Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Still not knowing what was going on or what Laban was searching for, Jacob became very upset, as anyone would, and decided to let Laban have a piece of his mind, so Jacob addressed him. “ Come now Laban, what is my wrongdoing, what is my sin against you? You chased after me as if I were a thief; you have turned my belongings up side down, and what have you found? If I have stolen from you, then you must have found it; so place it here before me and my men and you and your men, and let them judge me whether I am a thief or not.” When Laban did not respond, Laban continued to lay out his indictment against Laban. “Twenty years have I served you; I looked steadfastly after your sheep and your goats, and your flocks, and when they had young ones, I looked after them also, and any of your flocks which were injured or stolen by animals I bore the loss myself. Thus, I served you summer and winter, by night and by day; and many a sleepless night have I had.” “Twenty years I served you, fourteen of those years were my wages for your two daughters; and I need not remind you how that came about; and after those fourteen years I was forced to serve you another six years and even so you changed the terms of our agreement, and cheated me out of my wages ten times. And even now, were it not for the fear of God of my fathers, of Abraham and Isaac, you would have sent me away empty handed. But God has seen my affliction and my labor, and that is why he intervened and warned you in your dream the other night regarding me.” Laban knew that every word spoken by Jacob was the truth; and he knew he could not deny the severity of the allegations made against him, nor the justice of Jacob’s claim; so he said, “Come now, your wives are my daughters; and their children are my children, even the cattle that you have belong to me. So what can I do unto you and unto them? I tell you what I will do, I will make a covenant of peace with you, and let it be a witness between us.” So that day did Jacob built a pillar of stones and he called the name of the place, Galeed; but Laban called it Jegarsahadusah; and they sat there and ate bread together that day. More
Monday, December 30, 2013
While Laban was addressing Jacob in what appeared to be conciliatory terms, Jacob must have been wondering what Laban’s next move would be. To be sure, Jacob did not believe any of his smooth talk about a feast and music and dancing to celebrate their departure. Even now Jacob would have thought, maybe he is just sweetening me up for the kill; and of his talk about missing personal items, Jacob saw that as merely his excuse for pursuing after them and doubtless even now intended him harm. Of course, Jacob had no idea what Laban was talking about because he did not know what Rachel had done. So now Jacob had a chance to speak, he sad frankly what he thought about Laban. “I must admit I was afraid of you; I felt sure you would take my daughters away from me by violent means.” Although he thought it, Jacob thought it not prudent to add “and perhaps[s, even slay me. “ Of course Jacob by this time knew exactly why his father in law did not raise his hand against him. He was afraid of what God would do to him; so like a true Arab, he spoke of kindness and friendship while his heart was full of envy and murder. Still thinking that his and his company’s hands were clean as far as Laban’s allegation of theft was concerned he invited Laban to search among his possessions which Laban did. Laban searched everywhere and did not find what he was looking for. He did not because his daughter Rachel had it under her seat and told her father she could not rise from her seat because she was undergoing that time of life that women undergo monthly. More
Sunday, December 29, 2013
Jacob and his wives, his children and all his household, departed post-haste, taking with them all of Jacob’s possessions and set out for his father’s house. It took three days before Laban found out. We may remember that on the day of the last agreement with Laban when the reward for his labor was set, Jacob had wisely set three days separation between his holding and that of Laban’s. So now little wonder that it took Laban about the same number of days before he found out that Jacob had gone. Be that as it may, as soon as Laban found out, with blood in his eye, he gathered unto himself a small army of men and set out in hot pursuit after Jacob, no doubt with every intention of doing him harm, probably even to kill him and take away all his livestock and all his possessions. Pursuing after Jacob, he finally caught up with him after seven days; but before doing so, the Lord appeared unto him in a dream and warned him and said, “See that you have nothing whatsoever to do with Jacob; don’t even speak to him or say neither good nor evil to him.” But it came to pass that when Laban caught up with Jacob he did speak to him and said, “Why did you steal away like a thief in the night? You stole away my daughters, and my grandchildren, and took them away like a thief at the edge of a sword. You also took personal things which belonged to me. Tell me why you think you had to steal away secretly. If you had come to me and told me you wanted to leave, I would have given you permission; but first I would have had a going away celebration with feasting and music and dancing. I would have been able to kiss my daughters goodbye, and we would have parted like friends and family. Why did you have to do it this way?” Even now, I have the power to hurt you; but your God came to me in a dream and warned me to have nothing to do with you; not even to speak to you, and to say neither good nor bad. But even so, there is still the matter of the things stolen from me, and I feel obliged to search your wagons.”
Saturday, December 28, 2013
Jacob told his wives, how he had served their father Laban faithfully; but that Laban had deceived him and changed his wages ten times, but God did not allow Laban to hurt him. It is true that God had a hand in the whole affair, Jacob explained to his wives. For if Laban decided that all the speckled cattle were Jacob’s wages, then they all came out speckled; if he decided that all the rings streaked, they all came out thus marked. But in so far as your father’s cattle became mine, I took them not away; God gave them to me. Jacob related how in a dream he saw what was about to happen. He saw the ring streaked, speckled, and spotted animals. And the Angel of the Lord called his name and said, “Jacob, lift up your eyes and look, and see all these spotted, speckled and ring streaked animals I will give to you because I have seen the way Laban has mistreated you. “ And then the Lord said, “I am the Lord to whom you prayed and made a vow at the altar at Bethel, therefore, get yourself out of this land, and return unto the land of your kindred.” Then Rachel and Leah enquired of their husband whether there was any portion or inheritance available to them in their father’s house; for as far as they could see, all of their father’s wealth had vanished. In other words, as far as they were concerned, their lot for better or for worse was with their husband. So they told Jacob, in a few words, we are with you, your lot is our lot; so do according to God has directed you to do. I think that one can see in this story, a valuable lesson, that is, faithful service, even under an abusive and dishonest worldly master, will eventually be rewarded by a just and never failing heavenly Master. More
Friday, December 27, 2013
BRAGADAYJAH 104 How many times have we been hurt, or known of some person being hurt by some vicious lie, usually made up without foundation? Many, many times, we find that envy or jealousy is the root cause of much finger pointing and tongue wagging, which sometimes can lead to murder. We know that Cain slew his brother Abel through sheer jealousy. That was early in the history of man’s sojourn on earth; and it continued on at the time of Jacob’s troubles with Laban and continues today. The agreement with Laban and Jacob was well laid out and established. The ritual with the stripped rods apart, Jacob earned the right to what he possessed under the terms of the agreement. He had served Laban well and God was blessing him. His flocks increased exponentially while Laban’s did not; but that was due to no fault of Jacob's. God was having his way with both men. However, Jacob heard what Laban’s sons were saying, and from the look in Laban’s eye, and the countenance of his face, Jacob knew that Laban believed or was affected by, or even encouraged what his sons were saying. Jacob was clearly troubled by Laban’s attitude towards him and so he turned to the Lord, who advised him to leave and return to the land of his fathers, that is to say, the home he had fled from, the Lord promising to be with him. As a result Jacob called his wives, Rachel and Leah and communed with them, apprising them of what was happening between Laban and himself, and told them what he and they must now do. More.
Thursday, December 26, 2013
BRAGADAYJAH 103 There is no doubt that the chosen of God are filled with all wisdom, and are clearly taught to be cautious. Jacob had an agreement with Laban and he took the time to take steps to ensure there was no mistake or misunderstanding with regard to the import and terms of the agreement; and so that very day, way up front; at the beginning to implement their mutual understanding. People do not usually renege on their contract the same day, or so soon after it is made; they rely on the passage or thief of time to do so. And so, accordingly, Jacob set about that very day to remove all the marked and spotted and brown animals out of and away from Laban’s flock and took them as far away as possible, some three days journey, so that there was no chance of intermingling, or intermeddling, and these he left under the care of his sons. O for son’s on whom a father can rely. It would seem that this man Jacob was despite his apparent simplicity in the eyes and estimation of Laban was a very cunning man who was clearly also something of a herbalist. We remember the earlier story of the mandrakes and the suspicion that he knew something about them, and perhaps used them to sustain, maintain or supplement his constant, if not incessant seed producing capability. Now we find him using small branches, rods, of the polar, hazel and chestnut trees, and by stripping the green off the bark, made white strips appear in the rods. Next he situated the rods near the water troughs so that they would somehow cause the animals to conceive when they came in to drink; and the flocks conceived and brought forth offspring which were similarly streaked, speckled and spotted. But in all of this he kept his flocks away and separated from Laban’s. And so in course of time, Jacob’s flocks increased exceedingly; so did his servants, his camels and his asses. For the Lord did bless him exceedingly; but it was not long before he heard the grumblings of Laban’s sons. The complaint was, he had stolen their father’s cattle.
Wednesday, December 25, 2013
Now after Rachel gave birth to Joseph, Jacob thought it was time for him to sever ties with Laban and return to his own country. So he approached Laban and said, “I have served you well these many years. I have done all you have asked and or expected of me and more; so now let me take my wives and my children and all that belong to me and leave.” But Laban did not quite see it that way. His reply was to try to appeal to Jacob’s loyalty and humility. “Yes you are right, he said, but I can’t let you go right at this time. You see, I am being mightily blessed because of you; and if I let you go, I’ll be sending away my blessing; for I know that God is blessing me for your sake.” “However,” Laban added, “if it’s a question of wages, name your price and I will pay it.” Jacob tried to reason further with Laban. He pointed out that when he first arrived, Laban had but a few cattle; but through his service, he now had a multitude. “Yes the Lord has blessed you because of me; but now the time has come for me to start thinking about my own family and my and their well being.” Still Laban continued to try and bribe Jacob and asked him what he wanted in order that he should stay. Jacob, realizing that there was no other way to persuade Laban, said “if you will agree to let me go, I will again look after your flock. But I will go through the herd today and I will remove all the speckled and spotted, and all the brown of the cattle, the sheep and the goats and of all such shall be my hire. And when the time comes for my departure, and I shall claim all such as are spotted, speckled or brown, let it not be said that I have stolen from you.” Laban realizing that this was a sweet deal for him readily agreed; it was for the time a done deal. More
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
So Leah slept with her husband with Rachel’s consent as part of their bargain, and sure enough Leah gave birth to a fifth son, whom she called Issachar, signifying that God had given her, her hire; and after that she bore a sixth son whom she called Zebulun because she said, God had given her a dowry and now her husband will dwell with her; and having borne six sons God rounded it off by giving her a daughter, whom she called Diana. So now, this would be a good point at which to stop and reflect some more on the mandrakes. First of all it is ventured, it would seem, that is to say, it is very likely that Jacob himself planted stealthily or had the mandrakes growing in his field among the wheat. For if indeed the mandrakes were an aid to fertility, or some sort of fertility root, Jacob had no lack of it. We note that Reuben found the mandrakes growing among the wheat, not out in the field in the wilds somewhere. On the other hand, lucky charm, fertility weed, an aid to witchcraft, whatever it was used for, it seemed to have worked all round. Leah who had stopped bearing at four sons, after being reintroduced to her husband now bears two sons and a daughter; so it seem as if by magic Jacob was drawn back to her. So then what about Rachel? Did the mandrakes work for her? Now Scripture says that at this stage after Jacob had had 6 sons by Leah, 2 by Leah’s maid and 2 by Rachel’s maid, God remembered Rachel and opened up her womb and she began to bear, and had a son whom she called Joseph, because, the Lord had taken away her reproach. There is really no doubt that all of these things were in accordance with the will and purpose of the Lord God; but there is also no doubt that those who saw the mandrakes as having special powers, doubtless saw it all their way. More
Monday, December 23, 2013
Thank God, I have this day persevered and have reached the hundredth day, which means I am almost one third of the way along this journey. Praise be to Jah! I pray for strength to stick to this task and to draw on the strength and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to continue. That is one of the reasons I pray each day to God above to give me my daily bread as I dedicate myself to him daily. Blessed be His Holy name. Well do forgive me for this little excursion, or should I say, incursion. But now I will get on with it. As I was dealing with the contention of the two wives, who were also two sisters vying over one man, and now over some mandrakes, the question was posed which was, “What was so special about these mandrakes, apart from the fact that perhaps miraculously the root or bulbous part of this plant looked very much like the physical shape of a man?” But there is no question that these mandrakes were of great importance to these two women; and I also find it very interesting that even young Reuben for whatever reason, thought that his mother would have had an interest in them. However, we get a very clear picture of the importance of the mandrakes when we consider that Rachel was prepared to let her husband sleep with her sister in exchange for some of her mandrakes. And so it was that Leah waited out for Jacob, and as he was returning from his day’s work in the field, dragged him to one side and said, “You are mine tonight, baby, you were bought and paid for.” In the meantime, Rachel didn’t care; a bargain is a bargain; and in any event, she had her precious mandrakes. Will they work for her? We shall see as we shall also see that they worked for Leah because guess what? Jacob slept with Leah that night and she conceived and in course of time gave her a fifth son. I just can’t wait for tomorrow’s episode. But I will have to and so must you. But don’t miss it. I have an exciting insight about the mandrakes. More
The joy of living with Jesus, Transcends all earthly pleasures; It transcends all earthly pain; And the world’s greatest treasures, And all its richest gain. The joy of living with Jesus, Transcends all time and space; It makes the darkness fly away, By the brightness of His face, The night shines brightly as the day. The joy of living with Jesus, Chases loneliness away, He’s a friend that never fails you. He’s a friend that comes to stay, And will always see you through.
IF YOU LOVE ME If you love me, and by love I mean not Eros, or Adolphos, but Agape love, call me on the phone and say, Merry Christmas or whatever. You may also send me an Email, or a text message, or failing these, greet me on Facebook, Twitter, or whatever; but please don’t send me a post card, and don’t write me a letter unless there is money enclosed. If you send me a postcard or letter, I would have to go to the trouble of disposing of it after spending a good deal of time reading it, which I hate. But my main objections to Christmas cards are these. One. They are archaic. Time was when the only way to send love at Christmas was via Christmas cards, even for people living in your very town, and more so, if they lived in a different state, or country or continent. Imagine, for example, wanting to say Merry Christmas to someone living in Australia! Today, however, you have a cell phone, or land phone, email via internet and or text messaging. You can say it instantly. Two. Many of the very people who say there is no God, some of them even hate God and anything that is of God are the very ones selling or benefitting from the sale of Christmas cards; so I ask why finance their heretical beliefs and life styles? Three. A lot of people don’t even stop to realize that in fact sending a Christmas card is not the only, or the most efficient or the most personal way of saying I love you at Christmas time, or just to spread peace and love and joy. That in fact Christmas cards have long outlived their usefulness. That is why I say, if you love me, don’t send me a Christmas card! If you are reading this message, Merry Christmas, and a happy New Year; I love you all, in the name of Christ Jesus our Savior and God our Father.
Sunday, December 22, 2013
Now Leah and Rachel were at each other’s throat again, this time over mandrakes that Reuben, Leah’s first born had found in the fields during the time of wheat harvest. We are told that Reuben had found the mandrakes growing among the wheat and collected them and brought them to his mother Leah. Somehow, Rebekah heard about it and demanded that Leah should give her a share, whereupon Leah retorted, “You took away my husband and now you want to take away my son’s mandrakes also?” Firstly, what were these mandrakes? Apparently they were something used for a variety of uses. According to Solomon, the mandrakes give a smell; that is a sweet odor; so it was probably the aroma of the plant that attracted Reuben. He was the first born and since 7 followed him he must have been old enough to help gather the wheat; but was he old enough to know about the various uses to which mandrakes could be put? Was there another reason known to him why he would have thought his mother would want to have them? Secondly, how did Rebekah find out about the mandrakes, and what was her interest in getting some of them? Perhaps all the children were old enough to help with the harvesting; and perhaps Rachel’s two children or some of her servants were aware that Reuben had gathered mandrakes. In any event she wanted some. Thirdly to answer the first question, mandrakes were said to have some kind of power for good or evil. It was apparently used as a stimulant, as a love potion, as a fertility drug, and even in the practice of witchcraft. And so, for whatever reason, both women wanted it. And of course one could readily see why. In so far as it could be used as a love charm to woo her husband back to her bed, Leah would have desired it. And in so far as it was a kind of a fertility drug Rebekah would have wanted it. Indeed, so desperate was Rebekah to get hold of some mandrakes that she was prepared to let Jacob, over whom she clearly had the control, spend the night with Leah in exchange for some of her son’s mandrakes. More
Saturday, December 21, 2013
Hell, it is said, hath no fury like a woman scorned; and when those two women are two sisters vying for the attention of one husband, that is hell all by itself. Leah the scorned wife, the first wife, had four sons. Rachel now has two by her proxy maid; but Leah was not satisfied. She was not about to allow her sister to catch up with or exceed her in offspring; so she decided that since she had apparently stop bearing, she would give her maid to her husband so that she could have more children. One cannot but wonder if either of these two contending sisters gave a thought to Jacob’s feeling in all this. He was no longer a husband pure and simple; he was the work horse, and he was required to keep pouring out sons like he was some sort of guinea pig. Yet perhaps he was enjoying it; for we hear no word of complaint. Perhaps he was just a man who wanted peace and harmony between his two wives and would do whatever they asked so that peace and harmony may abound. In any event, Leah now gives Zilpah to Jacob to wife and she bore a son, whose name she called Gad, because she said, “A troop comes forth.” And soon after Zilpah bore another son whose name was called Asher, for reason Leah, from henceforth all the women shall call me blessed; and this makes me happy. So now, let us do a reality check, or rather a head count of sons. Leah bore 4 and her maid Zilpah bore 2; so she had six sons altogether and so, she was contented. Rachel, on the other hand had two by her maid, so that Jacob so far had 8 sons. Perhaps, now the two sisters would be happy and pick up the gauntlet and throw in the towel; but as we shall see shortly, that was not to be; for there would be more trouble ahead. More
Friday, December 20, 2013
Now Rachel was so set on having children for her husband Jacob that she gave her handmaiden Bilhah unto Jacob and commanded him to go in unto her so that she would conceive and so her child would be hers. This may sound strange to the modern ears and eyes; but at that time and even down to Roman times, the principle of what I call fructus, was at large. By fructus I mean that a maid, like a fruit tree, or not to put too fine a point on it, a horse, or a cow, was in the power and possession of the owner. Accordingly any fruit of the tree, fructus, was also in the power and possession of the owner of the tree, the horse the cow, the maid; so that any offspring of Bilhah was by law and custom, the property of Rachel the owner of the maid. So what would God do? Would he allow Bilhah to conceive? Surely He did; for Bilhah conceived and bore a son; and Rachel said, “The Lord has judged me and has also heard my voice;” so therefore, she called his name Dan. And when after Dan, Bilhah bore another son, Rachel said, “With great wrestling have I wrestled with my sister, and I have prevailed; therefore, she called this second son Naphtali.” There are great lessons to be learnt from this brief account. Firstly, that the Lord God Almighty is the Master of all creation. It is he and he alone who is the giver of life. Rachel thought that all Jacob had to do was to produce seed and a child would come forth, and so she was angry with her husband because she could not conceive. But finally, when she saw that God gave children to her made she finally came to the realization of where babies come from. Secondly she was spending her time, in expending useless energy wrestling with her sister instead of wrestling with God; for as will be seen later, until she learnt to wrestle with God, her life remained barren. Thirdly that God always have a plan and a purpose for everything that happens in our lives. Suppose for instance it was Rachel who was fruitful and Leah was not. One could see Rachel demanding that Jacob put her away. But since Leah was the one who was bearing Jacob’s children it was less likely even very unlikely that, as much as Jacob disliked Leah at the start, he could have been persuaded to send her away. So that it is a reasonable inference that God was looking after Leah to prevent any grave injustice befalling her. More.
Thursday, December 19, 2013
So at last Jacob had the wish of his heart. He had already consummated a marriage with Leah; but now he was given Rachel also. Predictably, he loved Rachel more than he loved Leah. Indeed he hated Leah, understandably because she was not his wife of choice. It would be always something of a bitter memory to him; he was cheated and Leah was thrust upon him unknown in the dark of night. Of course, the cold hard fact is, Leah had done nothing for which she should be hated; and so the Lord, while stopping up Rachel’s womb, caused Leah to conceive, and she bore a son whose name she called Reuben because she opined, the Lord looked with favor upon her affliction, and perhaps if she gave a son to Jacob, he may love her. In the course of time Leah had a second son, and she said, "of a truth, the Lord sees how much I am hated without a cause;so He continues to bless me;" so she called the name of her second son Simeon. And when she gave birth to a third son, she felt sure that they were all blessings from the Lord; the Lord she felt was trying to show her husband she was a fruitful woman, greatly to be loved and not despised as she was; so she called this third son Levi. When she had a fourth son, she was beside herself with praise; so she said, now I will praise the Lord, and she called the name of the fourth child, Judah. Now Rachel could not understand what was going on. She could not understand why Leah was being so fruitful while she was barren; so naturally, she turned on her husband. “Why can’t you give me children? What are you doing for her that you are not doing for me? Surely I am a woman and I can make children too." Not only was Rachel very jealous of her sister Leah, she was angry with her husband also. So when she threatened to kill herself if her husband did not give her children, Jacob asked her, in a state of anger, “Am I in God’s stead, who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb?” More
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Some men may say, if Jacob loved Rachel so much, why was he prepared to wait seven years to marry her? Of course in terms of modern times, and the impatience of our day, Jacob’s offer to wait 7 years may seem strange. But it is asserted, that at that time, men were patient in love and patient in service. On the other hand, Jacob’s willingness to serve Laban for seven years highlights and extenuates the deep love he had for his future wife and the high value he placed on acquiring her. So it is said, the seven years seemed as nothing compared to the great love he had for Rachel. Accordingly, the thought of what lay at the end of the rainbow must have been very exciting and gratifying indeed, and so he labored and waited. But alas, at the end of the seven years when it was time to receive the prize, something untoward happened. When Jacob demanded his wife, Laban threw a party as if celebrating the wedding. But when it was night, Laban took unto Jacob, not Rachel his daughter for whom Jacob toiled, but his older daughter Leah. When morning came, and Jacob was able to see his wife’s face, it was Leah, not Rachel his first love he beheld. With disappointment, he protested to Laban, who justified by saying that in his country, it would go against custom to give the second daughter in marriage before the first. Jacob’s words to Laban were interesting as he asked Laban, “Why did you beguile me?” And so it was indeed that so Jacob himself beguiled his father, the word Isaac used was “subtlety,” so now is Jacob beguiled by Laban. It is commonly said, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” While that saying is pregnant with wisdom, it may be better said, “Do not do unto others, what you would not like done unto you.” More The end result was that Laban told Jacob; “If you want Rachel so much, then fulfill your week with Leah,” that is to say, complete the period of consummation; “then work another seven years for Rachel,” which Jacob did. More
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Needless to say, Jacob was delighted to meet Rachel, the daughter of his mother’s brother Laban; so departing somewhat with watering protocol, he rolled the stone away from the well’s mouth and set about watering the sheep in Rachel’s care, sheep belonging to his uncle Laban. So overwhelmed was Jacob indeed that he kissed Rachel and wept. Emotions were well in order. His journey had been a long and weary one. He had met the Lord on the way and the Lord had promised to be with him and prosper his journey, and he had offered prayers to the Lord. But now he could feel in his heart that God was indeed with him. He had found his mothers, family; so overcome with emotions he wept. Jacob told Rachel who he was and so she ran and told her father Laban. And Laban in turn could not wait to meet Jacob Rebekah’s son, so he ran to meet him. Having met, the two kissed and embraced and then returned to Laban’s house. Jacob then resided a month with Laban, in the meantime doing chores and helping with work on the farm. At this time Laban asked Jacob how he wanted to be reward for his labor; for though they were flesh and blood, Jacob could not be expected to work for nothing. As it happened Laban had two daughters. Jacob had already met Rachel at the well; but she was the younger of the two girls the other being Leah, who was older than Rachel. They were both beautiful girls; but Jacob loved Rachel who was even more beautiful; so he told Laban he would work 7 years for the privilege of marrying Rachel the younger daughter; and Laban agreed to Jacob’s offer, so that Rachel was promised to him in return for his labor. More
Monday, December 16, 2013
So here we have it that the very next morning after God had appeared unto Jacob in a dream, and had promised him everything he could ever hope for, Jacob was on his knees praying to God and promising Him that if God would provide for him, sustain him and shield him, and bring him home again, he would give unto God a tenth part of everything that he acquired So the question may be asked again, why? Did Jacob not trust God, did he not believe that God would act unilaterally to fulfill his promises without anything coming from the promisee? The answer in part is that not knowing who God is was part of Jacob’s problem. But it is suggested that Jacob’s mistrust of God was more because he Jacob did not think himself worthy to receive such goodness from God if for no other reason he had a bad conscience over the way he deceived his father and acquired Esau’s birthright and blessing. What of course Jacob did not know was that bad as his conduct so far was, God saw in him as a bad penny that could be made to sparkle again whereas, Esau was Edom, a thoroughly bad and worthless penny. So Jacob was saying in fact, “Yes God I hear you; and if you are really serious with me, I promise I will be serious with you.” So Jacob journeyed on until he came to a well in a field, and beside the well, he saw three flocks of sheep. As he looked on, he noticed that there was a large stone placed over the well’s mouth and one by one, each flock was watered; and at the last the stone was rolled back in place to cover the well. At that stage, that is to say after the flocks were watered and the stone put into place, Jacob approached them and asked them where they were from, whereupon they answered and informed him that they were from Haran. Upon hearing they were from Haran, Jacob asked them if they knew Laban, Nahor’s son, and they said yes, they knew him, and further, his daughter Rachel now comes with her father’s flock of sheep. More/
Sunday, December 15, 2013
Waking out of his sleep, and remembering his dream, Jacob became afraid and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place and I did not know it. O how dreadful is this place. It is none other than the house of God, the very gate of heaven.” Jacob, therefore, took the stones he had used for a pillow and formed them into a pillar and poured oil unto the top of it. And having done so, he called the place, which up to that time had been called Luz, Bethel, that is to say, House of God. Having built his altar, Jacob set about worshipping God, and he vowed unto god, that if He should provide him with food and water, and clothes on my back, and keep me safe and lead me back again to my father’s house, I will serve the Lord, and he will be my God. And this stone which I have set for a pillar shall be God’s house; and of all that thou gives me I shall give thee the tenth part. Clearly Jacob as a young man was abiding under his father Isaac’s blessings. He had not experienced God for himself. Certainly he knew of the God of his father Isaac and of his grandfather Abraham. But he up to this time had no personal experience of God for himself. In his dream just that past night, God had revealed to Jacob a vision of who He was and had made him promises which went far beyond what he was now vowing conditionally to God who had made to him unconditional promises; for God had promised him. “I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places wither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; I will not leave thee until I have done to thee that which I have spoken to thee of.” So, then in truth and in fact Jacob’s promises were redundant, since God had already given to him assurances to which God had not attached any conditions. More
A Strange Philosophy Maybe its just me; but I find it most strange that when asked, the current Pope said, it was not up to him to say whether homosexual Priests is right or wrong. I say strange because I believe it is the calling of every child of God to know what the Word of God says, and to rightly and properly line it up, to measure conduct, whether such conduct is consonant with God’s word, right, or contrary to it, wrong. God’s word condemns homosexual conduct in both the Old and the New Testament; so there is no question in my mind that it is wrong. On the other hand I say strange, because when asked recently, the same Pope pronounced Marxism to be wrong. Well its been over 50 years since I have read men like JEM Joad, Engels, Kant, Karl Marx and others and perhaps teachings, philosophies and concepts have changed; but as I remember, Marx fundamentally says, the most efficient means of production should be pursued by the State, capital and labor being organized and managed to that end, so that the greatest good may be achieved; that every man must contribute according to his ability; and that he should be rewarded according to his needs. The last part of Marxism then runs counter to the modern day economic practices of Capitalism which has no regard for the needs of the working man. Yet the good Pope saw fit to condemn it as wrong; but God’s prohibition? Well he just could not judge; strange, very strange I say. The real danger with Marxism we are told is that it is a form of COMMUNISM. And what is wrong with communism (the early Apostles adopted a sort of communal living), is that it is not exactly a happy bedfellow of democracy; as a matter of fact the two are mortal enemies. But which is better? Communism is projected as ostensibly oppressive; but Capitalism is subtly corrupt, manipulative and repressive. So which is better? Which system is right and which is wrong? It depends on who is tossing the coin and who is calling heads and who is calling tails. And in the final analysis, I just have to admit that maybe the Pope is more versed in the things of the world than I am.
Saturday, December 14, 2013
Indeed Isaac was dying, but not yet dead. Rebekah his wife had spoken to Jacob and advised him to run away and go to her kin at Haran. Isaac also called his son Jacob and told him not to take a wife from among the Canaanites, but go to his mother’s brother Laban at Haran and there find himself a wife. These words of advice were of course heard by Esau, who out of sheer spite, because he knew that doing so would displease both his father and his mother, went and took to wife, not just one but two of the very women his father had warned Jacob against marrying. In the meantime, Jacob departed and headed towards Haran; but when night befell him, he took stones and made a pillow for his head and went to sleep. While asleep he dreamt he saw a ladder that stretched from earth to heaven, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the ladder. And he saw God who also spoke to him and said. “I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father and the God of Isaac; all the land upon which you lie will I give to your seed. And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shall spread across to the West and to the East and to the North and to the South; and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. I am with thee and will keep thee in all places wither you go and will bring you again into this land. For I will not leave you until I have accomplished all I have promised to you to do for you.” More.
Friday, December 13, 2013
Strangely enough, when Isaac told Esau plainly, “your brother has taken away thy blessing,” Esau responded and said to the effect, “no wonder his name is called Jacob; for he has supplanted me, (gotten ahead of me), these two times. First he took away my birthright, and now he has taken away my blessing also.” Even so Esau clung tenaciously to the hope that all was not lost; that somehow his father could still bless him even at this late hour. So in one last ditch attempt he said, “O my father, do you not have one blessing with which you can yet bless me?” Accordingly, Isaac told him plainly. “Behold I have made him thy lord, and all his brethren have I given to him for servants, and with corn and wine have I sustained him; and what shall I do now unto thee my son?” Still Esau would not give up. “Just one blessing, my father he pleaded; and with tears in his eyes and bitterness in his heart he pleaded; “bless me also my father.” If there was even one dried up carrot in a dying fathers sack, Isaac would search for it. He was a righteous man; he had served the Lord as his father Abraham did and as much as he would like to give some quantum of solace to his son, he could not, he would not deceive him; so Isaac told his son Esau, “Your dwelling shall be the fatness of the earth, and of the dew of heaven from above. And by the sword shall thou live, and shall serve thy brother; and it shall come to pass when thou shall have the dominion, that thou shall break his yoke from off thy neck.” “Very well,” vowed Esau in his pain; “I shall live by the sword; but Jacob shall also perish by my sword. I swear to it.” Even then he said to himself. “My father’s death is at hand. I will not slay my brother until this period of mourning is over; but I shall have my revenge.” As usual Rebekah was ever vigilant; her network of spies never failed her, and she was soon made aware of Esau’s threats against Jacob’s life. More
Thursday, December 12, 2013
While back in the dwelling Esau’s title was slipping away from him, he was out there in the woods, bow in hand at the ready, and wondering why he was finding it so hard to line up a deer today. Even when at long last he thought he had one full in his sights, the animal was spooked just as he was about to release and his arrow missed the mark by a long way. Esau muttered to himself in disbelief; he had never missed before; at least not in recent memory. And today of all days he said out loud; today when everything is arranged for me to receive my inheritance and my blessing. Should he tell his father about the vow he had made to his brother concerning his birthright? “Of course not!” the voice of reason said to him; so he dismissed the thought and returned his mind to his quarry. Just then he saw him, a perfect specimen; big fat and round. This time he did not miss. Looking up he saw that the sun was no longer directly overhead. It was afternoon; so he hurried back to the tent, and as quickly as he could set about making venison for his father to eat, the way he knew he liked it. Upon entering his father’s room Esau said, “rise now and eat my venison that your soul may bless me.” And Isaac asked, “Who are you?” Esau replied, “I am your son Esau your first born.” Then Isaac revealed to him the sad truth. Jacob had already brought to him fine venison and he had eaten and had blessed him already. There is no blessing left for you son” Isaac told him. Esau wept bitterly and implored his father and asked him to bless him also nonetheless. “Is there no blessing left for me?” Esau beseeched his father; but Isaac said “No son. Your brother came in with subtlety and has taken away your blessing.” More
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
The final act in Jacob’s little skit of deception was played out when he kissed his father; and smelling Esau’s scent on him Isaac said; “I smell the smell of my son. It is as the smell of the field which the Lord has blessed. Therefore, God give you of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth; and plenty of corn and wine. Let people serve you; and nations bow down to you; be lord over your brethren, and let your mother’s sons bow down to you; cursed be everyone that curse you, and blessed be everyone that bless you.” Isaac’s blessing is explicit. It made Jacob lord and master over all, including his brethren, (sic Esau) and even over other nations. In short Isaac bestowed upon Jacob the very blessings that God had promised to Abraham his father. There is no doubt that Jacob obtained the succession to Isaac by deception. He took advantage of his father’s incapacity, to obtain the title of heir apparent by deceiving his father; and according to Israelitish law and custom it was done and could not be undone. Title to all power and property and right of succession passed irrevocably to him, and that was that. Interestingly, Jacob’s conduct if judged by modern English criminal law standards, would have afforded the classical example of goods or property obtained by larceny by a trick, as distinct from obtaining by false pretences. In the former case, having regard to Isaac’s condition, his repeated questioning of his son Jacob to ascertain it was in fact Esau, his feeling of his arms the smell of his clothes, would have resulted in a finding that there was no intention on the part of Isaac to pass title to Jacob and the entire transaction annulled. In other words, Jacob’s possession would have been treated as theft and so when the truth was revealed, the titles would have been restored to Isaac to deal with as he pleased. More
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Obediently if somewhat reluctantly, Jacob went out and did as his mother Rebekah had commanded him to do, and returned with the young goats. Rebekah well knew her husbands taste in stew so she had no difficulty making it just the way she knew he liked it. The difficulty was passing Jacob off as Esau, because she knew exactly how Isaac would react. Having finished cooking the stew, she put Esau’s clothes upon Jacob and covered his arms and his neck with the very hairy skin from the goats and gave Jacob the savory stew and the bread to take in to his father. The mother had done her part; it was then up to Jacob to play his role out to the end. ” And Isaac replied, “Here am I: who art thou, my son?” And Jacob answered and said, “I am Esau, your firstborn; I have done what you asked me to do. Come on, eat my venison that thy soul may bless me.” Isaac not to be easily fooled, notwithstanding his sightlessness, asked, “How was it possible for you to find this venison so quickly?” And Jacob replied, ”because the Lord thy God brought it to me.” Smelling a rat or not, Isaac had an idea. “Come close my son,” he said. Come let me feel you my son so that I may know whether you are my son Esau or not.” Jacob went close to his father and he felt him and said, “The voice is Jacob’s voice; but the hands are those of Esau.” At this stage, feeling what passed for Esau’s hairy hands, he was almost convinced; yet he asked, “Art thou my very son Esau?” And Jacob said “yes, I am.” Pausing for a moment, I have often said, it is difficult to tell a lie in isolation. That one lie needs a back up or follow-up lie and in the course of one lie several lies have to be told. This account with Jacob and his father eminently proves this hypothesis. In this one episode, before the deal was done, Jacob lied to his father no less than 4 times, and deceived him many more. For indeed it is well said, “What a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.” More
Monday, December 9, 2013
Dare I say that the man Esau was a worthless fellow? Let us take another look at him. When his father Isaac was old and his eyes were dim, his father called him and told him to go kill venison and make a savory stew for him so that he may eat and bestow upon him the blessing that was traditionally the right of first born. Esau knew what his father meant, and the implications of blessing him as distinct from Jacob. But he had already sold his birthright to his brother. Did he say “father, as a matter of fact the right of first born no longer belongs to me; I sold it to Jacob.” But instead he said nothing and ran to catch his venison. Unfortunately for Esau, however, Rebekah heard the conversation and intervened to prevent her husband’s blessing being bestowed upon his first born. Rebekah told Jacob what his father had said and what his intention was; and she was not going to have any of it. So she told Jacob to go the flocks and pick out two young kids and fetch them to her quickly, so that while Esau was out hunting for venison, Rebekah would be cooking up both kiddie stew and a scheme to ensure that Isaac blessed Jacob instead. Jacob was skeptical about his mother’s scheme. He pointed out that Esau was hairy while he Jacob was smooth of skin. Therefore, he felt sure his father would see through the scheme and instead of pronouncing a blessing, put a curse on him; but Rebekah assured him that she had the matter well in hand; “so do as I say, she ordered.”
Sunday, December 8, 2013
Upon receiving Abimelech’s request, Isaac decided to throw them a feast at which there were much eating and drinking; and the next morning he had reached a decision according to Abimelech’s proposal; and they both swore to set up and maintain a pact of peace between them, more particularly that Isaac would not use his wealth, his power and his security with God, to do harm to Abimelech and his people. As if God was well pleased with his pact of non-aggression, Isaac’s servants announced to him that the well they had lately dug was full of water; and Isaac named it Shebah, hence the city at that place became known as Beersheba. Sometimes we wonder why God causes or allows certain things to happen; we often puzzle over things like God’s attitude to Jacob as against Esau, for example. Why the Lord said that Jacob was to have the pre-eminence over Esau; why God allowed him to sell his birthright, and at so cheap a price. Later on we will be surprised again when we hear God talking about Esau and Jacob and wonder why. But here is something that may shed good light on our own enquiring minds. It is something else that Esau did that grieved both Isaac and Rebekah and we may be sure, God also. For when he was about forty years old, Esau married not on, but two foreign women daughters of Hittites, unions which grieved Isaac and Rebekah greatly. More.
Saturday, December 7, 2013
That same night when Isaac moved to Beersheba, the Lord appeared to him and told him; “I am the God of Abraham your father; fear not, for I am with you; I will bless you and multiply your seed for my servant Abraham’s sake.” God’s promises to Isaac do not imply that Isaac was not worthy of God’s blessings in his own right; but rather a confirmation to God’s promise to Abraham to bless his seed. That is one attribute of the God of heaven; He is consistent with himself. When God was making promises of blessing to Abraham and his seed, He already saw Isaac, and knew that he was also worthy of blessing. So the statement, “for my servant Abraham’s sake,” can well be read, in accordance with the promises I made to Abraham concerning you. After his conversation with God, Isaac built an altar there and worshipped the Lord in that place and dug a well there. Why did Isaac dig his well right after God spoke with him? The truth may well be, that he expected God to fill it. If we are in a dry place and we don’t dig a well, we can’t except God to fill it. But soon the adversary was at Isaac’s door again, in the persons of King Abimelech, all the way from Gerar, with one of his high ranking officials and also the chief of his generals. Upon seeing them, Isaac asked them, why they came to see him seeing they hated him and drove him out of Gerar. Then the King said to him, the same words he had spoken to Abraham before; We perceive that God is with you and we are here to make a pact with you, that you will not do us any harm. Yes we sent you away, but we did so in peace and for your good. We did not hurt you, and we are here seeking a promise from you that you will likewise do no hurt to us. More
Friday, December 6, 2013
God is a covenant keeper. He is God and he cannot lie, and he cannot break His promises. God promised Abraham to make his son Isaac a blessing and God kept his promise. So Isaac, once his affair with Abimelech was settled, settled down to planting and growing crops; and to this end he was very successful. In the first year of planting, his crops increased a hundredfold and thereafter, his fortunes grew and grew until he became a great man in the land. As Isaac grew in wealth, of flocks and herds and servants, the Philistines envied him. They went about filling up the wells that Abraham his father had dug. And it got to the point where Abimelech the king suggested to Isaac that he should go away from among them because he had grown too big for comfort. So Isaac departed from among them and pitched his tent in the valley of Gerar and dwelt there Returning to Gerar, Abraham reopened the wells that the Philistines had stopped up after the death of Abraham, and called the wells by the same names as his father had called them. Notwithstanding that Abraham had moved away, he was still in territory claimed by the Philistines and they did their best to provoke war with Isaac. Having herds of animals to take care of, one thing Isaac needed apart from grass was water; and so to provide water for his flock he had to dig wells. But it turned out that every time Isaac dug a well, the Philistines would move in and claim it. He dug the first well, and the Philistines claimed it; Isaac moved away and dug another; they claimed it again; he moves away and dug a third, and this time they left him alone; and Isaac’s reaction was, this time the Lord has made room for us; so he called the name of the place Rehoboth. But eventually, he moved away again and settled in Beersheba. More
Thursday, December 5, 2013
How often does history repeat itself? How often do certain things run in the same family? We know that Abraham twice ran away from a famine situation. Once he went down into Egypt and the other time he went into Abimelech’s country; and both times he said Sarah was his sister; and both times disaster would have struck if God did not intervene. Did Isaac know of his father’s story, his history of running away and lying, or did he merely remember his father as the hero of faith who trusted God to the extent of being willing to offer him, Isaac, his only son, as a burnt sacrifice? Well now we see Isaac, doing the same thing, or wanting to do the same thing as his father. So either he did not know, or had forgotten, or perhaps he thought he would push his luck as his father did. But God warned Isaac not to run and made him the promises outlined above; but yet Isaac lied; but his lie was found out. So Abimelech asked Isaac, “What is this that thou hast done? One of my people might have innocently lain with your wife and thou would have brought guiltiness upon us.” Furthermore, Abimelech made a proclamation that Rebekah was off bounds to all; and further that any man who touched her would be put to death. Abimelech knew who Isaac was. He was the son of that great man of God, Abraham; and Abimelech had reason to know who Abraham was and knew enough not to want to mess with Abraham’s son or his wife. More.
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
It is sometimes said, “Like father like son.” The Bible speaks of ‘he sins of the father.” Be that as it may, just as it were in the days of Abraham, and there was a famine which caused him to run, so it is now in the time of his son Isaac; there was a famine in the land, and Isaac resolved to go to Egypt also. Knowing Isaac’s intention, the Lord advised him not to go down into Egypt, but to go to the land to which he will direct him. “Remain in the land and I will be with thee; and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, will I give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I swore unto Abraham thy father. And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed. Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments statutes and laws.” Accordingly, Isaac decided to remain in Gerar, Abimelech’s country; and seeing his wife the men of the place asked him about Rebekah, and he said, “she is my sister.” It is an odd thing that so many times when faced with the choice of speaking the truth or telling a lie, the lie always seems to be more instantly forthcoming. Quite often, with a little thought we would conclude that the truth was indeed a better choice; but we often do not think, or do not think correctly; so the lie projects itself and we go with it. In Isaac’s case, the Lord Had promised to be with him. With a little thought he ought to have concluded that if the Lord promised to be with him, he would be with him all the way; but Isaac did not think his situation or his reply through; so his lips spoke the lie, “She is my sister.” And so it was, after a period of time, King Abimelech looked through his window one day and saw Isaac playing with Rebekah and from the manner of the play concluded that she must have been his wife. So he called Isaac and asked him why he had said in the beginning that Rebekah was his sister. Isaac lie had found him out. What would Abimelech do to him? Find out tomorrow.
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
So the day came when Rebekah would deliver her twins and true to God’s word, there were indeed two boys that came forth from the womb. The first one came out red all over like a hairy garment, and they called his name Esau; then the second twin came out and held his brother Esau by his heal, and they called his name Jacob. Here we see that Jacob had to wait 20 years before his first born; for he was 40 years old when he married Rebekah. Two boys, one hirsuites, hairy, the other smooth of skin, grew together; but pursued different lifestyles. Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field, while Jacob was a plain man dwelling in tents. The difference here is that one was a hunter and the other a farmer. Not unnaturally, Jacob had a fondness for Esau, after all he was his first born, but Rebekah’s love was more towards Jacob, he was her younger son, less ruddy and milder. One reason why Isaac loved Esau more was that Esau was a fine cook of venison and he would often cook it and feed it to his father Isaac. It happened, however, that one day when Esau returned home he was very hungry, and he saw his brother Jacob with some lentil stew. He therefore begged Jacob to let him have some of his stew because he was faint. Seeing his condition and the nature of his want, Jacob struck a bargain with his brother. “Sell me your birthright,” he said. Now Esau could have said, “Not on your life or some such other response; but low and behold he said; “I am at the point of death for hunger, so what good is my birthright to me now?” Was Esau really that hungry, or was he just a greedy man? Did he not have a high regard for his birthright, or was it just a case of providential direction and inevitability? For it was already foretold that the elder shall serve the younger. Well Jacob made his brother swear over his birthright unto him, in exchange for which he gave him some lentil soup with a piece of bread. Was it fair exchange or was it robbery? Did God command and or ordain it, or did God merely state earlier the inevitable by foreknowledge? More
Monday, December 2, 2013
In the meantime, Ishmael was being very prolific, fathering twelve sons, which became twelve tribes, each settling in a separate camp. As the angel had predicted they were a fierce and hostile people constantly at war with themselves as well as everyone else. Finally, when he was 137 years old, Ishmael died; but not before he sired twelve tribes of descendants which were to keep the world on edge for ever thereafter. Isaac, on the other hand was not so prolific; in fact he was not prolific at all. Just as his own mother Sarah was barren unto old age, and required God’s special intervention long after she had past the natural time for childbearing, so Isaac’s wife was barren and required Isaac to petition the Lord to intervene on her behalf. As a result of Isaac’s prayer, the Lord opened up Rebekah’s womb and she became pregnant; but lo, she carried twins who even in the womb were at war with each other. “Why is this happening to me Rebekah enquired of the Lord?” “Because you are carrying two nations within you; and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people shall be stronger than the other; and the older shall serve the younger.” Do we not see here a principle, that sin carries a price, that no evil deed goes unpunished? Going back to Abraham and Sarah, we know that God had promised to make their seed great; but they became impatient and tried to second guess God, and find a way round Him. It was their sin that created the tension between Hagar and Sarah and between Ishmael and Isaac. So the tension continues between the descendants of Isaac and of Ishmael. Then again the Lord had withheld children from Sarah until that time of life when he supernaturally intervened. It was His will that opened up Sarah’s womb; so just so that all would know for all eternity that God is the creator of all flesh, we see now again that it was by God’s hand, within His will and purpose that Rebekah would bring forth; but the tension created by the will of man continues. But just as the first born Ishmael was relegated to the inferior place, so the twins vying within Rebekah’s womb, would follow the same pattern; and the older shall be inferior to the younger. More
Sunday, December 1, 2013
So Isaac found himself a wife and settled down; but father Abraham was not about to pass away quietly into the cloud of oblivion. God had promised him productivity and it would seem he was about to find it. He was 117 years old when his wife Sarah died; but he was not about to hang up his spurs; for Abraham found himself a wife named Keturah with whom he had six sons, and it would seem he had time on his hands to engage the services of other women, concubines as well. In the course of the next 60 years, Abraham would live to see many more children and grandchildren; but he was just an old man spreading his wings not his fortune. So in course of time he gave them all gift and sent them away; because his inheritance was intended for and given to his son Isaac. But indeed, all good things must come to an end. Abraham’s life spanned almost four decades; so at the age of 175 he finally gave up the ghost and died. It would seem that wherever Ishmael was, he learnt or knew of his father’s death; for it is recorded that Abraham was buried by his sons Isaac and Ishmael in the cave of Machpelah in the self same field he had earlier purchased of the sons of Heth, the very place where Sarah his wife was buried. So father Abraham was buried there, having died at a ripe old age. More