Genesis 27 – A Twisted Heart

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We have all read the stories about parents who do dishonorable or foolish things to put their children in a good position. Whether it’s in school, sports, competitions, or social circles some are willing to put ethics and morals aside to push their child to the top of the list. In chapter 27, we see a mom (Rebekah) put her son over (Jacob), not just others, but her other son (Esau).

She helped Jacob steal the blessing intended to be passed from Issac to Esau simply because Jacob was her favorite child.

So he went and got them and brought them to his mother, and she prepared some tasty food, just the way his father liked it. Then Rebekah took the best clothes of Esau her older son, which she had in the house, and put them on her younger son Jacob. She also covered his hands and the smooth part of his neck with the goatskins. Then she handed to her son Jacob the tasty food and the bread she had made. Genesis 27: 14-16

Both Rebekah and Jacob were divisive, conniving, deceitful and corrupt as they moved forward with their plan. How could the Lord let them get away with it? Why couldn’t Issac just take it back and give it to Esau? After all, it was his blessing, to begin with, and his brother had already tricked him out of his birthright. Talk about family drama!

What struck my heart this week was a great truth and reminder that although we may try to alter God’s plans (unknowingly or deceitfully), He will have His way. His plan will prevail and there will be consequences for our sins. Forgiven, yes! However, the consequences of our sin do not go away.

When your brother is no longer angry with you and forgets what you did to him, I’ll send word for you to come back from there. Why should I lose both of you in one day?” Genesis 27:45

Of course, Esau is furious about his brother stealing his blessing. This wasn’t their first tangle as brothers. So, Esau was out for blood. In order to protect her favorite child, Rebekah hatches another plan to keep Jacob safe and sends him off to live with an uncle and find a wife.

So did Rebekah and Jacob end up paying any consequences? Well, the coming chapters will unfold more about the challenging life Jacob had with Uncle Laban, but it’s also interesting to point out that although both Rebekah and Jacob thought he would only be gone a couple of days. Jacob was gone for 20 years! Not only that, while Jacob was gone, Rebekah died. She was never able to see her favorite son again after she dishonestly secured him Esau’s blessing.

I wonder what that was like for her? Did you think she still felt it was all worth it after she said good-bye and year after year she never saw her treasured child? Did she ever regret her actions? And what about Esau? He stayed. What was their relationship life after Jacob left? I imagine it was pretty chilly around the dinner table (at least for a while). Did Esau ever really forgive her for how she had tricked him out of his blessing or for her outright acknowledgment that Jacob was her favorite? Did she ever apologize or try to explain herself?

I have so many questions. But finally:

As moms, women, Christians, and parents, what can we learn from Rebekah? When did things start to go wrong in her heart? What could she have done to guard her heart against fear, deceitfulness, and greed that led to such a broken family?

Being able to read and ponder these questions about Rebekah’s story is more proof that the Bible is a living text and still relevant to us today? God’s lessons are alive and teaching throughout time so we can try to avoid the sinkholes of Satan.

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Genesis 26 – A Working Well

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Again with the “my wife is really my sister” sham.  Only this time Issac repeats the mistakes of Abraham. I’m not even going down the Issac making the same mistake as Abraham road. Moving on . . .

At first listen, this chapter seems a bit boring unless you find the documentation of all of Issac’s well-digging exciting. And honestly, I kind of did. It’s intrigued me.

Isaac reopened the water wells that had been dug in the days of his father Abraham and that the Philistines had stopped up after Abraham died. He gave them the same names his father had given them. Then Isaac’s slaves dug in the valley and found a well of spring water there.  Genesis 26:18-19

Water is the source of all life. Without it, all living things would perish. And, even without a load of scientific understanding, Bible writers understand that too and refer to God as the Fountain of Living Water. He gives us all life through the death of His Son.

Jesus answered, “If you knew the gift of God, and who is saying to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would ask Him, and He would give you living water.” John 4:10

These wells Isaac was digging were imperative to their survival in this place. However, much deeper than that (pardon the pun) is the well in our hearts that leads to the Living Water of Christ. Without His Word (the Bible) penetrating our hearts, minds, and thoughts we won’t survive. Yes, our hearts may still be beating and we may still be running around this planet, but the hope, peace, provision, courage, strength, love, grace can’t exist without us filling the wells of our hearts with God’s word.

One of my friends said it best when she stated, “When people call and want advice from me, I tell them that I’ll help how I can, but I really don’t have what they need. That they can spend time complaining and listen to my advice for 30 minutes or they can open the Bible and receive the best wisdom available.” The Bible grows our wisdom by sharing the stories of so many who struggled with faith, lived by faith, overcame obstacles and created some of their own. There is a lot of wisdom to be learned in the pages of the Bible.

I sat a few weeks ago with a group of women in ministry leadership. They revive my spirit and encourage me greatly. We discussed how we need to ensure, in all our ministries, that women never feel guilty about not studying/reading the Word of God the “right” way and that it isn’t fair for them to compare their time with God to someone else’s, but instead find what works for them individually.

Do you like to sing the word of God, listen to it, read it, doodle it or memorize it? Do you need a set time every day or do you like to feel the mood strike? Do you like the Message translation, the King James or something in between? Do you like to mark up your Bible as you study or use a journal?

The “how” isn’t the important part, it’s the “when”.  And we should all strive to be seeking God, His love, wisdom, and truth over anything else in our lives.

What 3-30 minutes in your day can you turn off the tv/computer/phone, hide in your closet from the kids, put your phone on mute, and read from God’s written Word? I promise you that whatever you were doing, it will never fill your “well” like scripture will. And when we have a working well, life is so much abundant than with a dry one.

Genesis 25 – Mama’s Boy vs. The Hunter

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From Abraham’s new wife, the birth of his twins, his death and then the whole birthright debacle, this chapter is packed! It’s difficult not to stop and sit on the last few verses of chapter 25. This is a pivotal point in history.

Let’s set the stage. We have two boys who are twins. Esau was the oldest, a great hunter and adored by his father because of those things. Jacob was the youngest and more of a mama’s boy who liked to stay close to home and spend time in the kitchen. Because Esau was the oldest his birthright gave him the right to be the head of the family. What’s the big deal, right? In our Western culture that doesn’t mean much. However, then and now in many places in Eastern cultures is a vital part of their culture. And For Esau that meant that he would be the line of descendants that would lead to Christ. Now, that’s a pretty big deal.

It’s easy to sit in judgment of  Esau and condemn him for not caring about God more. I mean if he did, surely he wouldn’t casually give away his birthright for some stew. And then there is Jacob. He isn’t much better. Tricking his older brother, being deceitful and dishonoring God. What a pair, right?! They sound like just two normal siblings to me.

Once when Jacob was cooking a stew, Esau came in from the field exhausted. He said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stuff because I’m exhausted.” That is why he was also named Edom. Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.”  “Look,” said Esau, “I’m about to die, so what good is a birthright to me?” Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore to Jacob and sold his birthright to him.  Then Jacob gave bread and lentil stew to Esau; he ate, drank, got up, and went away. So Esau despised his birthright. Genesis 25: 29-34

But, aren’t we all a little like Esau and Jacob every now and then? Jealous, resentful, unhappy, judgemental, petty and deceitful are the words that come to mind when I think of these brothers.

Like Esau: When called by God to move, we may quickly respond, “Oh, no! Not me God. You have the wrong person. You should let the counselor or pastor handle that. I’m not equipped, or I’m to busy with more important things.” Yikes!! I can feel the conviction hit me and I type those words. And how do you think I know what the response may be? Yep, because I have responded that way in the past. Esau just hadn’t figured it out yet. I’ve been there too. I’ve taken the wrong path, made the wrong decisions and turned away from what I knew to be right for temporary satisfaction. Anyone else?

And Jacob: Have you ever been a little too eager to make a difference, to shine, rise above, obtain what you felt was yours because you wanted it more? Ever taken it a step too far, gotten tired of waiting on God, taken matters into your own hands and used a bit of deception to obtain what you thought should be your blessing or reward? Besides, the person you were deceiving didn’t want it, appreciate it or care enough about it anyway.  This is where the “Jacob factor” comes in.

It’s so easy to sit back and look at others from history in judgment. It’s simple to critique, condemn and challenge others who may be different from us without stopping to take a more in-depth look into our own hearts and actions that may not be lining up with God’s will and ways.

Reflecting on these few verses from chapter 25 this week has brought a lot to my attention and reminded me of how I need to keep tabs on judgments I may place on others. It’s also a great reminder that I can continue to learn from those who came centuries before me. I’m grateful for the teaching, rebuking and training the word of God offers.

 

Anyone else?

Genesis 24 – God’s Timing

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So far, in Genesis, we have seen Issac born (as a miracle promised by God), grow up,  offered as a sacrifice by his father by God’s request, saved by God and the ram He provided and most recently suffering the agony of losing his mom. What a biography so far! In chapter 24, we see him transition into adulthood and find a wife.

We have seen God’s love and plans for him before he was formed in his mother’s womb and just a promise to Abraham and Sarah. God’s hand on his life is ever-present and this chapter gives us even more evidence of that.

Take a look at this:

Lord, God of my master Abraham,” he prayed, “give me success today and show kindness to my master Abraham. I am standing here at the spring where the daughters of the men of the town are coming out to draw water.  Let the girl to whom I say, ‘Please lower your water jug so that I may drink,’ and who responds, ‘Drink, and I’ll water your camels also’—let her be the one You have appointed for Your servant Isaac. By this, I will know that You have shown kindness to my master” Before he finished speaking, there was Rebekah—daughter of Bethuel son of Milcah, the wife of Abraham’s brother Nahor—coming with a jug on her shoulder.  Genesis 24: 12-16

Did you notice it?  Abraham’s servant was praying for a successful outcome. He wanted to please Abraham and find Isaac a wife. He just wasn’t sure exactly how he was going to know who that woman would be. So, he prayed with very specific requests to ensure he would who God had chosen for Isaac. Can you imagine the pressure he must have felt?

Your boss calls you in, sends you on a long journey and says, “go find my grieving son a suitable wife.” Whew! No pressure there. Thankfully, he knew exactly what to do – pray!

But here are the words I want to highlight . . . “Before he finished speaking”

Before Abraham’s servant had finished his prayer, Rebekah was coming to the well with her jug. Think about it, God knew what the prayer would be before he even spoke it.  How do we know? You don’t just walk out the door of your house to the well. Back then, you had to set your schedule and make a plan to walk, often miles, to get your water. God had set Rebekah on a path to the well much earlier that day. Making sure her timing was perfect. Wow!!! Once again, God proves that He cared about Isaac and keeping His covenant with Abraham.

Just like God was in the details of Isaac’s life, He is also in ours. Just like God went before Isaac, Abraham’s servant, and so many others in the Bible, He goes ahead of us. And don’t just take my word for it. Check out these scriptures that back it up:

“The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8

‘The LORD your God who goes before you will Himself fight on your behalf… Deuteronomy 1:30

You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Psalm 139:5

To Him who led His people through the wilderness, For His loving-kindness is everlasting; Psalm 136:16

For the LORD will go before you, And the God of Israel will be your rear guard. Isaiah 52:12

I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. Isaiah 45:2

Our Heavenly Father has loved His children from the start. That’s what Genesis is all about. How He created us out of love, watches over us, has plans for us and goes ahead of us. Following Him requires faith and trust. I believe reading through scripture, about the lives of our ancestors like Abraham, we see this truth lived out through God’s actions in the lives of many and therefore strengthens our faith.

Today, I pray this truth sinks into your heart and that you will gaze into the eyes of Jesus while letting His great love for you penetrate the doubt and fear that can hinder deeper faith.

As you go through this week, know you are LOVED and ADORED by our Creator.

Chapter 23 – Saying Goodbye

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Now Sarah lived 127 years; these were all the years of her life. Sarah died in Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron in the land of Canaan, and Abraham went to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her. Genesis 23:1-2

This week, Abraham says goodbye to his beloved Sarah. What a life they had together! If we quickly read through Genesis 23, it can seem a little boring. No time is spent telling us about Abraham’s grief experience, favorite memories of his life with Sarah or even about her memorial service. I mean, did he sing her favorite hymn and have her favorite flowers?  It’s got to be a heart-wrenching moment, after all their years, adventures and struggles together to say good-bye. However, they spend the entire chapter on the business transaction between Abraham and Ephron to purchase a burial cave for Sarah.

Why leave everything else out and focus on the purchase of the burial cave? Why did her burial spot  need to be in this spot? Canaan was the promised land promised to Abraham by God, but that time was yet to come so he called himself a foreign resident. Foreign resident or not, the Hittites must have greatly admired Abraham because they called him lord and offered him their finest burial-place.

Then Abraham got up from beside his dead wife and spoke to the Hittites: “I am a foreign resident among you. Give me a burial site among you so that I can bury my dead.” The Hittites replied to Abraham, “Listen to us, lord. You are God’s chosen one among us. Bury your dead in our finest burial place. None of us will withhold from you his burial place for burying your dead.” Genesis 23:3-6

As I began to ponder this business transaction and the importance of it for Abraham, it occurred to me. Abraham knew God had promised this land to his descendants and that God would one day return to call them home to Heaven. He wanted to be sure they were all together, in their promised land, on that day of God’s return. If you think about it, it’s really the first recorded family cemetery. Abraham was concerned with the important details. Not the flowers or songs sung, but the location of burial. One where they could all be buried together through the generations. Buried in the land God promised and Abraham trusted would be his through faith, and trusting they would one day rise together on the glorious day of God’s return to go home.

After this, Abraham buried his wife Sarah in the cave of the field at Machpelah near Mamre (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan.  The field with its cave passed from the Hittites to Abraham as a burial place. Genesis 23:19-20

The Bible is so incredible. I know I’ve read and skimmed this chapter many times in my life without giving enough thought to the reason behind the “boring” details of this burial land purchase. How amazing and humbling to realize that the more we read the Bible, the more information, knowledge, wisdom, and truth our eyes are opened to.

I’m so incredibly thankful for the word of God!

Chapter 22 – Here I Am

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After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he answered. “Take your son,” He said, “your only son Isaac, whom you love, go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.” Genesis 22:1-2 HCSB

We have read about several mistakes Abraham made over the past few weeks, but we certainly see him make up for it and prove His mighty faith in chapter 22. This chapter is well-known as the one where God called on Abraham to pass the ultimate test. The test to see if he would follow God’s lead in any way. Even if it meant sacrificing his own son on an altar. As a parent, I’m unable to even comprehend how much obedience and faith this must have taken. It makes my brain hurt to even try and wrap my head around it.

But the Angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” He replied, “Here I am.” Then He said, “Do not lay a hand on the boy or do anything to him. For now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your only son from Me.” Genesis 22:11-12

Thankfully, God sees Abraham’s willingness to obey and stops him before Isaac is slain. He provides a ram for the sacrifice in place of Isaac and reaffirms the promise He has made to Abraham. As Christians, this is a story we have heard many times. However, today there were three little words that stood out to me like never before,

“Here I am.”

Then Isaac spoke to his father Abraham and said, “My father.” And he replied, “Here I am, my son.” Isaac said, “The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Genesis 22:7

Not only does Abraham answer his adored son Isaac like this, but also His Heavenly Father. I found this such a sweet indicator of how deep Abraham’s relationship was with the Lord. We would expect a father to adore his son. Especially after all Abraham and Sarah had been through and the years they had waited to have Isaac. Their love for him obviously running deep as almost all parent’s love for their children.

But how tender it is to see Abraham answer his Heavenly Father when called on with, “Here I am.” This is actually the 7th and the last time God will appear to Abraham and He certainly left the ultimate test for their final meeting. Abraham would never answer the Lord’s voice with these words again, but the fact that after all his time following, learning, hearing from, obeying and loving the Lord had led to an intimate friendship and deep adoration brings a warm smile to my face.

I strive for that same relationship with my Heavenly Father. One where as soon as He calls, I quickly answer without question or hesitation. A relationship full of awe and reverence, but also familiarity, comfort, and ease. And I pray that when He asks the big and the small things of me I will answer, “Here I am.”

This week my prayer is that God will open our ears to hear His call and give us faithful and obedient hearts to answer “Here I am.” May we quickly answer instead of running to hide, offering up an excuse or even pretending we didn’t hear His call at all.

 

 

Genesis 21 – The First Miraculous Birth

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As I’ve said many times already, as we travel through Genesis this year, it’s a book of firsts. And here we see the first miraculous birth. No, Isaac wasn’t born by immaculate conception, as Jesus was, but he was still a miracle. Consider the facts.

The Lord had promised them they would have a child one day, but that was 25 years earlier.  Issac was born Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah was 90.

Abraham and Sarah were old and getting on in years. Sarah had passed the age of childbearing. So she laughed to herself: “After I have become shriveled up and my lord is old, will I have delight?” Genesis 18:11-12 HCSB

Even though people lived longer in the days of the Bible, it’s clear from their comments and laughter that it was not the usual timing for childbearing even in Biblical times.

There is even more proof in Romans when Paul wrote, “He [Abraham] considered his own body to be already dead (since he was about 100 years old) and also considered the deadness of Sarah’s womb, without weakening in the faith.” (v. 19)

Clearly, God didn’t want there to be any question that He was the one who was making this birth happen. Did He want Abraham and Sarah to strengthen their faith and patience muscles? Did He just need to wait for His perfect timing so everything fell into its proper place in history? Or, was He setting the stage right here in the beginning for open hearts and minds to the coming of His Son Jesus and His miraculous birth?

I’m no theologian, but if you have read the entire Bible you understand there’s a common thread woven throughout. A thread of God’s great love, through the sacrifice of His Son, for each of us can be found in every book. So I believe God was preparing all of mankind for the ultimate miraculous birth.  The birth of Jesus!

In fact, if we step back and take a look, we find that Issac wasn’t the only miraculous birth before the final miraculous birth of the Bible took place.

Isaac’s wife, Rebekah, was barren but the Lord blessed her and she had Jacob and Esau. Genesis 25:21

Jacob’s wife, Rachel, was childless. The Lord heard her prayers and she became pregnant and delivered Joseph. Genesis 30:22

Then many years late in Judges, even though we don’t know her name, it tells us she was sterile and the child she gave birth to was Samson. Judges 13:2

And remember Hannah? The Lord had closed her womb for years, but then heard her prayers and He blessed her with Samuel who was the first prophet of Israel. 1 Samuel 1:1

And then, a story we are all most familiar with because of the Gospels. We meet Elizabeth, who was “well along in years” but became pregnant with John [John the Baptist]. Luke 1:18-23

And then only six months after Elizabeth became pregnant, Mary (a virgin) was visited by an angel who told her not to be afraid that she would give birth to a child and would call Him Jesus.  Luke 1:26-35

If we add up all those miraculous births, that started right here in Genesis 21, you see we have seven miraculous births in total. Incredible isn’t it?!
1) Isaac
2) Jacob
3) Joseph
4) Samson
5) Samuel
6) John
7) Jesus

I believe that God still does things like this today, miraculous things! He puts us in situations where there is no other explanation except for His divine intervention. Situations where it couldn’t have been the doctors because even they are baffled. When things work together so perfectly, it’s clear it couldn’t have been my our power because we simply aren’t capable. What about just good luck? I don’t buy that either. Ever heard of the Law of Disorder (similar to the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics)? It states that everything in our universe, when left alone or to itself, moves towards disorder. This world without God as the Master Planner wouldn’t exist. He’s in the details, cares about His children, will carry out His plan and will rule on this earth once again. He still does miraculous things!

Father, as we open your written Word and discover the intricacies it includes may it open our eyes and pry open our hearts to Your grand plan and mysteries. And as you give us a glimpse into your GLORY may it spark a fire in our hearts to seek You, know You and follow You all the days of our lives here and forever more. Amen!