Israel 2016

Israel 2016
Roman architectural influence in Bet Sean, Israel

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Canonical Reading Plan for Jan 9, Gen 27-29

Today's readings are Gen 27-29.

In Gen 25:23, God promised Rebekah that Esau would serve Jacob. Jacob gave up his birthright in Gen 25:31-33. In Gen 27, this promise comes full circle when, through deception, Rebekah and Jacob conspire for Jacob instead of Esau to receive Isaac's blessing. This is a tough passage to reconcile. It makes no determination or judgment on the motives of Jacob and his mother. 
It neither endorses nor condemns the deception and manipulation. It only depicts the outcome. Neither are we told whether these events contribute to the bad decisions Esau makes. However, we do see that Esau has a vengeful and hate-filled heart that leads him to want to kill Jacob. Both boys have their faults. The whole scenario shows that God uses all circumstances to work for our good and His glory.

Jacob travels to Paddan-aram, in Gen 28, to find an appropriate wife among his uncle's tribe. Along the way, he has a vision of a ladder to heaven. We know from the incident at the Tower of Babel (Gen 11) that man cannot, of his own power ascend into heaven. What is revealed to Jacob is that God can and will come to earth. God is graciously revealing Himself to a flawed but blessed Jacob. 

In Paddan-aram, Jacob (his name means “deceiver”) is deceived (Gen 29:9-30). After laboring for seven years to marry the beautiful Rachel, Jacob is tricked by Laban into marrying Leah, a girl no one seems to want. Jacob loves Rachel so much, he stays on another seven years to marry Rachel too. The one who has manipulated so many close to him becomes the victim of manipulation! In the end, Laban marries of both his daughters and Jacob has his prize, Rachel.

But Rachel is barren. At first, only Leah is enabled by God to provide children for Jacob. Zilpah and Bilhah, servants of Leah and Rachel, are mentioned. A little later, they will play important parts in the narrative. 

Leah produces four sons; Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah. Be mindful of the names. These sons are the beginnings of the twelve tribes. God is using the outcast girl to begin fulfilling His promise to Abraham and Isaac. He does it through a seriously flawed man and a woman that no one wanted. God loves and uses both! The plan of redemption is moving along quite nicely even though those whom God is using have their private and public struggles.  

Amid all this, there is tremendous tension in Jacob's household. While some may think the folks in the Bible are near-perfect, we see that God uses flawed, dysfunctional families and flawed people to do His most powerful work! This puts His glory on display. He is in the process of transforming a messy, deeply flawed group of people into a nation that will impact the world and eventually be the home of the Savior.

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