OT: Gen. 35:1-36:43
First things first: today is Martin Luther King Day (fun fact: my son's initials are MLK, and that's not an accident). I love so much about Dr. King, and so I was excited when it was brought to my attention that one of the verses we read today is connected to him. Apparently, there was/is a plaque at the motel where he was shot that quotes Gen. 37: 19-20: "Here comes that dreamer! Come now, let's kill him...Then we'll see what becomes of his dreams." I think that linking that verse to King came through divine insight. The parallels are amazing when I think about them. Both Joseph and King had dreams that others found very offensive and threatening. And yet, both dreams (I believe) were from God. And both dreams prevailed despite the odds and despite all the harm and hate that the world could throw at them.
Okay, now let's delve into the story at hand.
The historian in me wants further insight into Joseph's brothers. I need more interviews! I'm gathering in my head all the scraps of info I have on them (the Leah/Rachel feud, Jacob's favoritism, Simeon and Levi's overblown vengeance on Dinah's rapist...and that's all) and trying to picture everything that went down that day. Reuben and Judah particularly intrigue me. Reuben, the oldest, wanted to spare Joseph, but for some reason could not stand up to his brothers. And yet, after it was too late to do anything, he did come out to his brothers and admit his attachment. And Judah--what was his motivation? Was he being kind-hearted or strictly mercenary? So many questions...
...But not as many questions as I have with the Judah and Tamar story! The Bible is messing with me again! I have prayed for clarity, but there are some things, apparently, that I am not ready to understand. See, Genesis is a history. It's a historical narrative. And historical narratives tell stories for a reason. They have to answer the "so what" question. A biographer, for example, picks and chooses the stories that they tell about a person because they are trying to highlight or explain something important. They might not detail what so-and-so liked to have for breakfast each morning, because who cares? On the other hand, they will share an anecdote if it tells you something--like, for example, if the anecdote reveals the ambition that goes on to drive that man to the Presidency. That would be a story to include. I just don't see what this story is supposed to tell us. Why include it? I mean, what are we even supposed to think? Are we supposed to be proud of Tamar? What are we supposed to see about Judah? It's just bizarre. Plus, I can't even talk about it in detail because I would be too embarrassed!:) The Bible is rated R, people. If this story came on tv, I would switch the channel!
NT: Matt. 12: 22-45
Aw, man, I'm so confused by the Old Testament, and then I get to the New, and even Jesus is being esoteric. I kind of, sort of understand the individual sentences, but what does it all mean put together? Let's see, first he heals a demon-possessed man, and the crowds wonder if he's the Messiah (the "Son of David"). This causes his enemies to try to link him to Satan [Sidenote: Isn't that human nature? I get so tired of hearing about politics, because neither side can ever acknowledge anything good about the other. One side will do something so good that I can't imagine the other griping about it, but they always manage to find a way. They try and turn it around to make the other side look worse than ever. The Pharisees were no exception.] Jesus easily explains the idiocy of their accusations in verses 25-29. He starts to lose me with the "strong man" analogy, but I think I get it. Satan is the strong man, right? And Jesus ties him up and robs him? Hmm, that doesn't sound right:). Maybe not.
Verse 3o ("He who is not with me is against me...") seems to jar with the earlier verses. Maybe he is still trying to delineate the difference between him and Satan? And then verses 31-32 (regarding blasphemy against the Holy Spirit) seems even less connected to His theme. Clearly, I'm missing something.
I'm back on board with verse 33-37...and I catch up just in time to be smacked in the face. "But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word that they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned." Beautifully and powerfully spoken, and yet absolutely terrifying.
Psalm 16: 1-11
Love it, love it, love it. I've decided that I love hearing godly people share their thoughts on God. I love all of your comments, for example. And so I especially love getting to hear the musings of this man after God's own heart. I love every single verse in this psalm, with the exception of 3-4, which just confuse me (and I'm tired of being confused today!:)). Some favorites: "I said to the Lord, 'You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing'" (2). "I will praise the Lord who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me" (7). And the first prize winner goes to, "You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand" (11).
Prov. 3: 27-32
"Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act" (27). That is a convicting verse. I know so many people who deserve good, and it is very often in my power to act. Not always, mind you, but often. I have been realizing lately that I need to be more on the lookout for people who are needing encouragement, especially people who work so hard for the body of Christ and might need to hear some positive words.