The Theology of the Cross and Walking with a Limp

God sacrifices himself for those who are weak. What if the cross is the way God works through everyone he loves? We wrestle for blessings from our work, family and other idols but we can only get blessings from God. Tim Keller explores this thesis and says that all Christians with true joy have a limp like Jacob.

From the Gospel & Culture Conference November 2 & 3, 2012

VIDEO by RedeemerCFW

Reclame

Jacob – (1) father of Israel (and of Joseph)

Pentru traducere automata, fa click aici – Romanian

THE DEVISING BROTHER – Gen 25:27-34

  • He pressures Esau into trading his birthright.

THE DECEITFUL SON – Gen 27:6-29

  • He tricks his father to receive the blessing.

THE DREAMING PILGRIM – Gen 28:10-22

  • He sees a ladder set up from earth to heaven at Bethel.
  • Angels are ascending and descending upon it.
  • God confirms to him the Abrahamic Covenant.
  • Upon awakening he anoints a rockpile and vows to serve God.

THE LOVE-STRUCK SUITOR – Gen 29:1-20

  • He meets Rachel, his cousin and future wife, beside a well.
  • Here begins one of history’s great love stories.
  • He promises Rachel’s father Laban (Jacob’s uncle and future father in law) he will work seven years for her hand in marriage.

THE FRUSTRATED FAMILY MAN – Gen 29:21; 30:24

  • He is deceived on his wedding night by Laban who secretly substitues Leah (Rachel’s older sister) for Leah.
  • Jacob is furious, but agrees to work yet another seven years for Rachel.
  • He now has two wives and would gather yet another two, for both Rachel and Leah present to him their personal handmaids for childbearing purposes.

THESE  FOUR  WOMEN  WOULD  BEAR  JACOB  TWELVE  SONS AND  ONE  DAUGHTER

You can find a great chronology of the birth of Jacob’s children, here, in the Grace Theological Seminary Journal.(12 page pdf). You can also read about the prophecies for the 12 tribes and some other pertinent facts here.

THE ENTERPRISING EMPLOYEE – Gen.30:25

  • Jacob goes into business with Laban and becomes a wealthy man
  • Upon being ordered by God to return home, he breaks camp without telling Laban
  • Laban chases him down and accuses Jacob (among other things) of stealing his household gods
  • Laban and Jacob come to a truce and build a memorial pile of stones

THE DETERMINED WRESTLER – Gen 32:1-33:20

  • Jacob learns that Esau is on his way to meet him with 400 men
  • Filled with fear, Jacob wrestles with God in prayer all night long by the Brook Jabbok.
  • He is reassured by God for this and his name is changed from Jacob to Israel.
  • The ensuing meeting between Israel and Esau is very friendly.

THE  ENRAGED  FATHER – Gen 34:1-31; 35:22; 38:1-30

  • Over the sin of murder, committed by Levi and Simeon                              1) These boys trick a group of desert men (whose leader had seduced Dinah, their sister) into circumcising themselves. (2) On the third day when they are helpless to defend themselves because of their self-inflicted wounds, Jacob’s two sons slaughter them like animals.
  • Over the sin of adultery committed by Reuben (Gen 35:22) Reuben lay with Bilhah, his father’s concubine and all Israel heard of it.
  • Over the sin of adultery, committed by Judah (1)To seek revenge upon Judah,Tamar his daughter-in-law, disguises herself as a common harlot and entices him. Tamar becomes pregnant and Judah orders her death until he finds out who the father of the child really is.

THE OBEDIENT PATRIARCH – Gen 35:1-15

  • Jacob is ordered by God back to Bethel
  • In preparation for this trip, Jacob instructs his household to destroy their idols and prepare their hearts.
  • He builds an altar at Bethel and calls it „El Bethel”–the God of the house of God.

THE SORROWING SAINT – Gen 35:16-20; 37:31-35

  • He loses his beloved wife, Rachel, in childbirth
  • He buries his father Isaac
  • He is led to believe that Joseph has been killed and eaten by a wild beast.

The Story of Jacob (2) the Father of Israel) Genesis 25-33

Pentru traducere automata, fa click aici – Romanian

Click here to read Genesis 25-33, the Biblical account of the life of Jacob.

some excerpts taken from D.A.Carson’s ‘For the Love of God” Volume I:

by D.A Carson

Genesis 27 is in many ways a pathetic, grubby account. Earlier Esau had despised his birthright (25:34); now Jacob swindles him out of it. In this Jacob is guided by his mother Rebekah, who thus shows favoritism among her children and disloyalty to her husband. Esau throws a tantrum and takes no responsibility for his actions at all. indeed, he nurses his bitterness and plots the assassination of his brother. The family that constitutes the promised line is not doing very well.

Yet those who read the passage in the flow of the entire book remember that God himself had told Rebekah, before the twin brothers were born, that the older will serve the younger (25:23) Perhaps

Jacob blessed instead of Esau

that is one of the reasons she acted as she did: apparently she felt that God needed a little help in keeping his prediction, even immoral help. Yet behind these grubby and evil actions God is mysteriously working out his purposes to bring the promised line to the end he has determined. Certainly God could have arranged to have Jacob born first, if that was the man He wanted to carry on the line. Instead, Esau is born first, but Jacob is chosen, as if to say that the line is important, but God’s sovereign, intervening choosing is more important than mere human seniority, than mere primogeniture.

The name „Bethel” means House of God. The event that gave rise to the name (Gen. 28) was a mixed bag. There is Jacob, scurrying across the miles to the home of his uncle Laban. Ostensibly he is looking for a godly wife–but the previous chapter makes clear that he wishes to escape being assassinated by his own brother in the wake of his own tawdry act of betrayal and deceit. Judging by the requests he makes to God, he is in danger of having too little food and inadequate clothing, and he is already missing his own family (28:20-21)Yet here God meets him in a dream so vivid that Jacob declares,”How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, this is the gate of heaven” (28:17).

For his part, God reiterates the substance of the Abrahamic Covenant to this grandson of Abraham. The vision of the ladder opens up the prospect of access to God, of God’s immediate contact with a man who up to this point seems more driven by expedience than principle. God promises that his descendants will multiply and be given this land. The ulrimate expansion is also repeated: „All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring” (28:14). Even at the personal level, Jacob will not be abandoned, for God declares, „I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back over to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you” (28:15).

Awakened from his dream, Jacob erects an altar and calls the place Bethel. But in large measure he is still wheeler-dealer. He utters a vow: If God will do this and that and the other, if I get all that I want and I hope for out of this deal, „then the Lord will be my God” (28:20-21).

And God does not strike him down! The story moves on: God does all that he promised, and more. All of Jacob’s conditions are met. One of the great themes of Scripture is how God meets us where we are: in our insecurities, in our conditional obedience, in our mixture of faith and doubt, in our fusion of awe and self interest, in our understanding and foolishness. God does not disclose Himself only to the greatest and most stalwart, but to us, at our Bethel, the house of God.

When I was a child in Sunday School, I learned the names of the twelve tribes of Israel by singing a simple chorus: „These are the names of Jacob’s sons:/Gad and Asher and Simeon,/Reuben, Issachar, Levi,/Judah, Dan and Naphtali-/Twelve in all, but never a twin–/Zebulun, Joseph and Benjamin.”

But many more years passed before I grasped how important are the twelve tribes in the Bible’s storyline. Many of the dynamics of the rest of  Genesis turn on their relationships. The organization of the nation of Israel depends on setting aside one tribe, the Levites, as priests. From another son, Judah, springs the Davidic dynasty that leads to the Messiah. Over the centuries, the tribe of Joseph would be divided into Ephraim and Manasseh; in substantial mesaure, Benjamin would merge with Judah. By the last  book in the Bible, Revelation, the twelve tribes of the old covenant constitute the counterpoint to the twelve apostles of the new covenant: this twelve by twelve matrix (i.e. 144, in the symbolism of this apocalyptic literature) embraces in principle the whole people of God.

Jacob meets Rachel by Raphael 1518

But, what tawdry beginnings they have in Genesis 30. The deceit of Laban in Genesis 29, which resulted in Jacob’s marrying both Leah and Rachel, now issues in one of the most unhealthy instances of sibling rivalry in holy Scripture. Each of these women from this family is so eager to outshine the other that she gives her handmaid to her husband rather than allow the other to get ahead in the race to bear children. So self-centered and impetuous are the relationships that another time Rachel is prepared to sell her husband’s sex time to her sister Leah for a few mandrakes. Polygamy has taken hold, and with it a mess of distorted relationships.

From these painful and frankly dysfunctional family relationships spring eleven sons and one daughter (the birth of the last son, Benjamin, is reported in chap. 35). Here are the origins of the twelve tribes of Israel, the foundations of the Israelite nation. Their origins are not worse than those of others; they are merely typical. But already it is becoming clear that God does not deal with this family because they are consistently a cut above other families. No, he uses them to keep his covenantal promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He graciously perseveres with them to bring about his grand, redemptive purposes. The tawdry family dynamics cannot possibly prevent the universe’s  sovereign from keeping his covenantal vows.

In Genesis 32 Jacob is returning home  and he is still frightened half to death of his brother…Jacob left the tents of his parents a single man, taking almost nothing with him, while here he returns home a rich, married man with many children.

But the deepest differences between the two journeys are reflected in Jacob’s changed attitude toward God. On the outbound trip, Jacob takes no initiative in matters divine. He simply goes to sleep (Gen 28). It is God who intervenes with a remarkable vision of a ladder reaching up to heaven. When Jacob awakens, he acknowledges that what he experienced was some sort of visitation from God (28:16-17), but his response is to barter with God: if God will grant him security, safety, prosperity, and ultimately a happy return home, Jacob for his part will acknowledge God and offer him a tithe.

Now it is rather different. True, God again takes the initiative: Jacob meets angelic messengers (32:1-2). Jacob decides to act prudently. He sends some of his people ahead to announce to Esau that his brother is returning. This spawns devastating news: Esau is coming to meet him, but with 400 men.

On the one hand, Jacob sets in motion a carefully orchestrated plan: successive waves of gifts for his brother are sent ahead, with each of the messengers carefully instructed to speak to Esau with the utmost courtesy and respect. On the other hand, Jacob admits that matters are out of his control. Bartering is gone; in „great fear and distress” (32:7) Jacob takes action, and then prays, begging for help. He reminds God of his covenantal promises, he pleads his own unworthiness, he acknowledges how many undeserved blessings he has received, he confesses his own terror (32:9-12). And then, in the darkest hours, he wrestles with this strange manifestation of God himself (32:22-30).

Twenty years or so have passed since Jacob’s outward-bound journey. Some people learn nothing in twenty years. Jacob has learned humility, tenacity, godly fear, reliance upon God’s covenantal promises, and how to pray. None of this means he is so paralyzed by fear that he does nothing but retreat into prayer. Rather, it means he does what he can, while believing utterly that salvation is of the Lord. By the time the sun rises, he may walk with a limp, but he is a stronger and better man.

Jacob’s story with his 12 children, who are the 12 tribes of Israel continues through Joseph. You can read Joseph’s story here (in English-including maps of Joseph’s journey when sold into slavery by his brothers) and you can read an English illustration of Joseph, the  foreshadow to the Savior here; also read a Romanian article (excerpt from book by Iosif Ton- Ce l-a tinut pe Iosif curat, aflat atit de departe de casa? Part 1 & 2). Lastly you can view the story of Joseph and his brothers in a film (English with Romanian subtitles)

The epilogue:

One of the most difficult things to grasp is that the God of the Bible is both personal–interacting with other persons–and transcendent (i.e. above space andtime–the domain in which all our personal interactions with God take place).As the transcendent Sovereign, he rules over everything without exception, as the personal Creator, he interacts in personal ways with those who bear his image, disclosing himself to be not only personal but flawlessly good. How to put those elements together is finally beyond us, however frequentlythey are frequently assumed in Scripture.

When Jacob hears that Joseph is alive, he offers sacrifices to God, who graciously discloses himself to Jacob, once again: „I am God, the God of your father. Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there. I will go down to Egypt with you, and I will surely bring you back again. And Joseph’s own hand will close your eyes” (Gen 46:3-4).

The book of Genesis makes it clear that Jacob knew that God’s covenant with Abraham included the promise that the land where they were now settled would one day be given to him and his descendants. That is why Jacob needed the direct disclosure from God to induce him to leave the land. Jacob was reassured on three fronts: (a) God would make his descendants multiply into a „great nation” during their sojourn in Egypt, (b) God would eventually bring them out of Egypt, (c) at the personal level, Jacob is comforted to learn that his long-lost son Joseph will attend his father’s death.

All of this provides personal comfort. It also discloses something of the mysteries of God’s providential sovereignty, for readers of the Pentateuch know that this sojourn in Egypt will issue in slavery, that God will then be said to „hear” the cries of his people, that in the course of time he will raise up Moses, who will be God’s agent in the ten plagues, the crossing of the Red Sea, the granting of the Sinai covenant and the giving of the law, the wilderness wanderings, and the (re)entry into the Promised Land. The sovereign God who brings Joseph down to Egypt to prepare the way for this small community of seventy persons has a lot of complex plans in store. These are designed to bring his people to the next stage of redemptive history, and finally to teach them that God’s words are more important than food (Deut 8).

One can no more detach God’s sovereign transcendence from his personhood or vice versa, than one can safely detach one wing from an airplane and still expect it to fly.

Consequences of sin – Joseph’s story

Read also:

  1. Jacob – (1) father of Israel (and of Joseph) (Chart of the 12 tribes of Israel)
  2. The Story of Jacob (2) the Father of Israel) Genesis 25-33 (D A Carson on Jacob)

God forgives sin.  Besides the danger of becoming enslaved to our sin (Romans 6:16) and finding ourselves  separated from God (Isaiah 59:2), there are also some personal and physical consequences that we will suffer for our sinful actions even though God has forgiven our sin. (Photo on right wikipedia)

You can read the Bible’s story of Joseph in the book of Genesis in chapters 37-50.

Some of the consequences of the sin Joseph’s brothers committed when they sold him into slavery:

  • Their sin was constantly before them-the brother they were so jealous of and wanted to forget about was in their mind daily as their father Jacob’s unceasing grief did not abate. They also feared, lest anything should happen to the youngest son Benjamin, whom Jacob now loved and favored.
  • Uncertainty- They always wondered whether God was punishing them for what they had done to Joseph.
  • Physical hardship- They had to make the approx 250 mile trek to Egypt on foot  (that Joseph made as a slave) 6 times  (3 trips) with little provisions.  See Map 2)

Joseph was the 11th son born to Jacob (also called Israel) and Rachel(who died in childbirth when Benjamin, the 12th, and youngest son was born.Gen 37:2 states that Joseph brings a bad report to his father about his brothers, then we read how Jacob favors Joseph by making him a coat of many colors, and thirdly Joseph has special dreams (Genesis 39:5-11). All 3 factors lead to conflict in the family and the unbridled jealousy of his brothers leads to plans for murder.

„The final episode (Genesis 37:31-35) shows the desperate brothers concocting yet another scheme  to be rid of Joseph. Their plan to dispose of Joseph ended in a fiasco, now their plan to erase his memory from the family, by faking his death, fails miserably. In a powerfully ironic twist, although Jacob is deceived by the sight of Joseph’s special coat stained with goat’s blood, his unceasing grieving means that the brothers can never forget Joseph and his exalted position in the family”. (Biblica P. 125)

Although the brothers planned to kill Joseph, in the end, due to the influence of his older brothers Reuben and Judah, they decide instead to sell him to passing Ishmaelite/Midianite traders.

If being sold into slavery by your own brothers isn’t bad enough, look at the long road Joseph had to walk on foot in order to get to Egypt. (I have seen the distance between Dothan, Israel and Heliopolis or Cairo Egypt to be estimated at about 240 to 280 miles depending on the old (spice) routes taken by caravans back then.

So, imagine being threatened by death from the hands of your own brothers, then being sold into slavery and then walking on foot through desert land, more than 250 miles to Egypt, and all this at the tender age of 17.

Map scanned from Biblica – The Bible Atlas. For a more detailed report on Joseph’s life click here.

And it doesn’t end there. Joseph is purchased by a wealthy man called Potiphar who was captain of the guards for Pharaoh. There Joseph prospered and found favor with Potiphar until Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce him continuously. Joseph refused  the temptation on the grounds that it would be a sin against God. Potiphar’s wife framed Joseph with her household and Joseph was imprisoned. He spent 2 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Even in prison Joseph found favor with the warden and he interpreted Pharaoh’s baker and cupbearer’s dreams accurately. When the Pharaoh had a troubling dream, the cup bearer remembered Joseph’s correct interpretation of his dream and recommended Joseph to Pharaoh.  Joseph prophetically interpreted Pharaoh’s dream from God and 13 years after Joseph was sold into captivity by his brothers(and at the age of 30), Pharaoh makes Joseph Prime Minister, gives him his signet ring which made him second in command after Pharaoh and Joseph starts to gather the harvests in storehouses for 7 years as he prepares for the 7 lean years of famine to come (from Pharaoh’s dream).

Joseph then married Pharaoh’s priest’s daughter Asenath and had 2 sons-Manasseh and Ephraim. During the famine Joseph becomes the savior of the world with his surplus of stored grain. The famine reaches his father Jacob in Canaan, and Jacob is forced to send his sons to Egypt to buy food.

The brothers have 3 encounters with Joseph (read Genesis 42-45) before Joseph reveals to his brothers his true identity(Genesis 45:1-3).

The troubled and divided family is finally reunited in Egypt (Goshen in the northeastern Nile delta). With the family of Jacob/Israel safely in Egypt, the stage is set for the story of Israel in the book of Exodus.

Joseph’s brothers made 3 (round) trips, traveling the approx. 250 miles trek that Joseph was forced to take when they sold him into slavery. (Map scanned from Biblica – The Bible Atlas)

The Story of Jacob (2) the Father of Israel) Genesis 25-33

See Jacob – Father of Israel & Joseph(1)

Post includes charts of the 12 tribes of Israel and the lineage of Jesus, traced back to Jacob.

The Story of Jacob (2)

Click here to read Genesis 25-33, the Biblical account of the life of Jacob.

excerpts  from D.A.Carson’s ‘For the Love of God” Volume I:

by D.A Carson

Genesis 27 is in many ways a pathetic, grubby account. Earlier Esau had despised his birthright (25:34); now Jacob swindles him out of it. In this Jacob is guided by his mother Rebekah, who thus shows favoritism among her children and disloyalty to her husband. Esau throws a tantrum and takes no responsibility for his actions at all. indeed, he nurses his bitterness and plots the assassination of his brother. The family that constitutes the promised line is not doing very well.

Yet those who read the passage in the flow of the entire book remember that God himself had told Rebekah, before the twin brothers were born, that the older will serve the younger (25:23) Perhaps

Jacob blessed instead of Esau

that is one of the reasons she acted as she did: apparently she felt that God needed a little help in keeping his prediction, even immoral help. Yet behind these grubby and evil actions God is mysteriously working out his purposes to bring the promised line to the end he has determined. Certainly God could have arranged to have Jacob born first, if that was the man He wanted to carry on the line. Instead, Esau is born first, but Jacob is chosen, as if to say that the line is important, but God’s sovereign, intervening choosing is more important than mere human seniority, than mere primogeniture.

The name „Bethel” means House of God. The event that gave rise to the name (Gen. 28) was a mixed bag. There is Jacob, scurrying across the miles to the home of his uncle Laban. Ostensibly he is looking for a godly wife–but the previous chapter makes clear that he wishes to escape being assassinated by his own brother in the wake of his own tawdry act of betrayal and deceit. Judging by the requests he makes to God, he is in danger of having too little food and inadequate clothing, and he is already missing his own family (28:20-21)Yet here God meets him in a dream so vivid that Jacob declares,”How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, this is the gate of heaven” (28:17).

For his part, God reiterates the substance of the Abrahamic Covenant to this grandson of Abraham. The vision of the ladder opens up the prospect of access to God, of God’s immediate contact with a man who up to this point seems more driven by expedience than principle. God promises that his descendants will multiply and be given this land. The ulrimate expansion is also repeated: „All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring” (28:14). Even at the personal level, Jacob will not be abandoned, for God declares, „I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back over to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you” (28:15).

Awakened from his dream, Jacob erects an altar and calls the place Bethel. But in large measure he is still wheeler-dealer. He utters a vow: If God will do this and that and the other, if I get all that I want and I hope for out of this deal, „then the Lord will be my God” (28:20-21).

And God does not strike him down! The story moves on: God does all that he promised, and more. All of Jacob’s conditions are met. One of the great themes of Scripture is how God meets us where we are: in our insecurities, in our conditional obedience, in our mixture of faith and doubt, in our fusion of awe and self interest, in our understanding and foolishness. God does not disclose Himself only to the greatest and most stalwart, but to us, at our Bethel, the house of God.

When I was a child in Sunday School, I learned the names of the twelve tribes of Israel by singing a simple chorus: „These are the names of Jacob’s sons:/Gad and Asher and Simeon,/Reuben, Issachar, Levi,/Judah, Dan and Naphtali-/Twelve in all, but never a twin–/Zebulun, Joseph and Benjamin.”

But many more years passed before I grasped how important are the twelve tribes in the Bible’s storyline. Many of the dynamics of the rest of  Genesis turn on their relationships. The organization of the nation of Israel depends on setting aside one tribe, the Levites, as priests. From another son, Judah, springs the Davidic dynasty that leads to the Messiah. Over the centuries, the tribe of Joseph would be divided into Ephraim and Manasseh; in substantial mesaure, Benjamin would merge with Judah. By the last  book in the Bible, Revelation, the twelve tribes of the old covenant constitute the counterpoint to the twelve apostles of the new covenant: this twelve by twelve matrix (i.e. 144, in the symbolism of this apocalyptic literature) embraces in principle the whole people of God.

Jacob meets Rachel by Raphael 1518

But, what tawdry beginnings they have in Genesis 30. The deceit of Laban in Genesis 29, which resulted in Jacob’s marrying both Leah and Rachel, now issues in one of the most unhealthy instances of sibling rivalry in holy Scripture. Each of these women from this family is so eager to outshine the other that she gives her handmaid to her husband rather than allow the other to get ahead in the race to bear children. So self-centered and impetuous are the relationships that another time Rachel is prepared to sell her husband’s sex time to her sister Leah for a few mandrakes. Polygamy has taken hold, and with it a mess of distorted relationships.

From these painful and frankly dysfunctional family relationships spring eleven sons and one daughter (the birth of the last son, Benjamin, is reported in chap. 35). Here are the origins of the twelve tribes of Israel, the foundations of the Israelite nation. Their origins are not worse than those of others; they are merely typical. But already it is becoming clear that God does not deal with this family because they are consistently a cut above other families. No, he uses them to keep his covenantal promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He graciously perseveres with them to bring about his grand, redemptive purposes. The tawdry family dynamics cannot possibly prevent the universe’s  sovereign from keeping his covenantal vows.

In Genesis 32 Jacob is returning home  and he is still frightened half to death of his brother…Jacob left the tents of his parents a single man, taking almost nothing with him, while here he returns home a rich, married man with many children.

But the deepest differences between the two journeys are reflected in Jacob’s changed attitude toward God. On the outbound trip, Jacob takes no initiative in matters divine. He simply goes to sleep (Gen 28). It is God who intervenes with a remarkable vision of a ladder reaching up to heaven. When Jacob awakens, he acknowledges that what he experienced was some sort of visitation from God (28:16-17), but his response is to barter with God: if God will grant him security, safety, prosperity, and ultimately a happy return home, Jacob for his part will acknowledge God and offer him a tithe.

Now it is rather different. True, God again takes the initiative: Jacob meets angelic messengers (32:1-2). Jacob decides to act prudently. He sends some of his people ahead to announce to Esau that his brother is returning. This spawns devastating news: Esau is coming to meet him, but with 400 men.

On the one hand, Jacob sets in motion a carefully orchestrated plan: successive waves of gifts for his brother are sent ahead, with each of the messengers carefully instructed to speak to Esau with the utmost courtesy and respect. On the other hand, Jacob admits that matters are out of his control. Bartering is gone; in „great fear and distress” (32:7) Jacob takes action, and then prays, begging for help. He reminds God of his covenantal promises, he pleads his own unworthiness, he acknowledges how many undeserved blessings he has received, he confesses his own terror (32:9-12). And then, in the darkest hours, he wrestles with this strange manifestation of God himself (32:22-30).

Twenty years or so have passed since Jacob’s outward-bound journey. Some people learn nothing in twenty years. Jacob has learned humility, tenacity, godly fear, reliance upon God’s covenantal promises, and how to pray. None of this means he is so paralyzed by fear that he does nothing but retreat into prayer. Rather, it means he does what he can, while believing utterly that salvation is of the Lord. By the time the sun rises, he may walk with a limp, but he is a stronger and better man.

Jacob’s story with his 12 children, who are the 12 tribes of Israel continues through Joseph. You can read Joseph’s story here (in English-including maps of Joseph’s journey when sold into slavery by his brothers) and you can read an English illustration of Joseph, the  foreshadow to the Savior here; also read a Romanian article (excerpt from book by Iosif Ton- Ce l-a tinut pe Iosif curat, aflat atit de departe de casa? Part 1 & 2). Lastly you can view the story of Joseph and his brothers in a film (English with Romanian subtitles)

The epilogue:

One of the most difficult things to grasp is that the God of the Bible is both personal–interacting with other persons–and transcendent (i.e. above space andtime–the domain in which all our personal interactions with God take place).As the transcendent Sovereign, he rules over everything without exception, as the personal Creator, he interacts in personal ways with those who bear his image, disclosing himself to be not only personal but flawlessly good. How to put those elements together is finally beyond us, however frequentlythey are frequently assumed in Scripture.

When Jacob hears that Joseph is alive, he offers sacrifices to God, who graciously discloses himself to Jacob, once again: „I am God, the God of your father. Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there. I will go down to Egypt with you, and I will surely bring you back again. And Joseph’s own hand will close your eyes” (Gen 46:3-4).

The book of Genesis makes it clear that Jacob knew that God’s covenant with Abraham included the promise that the land where they were now settled would one day be given to him and his descendants. That is why Jacob needed the direct disclosure from God to induce him to leave the land. Jacob was reassured on three fronts: (a) God would make his descendants multiply into a „great nation” during their sojourn in Egypt, (b) God would eventually bring them out of Egypt, (c) at the personal level, Jacob is comforted to learn that his long-lost son Joseph will attend his father’s death.

All of this provides personal comfort. It also discloses something of the mysteries of God’s providential sovereignty, for readers of the Pentateuch know that this sojourn in Egypt will issue in slavery, that God will then be said to „hear” the cries of his people, that in the course of time he will raise up Moses, who will be God’s agent in the ten plagues, the crossing of the Red Sea, the granting of the Sinai covenant and the giving of the law, the wilderness wanderings, and the (re)entry into the Promised Land. The sovereign God who brings Joseph down to Egypt to prepare the way for this small community of seventy persons has a lot of complex plans in store. These are designed to bring his people to the next stage of redemptive history, and finally to teach them that God’s words are more important than food (Deut 8).

One can no more detach God’s sovereign transcendence from his personhood or vice versa, than one can safely detach one wing from an airplane and still expect it to fly.

Jacob – (1) father of Israel (and of Joseph)

The Reunion of Jacob and Esau (1844 painting b...The reunion of Jacob and Esau (wikipedia)

A great over all quick view of Jacob, with charts and all. Coming in the next 2 Sundays are Part 2 – The story of Jacob & Part 3 Joseph – The consequences of sin:

THE DEVISING BROTHER – Gen 25:27-34

  • He pressures Esau into trading his birthright.

THE DECEITFUL SON – Gen 27:6-29

  • He tricks his father to receive the blessing.

THE DREAMING PILGRIM – Gen 28:10-22

  • He sees a ladder set up from earth to heaven at Bethel.
  • Angels are ascending and descending upon it.
  • God confirms to him the Abrahamic Covenant.
  • Upon awakening he anoints a rockpile and vows to serve God.

THE LOVE-STRUCK SUITOR – Gen 29:1-20

  • He meets Rachel, his cousin and future wife, beside a well.
  • Here begins one of history’s great love stories.
  • He promises Rachel’s father Laban (Jacob’s uncle and future father in law) he will work seven years for her hand in marriage.

THE FRUSTRATED FAMILY MAN – Gen 29:21; 30:24

  • He is deceived on his wedding night by Laban who secretly substitues Leah (Rachel’s older sister) for Leah.
  • Jacob is furious, but agrees to work yet another seven years for Rachel.
  • He now has two wives and would gather yet another two, for both Rachel and Leah present to him their personal handmaids for childbearing purposes.

THESE  FOUR  WOMEN  WOULD  BEAR  JACOB  TWELVE  SONS AND  ONE  DAUGHTER

You can find a great chronology of the birth of Jacob’s children, here, in the Grace Theological Seminary Journal.(12 page pdf). You can also read about the prophecies for the 12 tribes and some other pertinent facts here.

THE ENTERPRISING EMPLOYEE – Gen.30:25

  • Jacob goes into business with Laban and becomes a wealthy man
  • Upon being ordered by God to return home, he breaks camp without telling Laban
  • Laban chases him down and accuses Jacob (among other things) of stealing his household gods
  • Laban and Jacob come to a truce and build a memorial pile of stones

THE DETERMINED WRESTLER – Gen 32:1-33:20

  • Jacob learns that Esau is on his way to meet him with 400 men
  • Filled with fear, Jacob wrestles with God in prayer all night long by the Brook Jabbok.
  • He is reassured by God for this and his name is changed from Jacob to Israel.
  • The ensuing meeting between Israel and Esau is very friendly.

THE  ENRAGED  FATHER – Gen 34:1-31; 35:22; 38:1-30

  • Over the sin of murder, committed by Levi and Simeon                           1) These boys trick a group of desert men (whose leader had seduced Dinah, their sister) into circumcising themselves. (2) On the third day when they are helpless to defend themselves because of their self-inflicted wounds, Jacob’s two sons slaughter them like animals.
  • Over the sin of adultery committed by Reuben (Gen 35:22) Reuben lay with Bilhah, his father’s concubine and all Israel heard of it.
  • Over the sin of adultery, committed by Judah (1)To seek revenge upon Judah,Tamar his daughter-in-law, disguises herself as a common harlot and entices him. Tamar becomes pregnant and Judah orders her death until he finds out who the father of the child really is.

THE OBEDIENT PATRIARCH – Gen 35:1-15

  • Jacob is ordered by God back to Bethel
  • In preparation for this trip, Jacob instructs his household to destroy their idols and prepare their hearts.
  • He builds an altar at Bethel and calls it „El Bethel”–the God of the house of God.

THE SORROWING SAINT – Gen 35:16-20; 37:31-35

  • He loses his beloved wife, Rachel, in childbirth
  • He buries his father Isaac
  • He is led to believe that Joseph has been killed and eaten by a wild beast.

Rape Seen Through Jacob in the Bible – Biola University President Barry H. Corey

Shechem siezes Dinah

Shechem siezes Dinah (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jacob’s indifference was his tragic flaw, demonstrated after his daughter was defiled. Instead of standing up, he backed down.  Chapter 34 ends with a pathetic Jacob living in fear with a sense of defilement and scandal on a family that has lost its spiritual soul. But, thank God for chapter 35, for the One who is missing in chapter 34, steps into this family to begin chapter 35 with these three words: „Then God said”.

Men of Biola, don’t be like Jacob of Genesis 34. Stand up for women and their dignity. Speak out against friends who try to commoditize women, objectify them, who disparage their purity. Don’t be that way and refuse to tolerate those piranhas who think of women in terms of „get me her”. And, one day you might have a wife and daughters. Don’t allow your own self interests, as noble as those self interests might be to trump your obligation to love and protect your wife and your children. (see rest of notes below video).

Published on Aug 13, 2012 by  Chapel from Sexual Violence Awareness Week  April 23, 2012

The sincerity of words must be earned. As you men live respectively in community, here with women honor their dignity and honor their beauty. Spend more time looking at Biola women above the neck, then below the neck. May this be  palace known for honoring women as they flourish in the image of God, the way they were created: intelligent, bright, wise, insightful, beautiful, nurturing, strong.

And, whenever injustices take place against women in our society- from pornography, to sex trafficking, to comments, to employment discrimination, to domestic abuse, to a sense of gender superiority don’t ever think the right response is Jacob’s (i.e. silence after his daughter’s rape) seeing injustices and turning a blind eye to symptoms that steal the dignity from women. That’s not right. The world has enough exploitative men like Shechem (Dinah’s rapist). Let’s fight back by being men of integrity, not indignity.

And by the way, pornography is one way you commoditize  and objectify women. As fathers, and husbands and boyfriends, as classmates, as friends, as fathers and sons, as leaders in your communities and your careers- treat women with respect and dignity. There’s a place still for chivalry

#2 Don’t be like Shechem of Genesis 34–  just as you should not be like Jacob. Men, don’t say what you think women want to hear in order to get what you want to get. You know what I mean. Honor the dignity of the girls who are your friends and the girls and the girls you begin to feel tender for. Dignify them with your words and actions, don’t objectify them. „Get me her”, in order to feed your own sensual cravings. Shechem couldn’t give a rip about Dinah or at least he cared a lot more about himself then this girl otherwise he wouldn’t have treated her like the object of his one sided sexual desires.

Women of Biola, know that you are precious in God’s sight, even if you feel like someone has taken advantage of you, or didn’t stand up for you. Not all men are like Shechem and want to exploit you. Not all men are like Jacob and refuse to defend you. But there are men that way. Don’t let these exploitative and cowardly men define you. There are also men like many guys sitting around you today who want you to flourish in all God has called you to be and they will honor your dignity and cherish your beauty inside and out. Ladies, don’t let cheap words of tenderness and shallow love sway your sense about who you are.

Ladies, each of you is worthy to be pursued, to be wooed and ravished with love by a man who is crazy about you and exclusively faithful. It’s the poetry of Song of Songs that describes the beauty of a man truly pursuing a woman and a woman truly yielding to a man.

#3 Don’t be like Simeon and Levi of Genesis 34– although, I have to admit I am more sympathetic to them. Just like the right response to Dinah’s violation was not Jacob’s indifference, neither was it his sons’ vengeance. Violence breeds violence. They mocked the Lord by taking the holy rite of circumcision  and they abused it in order to get even. Vigilante style, they bypassed justice as they kicked the stuff out of Shechem and his father along with all the other men of the city. They did the right thing by rescuing their sister, the victim, from Shechem’s house. But, then, they did the wrong thing when they ridiculed the covenant of God, when they murdered the men and took the women and children of the city as bounty replicating the same indignity Shechem and his father had done.

We don’t respond to injustices against women by indifference and neither do we by vengeance. We respond by rescuing the victims and seeking to right the system that led to these wrongs. What God wants of us is to rise above the pathetic indifference of Jacob and the pathetically irrational actions of Simeon and Levi and to work to free the victims who are sexually manipulated and to correct the systems that allow this to happen. I’m so proud to know many of you will be doing just that- (through) your lives as social workers, as journalists, as teachers and film makers, as counselors, as physicians, as attorneys, as researchers, as entrepreneurs, as pastors, as good citizens.

At Biola University we believe there are great challenges in this world, challenges that call for life giving and Christ centered redemptive voices. This story of Genesis 34 shows adjective injustices when women are de-dignified, women made in the image of God and we need to be voices of compassion, we need to be voices of justice and mercy. And, as much as this chapter shows injustices in the way that these men failed because they were cowardly- like Jacob, or ego maniacal- like Shechem, or vindictive – like Levi and Simeon, there is a bigger story here and that is the failure of spiritual leadership. This chapter is an absolute mess. A girl is forcibly raped, a father doesn’t seem to care, the sons lose it and slaughter people, a family is torn apart. Well, what’s wrong? This chapter is a mess not because of what is there, but because of what is not there. What’s missing from Genesis chapter 34? God’s name is missing. It’s one of the few chapters of the historical books of the Bible that doesn’t mention the name of the Lord in any form. What does that tell you about why family chaos erupted when a bad thing happened to them? And why no Godly leadership emerged from the family patriarch- Jacob. No one was recognizing that the antidote to the family crisis and moral implosion was to respond to the Lord, to stand up as a braveheart God has called us to be as a spiritual leader, especially the father, Jacob.

Students, our world is no less messed up now than it was then. Are you nurturing the habits of your heart in your deep relationship with God, so that you can stand up and be a spiritual leader? In your relationships, one day in your family in addressing the injustices you will give yourself to correct, where are the spiritual leaders? We need a rising generation to lead with biblical and Godly courage. We don’t need you to sit back Jacob like and live in indifference, worrying about your own hide or your own success… Don’t squander these college years with the anemic disease of indifference. Enjoy your friendships, enjoy your leisurely time, but let it refresh you to be motivated for more than a degree to get you a job. Stand up for a cause that is dear to the heart of God. Take some risks, you have nothing to lose. Standing up to lead sometimes means stooping down to serve. Don’t feel like some roles of serving are below you, that’s arrogance and pride. Don’t feel that some roles of serving are bigger than you and you can’t rise to the challenge, that’s timidity.

I would actually, in the spirit of Genesis 34, like to see more of you standing up with Godly courage for causes that matter, not to fritter away your days. And a word to the guys of Biola, I often see risk taking leadership more in women, here. There are plenty of guys leading, but no one is off the hook. Don’t fail to stand up for a cause that rises from your obedience to God and His word. And that means dethroning the idols of self and sloth that get in the way. Stand up and be servant leaders, men.

Jacob’s indifference was his tragic flaw, demonstrated after his daughter was defiled. Instead of standing up, he backed down.  Chapter 34 ends with a pathetic Jacob living in fear with a sense of defilement and scandal on a family that has lost its spiritual soul. But, thank God for chapter 35, for the One who is missing in chapter 34, steps into this family to begin chapter 35 with these three words: „Then God said”. After all this family mess and spiraling chaos God shows up through His word. Then God said to Jacob, „Get up and go to Bethel, where you first encountered Me and settle there and build an altar there to God.Finally, be like Jacob in Genesis 35. It says that all the people followed him and he was a spiritual eager again. God gives this renewed sense of worth to Jacob and He gives Him a command. He says, „Go to Bethel and build an altar to me there, right where I first appeared to you decades ago when that ladder came down from heaven and I bridged that gap between heaven and earth and you experienced me for the first time in your life. Go back to that place where you found me when you were alone, you were frightened, you were fleeing for your life. Go to that same space and know Me again like you once did before you drifted so far from Me”

And those of you who feel like you’ve drifted, it’s time you took a lesson from Jacob and made things right with God, one on one in whatever this sacred space is for you and then build an altar of commitment. So, Jacob began that pilgrimage, back to the place where he first heard from God in Genesis 28, where he set up an altar. That place of brokenness where he turned to God and faith. „And, as you go,” God told Jacob in verse 2, „I want you to begin shedding the junk that has been accumulating in your life in these intervening years. Lead that family of yours by getting rid of the foreign gods that you have with you  and purify yourselves. Go in purity and power by surrendering your fears to my strengths.”

So in verse 6 Jacob returned to that place where God first showed up, he reprioritized his life and in so doing he regained that spiritual leadership with his family, so absent in chapter 34. As we stand up and in a community walk together in healing, we take back the dignity the devil has stolen from so many. And this is our calling students. Allow the spirit of God and the word of God to wake you from your slumber, to call you to greater things. Don’t squander the best years before you. Then in verse 6 it says Jacob and all the people came with him to Bethel. Finally, he began to model a father’s love, the love that God has for us. With his family around him, this restored Jacob, he built an altar  and he called the place El-Bethel, House of God. And in verse 11, God reminded Jacob of  a promise that sets the stage for a great commission in Matthew 28 that „all nations will be blessed through us”. He says, „I am God almighty and nations and the community of nations will come from you and kings will come from your body, including the Messianic seed of Christ, the King of Kings, the one who restored and through whom we are able to stand up and go forward.

Father’s Day June 17 – Things our fathers have told us

via twentytwowords.com

Psalms 78:2-8 ESV

I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old, (3) things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us.

(4) We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.

(5) He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, (6) that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, (7) so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments; (8) and that they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God.

Jacob – (1) father of Israel (and of Joseph)

THE DEVISING BROTHER – Gen 25:27-34

  • He pressures Esau into trading his birthright.

THE DECEITFUL SON – Gen 27:6-29

  • He tricks his father to receive the blessing.

THE DREAMING PILGRIM – Gen 28:10-22

  • He sees a ladder set up from earth to heaven at Bethel.
  • Angels are ascending and descending upon it.
  • God confirms to him the Abrahamic Covenant.
  • Upon awakening he anoints a rockpile and vows to serve God.

THE LOVE-STRUCK SUITOR – Gen 29:1-20

  • He meets Rachel, his cousin and future wife, beside a well.
  • Here begins one of history’s great love stories.
  • He promises Rachel’s father Laban (Jacob’s uncle and future father in law) he will work seven years for her hand in marriage.

THE FRUSTRATED FAMILY MAN – Gen 29:21; 30:24

  • He is deceived on his wedding night by Laban who secretly substitues Leah (Rachel’s older sister) for Leah.
  • Jacob is furious, but agrees to work yet another seven years for Rachel.
  • He now has two wives and would gather yet another two, for both Rachel and Leah present to him their personal handmaids for childbearing purposes.

THESE  FOUR  WOMEN  WOULD  BEAR  JACOB  TWELVE  SONS AND  ONE  DAUGHTER

You can find a great chronology of the birth of Jacob’s children, here, in the Grace Theological Seminary Journal.(12 page pdf). You can also read about the prophecies for the 12 tribes and some other pertinent facts here.

THE ENTERPRISING EMPLOYEE – Gen.30:25

  • Jacob goes into business with Laban and becomes a wealthy man
  • Upon being ordered by God to return home, he breaks camp without telling Laban
  • Laban chases him down and accuses Jacob (among other things) of stealing his household gods
  • Laban and Jacob come to a truce and build a memorial pile of stones

THE DETERMINED WRESTLER – Gen 32:1-33:20

  • Jacob learns that Esau is on his way to meet him with 400 men
  • Filled with fear, Jacob wrestles with God in prayer all night long by the Brook Jabbok.
  • He is reassured by God for this and his name is changed from Jacob to Israel.
  • The ensuing meeting between Israel and Esau is very friendly.

THE  ENRAGED  FATHER – Gen 34:1-31; 35:22; 38:1-30

  • Over the sin of murder, committed by Levi and Simeon                              1) These boys trick a group of desert men (whose leader had seduced Dinah, their sister) into circumcising themselves. (2) On the third day when they are helpless to defend themselves because of their self-inflicted wounds, Jacob’s two sons slaughter them like animals.
  • Over the sin of adultery committed by Reuben (Gen 35:22) Reuben lay with Bilhah, his father’s concubine and all Israel heard of it.
  • Over the sin of adultery, committed by Judah (1)To seek revenge upon Judah,Tamar his daughter-in-law, disguises herself as a common harlot and entices him. Tamar becomes pregnant and Judah orders her death until he finds out who the father of the child really is.

THE OBEDIENT PATRIARCH – Gen 35:1-15

  • Jacob is ordered by God back to Bethel
  • In preparation for this trip, Jacob instructs his household to destroy their idols and prepare their hearts.
  • He builds an altar at Bethel and calls it „El Bethel”–the God of the house of God.

THE SORROWING SAINT – Gen 35:16-20; 37:31-35

  • He loses his beloved wife, Rachel, in childbirth
  • He buries his father Isaac
  • He is led to believe that Joseph has been killed and eaten by a wild beast.

 

The Story of Jacob (2) the Father of Israel) Genesis 25-33

Click here to read Genesis 25-33, the Biblical account of the life of Jacob.

some excerpts taken from D.A.Carson’s ‘For the Love of God” Volume I:

by D.A Carson

Genesis 27 is in many ways a pathetic, grubby account. Earlier Esau had despised his birthright (25:34); now Jacob swindles him out of it. In this Jacob is guided by his mother Rebekah, who thus shows favoritism among her children and disloyalty to her husband. Esau throws a tantrum and takes no responsibility for his actions at all. indeed, he nurses his bitterness and plots the assassination of his brother. The family that constitutes the promised line is not doing very well.

Yet those who read the passage in the flow of the entire book remember that God himself had told Rebekah, before the twin brothers were born, that the older will serve the younger (25:23) Perhaps

Jacob blessed instead of Esau

that is one of the reasons she acted as she did: apparently she felt that God needed a little help in keeping his prediction, even immoral help. Yet behind these grubby and evil actions God is mysteriously working out his purposes to bring the promised line to the end he has determined. Certainly God could have arranged to have Jacob born first, if that was the man He wanted to carry on the line. Instead, Esau is born first, but Jacob is chosen, as if to say that the line is important, but God’s sovereign, intervening choosing is more important than mere human seniority, than mere primogeniture.

The name „Bethel” means House of God. The event that gave rise to the name (Gen. 28) was a mixed bag. There is Jacob, scurrying across the miles to the home of his uncle Laban. Ostensibly he is looking for a godly wife–but the previous chapter makes clear that he wishes to escape being assassinated by his own brother in the wake of his own tawdry act of betrayal and deceit. Judging by the requests he makes to God, he is in danger of having too little food and inadequate clothing, and he is already missing his own family (28:20-21)Yet here God meets him in a dream so vivid that Jacob declares,”How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, this is the gate of heaven” (28:17).

For his part, God reiterates the substance of the Abrahamic Covenant to this grandson of Abraham. The vision of the ladder opens up the prospect of access to God, of God’s immediate contact with a man who up to this point seems more driven by expedience than principle. God promises that his descendants will multiply and be given this land. The ulrimate expansion is also repeated: „All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring” (28:14). Even at the personal level, Jacob will not be abandoned, for God declares, „I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back over to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you” (28:15).

Awakened from his dream, Jacob erects an altar and calls the place Bethel. But in large measure he is still wheeler-dealer. He utters a vow: If God will do this and that and the other, if I get all that I want and I hope for out of this deal, „then the Lord will be my God” (28:20-21).

And God does not strike him down! The story moves on: God does all that he promised, and more. All of Jacob’s conditions are met. One of the great themes of Scripture is how God meets us where we are: in our insecurities, in our conditional obedience, in our mixture of faith and doubt, in our fusion of awe and self interest, in our understanding and foolishness. God does not disclose Himself only to the greatest and most stalwart, but to us, at our Bethel, the house of God.

When I was a child in Sunday School, I learned the names of the twelve tribes of Israel by singing a simple chorus: „These are the names of Jacob’s sons:/Gad and Asher and Simeon,/Reuben, Issachar, Levi,/Judah, Dan and Naphtali-/Twelve in all, but never a twin–/Zebulun, Joseph and Benjamin.”

But many more years passed before I grasped how important are the twelve tribes in the Bible’s storyline. Many of the dynamics of the rest of  Genesis turn on their relationships. The organization of the nation of Israel depends on setting aside one tribe, the Levites, as priests. From another son, Judah, springs the Davidic dynasty that leads to the Messiah. Over the centuries, the tribe of Joseph would be divided into Ephraim and Manasseh; in substantial mesaure, Benjamin would merge with Judah. By the last  book in the Bible, Revelation, the twelve tribes of the old covenant constitute the counterpoint to the twelve apostles of the new covenant: this twelve by twelve matrix (i.e. 144, in the symbolism of this apocalyptic literature) embraces in principle the whole people of God.

Jacob meets Rachel by Raphael 1518

But, what tawdry beginnings they have in Genesis 30. The deceit of Laban in Genesis 29, which resulted in Jacob’s marrying both Leah and Rachel, now issues in one of the most unhealthy instances of sibling rivalry in holy Scripture. Each of these women from this family is so eager to outshine the other that she gives her handmaid to her husband rather than allow the other to get ahead in the race to bear children. So self-centered and impetuous are the relationships that another time Rachel is prepared to sell her husband’s sex time to her sister Leah for a few mandrakes. Polygamy has taken hold, and with it a mess of distorted relationships.

From these painful and frankly dysfunctional family relationships spring eleven sons and one daughter (the birth of the last son, Benjamin, is reported in chap. 35). Here are the origins of the twelve tribes of Israel, the foundations of the Israelite nation. Their origins are not worse than those of others; they are merely typical. But already it is becoming clear that God does not deal with this family because they are consistently a cut above other families. No, he uses them to keep his covenantal promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He graciously perseveres with them to bring about his grand, redemptive purposes. The tawdry family dynamics cannot possibly prevent the universe’s  sovereign from keeping his covenantal vows.

In Genesis 32 Jacob is returning home  and he is still frightened half to death of his brother…Jacob left the tents of his parents a single man, taking almost nothing with him, while here he returns home a rich, married man with many children.

But the deepest differences between the two journeys are reflected in Jacob’s changed attitude toward God. On the outbound trip, Jacob takes no initiative in matters divine. He simply goes to sleep (Gen 28). It is God who intervenes with a remarkable vision of a ladder reaching up to heaven. When Jacob awakens, he acknowledges that what he experienced was some sort of visitation from God (28:16-17), but his response is to barter with God: if God will grant him security, safety, prosperity, and ultimately a happy return home, Jacob for his part will acknowledge God and offer him a tithe.

Now it is rather different. True, God again takes the initiative: Jacob meets angelic messengers (32:1-2). Jacob decides to act prudently. He sends some of his people ahead to announce to Esau that his brother is returning. This spawns devastating news: Esau is coming to meet him, but with 400 men.

On the one hand, Jacob sets in motion a carefully orchestrated plan: successive waves of gifts for his brother are sent ahead, with each of the messengers carefully instructed to speak to Esau with the utmost courtesy and respect. On the other hand, Jacob admits that matters are out of his control. Bartering is gone; in „great fear and distress” (32:7) Jacob takes action, and then prays, begging for help. He reminds God of his covenantal promises, he pleads his own unworthiness, he acknowledges how many undeserved blessings he has received, he confesses his own terror (32:9-12). And then, in the darkest hours, he wrestles with this strange manifestation of God himself (32:22-30).

Twenty years or so have passed since Jacob’s outward-bound journey. Some people learn nothing in twenty years. Jacob has learned humility, tenacity, godly fear, reliance upon God’s covenantal promises, and how to pray. None of this means he is so paralyzed by fear that he does nothing but retreat into prayer. Rather, it means he does what he can, while believing utterly that salvation is of the Lord. By the time the sun rises, he may walk with a limp, but he is a stronger and better man.

Jacob’s story with his 12 children, who are the 12 tribes of Israel continues through Joseph. You can read Joseph’s story here (in English-including maps of Joseph’s journey when sold into slavery by his brothers) and you can read an English illustration of Joseph, the  foreshadow to the Savior here; also read a Romanian article (excerpt from book by Iosif Ton- Ce l-a tinut pe Iosif curat, aflat atit de departe de casa? Part 1 & 2). Lastly you can view the story of Joseph and his brothers in a film (English with Romanian subtitles)

The epilogue:

One of the most difficult things to grasp is that the God of the Bible is both personal–interacting with other persons–and transcendent (i.e. above space andtime–the domain in which all our personal interactions with God take place).As the transcendent Sovereign, he rules over everything without exception, as the personal Creator, he interacts in personal ways with those who bear his image, disclosing himself to be not only personal but flawlessly good. How to put those elements together is finally beyond us, however frequentlythey are frequently assumed in Scripture.

When Jacob hears that Joseph is alive, he offers sacrifices to God, who graciously discloses himself to Jacob, once again: „I am God, the God of your father. Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there. I will go down to Egypt with you, and I will surely bring you back again. And Joseph’s own hand will close your eyes” (Gen 46:3-4).

The book of Genesis makes it clear that Jacob knew that God’s covenant with Abraham included the promise that the land where they were now settled would one day be given to him and his descendants. That is why Jacob needed the direct disclosure from God to induce him to leave the land. Jacob was reassured on three fronts: (a) God would make his descendants multiply into a „great nation” during their sojourn in Egypt, (b) God would eventually bring them out of Egypt, (c) at the personal level, Jacob is comforted to learn that his long-lost son Joseph will attend his father’s death.

All of this provides personal comfort. It also discloses something of the mysteries of God’s providential sovereignty, for readers of the Pentateuch know that this sojourn in Egypt will issue in slavery, that God will then be said to „hear” the cries of his people, that in the course of time he will raise up Moses, who will be God’s agent in the ten plagues, the crossing of the Red Sea, the granting of the Sinai covenant and the giving of the law, the wilderness wanderings, and the (re)entry into the Promised Land. The sovereign God who brings Joseph down to Egypt to prepare the way for this small community of seventy persons has a lot of complex plans in store. These are designed to bring his people to the next stage of redemptive history, and finally to teach them that God’s words are more important than food (Deut 8).

One can no more detach God’s sovereign transcendence from his personhood or vice versa, than one can safely detach one wing from an airplane and still expect it to fly.

Iacov subtitrare in limba Romana

 

Viata lui Iacob din Genesa 25-33. Film in limba Engleza cu subtitrare in Limba Romana. VIDEO by Credinta Expusa

alternativa http://youtu.be/E6WdASXF0IE

 

Joseph, the foreshadow of the Savior

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