~ Click on this link for today's readings ~
Genesis 30:1-31:16 ~ Matthew 10:1-23
Psalm 12:1-8 ~ Proverbs 3:13-15
Old Testament - Today's Genesis chapter 30 readings bring us the account of several of Jacob's sons and a daughter being born - to Leah, Bilhah, Zilpah, and Rachel. Verse 21 in this chapter jumped out at me - "Later she gave birth to a daughter and named her Dinah." Why? Because it reminded me of the book called "The Red Tent" by Anita Diamant. Have you read this book? I just read it for the first time last year and enjoyed it. It was actually recommended to me in a Bible study a couple of years ago, when we were going through this portion of Genesis. The best overview of this book probably comes from the words of it's own back cover - "Her name is Dinah. In the Bible, her life is only hinted at in a brief and violent detour within the more familiar chapters of the Book of Genesis that are about her father, Jacob, and his dozen sons. Told in Dinah's voice, this novel reveals the traditions and turmoils of ancient womanhood—the world of the red tent. It begins with the story of her mothers—Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, and Bilhah—the four wives of Jacob. They love Dinah and give her gifts that sustain her through a hard-working youth, a calling to midwifery, and a new home in a foreign land. Dinah's story reaches out from a remarkable period of early history and creates an intimate connection with the past. Deeply affecting, The Red Tent combines rich storytelling with a valuable achievement in modern fiction: a new view of biblical women's society." I think what this book did for me is really open up my imagination to Biblical times - this book is obviously fiction - but it does a wonderful job of bringing your imagination to what it may have been like to have been living in the days of Jacob and his family. I do think in some ways this book has enhanced my reading of the Bible overall... again, it just opened up my imagination a bit more, which somehow makes what I read in the Bible more real. Hopefully this makes sense.
Actually - huge favor to ask everyone - are there other Biblical fiction books that you have read that you would recommend? The Red Tent is the first Biblical fiction book I have read, and I'd like to read some more. Please post up in the Comments section below any other Biblical fiction books you'd recommend? Thanks!
Verse 37 also jumped out at me in this chapter today - "Now Jacob took fresh shoots from poplar, almond, and plane trees and peeled off strips of the bark to make white streaks on them." It seems in this verse and the ones that follow that Jacob is getting a bit superstitious - and not really asking God for help. Later Jacob does admit that God did do the work of increasing his wealth, and that he didn't do it on his own with his superstitions, as we see in Chapter 31 verse 9 when Jacob is speaking to Rachel & Leah - "In this way, God has made me wealthy at your father's expense." I think it's cool to see that Jacob is starting to realize more and more it seems that God is in control. I wonder for us, today, do we sometimes act like Jacob with the sticks - and rely on superstition or our own power, when we should be relying on God? Are there maybe areas in our work life or personal life where we think we are really running the show? Are we really? Or is God? Will we let our superstitions go, and embrace the reality that God is in control? And - who better is there to be in control, really? :) Actually - I'll share with you a quote someone shared with me once when I was really trying to micromanage a situation - and was worrying and fretting way too much about a situation. The quote is simply this - "Let go. And let God." Let go of what we are hanging on so tight to... and let God run the show. Are there areas in your life where you need to "Let go and let God"?
Wonderful commentary on Genesis chapter 30 & 31 is at this link at bible.org, with an article titled, "Jacob gets Laban's Goat." :)
New Testament - In Matthew chapter 10 Jesus sends out the twelve disciples. Verse 7 stands out - "Jesus sent the twelve disciples out with these instructions: "Don't go to the Gentiles or the Samaritans, but only to the people of Israel--God's lost sheep." Gentiles are anyone who is not a Jew. Samaritans are a race that resulted in intermarriage between Jews and Gentiles after the Old Testament exiles and captivities - as we see in 2 Kings 17:24 - "The king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath and Sepharvaim and settled them in the towns of Samaria to replace the Israelites. They took over Samaria and lived in its towns." This Matthew 10 verse 7 does indicate that Jesus' disciple's ministry was first to the Jews, but soon thereafter the ministry and the gospel message is for all people. As we see in Acts 10:34-35 - "Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right." And certainly as we see in the Great Commission at the end of Matthew, in chapter 28 verses 19 & 20 - "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you."
Matthew 10 verse 16 jumps out - ""Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. Be as wary as snakes and harmless as doves." This is good advice for us today as well. Jesus is still sending us out today. And I do think this teaching is wise - for us to be wary and harmless. It's an interesting line to walk, but I believe a wise one. I believe the only way to really walk this line well is through the blessing of the Holy Spirit. I don't think we can do it on our own...
Psalms - Psalm 12 verses 1 & 2 are intriguing verses for me - "
Help, O LORD, for the godly are fast disappearing! The faithful have vanished from the earth! Neighbors lie to each other, speaking with flattering lips and insincere hearts." Are there days when you feel like this?? :) I think there are some days when I do... but not too many. I guess I sometimes wonder about the state of my heart - or if I've gotten enough sleep the night before :) - when I feel like this Psalmist does. Maybe I'm just trying to be optimistic here... and I know there is truth in these verses... But, I guess I continue to see good and godly people over and over and over again - and am so thankful to God for being surrounded by godly people. Maybe I'm fortunate? I don't know. It is interesting how this verse goes into people talking with "flattering lips and insincere hearts". I do notice this right away when it's happening... particularly the insincerity. Maybe this is something we should ask of ourselves - do we talk at times with flattering lips or insincere hearts? Are we sincere people? I like that thought... being a sincere person. I pray that we all are and can become more and more "sincere" in our dealings with each other. Just simply be sincere...
Proverbs 3:14 is an amazing truth to remember - "For the profit of wisdom is better than silver, and her wages are better than gold." Where are our true wages coming from in our life? Wisdom or money? Are we investing in things eternal - or things material? Which will give us ultimately a better return on investment?
What verses or insights jumped out for you in today's readings? Please post up in the Comments section below!