Jacob

Day 51

So it begins! Alert, well-rested, and on time!

In cool news, I got my wooden flute today. It’s a Native American-style flute called the “Red-Tailed Hawk” from a company called High Spirits Flutes. Anyone interested in a really fun and simple instrument will enjoy them. Good prices, too, for a shaman on a budget. 😉

fluteAromatic cedar with a turquoise inlay. Made right here in Arizona! Beautiful. Thank you, God. It’s a good day to be alive.

Down to business!


The Second Book of Moses Called

exodusI stepped it up and found a better font for my heading this time around. Maybe one of these days I’ll hire some monks to draw in the margins of my blog and design really flowery heading script.

Anyway. Exodus 1 opens by saying that Joseph and his family had settled in Egypt. All of his brothers, the sons of Jacob, were living there, and somewhere around seventy or seventy-five direct descendents of Jacob were there.

The children of Israel grew and multiplied, and in a display of anti-foreigner sentiment that feels all too modern, the new Egyptian king who did not know Joseph grows tired of these people filling the land with their strange traditions. First the Egyptians force them into bondage, and then they try to have all the male Israelites killed at birth by the midwives.

The funny thing is, one thing the Egyptians are afraid of is the Israelites rising against them should they ever be attacked from outside. I love the self-fulfilling prophecy… if they hadn’t forced them into slavery and attempted genocide on them, the Israelites might have been just fine! But it was not to be.

Finally, after being disobeyed by the midwives, Pharaoh spreads the word to all his people that any male child born to the Israelites must be thrown into the river, while the daughters shall be kept alive.

That’s all for today, dear readers! Thank you for joining me once again on Day 51!

Peace be upon you.

 

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Day 49

I can’t find my Bible again. I honestly don’t know where that darn thing keeps ending up! I do have access to the Internet (obviously) and I do have the New World Translation from the Jehovah’s Witnesses. It’s something! But I do want to find my NKJV before my camping trip.

I worked with one of my clients yesterday; he’s only nine but he’s a really good kid. I don’t know what it is about him but I get a really good vibe, a really powerful vibe. He’s one of the only clients and indeed one of the few people I’ve ever met that seems totally contented in the silence of his own mind. I feel like I could learn a lot from him, even if he doesn’t consciously realize it. He doesn’t talk much, but he’s a good listener, and I’ve found that the latter is much more important than the former.

We went hiking and it was wonderful, the sun was setting, the wind was blowing, and it was growing cold and dark. We didn’t stay for very long since it got a little creepy for him (and me too, admittedly), but it was a good experience and I got a few photos and an inspiration for some writing, which is always a bonus. I do need to start carrying a “real” camera with me, and not just using my phone all the time. This thing is great during the day but in any kind of low light, the picture quality is terrible.

Without further ado…

sunset over cityscape

Ghosts of the Mountain

City lights
From mountainside
Flicker as
The sunset dies
The wind behind
I close my eyes
I’m falling…

I crossed paths with one of the old guardians
His time had come, and yet
He had never relinquished his post
Never abandoned his duty
Instead, while flesh had failed him
He could see what the others could not
And the shadows that danced out of sight
Were clear to him in death
His own slender bones
Seemed a mocking crown
And though his roots grasped at dust
He stood fast
Watching the comings and goings of the night
The crescent moon watched as well
And when I called for silence
Even the wind obeyed.

shadowwatcher


Genesis 49

Honestly, after writing that business, I have really no desire to break down Genesis 49. The point is, I read it, Jacob says something to each of his sons on his deathbed, and in the end he passes away.

One interesting takeaway from Gen 49 is that Jacob is described as blessing his sons, “each one according to his own blessing” (Gen 49:28). The interesting thing is that with the first three, Reuben followed by the brothers Simon and Levi, the things Jacob says would not be considered “blessings” in a modern sense.

But this is the life that these children have been granted; Jacob merely observes the truth and probably speaks with a spirit of prophecy. In this sense, in the sense that Jacob reveals truth, then indeed these are blessings, because he, with his wisdom and knowledge, sheds light on the lives and futures of his sons, even the less righteous ones. Truly, with knowledge and awareness of themselves they are blessed.

Tonight is my last night that will be spent reading/analyzing Genesis. I’m going to knock out Genesis 50, the closing chapter, and be off to bed.

Farewell, all. Peace be upon you.

 

Day 48

Sweet Jesus, we’re almost done with Genesis. I have such a headache, and I’m so tired right now, but still I’m up typing away…

This project, combined with my new job, is going to be the most trying and demanding thing I’ve ever had to do. Maybe this hectic week will be good for me; if I retire early tonight and wake up early, I can start fresh and write my Day 49 post early, before I have to work all day. And the next day. And the next day.

You know, I’m going out of town in less than three weeks, and I cannot wait. I’m going camping, and I’m going to be away from the computer for about 7 or 8 days. I’ll be bringing my Bible and a notepad with me on the camping trip, and I’ll read and write every day. But the posting is going to have to wait til I get back. I think it’ll be a really nice vacation; I can’t wait to turn my phone off for a week; it’s always buzzing with texts and emails… Days like today, I just want a little silence. As soon as I’m done with this post, I shall have it.


Genesis 48

Joseph brings his sons to meet his dying father, Jacob. Jacob/Israel takes the children close to him, recounts his vision of God and the promises therefrom, and says this (Gen 49:5-6):

And now your two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine. Your offspring whom you beget after them shall be yours; they will be called by the name of their brothers in their inheritance.

I wasn’t sure what to make of this, so I visited our old friend Matthew Henry. Haven’t heard from him in a while. He makes the point that Jacob “adopts” Ephraim and Manasseh to carry on the promises of God, to carry on the blessings, to live a godly life rather than an earthly one. Jacob wants the two boys “to know, that it is better to be low, and in the church, than high, and out of it.”¹

Jacob then blesses the boys, placing his right hand on the head of Ephraim, the younger, and his left hand on the head of Manasseh, the older. Joseph tells his father essentially that he is confused or mistaken in his blessings, but Jacob speaks “from a spirit of prophecy,” according to Matthew Henry. Jacob knows that, just as with his life and his brother, the younger shall surpass the older in the eyes of God.

Here is Jacob’s blessing to the boys (Gen 49:15-16):

“God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked,
The God who has fed me all my life long to this day,
The Angel who has redeemed me from all evil,
Bless the lads;
Let my name be named upon them,
And the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac;
And let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.”

I like the second and third lines; the second because God has cared for Jacob all the way up til now, almost out of expectation or a leading-up to his death. Also, because this chapter made me think about it, I realized that there has been no mention of anyone dying and going to Heaven. The only mention of “heaven” throughout Genesis seems to be used to mean “sky,” and the only person who has had anything else happen to him besides death is Enoch, for if you recall, “God took him” back in Genesis 5:24.

As far as the third line goes, I was confused as to “The Angel.” Obviously this figure is equated with God, which made me think of the idea of the Trinity and all the appearances of the “Angel of the Lord” throughout Genesis. Both Matthew Henry and John Wesley equate this figure with Jesus Christ, “the Angel of the covenant.” 1,2

It is interesting to see all these interpretations of the appearance of Christ in the Old Testament. Someday I should like to talk to a Rabbi or a Jewish scholar about all of this and see what their take on it is.

Anyway, I’m calling it an early night. I love you all; peace be upon you.

Good night.


¹ Henry, Matthew. http://www.christnotes.org/commentary.php?b=1&c=48&com=mhc

² Wesley, John. http://www.christnotes.org/commentary.php?com=wes&b=1&c=48

Day 46

Hoo-rah and hallelujah, I am officially caught up.  Tomorrow will be Day 47, as it should be.

Today’s Medicine Card was really interesting; I had a sneaking suspicion that today’s card would be upright as opposed to contrary and I was correct. My card was Prairie Dog, and Prairie Dog has to do with “Retreat.” The book explains this as removing yourself from situations, taking time to recuperate. Could not have been more appropriate for this nice day off that I enjoyed.

Got some laundry done, got to hang out with my friends… stayed up a little too late but, oh well. Gotta write.

We’re winding down Genesis, so let’s get this show on the road.


Genesis 46

Israel heads down to Beersheba to make an offering to God; God speaks to him and tells him that He “will make of [him] a great nation” in Egypt (Genesis 46:3).

Jacob goes down to Egypt and takes all his descendents and children and so forth, and it is here that we are treated to nearly twenty verses of genealogy.

I really wonder about all this genealogy stuff. I mean, I know the point is (so I’m told) to be able to trace the lineage of Jesus Christ, and from an accommodation or condescension perspective it could just exist so that people understood in the simplest terms that God created the world and created mankind and here’s the genealogy written down to prove it.

But if you do the math, and I haven’t, but just looking it up gives me a little bit of a headache. If you’re really interested, just Google it and you’ll find it no time. Anyway, if you do the math, supposedly the age you get for the earth (assuming that each “day” in Genesis is a 24-hour day), the age is around 6000 years. One website backed this claim up by saying that most cultures have histories going back about that far.

This is the thing that gets me about that, and I realize this is quickly becoming a long aside, is that around that time period, let’s say 4000 BC to 2000 BC, that’s when writing was being invented. That’s the time period when people could record their history, as opposed to just telling stories or using whatever language looked like six thousand years ago.

Even then, it’s been nearly impossible to preserve a document or a language in its original form, and I don’t see how this would be any different in the past. From the time of Adam to the time of, say, Moses is a really long time. Even if they were able to write things down, over several hundred to a thousand years, language changes, writing changes… things change.

I’ve brought up stuff like this with my partner and others and the answer I usually get is that God “makes sure,” essentially, that the message is intact. This much I agree with, because it’s obvious to me even if it seems silly that the Bible exists in its current form for a reason.

There is so much more I want to talk about, but my feeling is to save it for another day.

Anyway, we get the genealogy, Israel is reunited with his son Joseph, we learn that shepherds aren’t welcome in Egypt (Or something. Gen 43:34) and so the family will go live in the land of Goshen, where they can just go and do their thing.

So I haven’t been able to much about this phrasing in the past, I think, but I really like that when people are contacted by God, the common response from these Old Testament patriarchs is “Here I am.” It won’t be until Exodus somewhere that we learn about “I AM,” but when you know that and look back, they are responding to God with His own name.

The “here” to me serves as a great reminder of living in the Now, of living fully in the present moment, of being present when God or the universe speaks to you. If nothing else, when God spoke, these men listened.

In truth, as it has been shown to me, God speaks with us all the time. It is only when we stop, collaborate, and listen (couldn’t resist), when we pause the fascination we have with future and past, when we awaken to the moment that is Now and say, “Here I am”… that is when we hear  and notice God. The act of being present is a communion with God and with ourselves.

Also, since “I AM” is a name of God, it’s like responding when someone calls your name. If Steve calls your name, you could say, “Here, Steve!” So in the Bible, we have people responding with “Here, I AM!”

First explanation, deep and spiritual. Second explanation, humorous and irreverent (but not terribly so). As far as I can see, God still has a sense of humor. As long as He never loses His, I’ll never lose mine.

Good night, all. Peace be upon you.

Day 45

Time to get up to speed on some Genesis! Ooh yeah!


Genesis 44

Long story short, Joseph decides to screw with his brothers some more. As they’re leaving, he loads their bags with money, and puts his silver cup in Benjamin’s bag. Joseph tells his steward to follow them and accuse them of stealing.

The brothers are basically like, “Are you serious? We were honest and brought your money back. Why would we steal from you? Fine, you know what? If you find this stolen silver or whatever, then you can just go right ahead and enslave whoever has it.” At this point, after what happened last time, I don’t know why they didn’t search their bags beforehand.

Then the steward is all, “Alright, man. Slaves it is. By the way, Benjamin had this silver cup. Slavery, HOOO!”

The brothers tear their clothes out of grief and return to the city.

The last part of Gen 44 is Judah recounting their entire story to Joseph, including the conversation they had with their father before leaving, and the father’s extreme sorrow should Benjamin not return. Judah finally asks to stay in place of Benjamin rather than return and watch his father die from grief.

Favorite Quotes:

“Why have you repaid evil for good?”

— Joseph, Genesis 44:4

“What deed is this you have done? Did you not know that such a man as I can certainly practice divination?”

— Joseph to his brothers, Genesis 44:15

The first quote is a question that I feel ought to be asked of many people, and in a larger sense, of the whole human race. The fact that we are granted life and will, granted the ability to have a human experience and explore this amazing world is good. Scratch that. It’s full-on capital-G Good. It is a goodness and a truth that we are alive and that we exist. But why, as a species, as a people, have we repaid this goodness and truth with evil? Why have we disrespected our brothers and sisters, why have we disrespected the earth upon which we live?

If you ask the Catholics, we are all tainted by Original Sin by virtue of birth, but I prefer a more psychological explanation that requires fewer assumptions. It seems fairly evident to me that we have people who are raised by imperfect parents and they grow up to be imperfect people. This is normal; no one is perfect. The problem is that insecurities arise, prejudices arise, assumptions arise, and hatreds arise. People lack respect and love for their fellow man, they lack understanding, and so we gossip, we despise, we are cruel to one another. We lash out to protect ourselves, but we perpetuate a cycle of pain. Why have we repaid evil for Good? It is a damn shame, but at this point in time, it could not be any other way.

The second quote just sounds intense. Something I could picture being read by Jules Winnfield (as played by Mr. Samuel L. Jackson, of course). “Did you not KNOW that such a man as I… can cer-tain-ly practice di-vi-na-tion?”

juleswinn

“N*gga, you really gonna drag me into this mess?” ¹

Hell yes, I am.


Genesis 45

Joseph finally breaks down after Judah pleads his case for his father’s life and the freedom of his brother, speaking passionately for he is truly his brother’s keeper. (See what I did there?) Joseph sends away all his servants and reveals himself to his brothers.

This is my favorite part of this story because Joseph tells his brothers not to grieve or be angry. He tells them it was good that he was sent to Egypt, because now with his ability to interpret dreams he has saved many people from famine and has provided for his family. He tells his brothers that it was God, not they, who landed him in Egypt. I like this because it is a Biblical illustration of the idea of little miracles adding up to bigger ones.

  1. Brothers become jealous of Joseph
  2. Brothers decide to sell Joseph to Midianites make money
  3. Joseph is sold in Egypt to the captain of the guard
  4. Joseph distinguishes himself in the house of his master, but is imprisoned from a false claim by the master’s wife
  5. Joseph meets Pharaoh’s butler and baker, who had landed themselves in prison
  6. Joseph interprets their dreams, the butler is freed
  7. Joseph is forgotten until the Pharaoh has a strange dream two years later
  8. The butler remembers Joseph and he is brought before Pharaoh
  9. Joseph becomes a trusted adviser with great power and is able to mitigate the effects of the coming famine
  10. Joseph is able to provide for his family during the famine and is reunited with his brothers.

Literally, God could have made this really easy and straightforward, but this is not the way the universe works. All these little things, the infidelity of the wife, the crime of the butler, etc., all these things had to add up over time to put Joseph in exactly the right place. This is the miracle, that all of these people, including him, his brothers, and everyone else… their actions collectively resulted in the new present moment. When a man becomes like a king, it seems more miraculous, but these patterns are all around us, even in the most mundane of places.

Joseph tells his brothers to retrieve his father and family, and that they will dwell in the land of Goshen and be provided for. Pharaoh hears all this and promises Joseph that he will help him take care of his father.

The brothers get back and tell the story to their father, who can scarcely believe it. When he sees the carts laden with food and grain, he knows that there is truth in their words, and vows to see Joseph, his son, before he passes on.


¹ Pulp Fiction, Directed by Quentin Tarantino. 1994 Miramax Films. Image accessed from http://mattfinchmediastudies.blogspot.com/2011/01/characterisation-jules-winnfield.html

Day 43

THE END IS NIGH!

The end of Genesis, that is. Genesis only goes up to 50 or so chapters, so in a few days I’ll be knee-deep in Exodus. Looking forward to it.

Time to play catch up.


Genesis 42

Jacob knows that Egypt has plenty of grain, but it seems that given what his sons did to Joseph, they exchange a series of worried glances when Jacob mentions Egypt. Jacob/Israel sends his sons to buy grain. Long story short, Joseph recognizes his brothers but they do not recognize him. He accuses them of being spies and says that they must bring their youngest brother back with them, and that they must leave one of their number there. Benjamin, the youngest, was told to stay at home by Jacob, “Lest some calamity befall him” (Genesis 42:4).

After this demand, they realize that they are being punished, essentially, for what they did to Joseph in the past. It seems that their deeds have caught up to them. Reuben condemns them with several Biblically-worded I-told-you-so’s.

So Joseph holds Simeon there, he gives his brothers grain, and their money back, and the brothers go back and tell their father what happened. The brothers are worried that there is some kind of trick or trap awaiting them when they find all their money has been restored, and their father is afraid. Reuben promises that Benjamin and Simeon both will be safe.

Favorite Quote:

“Do this and live, for I fear God.”

— Joseph, Genesis 42:18

I spoke previously about the different meanings of the Hebrew word “yirah,” which is often translated as “fear.” Joseph’s point here seems to me to be that who shows respect and humility to God, and as such his word can be trusted.


Genesis 43

Israel is reluctant to send his youngest son with the boys, and so they refrain from returning to Egypt. Once all the grain is gone, they no longer have much choice. Israel gets upset at his children for having told Joseph that they had another brother, but it really wasn’t their fault. Judah finally convinces his father to send all of them, and Israel gives them gifts to bring to Joseph in hopes that he will be appeased.

Once they arrive in Egypt, Joseph has them taken into his house, and his brothers are afraid. They say in Genesis 43:18,

“It is because of the money, which was returned in our sacks the first time, that we are brought in, so that he may make a case against us and seize us, to take us as slaves with our donkeys.”

They speak with Joseph’s steward and explain the situation and the misunderstanding, but he tells them there is no need to worry and returns Simeon to them before bringing them into the house. Joseph came out to meet them and spoke with them and then they sat to eat.

Joseph arranged them, “the firstborn according to his birthright and the youngest according to his youth; and the men looked in astonishment at one another” (Genesis 43:33). Joseph, knowing his brother’s ages, seats them accordingly. To them, this is shaping up to be some Twilight Zone business. Joseph serves Benjamin five times as much as anybody else, and they all eat and drink happily.

Favorite Quote:

“If I am bereaved, I am bereaved!”

— Israel, Genesis 43:14

Here we see Israel the father finally stop denying what needs to be done and turning his circumstances over to the grace of God. You know, for a family that has had so much interaction with the Lord, they sure do have their struggles with faith.

Good day, all. Peace be upon you.

Day 37

*deep inhale*

So alright everybody we’re gonna get this Bible business back on track so here goes!

Jacob wrestled with God and won and it was like a metaphor for prayer I guess and then he goes and makes amends with his brother Esau who he thought still hated him but Esau was just happy to see him after twenty years and Jacob is such a nice and rich guy that he gives Esau a massive tribute to show that there are no hard feelings.

Then one of Jacob’s daughters goes out to make some lady friends in this new territory and she gets sexually assaulted by some prince dude named Shechem who is a prince and then his father Hamor says that Shechem wants to marry Jacob’s daughter Dinah and then Jacob’s sons tell Hamor that all the men living there have to be circumcised and then long story short Simeon and Levi who are two of Jacob’s sons just go right ahead and slay all the men in the city and Jacob berates them for making enemies and they’re all like “What were we supposed to do just let them treat our sister like a prostitute?”

Then God makes a bunch of promises and reiterates stuff that He said to Abraham to Jacob who is now called Israel which apparently means “prince of God” or some such thing with the “El” part meaning “God” and some stuff happens and Jacob casts out all the old idols and such and Deborah dies and then Rachel has another baby and she dies in childbirth and Israel buries her and then one of his sons Reuben sleeps with his father’s concubine and they list off Jacob/Israel’s twelve sons and then also Isaac lives to 180 years old and DIES.

Then we get this whole big chapter about Esau’s genealogy and I don’t really care to list them all off because anyone who really wants to read all that can just go check out Genesis 36 or maybe a genealogy chart of the Old Testament figures but the gist of it is that he dips out of town because it ain’t big enough for the two of them with the two of them being him and his brother and all their stuff and livestock and such.

THEN we get Genesis 37 which features Joseph son of Rachel wife of Jacob who is totally his father’s favorite and has a fancy tunic or coat of many colors and all his brothers hate him because he has all these dreams that they will be bowing down to him and that his father and mother even will bow down to him apparently because he dreams about the sun and moon and eleven stars bowing down to him and so his brothers plot to kill him by trapping him in a pit but one brother Reuben wants to save him later without them knowing but after doing the pit thing one of them Judah suggests that they just sell him so at least they can make a profit from the whole deal and so they sell him to some Midianite traders and sell him and he gets carted off as a slave to Egypt and they take his fancy clothes and cover them in goat blood and show their father and he mourns because he believes that Joseph is DEAD.

That’s it! We’re up to date. Genesis 33-37 in a nutshell.

Goodnight, all. Peace be upon you.

Day 36

I’m so far behind with things that it’s beginning to stress me out. I’m behind with this, I’m behind with sleep, I’m behind with work.

As much as I want to write, and I know I need to, I took one look at Genesis 36 which is just a massive, several-generations-long genealogy of Esau, brother of Jacob. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

My Medicine Card that I just drew is Contrary Hummingbird. Everything’s coming up contrary, lately. Contrary Hummingbird says that my sorrow is but another reflection of my joy. This is sort of appropriate, just because right now I’m feeling overwhelmed and stressed, but I know in the end all will be well, and I will be better for it. For now, I need to rest.

Thank you all for tagging along on my journey. I bid you adieu.

Peace be upon you.

Day 32

I was digging through some old posts today, looking to see if I’d talked about a particular idea yet, and I remembered my Medicine Cards and decided to draw one. After some shuffling and deliberation, I fanned through the deck and drew forth… Contrary Blank. Same as last time.

We’ll see what I draw forth tomorrow.

Yesterday’s post was more the kind of thing I envisioned when I started this blog, as opposed to a breakdown of verses and chapters. But when it comes to the long view, I am still in the earliest stages. My first month of this project is behind me, and many more months yet lie ahead.


Genesis 31

In Genesis 31, Jacob leaves the house and land of Laban for his home. He takes his wives and children, all his flocks and servants, and steals away before Laban is aware. This chapter also seems to indicate (through a vision that Jacob received in a dream) that it was God’s will that Jacob would come to possess the largest flocks and the best animals. God knew that Laban had cheated Jacob, had “changed [his] wages ten times,” and Laban lost much of the greatness of his flocks for having wronged Jacob (Genesis 31:7).

Laban catches up with Jacob and accuses him of stealing his idols. Jacob denies this and tells him to search for the man who took them and feel free to kill him. Jacob does not realize that Rachel, his wife, took the idols, but Rachel conceals them from her father and he comes up empty-handed. Jacob rebukes him for this false accusation, and together they come to an understanding. They make a pillar and a covenant, which basically amounts to “You stay on that side, and I’ll stay on this side, and we’ll leave each other alone.”

It is interesting to note that one of the names or titles of God is “the Fear of Isaac,” used in Genesis 31:42 and again mentioned in 31:53. I analyzed the use of the word “fear” back on Day 15, and interested readers will return there to see the three levels of meaning, the last being akin to “reverence” or “awe.”

In the end of this chapter, Laban leaves and returns to his home, leaving Jacob in peace.


Genesis 32

Jacob witnesses the angels of the Lord at his camp, and recognizes that God is with him. He knows that in the past twenty years that Laban kept him, Esau has become a leader of men in the land of Seir. Jacob sends a message to his brother, asking for his brother’s favor and telling Esau of his time with Laban. The messengers return, telling Jacob that Esau is coming with four hundred men.

Jacob divides his forces and flocks, and is afraid. He prays to God that night, humbling himself before the Lord and praising God for His assistance. He prays that God will deliver him from his brother Esau.

Jacob takes huge numbers of livestock and sends them as tribute to Esau. He tells his servants to let Esau know that Jacob is sending these gifts, and in this way he hopes to appease his brother’s anger.

I find this interesting because a common point of theological contention between myself and my partner is the idea of condoning behavior by association. My partner is a passionate and outspoken woman, and not known for her willingness to compromise on matters of importance. She is not afraid to share her opinion, and to me is representative of Christians who know that they will bear their faith like a cross. Many of them know that they will be condemned by the world, and take this as a point of pride. I cannot say if my partner feels this way, or at least in the way that I explain it.

Carl Sagan once said,

“The fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses.”

I say also, the fact that some good people are condemned does not imply that all who are condemned are good people. Some Christians go out into the world expecting to be condemned, expecting to be put down or ridiculed, expecting to be criticized, and to them this is proof of their faith. I see the reasoning, but I don’t always agree. Some criticism can be valid, and good criticism (or being a good listener to criticism) can open doors for new understanding.

My point is, instead of being vocal or critical, expressing details that make me different from one another, information that sets me apart from others, I focus on what brings us together first. Once rapport and respect have been established, once a person has been understood, then it is possible to show how your beliefs or your ideas relate to them, showing them the value that they might find.

My girlfriend has, multiple times, quoted a verse or statement about Christians “being in the world, but not a part of the world” or something along those lines. I understand the meaning but I cringe a little on the inside when I hear it. I understand that there is this idea of higher levels of existence, of moving on to Heaven, away from earthly suffering, but to me it sounds so much like creating deliberate distance between oneself and others.

This world has so many wonderful things and wonderful opportunities. There is beauty and joy that can be found, love that can be experienced. There are 7 billion people on this planet, each with different stories and experiences; with so much to learn and do, why would we not want to be a part of it? Why would we not want to join our fellow man in seeking brotherhood and peace? While the message of her statement relates more (I think) to not getting caught up in material things, it sounds like it is used as reasoning to keep oneself separated from other people, and that to me is irreconcilable with who I am and what I do.

Yes, I understand not wanting to condone something indirectly. I have a very close friend who is slowly destroying himself with nicotine and alcohol. Do I think it is okay? Not in the least. I love this bastard to death, but I haven’t yet found something to say or do that will help him change. So do I condemn him for this? Do I focus my attention on telling him the wrong he is doing or the sin he is committing? Or do I recognize that there are underlying needs that are not addressed, that there is underlying emptiness in his heart, and shall I not fill it with my love and friendship for him? Shall I not stand by his side and carry him, even when his injuries are his own doing?

God does not prevent us from harming ourselves. We as a collective species of humanity are very self-destructive, but God does not reach down out of the sky and stop us. We have chosen our lot in life. But God is always present to give us love, to show us both our humility and our worthiness. We get angry, we fight, we get hurt, and we weep… but no matter our shortcomings, God is present to comfort us, to let us rest in the love that He embodies.

My goal, and this is the first time I have worded it this way, is to be an ambassador for God, to show others that His love is the Truth and to show that one doesn’t need to become a pious monk with a stick up his ass to commune with God. God has a sense of humor, and this is apparent if one can recognize the jokes. God wants us to love, laugh, and smile. We are meant to be happy, or at least content and at peace, rather than dour and disagreeable. It is my opinion that being condemning and contrary does not inspire others to join one’s cause. Being open, friendly, accepting, and loving above all else is of the utmost importance. I cannot emphasize this point enough.

Before I get back to Genesis 32, I want to share two videos. The first is from the Christian movement Got a Hug that focuses on expressing and showing love. The second is from a group called The Marin Foundation and the website loveisanorientation.com, which seeks to bridge opposing worldviews.

These videos depict the work of Christians who attend gay pride parades to demonstrate love and acceptance to members of the oft-persecuted LGBT community. Shouting down fire and brimstone and exhorting people to change does not work. Meeting people where they are physically, emotionally, and spiritually, but coming from a place of love is a much better way to show people that your cause is true and just. In my eyes, some of the most obnoxious types of people are those who believe themselves to be above others because of their beliefs, and would rather look down on others than associate with them, teach them, or (worst of all) learn from them.

All that now said, let us get back to Genesis.

Jacob sets out one evening, after having sent his tribute to Esau, and he sends his wives and servants over the brook to the other side. When he is left alone, a man (Man in NKJV) wrestles with him all throughout the night. Once day breaks, this wrestler dislocates Jacob’s hip with a touch, but Jacob maintains his hold. Jacob seems to recognize this “man” with whom he wrestles, and Jacob says that he will not let go until his opponent blesses him. This mysterious Man blesses Jacob, granting him the new name of Israel, meaning “Prince of God,” for he has “struggled with God and with men, and [has] prevailed” (Genesis 32:28).

Jacob asks for his opponent’s name, and I can just picture the Lord smiling as He says “Why is it that you ask about My name?”

Matthew Henry writes that this wrestling match between God and Jacob is a way for us to understand the nature of prayer.

“When the spirit helpeth our infirmities, and our earnest and vast desires can scarcely find words to utter them, and we still mean more than we can express, then prayer is indeed wrestling with God. However tried or discouraged, we shall prevail; and prevailing with Him in prayer, we shall prevail against all enemies that strive with us. Nothing requires more vigour and unceasing exertion than wrestling. It is an emblem of the true spirit of faith and prayer.”¹

I can attest to this, for at times when I have prayed, it is not a simple task but a long and arduous process. Answers and understandings are not always forthcoming, but we must press on if we are to have resolution. When Jacob is finished, the sun is rising; Jacob’s troubled heart is at peace, and he is filled with righteous purpose.

Good night, all. Peace be upon you.


¹ Henry, Matthew. http://www.christnotes.org/commentary.php?com=mhc&b=1&c=32

Day 30

Thirty days of blogging! Jacob stayed with Laban for one month… and then worked for the next fourteen years. Shall it be the same for me? We shall see.

There are a lot of things I want to talk about right now, but I’m going to just get on with today’s chapter.


Genesis 30

Here we have the soap opera that is Jacob’s life. Get ready for the Real Housewives of Haran.

Rachel wants children, and gets upset at Jacob for not giving her a child. This is a wonderful example of how we take out our anger, even on those we love, for no reason other than that we feel bad about something. Then Jacob gets mad at her and wonders why she doesn’t take it out on God for not giving her a fruitful womb.

Rachel “solves” this problem by giving her servant to Jacob for the purposes of bearing children. Sounds a little like Abraham and Sarah, no? So Jacob has two sons with his wife’s servant.

Leah, not to be outdone, does the same thing, and Jacob has two more sons by her servant.

Leah’s son Reuben at some point collects mandrakes from the fields. Rachel wants some of them, and agrees to whore out her husband for the mandrakes. Jacob doesn’t seem to mind, and he does his business with Leah. Long story short, he has two more sons with Leah, and a daughter.

I’m not going to count the size of Jacob’s family, here. This is getting ridiculous.

Oh! And let’s not forget Genesis 30:22. God remembers Rachel (finally!) and opens her womb that she might have a son of her own. (She does.)

So at this point, Jacob is ready to return home, but Laban implores him to stay, since the Lord seems to be blessing Laban for Jacob’s sake. Also, it sure helps to have free labor around his land, especially considering Jacob’s good business and farming sense.

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Pictured: Jacob and his friendly Harvest Sprites.¹

Jacob makes a convincing case that he is to head home, but Laban wants to know what he can give him. Jacob and Laban make an agreement that all the brown lambs or speckled goats will belong to Jacob, and all the others will belong to Laban. Laban takes all of these animals and sets them aside while Jacob tends to the rest of the flock. Now here’s where Jacob gets tricky, and uses his herding experience (and informal genetics knowledge) to his advantage.

“Now Jacob took for himself rods of green poplar and of the almond and chestnut trees, peeled white strips in them, and exposed the white which was in the rods. And the rods which he had peeled, he set before the flocks in the gutters, in the watering troughs where the flocks came to drink, so that they should conceive when they came to drink.”

It took me a while to understand what this meant, but “Farmer Tom” at his blog explains that Jacob must have started breeding them to find out which animals were carriers for the recessive colors. This would obviously take some time, but once he had the genetics down, he made sure to breed the animals so that the strongest ones would be colored or speckled and the feeble ones would be colored normally. Farmer Tom also suggests that the rods had some kind of phytoestrogen that would induce “heat” in the female animals; Jacob only put the rods in the water when he wanted his strong, speckled or brown animals. When Laban’s livestock went to drink, Jacob did not place the rods, and thus he increased his own herds and left fewer and weaker animals for Laban.

It seems like this is once again a deceitful practice on Jacob’s part (has he learned nothing?!) but regardless of all that, it is at least shrewd business sense. Jacob puts time and care into increasing his herds and his wealth, and Lord knows he needs it to support all those kids!

Jacob’s adventures will continue tomorrow. Good night, all. Peace be upon you.


¹ Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town. Natsume Co. & Marvelous Interactive. Image Credit: http://31.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lgr1xsTSAn1qb1zilo1_500.jpg