February 26

Genesis 32-35

We are in the World Stream reading about the life of Jacob. We discover more about his return to Canaan. We are reading from the Tree of Life Version this week.

This is truly a portion of Scripture that illustrates when things have come full circle and a beloved returns home is so many ways.

32/33 – Jacob is returning to Canaan. Contrary to how he may feel so often, he is completely blessed. He went to Laban’s world possessing only a walking stick 20+ years ago and now he returns to Canaan basically a prince of a large extended family with flocks and herds and possessions. Angels meet him upon arrival, as they had upon his departure.  What a day! He was assured and blessed when he left 20 years ago. Laban blessed him with a covenant when he left Haran. So He is well off now . . . but the prospect of meeting up with his brother Esau (whom he had tricked years ago) frightened him.  Esau heard from Jacob and was coming to him with 400 men. Numbers of fighting-age men like this have never been a good sign!  So Jacob goes into frantic planning and then sends a gift of 520 animals ahead to hopefully appease a brother who could still be holding a grudge. Jacob waits the night, and while waiting a “man” shows up and comes straight to Jacob and the two wrestle throughout the whole night. It turns out it is an angel and Jacob pleads to be blessed and will not let the angel go until he blesses Jacob. It’s just strange that Jacob is so utterly blessed and yet feels he is not blessed enough!  Btw, this is a common trait among conniving people.  The angel asks a peculiar question, “what is your name?” What did Jacob say last time he was asked this? He called himself Esau. Well was he Esau? Did he want to be Esau? Does he love/miss Esau? He is going to meet Esau – and he is scared beyond belief.  Jacob fesses up to who he is, his name is changed to be what shall become the world’s most prominent country is so many ways.  Memo:  stop playing games, cut the trickster routine, be a reconciler and realize how blessed you are.  Jacob, rather “Israel”, and his brother have a reunion that is most warm, by-gones are now by-gones, and the two part gracious brothers.

34 – Their sister Dinah encounters the treatment of pagan men that enrages her brothers. She is forcefully raped by Shechem, who then after this, declares he loves her. Notice that this is the order of the worldly way: ransack her first, love her later (if ever). The Hebrews are in this land now and will eventually own the country. It is mentioned not in passing but twice that this treatment of virgins or any females for that matter is never to happen. Shechem and his pagan family want to marry- in with the Hebrews as well – something else that is not going to be happening with God’s blessing either. Two of Dinah’s brothers over-react to the rape and Jacob under reacts to his daughters rape. The two brothers especially play a trick on Shechem and his family and seem to agree to Dinah marrying in and joining their family but it is a ruse. Gee, do you ever wonder where these boys learned such cagey behavior. The treachery happens, Jacobs sons kill EVERY male in the city where Shechem and his family are. They plunder the whole town and – and then [finally] there is a reaction from Jacob.  He has a good point that this will cause a stench of hatred and unrest in the area. But Dinah’s brothers have a point too – Dinah is not a prostitute and should not have been treated like one.
35 – God calls Israel and family to depart Shechem.  But first it is time to cleanse themselves and rid themselves of all idols and anything that reminds them of the false religion that they had been around for as long as all of them could remember.  It is time for Jacob -now Israel- to return to where God had met him so dynamically before -to BethEl ! He arrives looking so different than decades ago, so blessed and supplied and strengthened and surrounded with family. And what does God do? He blesses him again and more.  He will have land and be fruitful and become an entire nation – God said so.  Israel commemorates the area.  Benjamin is born and Rachel, his favorite wife, dies. They move on a bit. The family is tallied and listed, they proceed to see Isaac; the grandfather of this tribe.  Then Isaac dies and is buried.  It certainly has been an emotional season for Israel.
“Lord Jesus, assure us that you are with us, that we are blessed and that our journeys in life have great significance as we are on pilgrimage with you. Remind us often that we need to cling to you, not our things and ideas. Remind us that our wrestlings are with you and ultimately not really with others at all. Do not let us forget how blessed we truly are in your Name. Amen”


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