OT: Gen. 28:1-29:35
Well, I'm back to feeling sorry for Esau. God bless him--he wants to do the right thing, but he's just a little slow to catch on. When it dawns on him that his parents aren't big fans of Canaanite women (and how could this just now be dawning on him???), he takes a relative for a wife. Too bad it is a daughter of Ishmael. Poor guy--he can't win for losin'.
I've been thinking that God has been repetitive with his declarations of blessing descendants, but it dawned on me that he keeps revealing His blessing to new generations. Duh. Earlier, he blessed Abraham. In yesterday's reading, he blessed Isaac for the second time. And today, he blessed Jacob. Jacob's response is interesting. He apparently thinks that he stumbled onto some kind of God portal, and that's why God is talking to him. ("Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it...How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.") Stairway to heaven dream or no, I wanted to say to him, "It's not the place, dingbat! It's you! God is talking to you not because you picked the right patch of earth to lay down on, but because you're Jacob." Again, this seems obvious, but it's amazing how these people did not realize their own significance. God chose them to start...everything. He chose to use them to proclaim Himself to the world. And they were just normal people. A few days ago, we read Jesus' proclamation, "I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 8:11). By that point, these three men were iconic. In the time period we're reading about in Genesis, they are just confused liars who pass their wives off as their sisters and have problems with showing favoritism to their kids. It is amazing to think of what God adds to that equation. And what He adds to the equation with me. And it is amazing to think that he chose me to be an ambassador for Christ, that He speaks through my marriage and my family to show the world a message of reconciliation. That He uses my witness to others to bring them to Him. And that He does all that when I'm just a confused sinner who can't get through a single day without tripping over my own selfishness.
I also think it's funny that Jacob's next impulse is to play, "Let's Make a Deal" with God. "Okay, God, you say you want to bless me? Well, how about blessing me in this upcoming visit, and then I'll choose you as my God." Ugh. Thankfully, God is so creative, and He totally grants Jacob's request...technically. He also lets Laban completely take advantage of him. But hey--He keeps him safe! Sorry--that part made me laugh.
I did feel sorry for Leah, though. I thought it was interesting that the text says that Leah had "weak" eyes, but the footnote says that another translation is "delicate." I understand why they chose "weak," because the sentence is set up to contrast her with Rachel, who is described as beautiful. But I still would have gone with delicate. What does "weak eyes" even mean? See, I think it says that Leah had pretty eyes, but Rachel had a great body and was beautiful to boot. (Read it again--see? It works.) So even though Leah had stuff going for her, she was no external match to her little sister. The way that all played out was so sad to me.
I think it is interesting how God Himself tries to balance out the unfairness by giving Leah a slew of sons. You wouldn't necessarily think that God would be concerning Himself with stuff like this at this point in His nation building process. But He has shown Himself thus far to be quite compassionate toward the plight of women. He took great care of Hagar, for example. And he talked directly to Rebekah to explain the ramifications of her pregnancy to her. And now, He seems to understand the pain of rejection that Leah is filling and is blessing her in bigger ways than she can even understand. After all, through her body come most of the twelve tribes of Israel. I also think that it is VERY interesting how she hopes that the first three sons will help her husband to love her. But by the time she gets to Judah, she's like, "You know what? I'm just going to give thanks to God for giving me a son." (paraphrase of Gen. 29:35). And that's the one through whom Christ came.
NT: Matt. 9: 18-38
Quick detail: I think it is interesting that this version of the story describes Jairus' daughter as already being dead, but in Mark and Luke's version, she is dying and then dies while Jesus is going to her. It's clearly the same story. I'm not sure what to make of that. The other versions are in Mark 5 and Luke 8. Reading all three narratives, I see that it is not a small difference. I also thought it was interesting that Mark's version of the demon and the pigs had two demon-possessed men in the graveyard and not just "Legion." But in that case, I can understand that if one of the men was more prominent and responsive, you might not even mention the other one when telling the story. So maybe the others just focused on "Legion." With Jairus' daughter, I find the discrepancy more confusing.
But again with the women! I promise I'm not trying to do a gender-based reading of Scripture, but this time around, I just keep noticing the compassion toward women. In this story, Jesus raises a dead girl, and heals a woman who seems to have been plagued specifically with "female problems." In a society that seems to clearly view women as objects and property (both in the Old and New Testament), God seems to defy that vision of women with the compassion He shows to them. Interesting.
Psalm 11: 1-7
I grew up singing a hymn with the line, "Flee as a bird to your mountain." I don't think those people understood this psalm.
Proverbs 3: 11-12
My sinful, rebellious self is not a big fan of discipline, so these verses are always a good reminder.