January 13, 2010

Gen 35-37: Family Feud

Posted in Human Nature tagged , , , , , , , , at 10:51 am by Steve

Remember (v)  — to keep in mind for attention or consideration, to think again

 I have a terrible memory when it comes to my blessings, and a sharp keen memory when it comes to problems, hurts, and failures. Why is that? After Jacob meets with his brother Esau and experiences grace and brotherly love, God says build an altar here that  you may remember what has happened. An altar was built of stone and would stand the test of time. Whenever people would pass by this mass of stone, they would remember what the Lord had given to Jacob. We need to remember what God has given us and we celebrate it every Sunday through worship and the sacraments.

If we fail to remember our blessings, we will become a feverish little clod focused on what we think we deserve not what we’ve been given. If we are to move on the place of bitterness, we must remember the moments of transition and transformation.

37:4 “When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.”

Wow what strong language. They HATED Joseph! What had he done to deserve this family rejection and the events that follow?

All people desperately need love and to feel that others are loved more than you is almost unbearable. Throughout the New Testament, it is made very clear that God loves all His children. Our names are written on the palm of His hand, even the hair on our head are known to Him. “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,” writes the psalmist.

But for Joseph’s brothers, their second place status is more than they can stand and they hate Joseph, their own brother. Nations play this same game on the world stage, each vying for the top super-power status or to bring down those who are doing well. The recent scandal involving Tiger Woods demonstrates that when there is blood in the water, people are more than interested in the downfall of an icon.

Joseph will pay dearly for his brother’s treachery and for Joseph’s pride. Joseph has a dream where his brother’s bow down and serve him, when in actuality, Joseph will deliver his brothers and the fulfillment of this prophecy will take Joseph through some of the most darkest moments in his life.

Are you really sure you want this prophecy Joseph?

Do you understand what it means to be used by God?

Have you ever wanted the limelight without the dark night of the soul that comes with it?


January 10, 2010

Gen 30-31: Born of Envy

Posted in Human Nature tagged , , , at 5:57 pm by Steve

“The envious die not once, but as oft as the envied win applause.” ~Baltasar Gracian

Envy – grieving over the joy and happiness afforded to others

The opening competition between Leah and Rachel is amazing and yet so true to life. Both trying to outdo each other and win the love of Jacob at the expense of the other. Jacob is frustrated with their competition and must feel like a pawn in this battle. Can love flourish in this environment? At one point Rachel even says “I have had a great struggle with my sister, and I have won.” [v7] What has she really won? Alienated from those in her own family, Leah and Rachel have given birth to a family at war with itself. What a fitting image of humanity’s struggle with itself, slowly devouring each other in a struggle that never ends.

It strange to think that the 12 tribes of Israel, the great patriarchs of the nation, were conceived through this human competition and humiliating display of one-upmanship. The final son to be born, Joseph, will ultimately become of the savior of the family and reflection of the coming of Christ. Joseph’s dependence on God and moral integrity finally breaks the cycle for his family. What does his name suggest about what God is offering these envious women, and ultimately humanity?  [Joseph – “God has taken away my disgrace.” Jesus– “full of grace and truth” John 1:14]

Laban and Jacob are also in competition and remind us that the competitive spirit is not limited to just females. Laban recognized Jacob’s prosperity and ascribes it to Jacob’s God, but never seems to inquire more about God’s character for himself. Laban says “I have learned by divination that the LORD has blessed me because of you.” [30:27] But still Laban keeps to the family gods and searches for them among Jacob’s possessions – because they are LOST. What’s really funny is that their gods cannot be found because Rachel is sitting on them?

Have you ever been kept from the Spirit of God because of someone’s actions or attitudes?

what keeps these people in competition? As family, why do they find it so hard to break the cycle of competition and backstabbing?

Have you ever wanted the spiritual depth of others seem to have in abundance but ignore the spiritual disciplines they practice?