimony, a TRIal into a TRIumph, a VICTim into a VICTory. GOD is GOOD…..all the time!” Amen.

Reflection:
1. What stood out to you today?
2. What is one thing you can take away from this chapter?

Prayer:

Daily reading: Read Genesis chapter 30
Food for Thought: The baby race gets heated…
Chapter 30 opens with Rachel getting jealous with her sister’s ability to have children. She confronts Jacob, and he reminds her that he is not God. But, Rachel concocts a plan, and gives her maidservant Bilhah to Jacob to produce children for her. Bilhah has two children, Dan and Naphtali. Leah, however, not to be outdone, realizes she can’t have any more children, and gives her maidservant to Jacob as well. Zilpah has two sons with Jacob as well, Gad and Asher. The baby race continues with Leah becoming pregnant two more times, and has Issachar and Zebulun. Leah even has a daughter. All in all she bore Jacob seven children. Meanwhile, we read God “remembers Rachel” and she becomes pregnant and delivers Joseph. For the Genesis narrative, the birth of Joseph introduces us to the next main character in the narrative. We don’t know that just yet. But Joseph is certainly of central significance for the unfolding of the book of Genesis.
Instead of seeing the end of chapter 29 and the first part of Gen 30 as an extremely weird chapter, let us rejoice that the Lord is fulfilling his promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob of numerous descendants. Of course we know that this band of eventual 12 sons will become the twelve tribes, and by the time they leave Egypt in the book of Exodus it has been estimated that there is over 2 million people. From one man (Abraham), God produces a community of over 2 million. God keeps his promises. Not this is all of his children. Remember that God promised Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that the world would blessed through them, the dawn of the church, the new Israel of God is even more proof of God’s intention to bless the whole world. I love the picture in the book of Revelation of the community gathered in heaven, “ 9 After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” (Rev 7:9-10). This great multitude in heaven singing praises to God is due to the obedience of Abraham, the faithfulness of Isaac, the allegiance of Jacob and of course the purposes, protection, and provision of God.
There is another competition if you will in Gen 30. Uncle vs. nephew. Jacob approaches Laban and asks to be released from his duties. Laban and Jacob work out an agreement involving sheep and goats. Laban once again tries to pull a fast one over Jacob. Only this time, Jacob gains an upper hand, and the stronger animals wind up becoming his, and Laban gets the weaker ones. Jacob will leave Laban a very prosperous man.
Reflection:
1. What stood out to you today?
2. What is one thing you can take away from this chapter?

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About Jason Retherford

The random musings of a youth minister.
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