January 11, 2010

Gen 32-34:Jacob Struggles

Posted in Historical, Human Nature tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 9:01 pm by Steve

Every Warrior of the Light has felt afraid of going into battle.

Every Warrior of the Light has, at some time in the past, lied or betrayed someone.

Every Warrior of the Light has trodden a path that was not his.

Every Warrior of the Light has suffered for the most trivial of reasons.

Every Warrior of the Light has, at least once, believed he was not a Warrior of the Light.

Every Warrior of the Light has failed in his spiritual duties.

Every Warrior of the Light has said ‘yes’ when he wanted to say ‘no.’

Every Warrior of the Light has hurt someone he loved.

That is why he is a Warrior of the Light, because he has been through all this and yet has never lost hope of being better than he is. ~ Paulo Coelho

Jacob has schemed and manipulated his whole life, but facing his own brother who he betrayed to obtain his birthright he cannot manipulate the past. He tries to appease his brother by sending a series of gifts, but still he cannot find peace. His destiny is set and Esau is coming with over 400 men. A rather ominous sign. What should Jacob do?

In one of the most talked about passages in scripture, Jacob wrestles with God. The exact meaning of this passage is still the subject of much debate, but clearly by morning Jacob is a new man, with a limp. Israel is born in the night of struggles and resolution. Yet Jacob will not let go of God and demands a blessings. Please don’t let me go through all this and not be changed.

I think we’ve all gone through dark nights of the soul when we wrestle with God. Things don’t always turn out like we thought they would and we blame God and try to manipulate events to our advantage. But in the end, God is God and we’re totally dependent upon grace.

Jacob expects the worst when he see Esau, but Esau is not out for vengeance, but to see his brother. Imagine the relief in Jacob heart. He deserves retribution but receive grace. Here is how Jacob responds, For to see your face is like seeing the face of God.”33:10 Israel’s first experience is Grace.

The encounter with Dinah and Shechem has a rather interesting twist. Dinah’s brothers convince Shechem and his clan to be circumcised in order to “purchase” Dinah as a wife. But circumcision was created to establish a covenant between God and His people. Shechem’s father, Hamor, entices Jacob’s family to overlook the indiscretion in order to live in the land and be prosperous. Have you ever been tempted to compromise your values and personal integrity in order to get a raise, a promotion or to look better in the eyes of others?

“You can settle among us; the land is open to you. Live in it, trade in it, and acquire property in it.” 34:10

This section ends with a question for the reader to ponder. Note that no answer is given which leaves room for the reader to draw his/her own conclusions. How should we respond given the sin of Shechem, the deceit of false circumcision, and the slaughter of the cities by Simeon and Levi?

“Should he have treated our sister like a prostitute?” 34:31