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I like Bob`s conclusion on Gen 27 that Man’s sin can never frustrate the will of God, but it can fulfill it. God is so great that he can even use our free sinful choices to work out his overall plan: he is omni-competent.

But how much better for Jacob if he hadn`t meddled in trying to make God´s plan happen himself. God would have fulfilled the profesy at his birth that he would be first, anyway. But in making it happen himself he had to leave his family for some years. How often do we try to help God bless us, rather than just obeying, and leaving him to honor us?

How often in life we try to "help" God by using our own methods, as if He is unable to achieve His will without our help. Sarah "helped" God by offering Hagar to Abraham, Abraham "helped" God by saying Sarah was his sister as if God could not protect Sarah. And today's reading of Rebekah, Isaac, Jacob, and Esau all reveal the same tendency. God help us to see who we are inside, our proclivity to sin and then see the magnificent power of God whose purposes cannot be thwarted by our simple schemes! Thank God He is always in control.

How often I try to rationalize what I do in order to make things work out from my perspective but truth is, I am showing God a lack of trust in Him. What a great lesson today....truth is, I am not unlike Rebekah or Sarah. Dear God, help me to live trusting You.

A few thoughts, up for discussion, shaping and correction as always, regarding Jacob and Esau:

1. We don't see Esau being much more moral than Jacob when he sets in his heart to murder him! Sure "a lifetime of competition and now this ultimate betrayal" ... but there's no justification for murder is there?

2. As we read on we'll see that God does sort Jacob out. In Genesis 32:27, Jacob is made to admit his name which means "deceiver". He is made to admit his nature and his character, to face who he is. He is set free and his name is changed to "Israel" which means "he struggles with God".

3. We'll also see that God does restore Jacob's and Esau's relationship (Genesis 33).

Sorry to spoil what's in store ;-) But the point is that we can often find situations that seem wrong, immoral, unrighteous, sinful, yet God is using it to accomplish something wonderful in a longer time-frame. As Jayson says, sin is not God's will, but He is able to sovereignly use all things for good and that includes our sinful nature (Romans 8:28).

Given a lifetime of competition and betrayal on Jacob's part, a lifetime of apathy regarding birthright on Esau's part and repressed resentment, is there any other way God could have sorted these two guys out? I really don't know, but I'm pretty sure a human counsellor would have failed miserably! You can't doubt the wisdom and sovereignty of God when you see what happens later. (Not that their sinful actions aren't without consequences.)

It's almost like God sees their fighting in the womb and weaves a wonderful, elaborate (even romantic?) and patient plot to have their natures changed and the two of them reconciled.

On Jacob receiving Esau's blessing, the younger receiving the blessing instead of the elder is a theme that runs throughout the Torah. I do not think it was God's will for Rebekah to cheat, but I do believe that it was God's sovereign will for Jacob to receive the blessing. It seems to show us that God chooses who he wills, not who we will. This certainly seems to be the teaching of the NT:

Romans 9:13-18
"As it is written, 'Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.'

What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, 'For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.' So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills."

We see God choosing Jacob by God's plan and purpose.I guess this is a good thing to consider when we look at people with messed up lives,living for themselves,etc...God calls us all.Isaac shows us how important it is to let God provide instead of fighting for our "rights"...this really stood out.Even today there are so many people who want you to do all the work while they take all the credit...God is watching.He didn't give Isaac back the wells he dug,didn't seem to strike his enemies down either yet Isaac still prospered.
I know a lot of people have an issue with tithes and offerings...they call it the old testament law,some say it's only for the jews that had levites as priests...We really don't complain as much about taxes do we...I don't think God gave the Law for Israel as punishment....nor did He ask us to bring our first fruits/offerings so God could get rich...Like Isaac didn't hold a grudge that others got the benefits of his work,should we really be judging what our leaders in church do with our money/use it as an excuse not to give.Everyone is going to be judged accordingly,God isn't some tryant that enjoys giving orders...He loves us and knows what's best for us...that's why He said "this book of the law should never depart from our mouth but we are to meditate on it day and night to make our way successful(I'm paraphrasing)Joshua 1:8...note it didn't say so God can be successful...He already is,He just wants the best for us.....If we let go of our ways,our dreams,our lives and give them all to Him.....He'll never let us down....There's more to life than what we see....
God bless you all

REQUEST FOR PRAYER

God put on my heart that I needed to go see my mother last fall. She is getting up in years, and I needed to see her to ask her forgiveness for a rift that has kept us apart for ten years. Also felt a pressing need to share the gospel with her, and tell her the story of my salvation 2/12 years ago. Things came up and I used that as an excuse not to go.

Found out at Christmas that Norma (my mom) has been put in assisted living complex. The official story was just to keep an eye on her in "old age". So I bought a plane ticket, for the end of the month (Jan31st - Feb4th).

Problem is my mother in the past has refused to see me. I called my sister to tell her I was coming up and asked her to mediate a short visit for me. In the past my sister has refused. She had no desire to get in the middle of our feud. Since my sister and I had just reconciled and re-established our relationship last year - I bowed to her concerns.

Tonight on the phone I was told that it would not be a good idea since she has advanced Alzheimer disease and is out of it most of the time and paranoid. I asked her to try to arrange a visit anyway. Anyone my sister or mother wished could be in the room. I just wanted a short time to sit with my mother even if she was out of it.

A lot of people have been praying about this in the last week. To my surprise my sister said she would see what she could do, and would get back to me this weekend.

My prayer request is for the visit to be arranged, and that my mother will be in a lucid state. That her heart will be softened, and she will forgive me (rebuffed in the past in letters and phone call), and that I may be able to share the gospel with her.

If no visit is arranged, I am going anyway, and trust that God will provide a way. If I do get in, I have no idea what I am going to say - but again trust God will provide the words needed to be heard by my mother. Did not know how to go about asking my sister tonight - but the words just seemed to come out of nowhere, and it worked out. I would appreciate prayer for this situation.

May God bless your journey John and grant you success in building a bridge to your mom. May He keep you in His perfect peace and grant you favor and the right words to say.

I am so excited to have found this blog. Having read through the Bible several times on my own, I am ready to hear commentaries as I read. I love the insight and challenges that are presented, but mostly I love the way God is exalted as Sovereign, yet good! John, I will pray that God will guide your every step and word as you attempt to reconcile with your Mom. Please let us know how it goes.

John, I, too, will be praying for reconciliation. I believe God would like nothing more than to give this blessing to both of you. Oh Lord, let it be. Amen.

I appreciate the comments regarding our relationship to 'sinners' in the world. I don't like to compartmentalize my friendships. To be honest, I have been a follower of Jesus for 32 years and I am disillusioned with much of the 'in house' Christianese that has emerged. Interesting that Jesus actually hung out with 'the scum' (what a very poor choice of words to describe people, by the way). The unfortunate thing is that I know so called Christians who only see 'lost people' as people who need to be saved and that's it.
I think it's important that we love people even if they never come to love our Jesus. God loves us that way--unconditionally. I love that our Lord Jesus created real space to be with people, to linger with them so much, that they perceived Him to be one of them, yet they saw Him as someone so unique. Interesting that JEsus used an old testament passage to indicate His disdain of religion and His desire for love. "Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: 'I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifice." For I have come to all not those who think they are righteous but those who know they are sinners." Now there's a mission statement to adopt for a new year!!!

Reading chapter 27 from Genesis I was very irritated by all the conspiracy ... I know there will be probably different point of views on this. But I don't get it why Isaac only wants to pronounce blessings to his firstborn and not Jacob to. Or are the blessings specificly for Esau? Also, I don't understand why Rebekah talks Jacob into doing this. I don't think you can take someone's blessing away, especially not by deceiving someone. But at the other hand I think Isaac is favouring Esau over Jacob. Let me know if I miss something here ...

Matthew 9:12 stood out for me "When Jesus heard this, he said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.” ... Do we need Jesus? Are we sinners? Or, do we think we are already "good enough" on our own? ~ I defenitly need Jesus! I'm not good enough on my own. Especially not when satan attacks me, I get frustrated and confused when I have attacks. And I really need Jesus in times like that! I'm not strong enough, at least not YET. I believe Jesus is God and we need to get to Him first and He leads us. I do believe Jesus as a man from flesh and blood (Hebrews 5:2 And he is able to deal gently with ignorant and wayward people because he himself is subject to the same weaknesses). But yes, he's God. And I need him, to stay spiritually healthy ...

Psalm 10:17 You will bring justice to the orphans and the oppressed, so mere people can no longer terrify them. ~ I absolutely listen ... comfort them, pray for them. All things I can do, I will do for them.

So, how are you doing with finding time to talk and dine with folks who perhaps do not yet know God or Jesus? Do you think this is something you should be doing? ~ Tomorrow I will go on the streets of our city and preach the gospel. Talk to people and ask them if they know God or Jesus. I wanted to do it for a long time, but I figured "What can I tell them? I'm only a baby in this". Now I'm a bit further ... and I know I can share my experiences with the unsaved. Even though I'm only saved for 5 months, the Lord already showed me A LOT! He gives me all that I need and He healed me from my terrible headaches and He healed me from a lot more. He made me a better person in all I do and I know I can share that with unsaved people. We're going to sing downtown and my pastor will preach ... then all of us will walk around in the city and talk to people, approach them and talk with them. I'm very excited!!! I love the Lord and I hope I can help people to make their decision!!!

Mae - I will be praying for you and your team of people going out to spread some Jesus!! Blessings to you all! I can't wait to hear all about it! I love you, Girl!

There's so much going on in Genesis on today's readings...but what stood out the most is just a general thing...families arguing and fighting and conspiring, etc...just like today! Things haven't changed much. I'm an only child - so I have no idea what it's like to grow up with brothers and sisters around...but my mom has 2 brothers...and right now, unfortunately, there is a big mess going on since my grandma died. It's so sad...and I hate it for them. I won't get into all the details, but it runs along the lines of "who gets what" - kind of like Jacob and Esau - and who gets the birthright and the blessing....

The verse in Matthew that stood out for me was "I desire mercy, not sacrifice" - Jesus wants us to be compassionate for "sinners" - after all, someone was compassionate for us at one time. Your question about "dining with sinners"... yes it is very easy to get caught up in my own little circle of saved friends. But I was remined this week just how quickly life can be taken. My friend's sister died very unexpectedly...I don't believe she was saved, although I know only God knows for sure...but my friend is just beside herself. God reminded me that I have not been making much effort to see her lateley and that I need to do that. Also, I am having lunch and a shopping trip with another friend on Monday...I have been sharing Jesus with her for about 3 years! Still not wanting anything to do with it. I pray God will let me be a light on Monday for her and maybe something new will spark in her heart!

Funny in Proverbs...I just heard a sermon this morning regarding firstfruits and bringing the whole tithe...Hmmmm...that usually means God is trying to tell me something! I ove tithing! So I will definitely be in prayer about this! :0)

Mae: "...But I don't get it why Isaac only wants to pronounce blessings to his firstborn and not Jacob to. Or are the blessings specificly for Esau? Also, I don't understand why Rebekah talks Jacob into doing this. I don't think you can take someone's blessing away, especially not by deceiving someone. But at the other hand I think Isaac is favouring Esau over Jacob. Let me know if I miss something here ..."

Hi Mae. The birthright was an ancient custom in biblical times. I am not sure how it actually origniated but apparently it was approved by God. Isaac was just following that traditional custom. The blessings of the birthright was taken away from Esau by God Himself. It would have been Esau's if he had not forefeited it by despising it in God's sight. Yes, there was favoritism on the part of both parents and, though the Bible doesn't say, there was probably a sibling rivalry between the boys. What Rebekah and Jacob did wasn't right but God used it to fulfill His own purposes. Remember that God knew all of this was going to happen in advance ( Genesis 25:23 ) and spoke of it to Rebekah before Esau and Jacob were born. Actually the birthright is also an Old Testament figure of Jesus Christ of whom The Bible says, is the "FIRSTBORN from the dead" ( Colossians 1:18 ) and is head of the "Church of the FIRSTBORN, which is written in Heaven " ( Hebrews 12:23 ) which is probably one reason why God was angry with Esau for taking his birthright so lightly. I hope this was helpful to you, Mae.

Gen 26

Not sure if it means anything, but from Gen24:62 - Gen 26. Isaac is associated with seven wells. Just thought I would mention it.

Gen26:34-35
"When Esau was forty years old, he married Judith daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and also Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite. They were a source of grief to Isaac and Rebekah." NIV

Abraham, Isaac and Jacob all have one wife. Esau marries two and they are pagans. We see all through the OT that this is a source of problems for the nation of Israel. The men of Israel stray from the Lord and get enticed by the worship practices of their wives.
======================================================
Matt 9

Verse 3
"At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, "This fellow is blaspheming!" NIV

When talking with atheists or members of certain other religions - I am often told. "Jesus never said he was God". That is not true, but this verse points out that even the people of the time knew Jesus was claiming deity.

The Pharisees and scribes knew that only God could forgive sins. They considered his statement a blasphemy.

THE CALLING OF MATTHEW
"There is archaeological evidence that fish taken from the Sea of Galilee were taxed. So Jesus took as His disciple the taxman that may have been taking money from Peter, James, and John and the other fishermen among the disciples. This might have made for some awkward introductions!" - David Guzik

Verse 13a
"But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.'"

From Hosea 6:6 the Hebrew word for mercy is "checed" and may be better translated "faithfulness" - faithfulness to God will produce the qualities of love and mercy. The nation of Israel in Hosea was doing the sacrifices, but they were ritualistic and with not the right heart.

Jesus seems to be saying if you were faithful to the God you claim to follow, then you would have love and mercy regarding these sinners. Pointing out a flaw in the Pharisees.

Verse 17b
No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved."

While the previous verses seem to point out the incompatability of Jesus teaching with the LAW and Judaism. This verse seems to foreshadow Christianity.

The new teaching goes into a new body and is kept whole. When we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, we have a regenerated heart and a new Spirit. The new teaching flourishes in the new inner body - and it is the only way to receive Jesus.

The themes that strike me today are:

1) Following God & Seeking Refuge: Matthew 9 v. 12 & 13 "It is not the wealthy who need a doctor bu the sick...for I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners" Psalm 10 v. 17 & 18 "...you encourage them and listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed"

2) God's renewal: Matthew 9 v. 17 "...they pour new wine into new wineskins"

3) Honouring God: Proverbs 3 v. 9 "Honour the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops."

My prayer response to these themes is:

"God I thank you that you call sinners, you don't expect us to me perfect but, because I have come to you, you have made me into a new wineskin (I am 'born again') and thank you for filling me with the new wine, your Holy Spirit.

Thank you that I can seek refuge in you.

I choose today to give you my firstfruits."

OOPS
"Abraham, Isaac and Jacob all have one wife."

Jacob had two wives. I forgot about Leah. At least they were not Hittites, but of approved relatives. Sorry.

QUESTIONS OF THE DAY:

"…Like Jesus, will we talk and dine with "sinners" in our lives today? Or, do we consider ourselves somehow "above" talking and dining with sinners? …So, how are you doing with finding time to talk and dine with folks who perhaps do not yet know God or Jesus? Do you think this is something you should be doing? "

When I got saved not only did I become acutely aware of my own sins but also the sins of others too. So I have to admit that there have been times when I have had the attitude of the scribes and Pharisees. I often prefered to eat alone on my lunch break at work. It wasn’t that I looked down on my co-workers or thought that eating with them was beneath me, at least not consciously, but sometimes I just didn’t feel like being around anybody. Some probably thought I was unsociable because of it and maybe I was. If anything I need to break out of my tendency to be a loner when around unbelievers. It seems to bother some of them and perhaps isn't a good testimony before unbelievers.

GENESIS 26:17-27:46

In this passage of Scripture we see another thing Esau did which caused him to forfeit his birthright and his part in the Abrahamic covenant as far as God was concerned: Esau intermarried with two Canaanite women ( 26:34 ) which was contrary to the will of God ( 24:2-4 ) and also displeased his parents ( 26:35 ) who knew the will of God in this matter. After Isaac had blessed Jacob he charged his younger son to not commit the same error ( 28:1 ).


MATTHEW 9:1-17

Here we see an example of sickness being correalated with sin in a person’s life ( v.2 ). This is not always the reason why people get sick but sometimes it is. In this case apparently it was because Jesus said to the sick man, “…THY SINS be forgiven thee “ ( v.2 )

There are two things in this passage that point to the deity of Jesus Christ: 1) His omniscience ( v.4 ) and His authority to forgive sins ( v.6 ). Only God knows the thoughts of men and only God can forgive sins.


PSALM 10:16-18

Before I read my Bible in the morning I often ask the Lord to “prepare” my heart ( v.17 ), or to establish my thoughts. I must have learned to pray that way from reading this Scripture among others.


PROVERBS 3:9-10

Many Christians do not believe that tithing is for today but was something practiced by God’s people under the Law. However, we have already seen in this study that Abraham gave tithes to Melchizedek ( Genesis 14:20 ) which was long before God gave the law to Moses. It is true that there is no command in the New Testament to tithe. Although Jesus, in rebuking the scribes and Pharisees for their hypocrisy, mentioned their dilligence in tithing while neglecting the moral aspects of the Law. As he reminded them of the importance of observing the moral law he also nonetheless, in reference to tithing, said not to leave it undone ( Matthew 23:32 ). So it is my conviction that though tithing it is not commanded in the New Testament Scriptures it still remains a biblical principle for blessing by God and the standard for generous giving on the part of God's people. The reason that God did not make it a commandment is because He wanted it to be a voluntary act of worship in giving.

“ Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.”

- 2 Corinthians 9:7 (KJV)

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