OT: Gen. 30:1-31:16
Well. We are far from the Abraham-Sarai model where human interference screws up God's plan. Now, it is clear that God is using the crazy things these people are doing to directly accomplish His purposes. The twelve tribes of Israel spring from the bitter competition between two wives, and (unlike Ishmael), maidservants' sons are included in the count. And Jacob's little breeding experiment with Laban's sheep works to increase his wealth, which he totally sees as God's blessing. And maybe it is! Jacob definitely gives God full credit for taking away Laban's wealth and giving it to him, but it just seems to me that Jacob himself also had a hand in that...
I'm beyond feeling sorry for Laban, however. It is so crazy to me how this man who seemed to love Rebekah so much could treat her son so wrongly. Regardless, Laban and Jacob are a good match for each other, with their mutual deceit and manipulation.
Again, it is weird to me how God works through all of this. He is using competitive bitterness and lies to start the nation of Israel! I really don't get it.
And how about the trading of a night with Jacob for some mandrakes? That seemed like a small incident, so I wonder why it was included. Maybe it is in there b/c of what it reveals about the relationship between the three of them, though I can't see that it reveals anything good.
NT: Matt. 10: 1-25
Yesterday, Adrian asked about what was meant by "authority given to men." To me, today's reading shows a prime example of that authority. Jesus gives his disciples "authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness" (1). Also, the disciples are to have such confidence in God's provision that they aren't supposed to take anything with them. I thought that was interesting.
I both love and am confused by the concept of verse 13: "If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you." My usual take on this is that the disciples had the authority to bless things and people and that leaving their peace was like a blessing. And yet, on this reading, it seems like more than that. Regardless, I love the idea of a peace that is so powerful that you can physically share it with others.
Throughout Scripture, there are many verses that I "found" the first time I read the Bible for myself as a teenager. Each time, I was so amazed to stumble on a verse so awesome that I had never heard before. Matt. 10:16 is one of those verses: "I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore, be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves." I have always found that verse to be so pertinent to my life. I love how well Jesus describes the balance needed between shrewdness and innocence. I've always struggled with finding that balance.
I also like verses 24-5 (though I don't understand the last line, really). It is a good reminder to someone like me, whose nature longs for comfort and security that "a student is not above his...teaher...It is enough for the student to be like his teacher." I am called to be like Christ. He is my teacher and master. He did not seek comfort and security but instead sought wholly to fulfill the will of His Father. That's what I should be doing, too.
Psalm 12: 1-8
I think it is interesting how historically common it is to feel like there are no more godly people. Wickedness just seems overwhelming sometimes. Several lines here seem culturally relevant today, such as the last one: "The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honored among men." I feel that, especially in our entertainment industry, we honor some pretty vile stuff. But all of this wickedness is nothing new. It is something to mourn, yes, but not something to fear. Verses 5-6 make it clear that God is active in these times. And from the New Testament, I know that He equips us to be lights to the world. Again, our job is not to fear, but to shine.
Prov. 3: 13-15
Good stuff about wisdom. (I remember this wisdom prologue being good, but long. At this rate of moving through Proverbs, I'm not going to have anything new to say about it for weeks!)