religious

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

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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

Day 20

I really tried to get up early this morning to do this. Just shows how well “trying” gets anything done. It was bad enough today having woken up at around 6 am; I can’t imagine if I’d gotten up at 5. The problem is that now I’m just tired.

But, dammit, I’m going to see this thing through to the end. By the time I’m done with this project, and I know I will finish because I can visualize it perfectly, when I’m done, I will have made writing as much of a daily ritual as sleeping. I can’t wait. Part of me always wanted to become a writer, and I’ve got archives of old poems to prove it. (Their quality varies.) I’ve started two or three books and never finished and I’ve had ideas for several more that have never come close to fruition. But I have stories to tell, and I can’t seem to bring myself to practice much but this right now. Although by doing one thing every single day, I can build new habits. I can “unlearn what I have learned.”

I finally looked this up, because I thought of Yoda and the whole “trying” thing that I mentioned above. I was just going to use an image but I forgot the entirety of the scene, and I felt that it was important to include. This project, case in point, is not getting done because I am trying. It is getting done, chapter by chapter, day by day, because I am doing. If there is one thing I can recommend to anyone, and I know this has been said before, but do. Sitting and thinking and hoping and theorizing and whatever is all well and good, but you will not get anywhere unless you go out and get things done. It doesn’t matter if you are defeated the first time, or the second time, or the hundredth time. You are learning the whole way.

The important question is, “What are you willing to commit to?”

I myself am willing to commit to spending time every day, no matter how tired I may be, to reading the Bible and writing this blog. I am pushing myself harder than ever before and I am feeling the burn, I am feeling the resistance. Part of me wants to collapse and is ready to throw in the towel. But now I have no choice. I have no choice but to succeed in my career because I will not go back to waiting tables. I have no choice but to continue this project because of my conviction and spirituality. I would not live with myself otherwise. The time has come for me to dig my feet in and say that I will give no ground. No matter how hard life pushes me I will push back. I will press on.

It has been said that “faith can move mountains.” In one sense, by maintaining one’s climb, by pressing ahead, by taking one step after another no matter what, the mountain will have moved: the obstacle that lay ahead  now lies behind. In another sense, look at Christ’s words in Mark 11:23:

“Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him.

I spoke earlier on Day 8 about the Language of the World… a communication that is beyond words and human speech. It is wind and water and element and action. It is a language of happenings. In our human tongues we need to say “I am” in a million different ways; we speak our thoughts and feelings just so that we can show others (and ourselves) that we are here, just so we can avoid being forgotten and drifting, lost, into obscurity. But in the Language of the World there are no words, and it is through our actions that we must convey our existence. Actions happen to us and we take action, effecting change in the world. I don’t even mean big changes; by doing something as simple as cooking an egg or drinking water we are moving atoms and reorganizing molecules. The world is different because of our action.

So go back to Christ’s words. One cannot stand next to a mountain and command it in English or Hebrew or any other tongue; mountains do not understand such things. But if you tell it to move in the Language of the World… now that is a language that a mountain can understand. There is no room for misinterpretation. Your action, in that sense, speaks for itself. Actions speak louder and deeper than words, and reverberate long after words have gone silent.

The second part of His statement in Mark 11:23 deals with belief. It is necessarily to have a clear picture, to develop one’s faith in a desired outcome, to see it in the mind’s eye. Once it is real to the mind and heart, once all doubt has been cast aside, then the path lies open and the dream will be made real.

Napoleon Hill knew this truth and gleaned it from so many successful men. Interested readers will direct their attention to Think and Grow Rich by Mr. Hill, for he gives instructions on how to develop faith, the likes of which I have never seen. Faith is a delicate in its early stages and must be tended to as a precious flower; it will not grow in infertile soil. It must always be tended to and strengthened, and once it is developed, nothing can shake it.

Time to delve into my chapter of the day. No matter how hard things get, readers, say it with me:

“I will press on.”


Genesis 20

So Abraham pulls the same stunt he pulled in Egypt back in Genesis 12 and tells Abimelech, king of Gerar, that his wife is his sister. I wanted to find some super stereotypical redneck picture for this but I really couldn’t bring myself to do it. Especially considering that after he is called out on it by Abimelech, Abraham says

“But indeed she is truly my sister. She is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife.”

Nice one, Abraham. Keepin’ it all in the family. So okay, half-sister, if this is to be taken literally? Whatever.

The whole point here seems to be that Abimelech, after taking Sarah, was visited in a dream by God and informed of the truth and of his unwitting sin. Abimelech is warned of the consequences of his sin because God knows that he was deceived and will not allow him to fall into sin. It is important for us to cultivate a righteous heart so that we can listen when God speaks.¹

Also important is Abraham’s deception. For some reason, once again, he fears for his life and distorts the truth about Sarah. He comments that he was worried that “the fear of God is not in this place,” but he himself slips back and fails to trust in God and the covenant established therewith. Steady that inconstant heart, Abraham. S**t ain’t over yet.

The thing I wonder about Genesis 20, just out of curiosity, is how long this whole episode takes. At the end of this debacle

“Abraham prayed to God; and God healed Abimelech, his wife, and his female servants. Then they bore children;
for the Lord had closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech because of Sarah, Abraham’s wife.”

Yeesh. I just wonder if this actually took some time, maybe a few months or something before Sarah was restored to Abraham. Or maybe Abimelech and his people are just good at getting freaky as soon as the Lord’s curse was lifted. Either way, don’t mess with Abraham’s wife.

So ends Genesis 20. Looks like a long chapter ahead for tomorrow.

Have a blesséd evening, everybody. Peace, I’m out.


¹ http://www.christnotes.org/commentary.php?b=1&c=20&com=mhc

Day 18


Out of the Bag

Well, thankfully, I finally told my partner what I’ve been up to. She was asking me what else I had to do tonight and I finally just explained the whole thing to her. She spent some time reading my posts but she was super tired and didn’t get through all of them. I’m glad it’s not a secret anymore, and we had a good talk about my tendency to perceive disagreement as always being a negative conflict. I’m not sure where this comes from, but past relationships is where I’d put my money. It could have potentially come from my upbringing, too. I don’t remember seeing or hearing many disagreements between my parents, and I rarely had disagreements with my parents until I was in middle school or high school. At that point, it was always about something that I’d done wrong or been dishonest about.

But as a Christian, she is happy for me and she approves of this project. Now I just need to make sure I can set time aside. This might be a good way to help establish healthy relationship boundaries. I need to find and set them more than she does.

Especially because writing at the end of my day is terrible for productivity. I helped my partner move and that took up most of the day, and I was already tired beforehand. I had friends help me, and I got to spend some time with them, but it’s just not the same as having free, unstructured time to do whatever I want or even nothing at all. Some days I just want to be lazy and it usually doesn’t take very long for me to snap out of it. But when I don’t get that time, I get more and more backed up until I snap.

At least, that’s how it would work in the past. That anger will never get the best of me again. Instead, I was a mixture of grumpy and sad tonight and I finally just resigned myself to letting my partner leave me alone. We had our separate space, her to watch Netflix and me to do work. And no great harm came of it. Yay, I’m learning to not be crazy!


Genesis 18

In Gen 18, Abraham is hanging out near the terebinth trees of Mamre when “the Lord appeared to him” (Gen 18:1). He looks up, either from a vision of the Lord or from hearing someone coming, and he sees three “men” approaching. This to me is immediately suspect. There is not a clear distinction made here between the appearance of the Lord and the appearance of these three men. It seems that some are of the opinion that these three are related to or actually are the three aspects of the Trinity in human form. Now, to me, the idea of a human form of the Holy Spirit seems to contradict the very concept thereof, but whatever. As far as I can tell from the literature, these are somehow divine beings, because they are here almost as proxy for the Lord.

Abraham bows and allows them to wash their feet, and he feeds them. Abraham knows them for who they are, and treats them well. I remember my story yesterday about the hitchhikers, and how I felt that they were more than what they appeared. Would that we could treat everyone in our lives as though they were angels in disguise! Would that we could recognize the Divine within all of us, and never seek to hate or harm another human being ever again. Abraham has awareness and a heart full of compassion, and his faith is rewarded.

God, whether directly as one of the men or by proxy through the man, tells Abraham once again that his wife Sarah shall bear him a son. Sarah at this point is long past menopause, being at least ninety years old, according to Genesis 17:17, and she laughs with surprise. Her exact words in Genesis 18:12 are “After I have grown old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?” So, there is a possibility that she is speaking of the pleasure of childbirth and of being a mother. It also dawns on me that perhaps Abraham is having some trouble keeping his staff raised, if you know what I mean, and maybe it’s been some time since he has “known” her.

Either way, the Lord hears this and wonders why Sarah laughed at a proclamation of God. Genesis 18:15 reads

“But Sarah denied it, saying, ‘I did not laugh,’ for she was afraid. And He said, ‘No, but you did laugh!'”

Whoops. Don’t laugh at God. But God seems to have a good sense of humor about the whole thing. That exclamation point says it all, as far as I’m concerned. Had the line been

“No, but you did laugh.”

it would have come off as very stern and disappointed. To me, it’s like God recognizes her fear, calls her out for lying to Him, and has a good laugh about the whole thing. At least I hope so, since he doesn’t smite her into ashes and all. But on the other hand, a promise is a promise, and she has some begetting left to do.

The Lord or these men or somebody has a little internal monologue, it seems, in Genesis 18:17-19, related to whether or not He should tell Abraham what’s going on. So the Lord decides to tell him that the plan is to go warm up the old smitin’ muscles and lay waste to Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham sidles up to God and His fellows: “Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham stood still before the Lord” (Genesis 18:22). He spends the next ten verses talking God down from this whole “smiting” business.

Perhaps Abraham remembers his nephew Lot, who lives there, and would rather not see the whole place destroyed because of a bunch of sinners. So Abraham starts narrowing numbers, asking God if he would spare the city for 50, then 45, then 40 righteous people, and so on down to 10.

The conversation pretty much goes like this:

“Look, God, far be it from me to question your plan and all, but what about the good ones? You just gonna kill them all too? What if there were, say, 50 righteous people there?”

“Well, I guess I could spare the city for 50.”

Abraham cringes ever so slightly. “Nice, that’s good to hear. Now I know I’m talking to God here, but… what about 45?”

God sighs. “Alright, 45 righteous people, and the city will be spared.”

Abraham’s eyes narrow. “How about 40?”

Abraham continues. “Look, God, don’t get mad. This is the last time, I swear: What about 10?”

God throws up His hands. “Alright, alright. 10 righteous people and I swear I’ll spare the place.”

I guess I’m sort of dramatizing the whole thing, but it sure is funny to imagine. And I guess if you want to stereotype Jews as being good bargainers, well, here’s Abraham, talking God’s price down. I’m picturing this as a Mel Brooks scene now.

After Abraham and the Lord are done, God leaves.


The interesting thing that Matthew Henry notes about this chapter is that Abraham never begs God to spare the wicked their punishment.

“Righteousness only can be made a plea before God.”

— Matthew Henry¹

I see this story or the overall idea of God’s “punishment” as more of a “reaping what one has sown,” as opposed to the smiting and the destroying and all that. Wicked people bring unto themselves misery and guilt and shame, and as humans we are all born with a) the propensity for sin (Eastern Orthodox) or b) the burden of inherited sin (Catholics). So either way, we’re all sinners, and without repentance, we will reap only death and never harvest the most nourishing fruit of life.

I think it’s important to remember and to have a healthy spirituality that God will never do wrong. Man can take circumstances and make them painful, man can fill an empty vessel of an experience with negative emotions, but there is a silver lining to every cloud and a lesson that can be learned from every experience. This probably sounds like a load of bulls**t to those of you who feel that you drew the short straw in life, and I completely sympathize. I’m not there now, but I was for a long time. Between growing up with constant money problems compounded by my father’s unexplainable stroke at the ripe old age of 36, I felt like life was just going to keep kicking me while I was down.

I can’t really say what led up to it, but I’m pretty sure the episode with the Infinite Serpent that I mentioned back in Day 3 was pretty much the tipping point. That was the day I understood, no, I grokked the potential for suffering to make us stronger. That changed my outlook, and I realized that God was not to blame for suffering. If anyone can be said to be blamed, it is man. It is man with our free-ish will and our weak and cowardly hearts. We do so much harm to one another, and it can take a long time for someone to see or grasp potential benefits or growth from that harm.

But God or the universe or whatever you want to call the great Unity, the Oneness that is, that Consciousness has a plan. It may not be a plan in the human sense, but regardless, there is a beginning, there are an uncountable number of turns and choices and switches and changes, and there is likely to be an end. We are not just observing this “plan” over the course of our human lives; we are the plan. The meaning of life is living.

Somewhere a few billion years ago stars were born, and they burned and fused elements and then exploded and scattered those elements throughout the universe. And some of them, enough of them, collected in a cosmically tiny sphere of rock that burned and melted and stormed and cooled…. And those elements cooked in the hearts of stars became building blocks that could copy themselves, and those blocks made more blocks and so on and so forth, and DNA was born and several billion years later, the same atoms that cooked in stellar furnaces are what lie behind our eyes and in our beating hearts. We are the universe.

So go forth, find the silver lining to every cloud, no matter how close you have to look or how far away you have to stand. Find the benefit, find the learning experience. Learn and grow and know your own power. Begin to master your emotions and your will, feel the spark of the Divine that flows through you. The knowledge and awareness of Adam and Eve gave them shame and sin, but it also gave them the possibility of change and growth. We learn the most from our mistakes…

Go forth and learn! Become wise and find thyself, and you will recognize the inherent goodness of “the plan.” Accept what is, and be free. The true power of God will never lead you to weakness, only humility.

“SHALL NOT THE JUDGE OF ALL THE EARTH DO RIGHT?”

He shall.


¹ http://www.christnotes.org/commentary.php?com=mhc&b=1&c=18