BSF Genesis: Week 22, Day 5

Today’s Scriptures

Questions:

12.
a.
He witnessed the stairway to heaven.  He heard the voice of God confer upon him the blessing to Abraham

b.
Christ is the staircase.  Christ is the doorway to heaven.

13.
a.
I will give you and your descendant the land on which you are lying… I will bring you back to this land

b.
will be like the dust of the earth, you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south

c.
All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.  I am with you and watch over you wherever you go.

d.
I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised

14.
a.
Surely the Lord is in this place.  How awesome is this place.  This is none other than the house of God, this is the gate of heaven

b.
God fulfills all of his promises.  He is with us always.

 

My Daily Journal:

I was so happy that in the children’s program we did homiletics over verses 11-22.  There are so many great truths and applications that come out of these verses that we so often miss.

Even the very opening line spoke to me.  Verse 11 says, “when he reached a certain place he stopped for the night because the sun had set.”  I picture Jacob wandering.  He has a place he has left and a place he is going, but his mind would have been miles away.  He didn’t leave with a detailed trip itinerary.  He didn’t have lodging reservations in places along the way.  He just wandered.  Where did he stop for the night?  A certain place.  Why there? Because it was dark.  How often am I going through life just like this?  I have tasks to do, places to go, a life to live and a God to serve, but my mind is distracted by all of the events that have occurred, by my fears and anxieties, by my regrets and repentance, by my hopes and plans for the future.  I’m not living in the moment.  Where am I?  Just at some certain place.

Seth Godin described this situation in an interview I recently listened to promoting his newest book.  He used the analogy of driving a car.  We go on autopilot, our brain disengaged from what we are doing, we are aware of our surroundings, but not really aware, we are there, but not fully present.  But, when a blow-out tire occurs we are immediately back in the moment, our senses at full alert.  We are immediately cognizant of everything in our environment, the cars around us, the feel of the car, the opportunities to get off the road safely, our gauges, sights, smells.

Look at how this occurs with Jacob.  Verses 16-17: When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.”

But here is the interesting thing, to me:  Nothing about this place had changed.  In the middle of the night it didn’t become a place where the Lord was, it didn’t become the house of God, the gate of heaven wasn’t created in that moment.  It wasn’t that God or the angels or the stairs showed up.  It was that Jacob woke up to what was already around him.  It was that he became aware.

There isn’t something unique about Bethel, that it alone provides a stairway connecting earth and heaven.  God is everywhere, angels are with us, the gate of heaven is open and God is speaking to us, but we are asleep and unaware.  All of this activity and this glory goes on around us every day and we miss it because we are just wandering, our thoughts adrift in where we have been and where we are going.

How can you and I awaken to the miracles happening around us? How can we become more aware of the fact that God is in this place?  Joan Rivers is quoted as saying:   “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is God’s gift, that’s why we call it the present.”

 

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BSF Genesis: Week 22, Day 4

Today’s Scriptures

Questions:

10.
He took Jacob away from Rebekah to the land of her kin, where he lived and worked for 14 years.  Jacob lived in fear of returning because of the anger of his brother.  He toiled as a servant to earn his wives, even though his father had ample resources to provide sufficient means (as had been the case with Rebekah).

11.
make you fruitful and increase your numbers, community of peoples, give you and descendants the blessing given to Abraham to take possession of the promised land

My Daily Journal:

This may come up in the next couple of weeks’ lessons, but one of the things that struck me was that Jacob left with the blessing and little or nothing else.  He was sent back to Rebekah’s family to secure a wife.  But unlike the servant that was sent for Isaac, he didn’t go with 10 camels carrying jewelry and riches to bestow on the family or his future bride.

This struck me because it is one of the very difficult parts, in my opinion, of being a good parent.  You want to protect and provide for your children, but to mature in their faith it has to be “their faith” not the faith of their parents.  Mom and dad had plenty of resources they could have sent with Jacob.  Isaac had inherited all the wealth of Abraham in addition to the prosperity God had given him (100 fold yields on crops).  But, there came a time for Jacob to leave the tents he had been so content to hang around and he was sent on his way.  Evidently, he didn’t even get to take a pillow with him on his travels.

I don’t think this is throwing him into a sink or swim situation.  He wasn’t disowned or exiled.  But to become the nation he was to become he needed the challenge of making it on his own (with God’s help alone).

BSF Genesis: Week 22, Day 3

Today’s Scriptures

Questions:

6.
a.
heaven’s dew, earth’s richness, abundance of grain and new wine, nations serve you, peoples bow down to you, lord over your brothers, sons of mother bow down to you, those who curse you be cursed, those who bless you be blessed

b.
Nations will serve you, 12:3 bless those who bless you, whoever curses you be cursed

7.
a.
regret is to feel loss or disappointment for an action or event.  repent is to accept responsibility and choose to make a change to do differently in the future.

b.
Esau regretted the series of events and cried out.  Isaac recognized something as wrong and set about making things right.  He did not withdraw his blessing from Jacob, but instead set him on a straight path.

8.
a.
Esau regretted the series of events and cried out.  Isaac recognized something as wrong and set about making things right.  He did not withdraw his blessing from Jacob, but instead set him on a straight path.

b.
To benefit from God’s blessing requires a willingness to honor that blessing.  People want the outcome of blessings, but do not want to bend a knee to the only one in control of providing such.

c.
He did seek to please his father.  He demonstrated respect to him and accepted his word as law.

d.
trending in the correct direction.  Plenty of potholes and detours along the way, but I think others see and hear my testimony to the Lord.

9.
They stood against Israel during the Exodus, but fell to David and his armies.  During that time every living adult male of Edom was killed, but even at the time of cross and Edomite sentenced Jesus to the cross.

My Daily Journal:

One of the things that caught my eye today was the start of the blessing from Isaac bestowed upon Jacob: “May God give you heaven’s dew and earth’s richness.”  Why dew?  Not rain, not water, but dew?  This thought encouraged me to search for other dew references in the bible (don’t you love online bible references?)  Evidently there are 35 times it appears and it is an interesting progression.

This reference in Genesis is the first appearance of the word in the bible.  The next time we see it is during the exodus, each day the dew was followed by the presence of manna on the ground which fed the Isrealites (Jacob’s family) for 40 years.  Next appearance is in the blessing Moses gave to the tribe of Joseph before Moses’ death.  Next God uses dew on fleece in making a covenant with Gideon in Judges.  David references the lack of dew when lamenting the death of God’s first appointed King Saul and his son Jonathan.  There are references in Psalm and Proverbs equating dew with the abundant provision from heaven.  The dew of heaven is a central feature in the dream of Nebuchadnezzar interpreted by Daniel.  The last times the word is used in the bible are in the books of the prophets.  Micah 5 prophecies the “promised ruler from Bethlehem” and ties the dew from the Lord directly to “the remnant of the house of Jacob”.  Then the final time the word appears in the bible is in Zechariah 8:12 – “The seed will grow well, the vine will yield its fruit, the ground will produce its crops, and the heavens will drop their dew. I will give all these things as an inheritance to the remnant of this people.”

I love the way God plants these stepping stones for us to follow leading to the redemptive birth of His son, Jesus.  A simple word, like dew, something that can be counted on and expected as a daily occurrence, is woven in and through stories starting with a promised inheritance to Jacob and then being brought full circle to the remnant of that house and the promised ruler from Bethlehem who is the vine that yields everlasting fruit.

BSF Genesis: Week 22, Day 2

Today’s Scriptures

Questions:

3.
Isaac wished to bless him as his primary heir.  God knew that was not his destiny and saw his heart as being godless.

4.
a.
Jacob took advantage of Esaus’ hunger in trading for his birthright.  Isaac sought to give his blessing to Esau in secret.  Rebekah conspired with Jacob to deceive his father into giving him the blessing.

b.
Talk together.  Pray together.  Worship together.  Be honest examples of Christ to one another.

5.
a.
Rebekah sought to ensure the fulfillment of the prophecy that God had given her in regard to Jacob and Esau.  Isaac sought to reward his first born son whom he loved.

b.
It is not proper to use deception, even if it yields the correct results.  The end does not justify the means.

c.
End justifying means is a very common approach today.  Doing things for the “good of others” seems to trump doing God’s work. We guilt people into giving or attending church or bible study, tying them down instead of building them up.

My Daily Journal:

Thinking of our “Christian Family” brought a new train of thought to the stories of Isaac, Rebekah and their children.  It is convicting how much we still use similar tactics in our churches.  While church leaders (pastors, elders, councils, etc.) may not show favoritism to those with hairy arms, favoritism is still an ongoing temptation.  Instead of the ones who can provide wild game meat, it may be those who provide the big checks or who have always served in a certain way or the family that makes that really yummy jello with fruit floating in it (can you tell I grew up on Lutheran pot-lucks?).

Also, if we don’t outright deceive each other, what other ways do we try to manipulate others in the church, our christian family?  Guilt and gossip are more powerful and harmful tools exercised for “good reasons” in our churches.

It is difficult but important for us to remind ourselves and each other that we don’t need to do any of these things.  God did not put his church into our hands so we could  improve the income statement at the expense of relationships.  Instead we are to focus only on the relationships and trust Him.  Zig Ziglar wrote there are 5 reasons people don’t buy from you: no need, no money, no hurry, no desire, and no trust. I am not suggesting we are called to sell church or bible study to others.  But when it comes to missions work and bringing others to a deeper faith, there is really only one of these 5 things that you and I can control: trust.  When the Spirit of God has created the desire, the need, the urgency and timing and aligned the resources of heaven and earth to bring someone to consider accepting Christ as their savior, I know I don’t want to be the barrier because they don’t trust me.