~ Click on this link for today's readings ~
Genesis 32:13-34:31 ~ Matthew 11:7-30
Psalm 14:1-7 ~ Proverbs 3:19-20
Old Testament - Today's Genesis chapter 32 starts off with Jacob preparing presents for Esau. Overall, I thought this was pretty smart. I suppose in some ways you could look at all this as bribery... :) But, I guess I thought Jacob was demonstrating some pretty good business / political principles here. This is something that I do struggle with at times in my own life - a balance of utilizing good business principles versus relying completely on God. I suppose you could argue that Jacob should have simply relied on God to prepare the way for Jacob's meeting with Esau. And this would be a good argument - Esau had become wealthy over the years himself, and seemed to have forgiven Jacob. I do think that while clearly our reliance should be on God and his work and providence first and foremost, that God also wants us to be actively partnering with him. So, I think after we first pray to God about a situation, we should also do the work that we are called to do by God for the situation as well. This is where I think good business / political principles can come into play - as long as they are clearly aligned with the will of God... Again... a fine line to walk, and a line that can only be blessed by the Holy Spirit. We cannot walk this line on our own power or smarts...
Chapter 32 closes out with Jacob wrestling with God.... or an angel... or God in the form of an angel... or Christ preincarnate?.... or Michael the archangel.... You can see there are a few views here on just who Jacob was wrestling with. :) Clearly, God ordained whoever was wrestling with Jacob and I do think it could have been God himself in maybe an angelic form. It was obviously not God himself in all of his glory..... ummmm... cuz he woulda whooped Jacob in a wrestling match! :) But, you do see the quick power of whom Jacob was wrestling in verse 25 when "he struck Jacob's hip and knocked it out of joint at the socket." Please do let us know your insights on who Jacob was wrestling this night in the Comments section below? Thanks.
Chapter 32 verse 28 is an incredibly important verse - ""Your name will no longer be Jacob," the man told him. "It is now Israel, because you have struggled with both God and men and have won."" This is interesting to know! Israel means "God struggles" or "one who struggles with God." It is also interesting I think to see that God gives people new names at times in the Bible, and the names are reflective of their new lives with God. Abram becomes Abraham. Sarai becomes Sarah. Jacob becomes Israel. Simon becomes Peter.
In Genesis chapter 34 Jacob and Esau meet again! I found verses 5, 6, & 7 interesting. Jacob presents his concubines and sons first - then Leah and sons - and then Rachel and Joseph. I read a commentary that he was keeping his favorite wife and son back, as the last presentation to Esau - just in case anything should go wrong with Esau and the introductions of his family... Meaning, if any violence erupted - Rachel and Joseph would hopefully be removed from it. It is interesting to see Jacob still relying on his smarts.... maybe more so than God's protection here? Hard to know... again, that fine line! :)
In verse 14 of this chapter we see Jacob being deceitful again - "So go on ahead of us. We will follow at our own pace and meet you at Seir."" He did not follow Esau and meet him at Seir, as we will see in the next chapter....
Genesis chapter 34 is a chapter where we see a lot of violence. It is interesting to note that the name of God ends chapter 33 and begins chapter 35, but is completely absent from this chapter.... As there is quite a bit going on in this chapter, I'm going to punt :) over to Bob Deffinbaugh at bible.org for his commentary on this chapter - surf down to about midway at this link.
New Testament - Matthew chapter 11 opens up with Jesus teaching about the importance of John the Baptist's ministry and the transitioning from the old covenant to the new covenant, which can be seen in verse 13 - "For before John came, all the teachings of the Scriptures looked forward to this present time." Basically, this could be rephrased that all of the Old Testament was prophesying about the coming of Jesus and the Kingdom of Heaven.
Verse 20 is a convicting one - "Then Jesus began to denounce the cities where he had done most of his miracles, because they hadn't turned from their sins and turned to God." This is something for each of us to really examine ourselves on. Have we heard Jesus' teachings? Do we believe in his miracles? And in light of these things - have we turned from our sins? And have we turned to God?
Verses 28 through 30 are amazing verses for each of us to consider, particularly if we are struggling with the burden of sin or the burden of legalism or the burden of worry or the burden of regrets (and the list could go on... you fill in the blank for your life) in our lives - "Then Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light." Is there something in your life that you are carrying on your own that is weighing you down? Do you want relief and rest from this thing that you are carrying? Will you give it over to Jesus? Will you seek rest for your soul in Jesus?
Psalms - Psalm 14 could be seen at first glance as a discouraging Psalm for us as we look at verse 3 - "But no, all have turned away from God; all have become corrupt.
No one does good, not even one!" I think it is good to keep in mind that there is truth in this verse - but also to keep in mind that this verse was written before Jesus came to the earth. Jesus will fufill the prophecies of the Old Testament and give us the hope spoken of in the closing of this Psalm in verse 7 - "Oh, that salvation would come from Mount Zion to rescue Israel! For when the LORD restores his people, Jacob will shout with joy, and Israel will rejoice." Do you recognize the salvation that has come to us? Are you shouting for joy for this salvation? Are you rejoicing!
Proverbs chapter 3 verses 19 & 20 are so truthful. If you look at the amazing way in which nature works, I don't see how you cannot believe in God. Could all of this majesty around us be just random? Or do you believe as verse 19 teaches us - "By wisdom the LORD founded the earth; by understanding he established the heavens"?
What verses or insights jumped out for you in today's readings? Please post up in the Comments section below!