Genesis 38 – Sex, Drugs & Rock n’ Roll

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I’ll admit that I didn’t really enjoy chapter 38. Do you ever wonder sometimes why they included some of this stuff in the Bible? It’s like a soap opera or a bad reality TV show.  So, what’s the point? As with the many other things we’ve discovered through this year in Genesis, we see yet another thread of the importance of genealogy through, what I’m calling, this “sex, drugs and rock n’ roll” chapter. This uncomfortable chapter is relevant for us because of the people we are introduced to.

In this chapter we are introduced to Tamar, Judah, Zerah, and Pharez, but what’s so special about them? If we search for their names in the Bible, we find them again in an important place. At the beginning of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah.

This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham:Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar, Perez the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram, . . . .  (Matthew 1:1-3)

Although the vivid details of sex, prostitution, and lust can make this chapter a little uncomfortable to read, it’s the “genealogy” factor we need to stay focused on. This knowledge drives an important reminder home for all of us. These people, no matter how messed up, are important because they are the beginning of the bloodline for Jesus, the Son of God. I love the fact that our amazing God uses broken people to produce His one and only Son for our benefit and eternal life. In fact, the amazing thing is that God is still doing this today. He is still in the business of using His broken and sinful children to be His hands and feet in this world.

Now that’s a take-a-away!

 

 

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Genesis 37 – Parental Failures

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If you have been around church for any length of time or even attended Vacation Bible School just once in your life, this story will be very familiar to you. Joseph, the treasured and favorite son of Israel (Jacob) is given a special coat by his father which creates some major family drama. As we will see over the next several chapters, Joseph was an honorable man with Godly character. In fact, commentators point out that there are more chapters written about Joseph than Isaac, Abraham, and anyone else. When studying the Bible, little cues such as this are always intriguing to note and ponder. So, what can we glean from Josephs’s story, character, trials, and faith?

Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his sons, because he was the son of his old age. And he made him a robe of many colors. But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peacefully to him. (v. 3-4). 

If you are a sibling, you totally get the reaction of jealousy and hatred from Joseph’s brothers. Joseph was the baby and was treated as the obvious favorite. We only hear about the coat of many colors he received from his father, but can you imagine all the other little things along the way that led to his brother’s frustrations? Maybe he always got the biggest piece of goat for dinner, never had to take the trash out or fetch the bath water. Shoot, maybe he even got to take the first bath with the clean water.

We discussed family legacies last week and again, we see Israel (Jacob) making the mistake of playing favorites. He knew first hand, from growing up with his parents, how it felt to be dishonored, second best and not the “favorite” son.  Why would he want to put all his other sons in that position, by putting Joseph above them?

This portion of scripture came at the perfect time for me. Just yesterday, I was sitting with a dear friend discussing all the decisions we have to make as parents to give our children the best we have to offer. Sometimes, we make the wrong move and it doesn’t work out the way we intended or have to allow them to learn the hard way on their own. We just have to pray it offers learning lessons and not pain or setbacks. The truth is, we make mistakes as parents, and I think “favoritism” was one of Israel’s mistakes. Although, as we will see, God still accomplishes His great plan for Joseph’s life and his family. It brings me comfort to know that through my failures as a parent, God can work it together for the good of my children and can bring redemption, healing, and blessing through the mess.

Certainly, mistakes and failures are not our first choice, but when we keep praying for God to guide, protect, lead and light the path He desires for us to follow He will make a way.

I hope these verses were a great reminder that you are not alone out there. Parenting is hard, but you aren’t the only one who has tough days, says the wrong thing, or just gets it all wrong sometimes. The truth is, there is no perfect parent out there, just many trying to do the best they can. Is there a friend/parent that you can encourage this week? Do you need a little encouragement? Reach out to a friend and share your struggle or e-mail me. I’ll listen! You are loved!

Genesis 36 – Esau’s Squad

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This would have been a very boring chapter for me, but as God would have it, just a few weeks ago I read some incredible Christian fiction by Ted Dekker. His novel series A.D. 30 and A.D. 33 were fascinating and quite accurate historically and Biblically. The main character, Maviah is an Arabian desert princess who lives in the time of Jesus.  It tells of her adventures in and around Petra and run-ins with Kings such as Herod. I know we are only in Genesis and Herod comes much later, but it was the desert cities that came to life for me in these books and as I read Genesis 36 this week the imagery from Dekker’s books filled my mind as I read about Esau’s family settling in Edom.

Dekker’s books include maps so you can appreciate the travel and journey of his characters. It intrigued me how closely he tied his fiction into historical data, maps, and Biblical scriptures. So, when I read in verse 9 about Edom and the hill country of Seir I wanted to explore more.

The brothers had too many possessions to live together in the same place; the land couldn’t support their combined herds of livestock. So Esau ended up settling in the hill country of Seir (Esau and Edom are the same). So this is the family tree of Esau, ancestor of the people of Edom, in the hill country of Seir. (v. 7-9).

Esau and his descendants filled the land of Edom. From him came thousands and thousands of descendants called the Edomites.  Unfortunately, Esau didn’t just pass down his leadership that we see proven in his lineage as a line of tentmakers, dukes (v. 15) and kings (v. 31). Unfortunately, we also see his great pride and desire to live by his own power than seeking God’s passed down to as well. These words from Obadiah about Edom.

“Listen to this, Edom: I’m turning you to a no-account, the runt of the godless nations, despised. You thought you were so great, perched high among the rocks, king of the mountain, Thinking to yourself, ‘Nobody can get to me! Nobody can touch me!’ Think again. Even if, like an eagle, you hang out on a high cliff-face, Even if you build your nest in the stars, I’ll bring you down to earth.” God’s sure Word. Obadiah 1:3-4

It was a legacy of pride that no one recognized or sought to break for the sake of generations to come. But, God wouldn’t continue to bless a nation of selfish and prideful people. (If you are interested in the outcome, you can read more in Obadiah)

There were two main things that God showed me this week through Genesis 36. One, that reading some really good historical Christian fiction can actually help inspire you when reading/studying the Bible. Two, we all have legacies in our families. Some of those legacies are good and some bad. My prayer this week is that God would reveal to each of us what legacies we are holding on to that are unhealthy or negative influences on our lives, hearts, children, and families. I pray too that He will give us the courage, strength, and power to break the cycles of anger, resentment, pride, selfishness, violence, greed, or __________________________ (you fill in the blank) so that our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren have a chance to live without the shackles of past generations.

 

Genesis 35 – Strange Gods

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Wow! There is a ton of family history and drama that occurs in these 29 verses of Genesis 35. Let’s lay out the big ones from top to bottom.

  1. God tells Jacob to take his family and hit the road to Bethel.
  2. Jacob instructs them to get rid of all their foreign idols and they move forward without trouble from anyone. (Why did Jacob’s peeps still have foreign god’s? Seems like he would have made that rule long before now. Anyway?)
  3. Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, dies and is buried.
  4. God changes Jacob’s name to Isreal. We know how much God loves a name change.
  5. They move on from Bethel and on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem) Rachel dies giving birth to Benjamin. Note, she named him Ben-Oni, but his father named him Benjamin.
  6. Then we are introduced to Reuben. Another sinful son of Leah & Jacob’s like Levi and Simeon we learned about last week. Reuben sleeps with his father’s concubine Bilhah. Let’s be honest, that’s just all kinds of wrong. Yikes.
  7. Jacob/Isreal finally returns home to his father Isaac and at 180 years old Isaac dies his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.

Whew!!! That’s a lot. Keep in mind this didn’t happen in just a couple of days. I don’t know exactly how long it was, but I can say that I have had weeks that felt as if this much happened in just a few days. Ever had one of those?

Even with a packed chapter like this, my heart couldn’t get past sitting on what I mentioned in #2 of our list above.

So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Get rid of the foreign gods you have with you, and purify yourselves and change your clothes.” (v. 2) 

In the Message translation is says, “alien gods” and in the KJV it says, “strange gods”.  Any other than our one true God and Creator is the wrong thing. And so my mind began to consider all of the strange gods that I may have tucked under my camel’s saddle (or in my heart) that I haven’t been paying attention to or identified as idols. I found a few, but I realized that the one at the top of the list is my own children. I’ve let fear blind me into not recognizing it sooner. As of a week ago, I now have two teenagers.  Fear of them being hurt physically, sexually or emotionally, trying drugs, taking the wrong step so they don’t get to attend the college they want, not making the school team they are trying for, being hurt by friends . . . (I could actually keep typing for a while) can be overwhelming.

This fear and worry about my children is an idol that I have placed in line ahead of God. My step today is to pray, place this fear and worry at the feet of my Heavenly Father, ask Him to give me the faith and trust that He loves my children more than I ever could and know that His hand is upon them and the plan He has for their lives.

So, I ask you today. What is your strange god? What keeps your mind and heart spinning and working in a nonproductive way and is hindering trust and faith in your Heavenly Father. It’s more difficult to identify when it isn’t something tangible sitting on a shelf shining in the sunlight, but I assure you it’s just as much of a hindrance. I pray that as you take time to consider this today that God will open your eyes, as He did mine, and give you the courage and strength to identify it, place it at His feet and serve the One and Only God. You are LOVED!