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Archive for February 5th, 2020

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Genesis 32:
22 The same night (Jacob) arose and took his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 He took them and sent them across the stream, and everything else that he had. 24 And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. 25 When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. 26 Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 27 And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” 28 Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” 29 Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. 30 So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.”

Let us pray:  Lord Jesus, scepter that rises out of Jacob, Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, rule our hearts through Your suffering cross and forgive us our sins, that we may become partakers of Your divine life;  for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen

Bio:  Jacob, the third of the three Hebrew patriarchs, was the younger of the twin sons of Isaac and Rebekah. After wrestling with the Angel of the Lord, Jacob, whose name means “deceiver,” was renamed “Israel,” which means “he strives with God” (Gen. 25:26; 32:28). His family life was filled with trouble, caused by his acts of deception toward his father and his brother Esau and his parental favoritism toward his son Joseph (March 31). Much of his adult life was spent grieving over the death of his beloved wife Rachel and the presumed death of Joseph, who had been appointed by the Egyptian Pharaoh to be in charge of food distribution during a time of famine in the land. Prior to Jacob’s death during the blessing of his sons, God gave the promise that the Messiah would come through the line of Jacob’s fourth son, Judah (Genesis 49).

Reflection: The twin brothers Jacob and Esau ended up in bitter enmity.  As Esau said of his brother, “Now Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father had blessed him, and Esau said to himself, “The days of mourning for my father are approaching; then I will kill my brother Jacob.”   Enmity seems to be magnified in families.  But why did Esau hate Jacob? Jacob tricked him out of his birthright and their Father’s blessing .  Yes, Jacob did so but Esau was also complicit in his own hatred, as we read earlier in Genesis, at the beginning of the Jacob narrative:

29 Once when Jacob was cooking stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was exhausted. 30 And Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am exhausted!” (Therefore his name was called Edom.) 31 Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright now.” 32 Esau said, “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?” 

Esau sold his birthright for a bowl of red lentil stew showing he despised his birthright. But why did Esau despise his birthright and then sell it?  Answer: He was hungry! He thought he was so hungry Esau said:  I am about to die .  Later when his birthright was ripped off from Esau by his brother, then Esau’s birthright was again precious to him and he was sad he lost it. 

Was Esau about to die from hunger? We have probably all said at one time, “I am so hungry, I could die”.  We aren’t about to die, neither was Esau!  These Scripture verses are a cautionary tale in among and themselves about temptation to sin.  Why did Eve eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?   “…when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes…”  Her eyes were doing the leading. As if Eve said, What’s the use of faith and obedience to the Lord??  Why did Cain kill his brother Abel?  Cain heard from the Lord that He had a higher regard for Abel’s sacrifice.  By what he heard from the Lord (!), then Cain was “angry” of the Lord’s favor for his brother. When the Lord Himself counseled Abel, Abel did not listen. Cain in anger killed his brother, the world’s first murder. As if Cain said, What’s the use of my brother and service to my brother?  When King David saw a beautiful woman, he committed adultery with her and had Bathsheba’s husband killed in battle. As if David said, What’s the use of fidelity in marriage and my leadership as King?

When one of our organs, like our stomach, or our eyes, ears, and especially the organs right below our stomachs, are leading, then it is the devil’s opportunity to be misleading.  Can we be so easily tempted?  Ahh, yes. We use the excuse of our organs as to the reason we are tempted!  I was hungry! I was angry! I was randy!  Then when misled, I am dead. Who can raise us up?  Answer:  the LORD God. This is saving faith.  Eve, Cain, David and Esau looked to themselves alone and not to the Lord, that is, they had not faith. Esau did not think he sinned and needed to repent.  Jacob did believe and trust because he was a sinner and he knew the promises of God to him.  And it was a struggle, so much so that when the Lord Himself wrestled with him all night, God renamed Jacob: Israel, literally, he who wrestles or struggles with God.

Jumping way ahead in Biblical time, Jesus had fasted 40 days and nights and we are told “He was hungry” then Satan tempted him to turn a rock into a loaf of bread. We read in Scripture He was tempted in every way we are but was without sin.  He knows from the inside out of our skin to guard and guide us in the time of sin, that is, temptation.  See Hebrews 2:18 

Now Esau was very  sorrowful as to what happened, but not what he did, follow his stomach and so easily despise his inheritance.  He was caught but he would not be taught.  Jacob sinned as well but he could be taught, and he would be again and again and again. But by the grace of God, went Jacob.

Another Reflection (a better one!) by Martin Luther, from his commentary on Genesis, on Esau’s ‘repentance’:

…there is another repentance that is not genuine but is false. The Germans call it “a gallows repentance,” namely, when I repent in such a way that I am not ashamed of having offended God but am ashamed because I have done harm to myself. Such a repentance is very common, and I myself have often repented in this manner; and I felt sorry that I had done something foolishly, unwisely, and with harm. I was more ashamed of the foolishness and harm than of the sin, than of the guilt or offense. But to feel sorry only for the harm that has been done is a repentance of which God has no knowledge. Indeed, even our own hearts have no knowledge of it, as is evident in the case of Esau; for he does not say: “Now I realize that I have sinned. Why did I offend God by selling my birthright? Now I shall gladly do without the blessing, provided that God forgives me this sin.” This would have been a true repentance, with which he would have been concerned about appeasing God on account of the sin that had been committed. For true repentance looks at God’s wrath on account of sin. It earnestly desires that He be appeased; it shuns the wrath of God. It not only produces grief on account of the harm and no anger and hatred against the brother, but this is what it says: “Provided that God were willing to be gracious to me, I would gladly bear any harm and evil whatever.”  You hear nothing of this from Esau; he has a repentance because of punishment, not because of sin. Therefore, he does not find a repentance for the punishment, for he does not seek a repentance for sin but is stubborn in his sin…

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