Tag Archives: Jacob

Rebecca’s Voice

This is such a hilarious and ‘delicate’ depiction of birth that I couldn’t resist it!

Genesis 25:19-34

The Birth of Esau and Jacob
19 This is the story of Abraham’s son Isaac. 20 Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebecca, the daughter of Bethuel (an Aramean from Mesopotamia) and sister of Laban. 21 Because Rebecca had no children, Isaac prayed to the Lord for her. The Lord answered his prayer, and Rebecca became pregnant. 22 She was going to have twins, and before they were born, they struggled against each other in her womb. She said, “Why should something like this happen to me?” So she went to ask the Lord for an answer.
23 The Lord said to her,
“Two nations are within you;
You will give birth to two rival peoples.
One will be stronger than the other;
The older will serve the younger.”
24 The time came for her to give birth, and she had twin sons. 25 The first one was reddish, and his skin was like a hairy robe, so he was named Esau.[a] 26 The second one was born holding on tightly to the heel of Esau, so he was named Jacob.[b] Isaac was sixty years old when they were born.
Esau Sells His Rights as the First-Born Son
27 The boys grew up, and Esau became a skilled hunter, a man who loved the outdoors, but Jacob was a quiet man who stayed at home. 28 Isaac preferred Esau, because he enjoyed eating the animals Esau killed, but Rebecca preferred Jacob.
29 One day while Jacob was cooking some bean soup, Esau came in from hunting. He was hungry 30 and said to Jacob, “I’m starving; give me some of that red stuff.” (That is why he was named Edom.[c])
31 Jacob answered, “I will give it to you if you give me your rights as the first-born son.”
32 Esau said, “All right! I am about to die; what good will my rights do me?”
33 Jacob answered, “First make a vow that you will give me your rights.”
Esau made the vow and gave his rights to Jacob. 34 Then Jacob gave him some bread and some of the soup. He ate and drank and then got up and left. That was all Esau cared about his rights as the first-born son.

O Lord,
you have answered my cry,
our cry
to you.
There is life within me
hope,
joy,
anticipation
dwell deep inside.

And yet,
there is not peace.
It feels more like war.
Wrangling,
struggle,
fighting for the upper hand,
the greater share
of life within me.

Why should this be?
Should the fruit of love,
the gift from you,
the next generation of life,
not be love,
harmony
and mutuality.
Can they not dwell
in peace
even inside me?

But this is not their way.
They represent two different ways,
two new beginnings,
two different kind of strength.
Each will live their own way,
seemingly always in conflict,
one caring so little for his inheritance,
the other too much.

They pain me now
and will go on to bring pain
to our family
and to each other.

But they are mine.

Lord,
I see Jacob and Esau,
warring factions
right from the start,
wanting different things,
seeing the world in different ways

and I have to stop
and wonder,
what about me?

What about your world?

What about your people?
The church?

We are all different,
with different ways,
different perspectives,
different priorities

But how do we work them out?
How do we learn to live together?
How can we be different,
but together?
Committed to going in one direction
in our different ways?

Show us how to live together
in peace
not conflict.
To live for the good of all,
but especially the weakest;
to celebrate difference
and learn from it,
not fight over it;
to share different perspectives
that we can all see a bigger picture.

Because we are all yours
and you love each one of us,
equally,
with our different gifts and insights.


Wrestling With God

When I was a girl, Saturday tea times were spent eating bread and dripping and watching the wrestling on tv (Oh yes, we knew how to live :))

I’ve no idea why, it was just what we did, but to watch two men (because it always was men – think Giant Haystacks and Mick McManus) tussling and scuffling to see who came out on top.  There was of course lots of showmanship and play acting, but you get the idea.

Genesis 32:22-32 (MSG)

22-23 But during the night he got up and took his two wives, his two maidservants, and his eleven children and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. He got them safely across the brook along with all his possessions.
24-25 But Jacob stayed behind by himself, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw that he couldn’t get the best of Jacob as they wrestled, he deliberately threw Jacob’s hip out of joint.
26 The man said, “Let me go; it’s daybreak.”
Jacob said, “I’m not letting you go ’til you bless me.”
27 The man said, “What’s your name?”
He answered, “Jacob.”
28 The man said, “But no longer. Your name is no longer Jacob. From now on it’s Israel (God-Wrestler); you’ve wrestled with God and you’ve come through.”
29 Jacob asked, “And what’s your name?”
The man said, “Why do you want to know my name?” And then, right then and there, he blessed him.
30 Jacob named the place Peniel (God’s Face) because, he said, “I saw God face-to-face and lived to tell the story!”

31-32 The sun came up as he left Peniel, limping because of his hip. (This is why Israelites to this day don’t eat the hip muscle; because Jacob’s hip was thrown out of joint.)

This is Jacob the trickster.  He has misled and taken advantage of his brother, his father and his uncle.  Perhaps he is feeling he is about to get his comeuppance…

Jacob has taken his wives, servants, children and all his worldly possessions across the river.  But for now he is alone – Just him and God – and a struggle ensues.

Jacob comes out of the encounter wounded.

Is this because he struggled?  Because he wouldn’t give in and let go?  Because he insisted on receiving a blessing?  As a payback for all his tricks?

Is Jacob wounded as such, or just changed by his meeting with God?  By seeing his face and wrestling with him?  He has struggled with God and he bears the marks of his encounter.

This video has some interesting thoughts:

Are we up for wrestling with God?  Or would we rather have everything simple and straightforward – no struggle required?  I think faith worth having is a faith we’ve struggled with.  Until we have wrestled with what it’s all about and what it means to us, it remains an inherited faith, not one that will stand up under pressure.  It is very easy to trot out trite platitudes, but until we have wrestled we do not know if they stand up or not.

It’s unlikely that we will come away from a true struggle with God unmarked.  It is in the struggles that we are changed, that we are stretched, in the facing up to the realities of our lives. There is nothing wrong with wrestling with God, having an honest conversation, admitting our fears, where we are going…

Don’t be afraid of the struggle, for in that we will be formed.  Jacob came away not just with a dislocated hip, but also with a new name.  It was at that point he became Israel – and the rest, as they say, is history.  But without his willingness to wrestle with God – who knows.

Am I willing to struggle with God?  To wrestle over who is in charge?  How God will bless me?  What I need to let go of?  What I ought to be doing?  To let God touch me, challenge me, humble me and equip me?  Will I receive his blessing, his new name, his future?

Lord,
I come to you,
knowing that answers are not always easy,
faith is easily come by,
that sometimes we need to wrestle
– with our consciences,
our selfishness,
our manipulative ways,
our wants
and even with you.

In the struggle Lord,
re-form me,
renew me,
rename me,
re-purpose me
and reassure me.

Forgiveness in Action

I’m sure many of us are familiar with the musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (No idea why it uses that spelling of colour, but there you go!).  Many of us have probably sung it in some form or other – we used to sing it in music lessons at school.

The musical ends at the point of Joseph’s joyful reunion with his father, Jacob

(and who can ever resist some Donny Osmond!)

But this weeks Old Testament passage picks up after that, after Jacob has died:

Genesis 50:15-21

Joseph Reassures His Brothers

 15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” 16 So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: 17‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept.

 18 His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said.

 19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. 21 So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.

The brothers are worried that now their father has died, Joseph will get his own back on them for all the terrible things they did to him, and so they beg him to forgive them.

I’m not sure I could have been so generous, but Joseph sees the bigger picture, and he sees the God who holds it.  He is able to see how God has worked, despite what has happened to him.

He realises that he is no one to judge them.  Perhaps he remembers the things he has got wrong in his own life…

He lives out the forgiveness that he knows in his own life by letting go of those things that his brothers have done wrong against him.

Can we?

By the Providence Lithograph Company (http://thebiblerevival.com/clipart/1907/gen45.jpg) [Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons”]

Lord,

help me to let go

of all those wrongs

I feel have been done to me.

Help me to see you,

and feel your forgiveness in my life,

and live out that forgiveness

towards others