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Genesis 34




SCRIPTURE: Genesis 34

The chapter we have before us today is most unusual, traumatic, and telling.  It is unusual in that the story it tells is raw.  We are repelled by what we read.  It is also unusual in that God is not mentioned anywhere in the chapter.  (But remember God is not mentioned in the entire book of Esther.  The absence of God’s name does not necessarily equate with the absence of God.)  The story is traumatic because of how Dinah was treated.  It is also traumatic in the way that Simeon and Levi took incredible vengeance on the entire city.  And it is telling in that it reveals the sinful nature of all men.

There are many places this story could have taken a different turn.  One of those is if Jacob had kept his family on the right path to get to where God told him to go, this would not have happened. Jacob was supposed to be headed back to where he grew up, where his dad still lived.  Instead Jacob led his family off to Succoth and eventually Shechem where this happened.  When God has directed our path, any detour that we choose to take seldom works out for good.  We must always be cognizant of keeping our family in the path God has chosen.

Another place this story could have taken a different turn is if Dinah had traded her carelessness for caution.  What I mean by that is if she hadn’t let curiosity about the country and the people that lived there get the better of her, she wouldn’t have been vulnerable to attack.  If she really wanted to see what the place and people were like, she could have taken others with her which might have prevented the attack from occurring.  

Of course, I am not blaming Dinah for the attack.  A woman should never be blamed for being sexually assaulted or attacked by a man.  There is never an excuse for that.  Never.  Schechem was wrong.  End of conversation.  His desire to marry the girl after assaulting her makes nothing better.  In fact, it just makes it worse.

In verse 13, we read where the sons of Jacob were being deceitful in the conversation with Hamor and Schechem.  The apple really doesn’t fall too far from the tree.  Jacob grew up being a master deceiver and now we see his children going down the same path.  I realized that we probably want to give the boys a little leeway because of what happened to their sister.  But even in that we find an important lesson.  Most of us have some desire for our children to be like us.  The problem with that is although we want to see our good characteristics passed down to them, too often we see our flaws and failures in them.  We need to be careful about what our children see in us.

As the chapter closes, Jacob is once again terrified that he and his family are going to be destroyed.  I know fear is real for those who are afraid.  I know that even unfounded fear is real for those who are afraid.  But at some point, you have to believe that Jacob is going to figure this deal out.  God has made great promises to Jacob.  And when God makes a promise, He always fulfills it.  Always.  Even our greatest enemies cannot thwart those promises.

As we close the chapter, remember that vengeance in our hands never plays out well.  Even when we have been obviously wronged, our vengeance is not a good thing.  The Bible says vengeance is the Lord’s responsibility.  We are always better to leave that with Him.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

Genesis 33




SCRIPTURE: Genesis 33

As we move into this chapter, let me repeat something that I mentioned yesterday.  Because we have the privilege of looking back at this story and knowing how it is all going to work out, it is easy for us to judge Jacob very harshly.  We tend to convince ourselves that we would have acted and reacted in very different ways.  And while it is hard to justify everything Jacob said and did, it is also not so difficult to understand why he said and did some of things that he said and did.  

For example, we know from the previous chapter that Jacob saw some of God’s angels.  They were perhaps some of God’s fighting angels who came to encamp alongside Jacob and his family.  Later in the chapter Jacob saw God.  In fact, he saw Him up close and personal because he wrestled with God.  But as this chapter opens, Jacob saw Esau and his four hundred men and Jacob seemed to lose everything he gained from his encounters in the previous chapter.

For example, Jacob “bowed” his way to Esau instead of walking up to Esau.  On one hand, Jacob may have thought he was honoring his brother by bowing to him.  But on the other hand, if Jacob had walked up to Esau, he would have limped his way to his brother.  Limping toward Esau would have been a powerful reminder to Jacob of what God had done in his life.  And limping toward Esau might very well have given Jacob an opportunity to tell Esau what God had done in his life.  Sometimes our fear of men causes us to not share the good work of the Lord in our lives.  

Esau running to Jacob and kissing him is evidence that Esau had had a change of heart about his brother.  Esau’s change of heart gave Jacob an incredibly opportunity to seek forgiveness for what he had done and to talk about the change that was occurring in his own heart.  Instead Jacob ignored that opportunity and instead begged his brother to accept his gifts.  Sometimes our fear of men causes us to think we can buy or bargain for a better relationship with them.  That seldom works or works for long.

After Jacob and Esau parted company (Did you notice how quickly Jacob got away from his brother?), Jacob went to Succoth and built a house and livestock barns there.  From there he went to Shechem and bought some land from the Canaanites that lived in the area.  The problem with that is back in Genesis 31: 13, God told Jacob to go back to the land of his youth where his father still lived.  While Jacob did build an altar in Shechem to El-Elohe-Israel (that literally means God, the God of Israel which means Jacob was claiming God as his God), he was not where God told him to be.  Jacob would eventually find his way there but delayed obedience is disobedience even if you are doing religious things like building altars in the meantime.

There is one more thing I want to call to your attention.  In verse 2, as Jacob is putting his family and servants at the back to “protect them” from an attacking Esau, he put Rachel and Joseph at the very back.  In other words, he put Leah in front of Rachel which means he thought more of Rachel than he did Leah.  And he put Joseph at the very back which means of all his children, Joseph was his favorite.

We will continue to see the favoritism play out.  But nothing good will come from that.  In fact, a lot bad will come from that.  Let me end with this:  playing favorites with your kids never works out well even for your “favorite”.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

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