I had a feeling of deja vue when I started to read today. I even back-tracked just to be sure I was on the right day. Genesis 28 and Isaac is telling Jacob to go and find a wife in his grandfather’s house. Not a local woman. This is what Rebekah said to him as well.
But Esau (who has taken two local women as his wives) overhears and so he leaves to join his Uncle Ishmael. While he’s there he marries one of Ishmaels’ daughters too. And so the scene is set. The players have their roles and we are ready for the next big story.
Jacob’s ladder. Genesis 28:10. While Jacob is on the way to his grandfather’s house (a journey of many days) he rests to sleep. In a dream he sees a ladder reaching from earth up to heaven. on the ladder are angels and at the top is God. “The ground you are lying on belongs to you. I am with you and will protect you wherever you go.”
Jacob wakes with a renewed sense of purpose. He turns the stone into a memorial pillar. He names the place Bethel and makes a vow. He will make the place into a place to worship God and give God one tenth of everything he has.
This sense of confidence is something that I am beginning to feel in my daily life. I haven’t had an Epiphany, I certainly do not know the answers to any big questions. But knowing that so many people (atheists would say they were fictitious people – and that’s fine too) have been moved and inspired by God to attempt some incredible feats has given me a bit of a lift. We had a better day today with the children. Whether the events I’m reading about are real or not is largely irrelevant. What matters is that this is a rattling good story which packs a punch. If Jacob can overcome all this stuff that’s been thrown at him, than anyone can. What makes HIM special? He’s not even the firstborn. His brother has the strength and the wives. But I’ve seen “Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” enough times to know what’s coming!
Genesis 29 and who’s this vision of loveliness coming over the hill towards the well? It’s Rachel! She is Jacob’s cousin and as such, eligible to be his wife. Hooray! Another love story!
Rachel’s father, Laban, wants to pay Jacob for working for him with the sheep. (We will come back to those sheep, it’s a great metaphor!) So Jacob works for Laban for seven years. In return, he is allowed to marry Rachel. Ahhhhh!
And so the day of the wedding and the night draws to a close. But in the darkness, Laban takes his eldest daughter, Leah, to be with Jacob. In the morning, he is horrified. Tricked! But Laban explains that their custom is for the eldest daughter to be married first. Of course he can marry Rachel, says Laban, but he has to work another seven years. So Jacob marries Rachel and works the additional seven years. Before long, Leah has given Jacob 4 sons.
I hope you’re keeping count, because there will be more…
Matthew 9 continues to tell the account of Jesus’ healings and preachings. The temple teachers are getting really annoyed and start spreading lies about him. They can’t accept that he can do what they can’t.
This particular translation of the Bible has one or two verses which are different to the ones I’m used to. And the account of the woman who suffered from excessive bleeding is one example. In the version I’m familiar with the power to heal her goes out of him. In this version, her faith heals her. Likewise the blind men are healed by their own faith.
Verses 36 and 37 are really interesting. We are back to the sheep. “When he saw the crowd he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. He said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is great, but the workers are few.'” The majority of people these days are still confused, a lot of them are helpless. The task to lead and provide some help is still a big task. And only a few are up to the task. But we should not give in because the task is a big one. We can all of us do our part to help ease confusion. It’s as easy as speaking the truth in everything you do and helping as much as you can.
Psalm 11 is a plea for protection. And verse 3 is being rewritten a hundred times a day on Twitter and Facebook, “Law and order have collapsed. What can the righteous do?” What’s the point in trying when it seems like the good people are punished? It’s so easy to be cynical and sarcastic when it seems like God doesn’t care. But “The virtuous will see his face.” Stick at it, keep plugging away. Don’t fall into that easy trap that is in front of you. What’s the point? A better place for everyone. A place of good humour free from that nasty streak which underpins so many comments.
Proverbs 3 continues with two verses which tells us that we shouldn’t be upset when God corrects us. Well I try not to. “For the Lord corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.”
I’ve seen and experienced many examples of parenting. Some good, a few bad. Most just muddle through as best they can. But if we love our children, the literal ones as well as the metaphorical ones, it’s not wrong to let them know where they’ve gone wrong.