Rebekah

Day 27

This week is ridiculous; my partner has such bad luck that I’m beginning to think that she wronged a gypsy or something. (No offense to gypsies.)

But anyway, here I am. I haven’t missed a day yet, and I don’t plan to start today.


Genesis 27

Back to Jacob and Esau.

Isaac is old and dying and cannot see very well. He is also either unfamiliar with the Lord’s promise to Rebekah (Gen 25:23) or doesn’t believe it. (?) Either way, how strange for a man of God such as he.

He calls Esau, the older brother who is destined by God to serve the younger, the brother who has already lost his birthright over a bowl of soup… Isaac calls Esau and asks him to go hunt game and serve it to Isaac, and then Esau will receive a blessing. Rebekah overhears this business and will have none of it.

She tells her son Jacob, whom she loves, to go through this elaborate Scooby-Doo-villain scheme wherein he will disguise himself as his older brother to receive the blessing. This all seems like a moot point, since back in Genesis 26, Esau already gave up his birthright. It would seem that his words didn’t mean all that much. If Jacob wants everything that comes with that birthright, then by gosh, he’s got to get it himself.

This is probably the point that struck me most powerfully: even though Rebekah (and hypothetically, Jacob) knew about God’s blessing/prophecy, they did not just sit around and wait for it to happen. Many people have said that God helps those who help themselves, and to me it seems that  “helping oneself” requires taking action, much like the joke about the drowning man I shared the other day.

Call it a self-fulfilling prophecy if you will, but Rebekah is determined to see Jacob receive his father’s blessing, and she is dead-set on making it happen. I think many people feel a strong calling, or have a great deal of potential, but without the determination and drive to fulfill that potential… well, let’s just say that you reap what you sow, and God isn’t going to pull you out of your own mess. Even lottery winners end up (statistically) unhappy and often broke. But I digress.

Esau heads out to hunt, and Rebekah dresses Jacob up in his brother’s clothes and puts goat skin on his smooth body so that his father might be fully deceived. Rebekah prepares a meal for her husband and the ruse is ready. Jacob goes in, does his thing, lies to his father, and obtains a blessing, which, Matthew Henry points out, amounts to some generic nonsense.

No mention is made of the distinguishing mercies in the covenant with Abraham. This might be owing to Isaac having Esau in his mind, though it was Jacob who was before him. He could not be ignorant how Esau had despised the best things. Moreover, his attachment to Esau, so as to disregard the mind of God, must have greatly weakened his own faith in these things.”¹

So Jacob takes his blessing and dips out, and in true sitcom fashion, Esau walks in immediately afterward. (Laugh track.) Esau gets all indignant once he finds out what happened, even though however long ago it was, he gave up his “despised” birthright.

The day is coming, when those that now make light of the blessings of the covenant, and sell their title to spiritual blessings for that which is of no value, will, in vain, ask urgently for them.”¹

True story. This is an amazing statement. Esau cries or whines or moans or whatever about something that he gave up and now wants back. How often do we give up our future for things of no value? How often do we trade away our presence in the now for temporary pleasures or gratifications? We only get so many second chances; eventually the day comes when we have none.

This whole darn family is messed up. Isaac and Esau disobey God, Rebekah and Jacob lie and cheat to try and “fix” things. When we take matters into our own hands and disregard our innermost feelings, when we deny the presence of the divine in our lives or within us, we are asking for trouble. Surrender to God is key.

Esau vows to kill his brother for wronging him (Cain-style), and Rebekah makes up another ruse, telling her husband that she wants Jacob to leave town and find a wife in the old country because she can’t take another one of these Hittite girls in the family. Leave it to a Jewish mother, am I right? (No offense to the Jews.)

Anyway, I will end today’s post with one last quote from dear Mr. Henry:

“When reading this chapter, we should not fail to observe, that we must not follow even the best of men further than they act according to the law of God. We must not do evil that good may come.”¹


¹ Henry, Matthew. http://www.christnotes.org/commentary.php?b=1&c=27&com=mhc

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Day 26

Don Miguel Ruiz once said, “Always do your best.” It’s the fourth of the titular agreements in his book. But he also says

“Your best will be better when you are healthy as opposed to sick, or sober as opposed to drunk.”

— The Four Agreements

And I’m not drunk, but my best is not very good today. I’ve been battling a terrible stomachache and I’m exhausted, so let’s get this thing done.


Genesis 26

This chapter opens with a famine in the land, and although Isaac is tempted to move his family, God tells him not to and explains all the promises and oaths that He gave to Abraham. Isaac then does as his father did, and pretends as though Rebekah is his sister, and not his wife. It is not until Abimelech sees them together that he chastises Isaac. Abimelech proclaims that no one shall harm Isaac or touch his wife, on penalty of death.

Isaac does very well for himself in a year’s time, and he was the envy of the Philistines. These jerks went around and filled in all of Abraham’s old wells, and Abimelech kicks Isaac out. So Isaac leaves, heads to the nearby Valley of Gerar, and digs up the old wells. After running into troubles with the locals twice over, he names the first two wells Esek, meaning quarrel, and Sitnah, meaning enmity.

No one fights him on the third one, and he names it Rehoboth, literally spaciousness, because

“Now the Lord has made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.”

— Isaac, Genesis 26:22

All goes well, and Abimelech and his commander, Phichol, and one of his friends, Ahuzzath, come to visit Isaac. They make a non-aggression pact with him, announce that he is blessed, and do not want him to hurt them. Isaac makes a feast and they go on their merry way.

Then things end with Esau taking two wives at age 40, which apparently is a huge pain for Isaac and Rebekah.

I’m not going to go to Matthew Henry today, but just share one of my own observations about this chapter. The Philistines are jealous of Isaac and his success; they kick him out and stop up his father’s wells and generally just harass him. And yet they only see the material things. They do not see his spiritual wealth, and if they do, they are put off by it. It seems to me that Isaac is a dedicated man; even though he inherits a great deal from his father, he also makes his own success. He prospers materially as well as spiritually, and it is my belief that the two go hand in hand, the latter preceding the former.

I am not saying that everyone who is materially wealthy is spiritually wealthy, nor am I saying that anyone who is spiritually wealthy will become materially wealthy. It just seems to me that as in this tale of Isaac, having a strong heart, having faith and a sense of purpose, these things can lead one to success, whatever that may be. For Isaac, his destiny is to inherit a land and to father a nation of people. This is what he has been told by God, and he has faith enough to get things done toward this end.

By faith, all things are possible.

I’m sick again, now. My stomach feels miserable. Contemplate these points, and rest well, everyone.

Peace be upon you.

Day 25

Update: I wrote this last night, before going to bed, but apparently it didn’t publish. So here is yesterday’s post, and today’s is forthcoming.


Genesis 25

This chapter jumps around a bit; it begins with genealogy related to Abraham’s second wife. I’m not going to list it all here. The long and short of it is that Abraham leaves his inheritance to Isaac, but makes sure all his other children are provided for before sending them east.

Sometime after this, Abraham passed away at the ripe old age of 175. Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave (vault?) next to his wife, Sarah.

Ishmael lived to 137 years and begat 12 children; if you recall, God and Abraham had this conversation back in Genesis 22.

Next we return to Isaac. His wife is unable to bear children, but after he talks to God, she becomes pregnant. She can tell that something is amiss, and the Lord tells her, in Genesis 25:23,

“Two nations are in your womb,
Two peoples shall be separated from your body;
One people shall be stronger than the other,
And the older shall serve the younger.”

We get a description of birth, with the first child, Esau, coming out “red,” and his brother Jacob hot on his heels — literally.

Esau grew to be an outdoorsman, a hunter, it seems, while Jacob was more intense.

Get it? Get it?! ¹

Anyway, time passes.

Esau comes in one day from the fields and Jacob is cooking. Esau must have been starving, because Jacob asks him for his birth-right in exchange for some dinner. Esau gets snarky or snippy, it seems, and again Jacob tells him to swear on it. Jacob must make a mean lentil stew. And so God’s word is fulfilled, with Jacob gaining the inheritance of his older brother.

Matthew Henry makes a few good points that I will repeat here: firstly, he discusses the level of patience and prayer that we see from Isaac and Rebekah, which shows that God’s promises will be fulfilled in due time; secondly, we see the surrender of a divine birth-right for a worldly pleasure. Esau gives away his inheritance, his blesséd destiny to the land of Canaan for a bowl of stew.²

How often do we turn away from God, from our futures, from ourselves, only to gain some temporary gratification? How often do we cause ourselves harm, or do things we regret, because they feel good in the moment?

Think past your material needs, the so-called desires of the flesh. We can be present in our body, we can exist in the moment, but we can be in a state of spiritual peace. We do not need to keep chasing food and sex and drink and entertainment. It is difficult, because it is often all we know. That is not to say that we need to be in a state of ascetic denial, just that we need to be centered. We need to remember to “rest in God,” to enjoy the love that arises therefrom, and carry that strength and peace throughout our lives.

Good night, everyone. Peace be upon you.


¹ Willenbrock, Mark. Retrieved from http://www.laurierking.com/7702.html

² http://www.christnotes.org/commentary.php?com=mhc&b=1&c=25

Day 24

At the time of writing, my internet connection is down. But, it is 10:46 pm and tomorrow is not yet here. Today has felt long and short at the same time. I got some work done, got some things accomplished, and was fairly lazy for the rest of the day. It happens.

So, dear readers, I have looked into today’s chapter and I’m ready to go!


Genesis 24

Sarah, wife of Abraham and mother of Isaac, has passed away. Abraham wants his son to have a righteous wife and so makes a servant swear an oath to find one for him. He makes the servant swear to not allow Isaac to take a wife from the Canaanites, and for some reason insists that Isaac not return to his homeland with the servant.

It seems to me from the scriptures that Abraham is now taking very seriously God’s promises, and knows that Isaac must stay and live in this new promised land. As I write that, I remember another use of the term “promised land;” Don Miguel Ruiz uses it as one of the names for the mindset of heaven.

Here in the story of Abraham we see God taking the unfaithful, “lost” land that is Canaan and promising to make make it into a better place suitable for the families of the righteous. God alone works His magic and infuses the material with the spiritual. The power of God can make “heaven” out of “hell.” Heaven, in this case, being a righteous mindset, a strong holy purpose, love and compassion for others, and compassion for oneself. Hell is wandering and never finding, looking but never seeing, hearing but never listening… hell is the emptiness of the heart; hell is being lost at sea, cast about by the capricious whims of fate.

Heaven is finding purpose and fulfilling that purpose, knowing that God is with you through and through. Genesis 24 shows this, in a way. Abraham’s servant, who must travel to find Isaac a wife, is not sure if he can complete the task, at first. But he takes some men and camels and travels to the city of Nahor, home to Abraham’s brother.

When he arrives at the city, he waits by the well, and prays with intense purpose; his desire is strong, he is in place to fulfill his mission. He has clear expectations, and can envision how they will be fulfilled.

Lo and behold, who should come during his prayer but Rebekah, first introduced to us back in Genesis 22:23. I sort of overlooked her on Day 22, as I had no idea who she was. To me it just looked like a mish-mash of Hebrew-ish names. But here she is, apparently the granddaughter of Nahor.

The servant asks her for water, and she gives generously from her pitcher. She tells him that she will bring water for his camels too, and returns to the well to give him water. The man was surprised and waited, “wondering at her” (Genesis 24:21).

Seek and ye shall find, so they say. With clarity of purpose and determination to fulfill his task, yea, it is fulfilled. By the grace of God did this woman Rebekah come to him, this woman who fit his expectations and the needs of his master. And so it is, that with definiteness of purpose, with faith and determination, we can find a way to fulfill our needs and our goals. We can complete the tasks set before us through our own strength and will, but ultimately through the grace of God.

Many people have said this before and written books on the subject (Think and Grow Rich, The Secret, the latter of which I have never read and for which I cannot vouch) but I know it is true for myself. I once read somewhere that it is not necessarily true that events have inherent meaning, but it is possible to find meaning hiding anywhere. “Contemplate a grain of sand,” and so forth.

If you are looking for a solution, start looking at everything through the lens of your situation, and you will be amazed at how much suddenly applies and connects. Trust your instincts.

This happened to me once upon a time. I had gone camping and during that time of peace and quiet, that time of separation from the tyranny of clocks and the racing rats of life… during that time I had the most amazing experience. It is hard to explain, but I felt God in a cosmic, universal way. I was fresh and new from moment to moment, there was no past and no future, just a wondrous, miraculous now, and that now, the same now as right now, was at its core made up of the purest, whitest light. Color and shape and beauty abounded, but it was as though I could see the Light behind it all; I could see the light and love that is Creation. It was amazing.

The only problem was, I didn’t know what to do afterward. How could I ever go back? How could I go back home, back to living by a clock, back to working at my bulls**t, dead-end job? I was afraid and I was filled with despair. Much like Abraham, who had seen the power of the Lord, I still doubted. Oh, Abraham… I never realized until just now how much I understand you.

And so my night passed in contemplative silence; reality was coming and I had no choice but to face it sooner or later. But I knew that something in my mind had to change; there was a switch that needed to be turned on, some new piece of information I needed to acquire to be at peace. Lo, and behold…

I had brought with me a book, The Way of the Peaceful Warrior, by Dan Millman. It was lent to me by a friend and spiritual confidant; she thought I would appreciate it. I don’t know why I brought it, or why the circumstances in my life had led me to talk to this friend, or the circumstances that led her to be in a place to acquire and read and value this book, and so pass it to me. A million little choices added up to one little miracle…

So the morning we’re supposed to pack up and leave, head back to “civilization,” as it were, I was still feeling empty. Like Abraham, I felt as though I would be headed to a foreign land, and I was concerned about my safety. That morning, I picked up the book and started reading where I had left off. This is the other part that gets me: I left off in such a perfect spot, and so on this morning, I was able to find exactly the piece of information I needed. Like Abraham’s servant, I knew I needed something, and by the grace of God, I found it. What follows is one version of the same parable:

“Long ago, there was a young man who was searching for enlightenment. He saw a very old man walking towards him, carrying a heavy sack of rice on his back, and was stooped over, his head low to the ground.

The young seeker went up to the old man. He said: ‘Please, sir, can you tell me what enlightenment is?’

The old man threw the sack off his back, and stood up straight and proud.

‘Ah yes, I see!’ The young man cried. “Now can you tell me what comes after enlightenment?’

The old man picked up the rice, and continued his stooped march up the hill.”

I read this and stopped. I looked up and laughed and wept. It was hilarious, it was beautiful, and it was obvious. My burden and my fears were gone from me, and I was able to return home in peace. Of course, I grew increasingly dissatisfied with my position, and only lasted about three more months there, but that is a story for another day.

By the grace of God, we are given what we need, if only we have the courage to look and to ask with an open heart. I am reminded here of a joke that shows what happens when you do not have the eyes to see the gifts of God.

“There was an old man sitting on his porch, watching the rain fall. Pretty soon the water was coming over the porch and into the house.

The old man was still sitting there when a rescue boat came and the people on board said, ‘ You can’t stay here. You have to come with us.’

The old man replied, ‘No, God will save me.” So the boat left. A little while later, the water was up to the second floor, and another rescue boat came, and again told the old man that he had to come with them.

The old man again replied, ‘God will save me.’ So the boat left him.

An hour later, the water was up to the roof, and a third rescue boat approached the old man, trying to get him to come with them.

Again the old man refused to leave, stating, ‘God will save me’ So this boat, too, left him.

Soon after, the water rises and the man drowns. He arrives in Heaven, and when he sees God, he asks, ‘Why didn’t you save me?’

God replied, ‘You dummy! I tried! I sent three boats after you!’”

Gets me every time.

But I digress. The servant does not have the problem of the drowning man, and he sees the work of the Lord for what it is. He speaks to Rebekah, offers her a golden nose ring and golden bracelets, and prays to God. She tells her family about the man, and her brother Laban speaks to him and invites the servant into their home.

The servant tells his story to Laban and Bethuel, his father, and they are reluctant to let her go so quickly. They wish to keep her for ten days, but the servant implores them to reconsider.

reconsider

Something like that. ¹

They ask Rebekah about this and she agrees to go with the servant. Her family blesses her, and Rebekah and her maids leave. They travel back to the land of the Canaanites, where Isaac and Abraham dwell. Rebekah covers herself with a veil and meets Isaac; the servant explains the story, and Isaac and Rebekah are married. First cousins once removed wasn’t such a big deal back then.

Genesis 24 ends in verse 67, stating that Isaac was comforted after his mother’s passing. It seems to be only natural that the new takes the place of the old, and that we move on after our mourning period. Abraham does not forget his wife, but he buries her and mourns her and then goes about the business of living.

Isaac, too, must live, for his life has purpose; he must not spend forever grieving over the loss of his mother. In this case, the beautiful and virginal Rebekah (Genesis 24:16) seems to ease his mind. But of course I joke; Genesis 24:67 also says that Isaac loved Rebekah, and by loving her, he can once again experience joy.

Well, time is up for the day! Midnight has come, and further writing will have to wait for tomorrow’s chapter.

Good night (or good day, depending on when you’re reading this), and peace be upon you.


¹ Kung Pow! Enter the Fist, 2002. 20th Century Fox and O Entertainment. Image retrieved from http://archive.4plebs.org/tg/thread/26247501