Saturday, March 9, 2013

He Blesses

Rebekah. It is interesting to me seeing what her name means. Rebekah means "snare, trap, tie, bind". Jacob means "Supplanter" which by it's definition is "one who wrongfully or illegally seizes and holds the place of another". Now go read Genesis 27.

For those of you who chose not to, it is the retelling of how Jacob stole his brother's blessing. 

It is really amazing to see how powerful names really are in the Bible. Women used them to describe emotions after birth, God changed them to mean things, Naomi changed hers to Mara for bitterness, and looking at the names brings some parts of these writings full circle. In just two names, the whole chapter is summed up. Rebekah was the driving force behind Jacob stealing Esau's blessing. She's the one who set the "trap", so that Jacob could get Isaac's blessing in his "snare". Jacob went along with it and wrongfully seized and held the place of his brother!!! We all know what happened, but the names really made me see it in a different light. 

As the chapter comes to a close, Esau threatens to kill his brother. Rebekah sends Jacob to live with her brother, and covers her tracks with Isaac. I wonder if she ever told him what she did, or if she lived with the guilt for the rest of her life. 

Chapter 28 opens with Isaac sending Jacob off with yet another blessing, and Esau hears about it. He then decides to marry another woman in the hopes of making his father happy with him too it seems. As Jacob is traveling God promises him yet another blessing! How many times does this guy get blessed?! Seriously! Why? He was a liar, a conniver, and a selfish man....It doesn't make any sense to me. 

He Knows

This post and the next few will be all written today, but done in segments. I am trying to write as I read and think so that my thoughts are clear, and not all thrown into a huge "pot" if you will. I like focusing on each individual segment of the stories. I am about 16 chapters from where I last wrote! So, we ended on Isaac and Rebekah meeting and marrying. Later Abraham dies, and there is an account of Ishmael's family line. In Genesis 25, Rebekah is pregnant. Something that interested me what that Rebekah inquired about what was going on in her womb. Nowadays we rely on doctors and ultrasounds and vitamins to know what is going on. I know that the last 2 times I was pregnant, I never asked to be informed by God. Simeon and I prayed over each Nathaniel and Hezekiah (especially Hezekiah), but we just "left" it in God's hands. Now, I am not saying that there is anything wrong with modern medicine and vitamins, but I am saying, that if I were to inquire God what was going on, if He would have responded to me. By it's very definition, "inquire" means to 'Ask about the health and well-being of someone'. Not that I am blaming myself for any of this, but perhaps, God would have prepared me more for loss if only I would have inquired about these children instead of just 'giving it to Him'. That is a really tricky balance, to be informed, but to still trust the Creator no matter what. 

"The Lord said to her, 'Two nations are in your womb,and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger." (Gen 25:23)

Something that struck me about this, is that God knew what was going to happen. Now, that isn't a big deal, we all know that. I then began to wonder, however, if that is why Rachel loved Jacob more, because she knew that Esau would serve Jacob. 

This is also the chapter where Jacob cons Esau out of his birthright. I began to wonder what a birthright really is. I have always figured it was basically a will, but it is more than that. Whoever the birthright went to assumed their father's responsibilities and authority. It usually went to the firstborn son, no matter how many wives the father had. Also, whoever inherited the birthright, received twice as much as any other sibling. I have always wondered why Esau was so mad, but if you think about how much Issac inherited from his father, not to mention all he had gained, that's a pretty good reason to be angry at your little bro and your foolish self. Can you imagine...all that over a bowl of soup!

In Genesis 26, Isaac moves to King Abimelek's land because of a famine. And guess what he does, he lies about who his wife is to the same king his father did!!! To my knowledge, this is the first recorded generational sin that I have read in the Bible. It's kind of dumbfounding, because father's rarely tell their children where they were wrong. So I doubt that Isaac had any idea that he had done the same thing. So interesting. 

I guess what is even more interesting to me, is that in both Abraham's and Isaac's cases, the Lord blessed them abundantly. It doesn't even say in the Bible that either one is apologetic towards God for their actions, or repentant. Why would God bless them so abundantly? I mean, God blessed Isaac so abundantly that the king of the Philistines, was afraid of Isaac! To reach others? I honestly don't understand this part at all. 

So, I have also started to find out what each name means. Did you know that Sarai means "My Princess" while Sarah means "Princess"? God was claiming Sarah as His princess from birth, protecting her, then allowed her to be turned into a 'princess' with many future descendants. Maybe I am reading into it too much, but it is interesting that her name and name change work with each part of her life....

Monday, March 4, 2013

He Demands.

Last night Simeon and I were reading Genesis 24, the beginning story of Isaac and Rebekah. Lately, I have been trying to examine the Bible from a different perspective. Not just reading it, but learning, examining, and meditating on it. Since I am pretty much completely emotional, I have focused on the humanity of these people. In Ecclesiastes, it says "there is nothing new under the sun", and I believe that human thoughts and emotions are no different.

There are somethings that I never realized about the story of Isaac and Rebekah. Things that were blatantly there, but I never invested the time or thought into them. One of them starts in Genesis 23:1, "Sarah lived to be a hundred and twenty-seven years old." Bear with me here for a little, one of the things Simeon and I have been trying to do is create a timeline to the best of our understanding. We are probably wrong about some things, but this is pretty basic math. Sarah was 90 years old (I think, give or take) when Isaac was born. So she was able to be on this earth for him for 37ish years before she died. I dialed in on this fact alone. He was 37 years old, and wasn't married. How would he have felt? Was he content? What was the average age of betrothal during that time? Was he impatient? Was he wondering, dreaming? Was an heir as important to him as it was to his father? What was his human condition at the time of his mother's death? Was he sad she would never see her grandchildren? Not much is said about Isaac's temperament at this time, so it left my imagination and thoughts wide open to all of the possibilities.

Fast forward, we know the servant Abraham sent found Isaac not only the woman to be his wife, but one of Abraham's relatives, unbeknownst to all until later. It intrigued me that the servant prayed "Lord, God of my master Abraham..." (Genesis 24:12). As I thought about it, I realized that Abraham probably had many servants with many different gods. Did this servant believe in the one, true God? If he didn't, did he believe after he witnessed God's hand in this story of Isaac and Rebekah? God wove these lives together in a completely intricate way, that none of them could have imagined.

This servant also gave specific instructions to God, to allow it to be known and recognized right away. He prayed to God for a woman with kindness, and hard work. Can you imagine drawing enough water for 10 camels? Did you know that one camel can drink up to 30 gallons of water in 10 minutes? Even if these camels didn't need that much, even a third of that, 10 gallons, multiplied by 10 camels is at least 100 gallons! How much water do you think Rebekah drew from the well? How much water do I draw from the source of living water? She did so, not only gladly, but offering. I also wondered if there was a selfish side, I wonder if she recognized these camels were laden with gifts, and if she wanted something in return. Even if she did, she got more than she bargained for. Our God is one that blesses beyond realization.

Rebekah's character also comes out when asked to go. Her family wanted her to stay behind for 10 days (I wondered why such a specific time, but I digress). The servant however wanted to go now. They decided to ask Rebekah and let herself decide. 'Then they said, “Let’s call the young woman and ask her about it.”  So they called Rebekah and asked her, “Will you go with this man?” “I will go,” she said.' (Genesis 24:57-58) I wonder if there was even a moment of hesitation. The way it reads is that there is not. Her character came out in a way that she stepped out in faith. She trusted not only her God, but her family, and Abraham's servant. So Rebekah was kind, trusting, and faithful.

The next few verses are about Isaac and Rebekah's 'meet-cute' if you will. (vs. 62-67)

"Now Isaac had come from Beer Lahai Roi, for he was living in the Negev. He went out to the field one evening to meditate,and as he looked up, he saw camels approaching. Rebekah also looked up and saw Isaac. She got down from her camel and asked the servant, “Who is that man in the field coming to meet us?”“He is my master,” the servant answered. So she took her veil and covered herself.  Then the servant told Isaac all he had done. Isaac brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah,and he married Rebekah. So she became his wife, and he loved her; and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death."

In these verses I really wondered about some things. What was Isaac meditating about? Did Abraham tell his son the plans for his wife-to-be? Was he meditating on the Lord? Did he actually see Rebekah when he looked up or just a silhouette? Did he know that this woman was going to be his wife? Why did Rebekah cover herself up? Why did she put the veil across her face? Was she scared this man wouldn't like how she looked? Was she just plain scared of meeting him? After reading through a little more, I realized that Abraham did not tell Isaac what he was up to. In fact, the servant told him what had happened. Both Isaac and Rebekah stepped out in faith, to be united. What am I doing to step out in faith for the story God has tenderly woven me?

The last part "...and Isaac was comforted after his mother's death." Goes along with another verse later on in Chapter 25. In verse 20 it says that Isaac was 40 years old when he married Rebekah. So back to the math. Sarah was 90(ish) when she gave birth to Isaac. She died when he was 37 years old. That means Isaac was grieving and mourning for his mother for 3 years until Rebekah showed up. Oddly, this comforted me. I have been feeling impatient of late. Impatient for this whole process to be done. To want to trust, and try for a child again. It comforted me that this man, was saddened for 3 years before true comfort and healing began. I don't care if he was a momma's boy, if he didn't feel the urge or need to get married, I just know that he was hurting that his mother was not with him.

As I have weeded through these thoughts, two things became abundantly clear. God demands trust and faith from me. God demands patience from me. Without any of these things, how can I truly allow Him to work in my life to the fullness He has for me? After this realization I imagined a child walking in a dark place with a parent. The child needs a hand to hold to, trusting that the hand they're holding will lead them to light. They need to keep walking and staying side by side to their parent, not knowing where they are going, but having faith that they will get there. And lastly, they need to be patient with their parent and themselves, knowing that in the end, there will no longer be darkness or fear, only the light.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

He Protects

As I am writing this, my two pups are sitting on either side of me cuddling with me. I am so blessed to have the love of these animals. I know I sound like a whackadoodle, but they know when something is wrong, they crave being with Simeon or me, they rely on us, they love interacting with us. In the same way, I should be the same with God. I want to crave being with Him. My hunger and desire for that is growing, but sometimes it is a choice to read the Bible, not a desire. In the same way, many of the women and men of the Bible were not extraordinary, but through their choices and faith in Our Lord, they were made extraordinary, and changed the course of millions of people.

So, I don't have a ton of thoughts for you today. We are still on Abraham and Sarah, before they had Isaac. After Abraham pleads with God for Lot's family in Soddom, to not be destroyed along with the wicked, he heads to the Negev, which was under King Abimelek's rule. Abraham had told Sarah to say something, that she had to before in Egypt. He told her to tell everyone that she was Abraham's sister, not wife. Previously, in Egypt, God had Pharoh's household come down with some sort of disease, then Pharoh told Abraham to take his wife and belongings and to go. During this time, however something a little different happened. When I was reading Genesis 20 something struck me. God was protecting Sarah's womb! One reason why I believe this is because both Pharoh's and Abimelek's households came down with diseases. I got to wondering if they came down with the same ones. It doesn't specify in Genesis 12 what kind of sickness Pharoh's household got, but in Genesis 20:17-18 it says:

          "Then Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelek, his wife and his female slaves so they could have children again,  for the Lord had kept all the women in Abimelek’s household from conceiving because of Abraham’s wife Sarah." 

Since, my thoughts are a little jumbled, I need to rewind. God came to the king in a dream basically saying "You're dead meat, you took another man's wife". Thankfully, Abimelek had not touched her and was able to undo Abraham's wrong, thus vindicating his own actions, not matter how oblivious he was.

Through the last chapter, I began to realize something that I believe holds great importance. First off, once again, Abraham was caught not trusting God and lied instead. He was a sub-par spiritual leader in these instances, because of his fear. How much heartbreak would his wife have to endure because of his Jell-O for a backbone? I don't think Abraham was terrible, but it is interesting to me that instead of staying upright and walking righteously, he looked down and stumbled. This alone shows that Abraham was no different than us. God's circumstances placed on him, and his choices are what made him different.

As I stated earlier, God was protecting Sarah's womb. He had a very specific plan for her. One that He would not even allow kings of men to interrupt or alter. Since God had such a specific plan for Sarah, that means that He had a specific time for Isaac to be born. Sure, God could have given them more children, and Isaac could have still been born at that time. As I read on though, I am intrigued to find out why Isaac needed to be born. Some thoughts that immediately popped into my head was the culture of the day. I am guessing that Abraham was with Sarah at least 80 years (and I think I am being generous because that's assuming Sarah would have been 20 and Abraham would have been 21, well over the age of betrothal in those days). Imagine how much would change. Almost a century. Imagine the last 80 years of our own history. Why did God need Isaac then? Why not earlier? Why did God have Sarah walk this path? What insights and growing did she have from her own life that needed to be implemented in Isaac's?

Judy has consistently told us, that this time in our lives is a preparation time. Looking at both Abraham's and Sarah's walks and doubts with the Lord, makes me realize that this time is exactly that. The same questions I am asking about God protecting Sarah's womb, are the questions I am asking myself. What do I need to learn, to shape the child(ren) God has for us? What does Simeon need to learn? What is the reason God is waiting to give us a child?

Many nights I have laid awake thinking that this is punishment, that we are not good enough Christians, that we are the reason why. To be honest, there will probably be other times I will think that as well. But seeing these two pillars of the Bible, with all of their faults, be set aside for a very designated purpose for God, brings me hope. It makes me realize that God isn't hurting me, he is protecting me. And even if He isn't doing that, He is protecting my children that are in Heaven, and waiting for the perfect time, for me to either carry full term, or adopt, in order for them to be used for His glory. This isn't about having is about trusting Him with the ones He has given us, including His timing.

I am sorry that my thoughts are so mumbled. I was thinking of this as I was falling asleep and usually I write when I have a clear picture of what I want it to read as. I was so intrigued and excited about what I felt was a new found discovery, that I just couldn't keep all my thoughts straight.