Monday, 10 January 2011

From Waiting to Wrestling

Genesis 25: Abraham remarries after Sarah's death, but she and the descendants she gives him, are not part of the Sarah Covenant Seed Line so at the appropriate time they are given gifts and sent away from that land, for the land covenantally belongs to Isaac.

Then Abraham dies. Isaac and Ishmael bury him and mourn for him together. Abraham was given many promises by God, yet only one was fulfilled in his lifetime - that of a son - the rest remained unfulfilled, but as Hebrews 11 states Abraham remained undaunted by this.

His life and faith was characterised by incredibly humble patience. Patience isn't the only facet of faith, wrestling is too, and as we move to Jacob, God's people learn that wrestling as well as patient waiting are all part of what it means to be under the covenant blessing.

The theme of miraculous conception continues as Isaac prays for Rebekah's womb to be opened. It is opened, but not all is well, something spiritual is going on. Had it been routine kicking, she probably would have asked one of the more experienced mums at the local toddler group what to do, but instead, she seeks the LORD.

There is a godless one (Esau) and a godly one (Jacob) in her womb, and they are wrestling (the theme of Jacob's life) before they even get out!

What is true of the womb plays out in real life. Esau is a godless man, a self-absorbed hunter (seeking glory and dominion). like Nimrod who founded the godless city of Babel. Jacob was a righteous man, waiting for God to exalt him. (Jordan says the word translated peaceful / quiet / plain is hugely misleading and makes him out to be a bit effeminate. The word should be translated righteous - the same word used to describe Job - in stark contrast to his brother.)

Isaac's great failing is his refusal to heed the prophecy given by the LORD to his wife about these boys and he deliberately and disobediently chooses Esau for the blessing over Jacob. There must have been a lot of tension in the household.

Esau so despises God's blessing that he is happy to sell it to Jacob for a bowl of soup. We should not label Jacob as a deceiver for this, he is simply trying (wrestling) to bring about the prophecy spoken of the LORD.

Like a man with man-flu, Esau classically exaggerates his hunger, he could have easily made himself something. The point is he didn't care about God's blessing. And God will not give himself to those who despise him. Esau ate and went on his way without a care in the world for what he had done.

Genesis 26 Once again there is famine in the land, and the family of the seed line are forced to move  into the land of the Philistines. Again the Bible does not condemn Isaac for saying that Rebekah is his sister - for a start it is true - instead God blesses him exceedingly stirring up the envy (and the fear) of the Philistines such that they ask him to leave.

As an aside Gen 26:5 is a fascinating verse and a plain reading would suggest that Moses did not reveal the law, but rather, under God's instruction, formalised what had been around and passed down by oral tradition for centuries and perhaps ever since the the Garden. How else would Noah have known which animals were clean and unclean? Moses wrote it down not because no one knew it, but because Abraham's family had become a nation and needed more formal lines of government / legislation

As I've thought about this I wonder if our problem is that those, like me, who call ourselves 7-day creationists, sub-consciously revert back to an atheist / evolutionary mindset as soon as we leave Genesis 2 rather than seeking to understand the rest of the Bible according to all the foundations laid in its opening two chapters.
Psalm 10 could be the words of Jacob as he faces Esau or David as he faces Saul or even Jesus as he faces the Pharisees.
In Matthew 5 Jesus shows himself to be the prophet Moses said would come as he teaches them on the mountainside just like Moses did at Sinai.

Those who seek the face of God, like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob before them, even when it involves suffering will inherit the same glorious promises as they were waiting for.
In Acts 6 envious men seize Stephen trying to wipe out this testimony that the Spirit has birthed, but it will only lead to a greater spread of the message of new life. With a face like an angel in front of the Sanhedrin, Stephen, with the help of the Spirit, is about to declare the big picture through the Old Testament, they will not listen to him.

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