The Blind Side
What a film. So powerful, so inspirational and so memorable.
I watched it tonight with some friends, and I won’t spoil the story for anyone, but all I can say is that it’s the best film I’ve seen in quite some time.
Anything we want is achievable, it really is.
I think most of us know this, but do we really know it in our hearts? Do we really, 100% believe it?
I’ve told myself this for several years now, that anything I can conceive of myself doing is possible, and is achievable – yet the dreams and the reality rarely ever actually manage to even come within sight of one another, let alone actually become the same thing.
Why is this?
Well, for me at least, I think it’s a combination of a few main things, I’m sure there’s more, but primarily: Doubt, Distraction, Discipline and Discernment.
Doubt: It’s one thing to actually say I can achieve something, but really, it’s another thing to actually believe that I can achieve it.
Distraction: This one’s easy – something else comes along, suddenly my mind’s no longer on that original goal, and it falls away as I follow something new.
Discipline: Probably a little hand in hand with the above, but discipline is required in achieving anything. This blog, small as it may seem, is just one area where God’s currently teaching me discipline.
Discernment: This comes back to those voices that Mark preached about on Sunday, how do I discern between the voices I hear? Some would say that it’s a great idea, and I should go for it, others would say that I should just be realistic – and those voices that say to be realistic are usually really convincing. It’s smarter, easier, more sensible to follow the status quo.
Well, sorry, but I don’t really want to follow the status quo. No one ever made an impact by following the status quo. No one ever stood out by following the status quo. Did Jesus, or his apostles follow the status quo? Did Noah follow the status quo? Imagine if Noah had just listened to that voice that said it was ridiculous to build an ark, that it was more sensible to just keep going alongside everyone else!
God can still use us when we stay in the world of the sensible and ‘realistic’, true, but how much more can he use us when we go beyond that and step out in faith?
Wow, I almost don’t need to do a chapter tonight, sorry for the rant – maybe I’ll write more on this later. Keep an eye on the articles menu.
Sisters are special. I have two of them, and much like my relationship with my brother, we have our ups and downs – everyone does. As a guy, though, there’s a special relationship that you have with your sister. She’s the first woman that you really learn protection instincts towards, and the first woman you build a relationship with, besides your mother. In actuality, you probably learn more about how to deal with women in general from your sister(s) than you do from your mother, because you’re both coming from it at the same angle, rather than the mother trying to teach her children.
I’m guilty, I’ll admit, of not being as good a brother towards my sisters as I should have been over the years, and I wish I had been better. Still, my sisters are very important to me, and if it ever came down to it, I’d go a long way to ensure their protection.
It’s interesting that this chapter is back-to-back with the chapter of Jacob and Esau being reunited, really. There’s really this focus on sibling relationships – last night we had the brothers who, in spite of hating each other last time they met, were so glad to see each other (admittedly after 20 years) that they wept openly.
And in chapter 34, Dinah is violated by Shechem, sone of Hamor. This is Hamor’s land that Jacob just bought, and now his son has violated their sister.
So Simeon and Levi killed every male in the city, and Jacob’s sons looted the city.
One question, though, does anyone actually ask Dinah what she’s thinking in all of this? Verse 3 says that Shechem’s heart was drawn to Dinah, and that he loved her.
The word violated seems to come across in different ways in various translations. Violated in the NIV and New King James Version; the King James Version says Defiled; the Good News Bible says raped; and the English Standard Version says humiliated.
When I read those combinations of words, I think, actually, it’s pretty clear that no matter which translation I read, this likely wasn’t a mutual relationship between the two. As a man with two sisters, myself, I’ll admit that I find it hard to criticise Simeon and Levi’s actions. No, it wasn’t honourable, and really they probably didn’t have to kill everyone, but either way, I struggle to even disapprove of their actions.
One song that’s been massively overplayed on my MP3 player of late is a Kutless song.
Actually, Kutless as a whole have been pretty heavily featured in my music listening over the past couple of weeks, but one song in particular:
Kutless: Take Me In
Take me past the outer courts into the holy place
Past the brazen altar, Lord I want to see Your face
Pass me by the crowds of people, the priests who sing your praise
I hunger and thirst for Your righteousness, and it’s only found in one place
Take me in to the Holy of Holies
Take me in by the blood of the lamb
Take me in to the Holy of Holies
Take the coal, touch my lips, here I am…
Tonight, though, it really struck me what a request this song is. It’s so easy to get lost in a good song, whether it’s in praise and worship at church, or just listening to something while you’re by yourself, but how often do we really stop and think exactly what the words we’re singing really mean?
These lyrics aren’t just a song, it’s a prayer. It’s a request for God to let me into his closest court, his private dwelling place.
And he opened that door for us – he tore the veil down to allow us to come into his presence in freedom and grace.
Coming that close to God, though, has its consequences, though. The last line of the chorus is for God to take the coal and touch my lips, referencing Isaiah, who said he couldn’t speak for God because his lips were unclean, so an angel touched his lips with a piece of coal.
God’s presence is like a fire, and being that close to him is going to burn away impurities, faults and flaws – and fire hurts, but the reward is refinement, and a new level of purity.
On topic, though.
Jacob’s still on the way home, and after all his preparation, fear, humility, and all those things that were discussed last night, tonight Esau shows up, with four hundred men tagging behind him.
I wonder who the four hundred were. It specifies men, so it does almost sound like an army, rather than Esau bringing his family up to meet Jacob. Perhaps he was also going through the same concerns Jacob was? Esau was thinking to himself that while Jacob had been away, he’d built himself up an army and was going to come back and take what was left to take from his brother?
Once again, though, time’s made its changes. Whatever issues there were between the two brothers, twenty years or so has at least washed enough of it away, that when Esau sees Jacob, he runs to him, embraces him, kisses him and they both just ed up in tears.
Being a brother, and having a brother, I can admit that it would be a pretty major gathering for both of us to weep when seeing one another.
The whole chapter’s about their reconciliation.
When all is said and done, when two people come back together, if it’s really genuine, then gifts and things are irrelevant. Esau didn’t want the gifts, he didn’t want or need the droves. The important thing to him was that he had his brother back. Reconciliation goes beyond the material, it’s in the heart.
Besides, anyone who has nieces or nephews knows how easy it is to torture your siblings by spoiling their kids – and Jacob had come back with a tribe of them. There was ample opportunity for some friendly payback!
Jacob didn’t end up going to Seir with his brother, though. He turns off, or stops part way, one of the two, and settles at Succoth.
I’ll be honest, that’s one other thing about siblings – it’s a lot easier to love them and to get along with them consistently when you no longer have to deal with each other every day.
I was sure that today was going to be a good day.
And it really was. Today’s been a day that was really filled with blessing. This morning’s message at church was about whose voice will you listen to? Mark von Blanckensee from Devonport’s Gateway Church spoke about all those little voices that we hear in our heads – and no, not in a crazy way, just in the sense of those thoughts, the internal dialogues that occur when we think about things. The example he used was about taking up another offering, and the initial thoughts that would be going through people’s mind – from it being a great idea, to being grateful that they left their wallet back in the car!
It really spoke to me though. I’ve had a bit of a rough week when it came to internal dialogue, from two situations in particular, and it’s been a real struggle to focus on God’s voice, and to trust that he has things under control, when there’s all these other little doubts and arguments and rejections coming into your mind.
Apparently I missed a great message at Impact Conference about doubting the doubt, when we experience it – funnily enough, God was teaching me that lesson anyway. Definitely a message that I’m going to need to get the CD or DVD of though.
Rest of the day was great. I had lunch with some great people, came home spent a few hours just with God, and then church tonight was also a really strong message on Faith.
So yes, it turned out to be a great day – not necessarily the day I had planned, but great still.
This is a really interesting chapter, I loved reading it. Jacob’s on his way back home, and he starts wondering about his brother – now it’s been over twenty years since Jacob fled his homeland after taking his brother’s blessing and birthright. It’s amazing what time does to people.
Jacob’s blessing, back a couple of chapters, included a statement about being lord over his brothers, and Esau’s blessing, in turn, declared that he would serve his brother. Yet Jacob sends messengers out with a massive statement of humility. He has the messengers refer to him as ‘Your servant Jacob’ and to call Esau ‘my lord’.
Now, some of this might be from sheer terror that Esau’s still mad at him – as we go through the chapter we see that Jacob is genuinely afraid that his brother still holds a grudge. He asks God to save him from Esau’s hand, he separates his entire caravan so that if one group is attacked, the other can still escape, and he sends a caravan of gifts ahead of himself to try and soften his brother up.
I would say, though, that it’s not all about fear and terror. It’s cliche to say, but that doesn’t mean there’s not some validity to the statement “Time heals all wounds”. I’d disagree on the face of it, I think time allows the scars to fade, but scars never completely disappear. Still, Jacob’s grown up, he’s no longer an impetuous youth who ripped his brother off, he’s a man, with a family, with flocks, with something to live for – and more imporantly, we come back to the fact that with all this he also has something to lose.
He comes to his brother in humility, though.
Second part of the chapter! Wow, tonight’s a long one.
I love this story about Jacob wrestling with God. Once again, though, I’ve been reading this chapter and something’s leapt out at me that I hadn’t actually noticed before.
When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. ~ Genesis 32:11
The man wrestling Jacob saw that he could not overpower him. It does go on to say that all God had to do in the end was just touch Jacob’s hip, but Jacob didn’t give in or let himself be overpowered.
God’s all powerful, and stronger than any of us can imagine – I don’t think that this story’s saying that Jacob was as strong as God. God knows our strengths, our limitations, our boundaries – and my interpretation of this is that God was probably just putting enough effort in to make Jacob REALLY have to work for it.
Dave Morse used the example tonight in his message on Faith, about being at the gym and doing bench presses, and when you think you’ve got nothing left, the personal trainer or your spotter will encourage you and really push you to give it one more press.
I really envision that being where Jacob would have been at in this wrestling match, right on the edge of his limits, beyond his perceived limits and right on the edge of his real limitations, but he never gave up. God pushed and pushed him, and Jacob refused to give in.
It’s really true that our limitations actually tend to be a step beyond where we really perceive them to be, and that’s probably a good survival method built into us. You always want, in normal circumstances, to have a bit left in the tank. Jacob, I would imagine, gave it all, and still did not give in – and God blessed him, and said that he had overcome the struggle.
No matter what struggle we’re facing, if we push hard enough, we can overcome it. With God on our side, it’s even easier.
Even during my time not walking with God over the past few years, there’s been something that always bothered me, and that was the attitude of many atheists towards Christians.
Let’s get it clear. Atheists don’t believe in any deity – and most that I’ve met don’t even believe in a spiritual realm. They don’t believe in an afterlife, or angels, demons, or an eternal soul as part of our overall existence.
Note – I do say most, I have met atheists whose beliefs vary slightly, but as a general rule, this has been my experience of the average atheist.
In my experience as well, the people I have met who count themselves as atheists, are exceptionally passionate and dedicated to a crusade of telling anyone who follows a religion – and in particular, Christians – that they are wrong, and in a large number of cases, the “you’re wrong, there is no God” is also attached to a “you’re stupid.”
What I never understood, was why do they care?
If atheism was correct, then there’s really no problem. Someone’s religion doesn’t really matter – since at the end of their life, they’ll die, their non-existent spirit will just fade away, and their body will eventually decompose and return to the Earth. Does it matter whether they spent their life believing in God?
No, it doesn’t – so why argue it so vehemently?
We’re still in this fairly dysfunctional family. Jacob and Laban never really seemed to get on from the day Laban married Leah to him rather than Rachel, but now Jacob thinks that he’s going to get killed or robbed or whatever, so he gathers the family and goes.
Interesting picture of how the girls look at their father in verse 14 and 15, they say that he sold them. He did, kind of, but they’re saying this to the guy who ‘bought’ them with his labour. I wonder if Jacob felt any sort of hurt at that.
Although I do have to ask: Jacob claims that he did not deceive Laban, or do anything wrong, but last chapter, it did say that he only put the branches up when the strong sheep were mating. I wonder, was he really as innocent and blameless and pure as he claimed? Sure, ultimately you can’t really say that the presence of branches would have any scientific traction on the outcome of the offspring (although I would happily accept I’m wrong if evidence was shown to the contrary), but the intention was there, that Jacob would get the strong offspring, and Laban the weaker offspring.
It’s probably not good to take a bloke’s entire family and run off with them, though. Laban came after them, along with the rest of the family. You can’t blame him for feeling a little hurt after both his daughters and all his grandkids have just taken off for another land.
Still, the whole thing comes to a fairly mature ending. Things are obviously still very strained between the two, but they settle their differences diplomatically.
This entire story comes across with some issues that seem to be continually being dealt with through Abraham, Isaac and now Jacob. They seem to suffer from a touch of paranoia, for a start, always thinking that someone’s going to kill them. Abraham’s worried he’ll be killed for Sarah, and Isaac did the same thing with Rebekah, and now Jacob’s worried that Laban will kill him because he’s prospering and Laban’s not doing so well. There seems to be this continuous insecurity through all three generations regarding success. Abraham and Isaac had gorgeous wives, so they worried they’d be killed for them – Jacob’s prospering, and he ends up so worried that he’s doing well, that he packs up and runs for his life.
I guess that’s one point – the more you have, the more you have to lose. Jacob really let it get to his head.
Tonight was good. A friend did a tribute Stevie Ray Vaughan gig in Hobart, it was good to listen to some nice old-style blues/rock and roll for an evening.
Had great conversation, too. Perhaps the best image of the evening came through discussion of God being a potter, and moulding us as clay.
And how we should be grateful that he’s a potter, and not a blacksmith or a carpenter. If he was a blacksmith, we’d be stuck in a fire, and then belted over and over until we took shape! Or a carpenter – well, hammers, nails, chisels.
But pottery – well that’s a bit more gentle, and refined. It’s about moulding rather than carving, or bashing something into shape.
I thought it was a great piece of imagery.
Lesson one from this chapter – if you ever do go for bigamy, make sure you don’t marry two sisters. I mean, yes, great, Jacob ends up with lots of kids, but that family must have had some serious dysfunction!
I find it odd, too, that Leah accuses Rachel of taking her husband from her. Well, technically, Leah, you took him from Rachel first. I mean, really, she must have known that he’d been there for seven years, loving and chasing and wooing Rachel, right? It’s amazing, though, how we can just very quickly change our perspective on things. It’s very easy to forget the relevant parts of our lives, just enough so that the image we paint is the one that’s just perfect for how we want to actually look at it.
I feel sorry for Rachel, though. I really do. The poor girl is the one who was actually innocent in pretty much all of this, she was the one Jacob wanted to marry, and then she ends up being unable to bear children, while her sister, who Jacob never wanted in the first place as a wife, is popping them out one after the other. Finally, at the very end of the sequence about Leah and Rachel’s little sibling rivalry, Rachel gets to give birth to a son.
Then, we once more come into God blessing his chosen people. This time it’s Jacob, and God’s blessing him abundantly.
I wonder if anyone’s ever tested the theories in this chapter. If you make speckled sheet branches for sheep to mate in front of, does their wool come out speckled?
That’s all I have for tonight. It’s late, I’m tired, and so, I bid you:
It’s been one of those days.
You know, those days where you just can’t seem to really catch a break? Nothing’s happened to frustrate, upset or anger me, but it’s just been a day where a few things have gone wrong, and that’s made it harder to get through than I’d really have liked to. So it just hasn’t been easy.
Which is okay – a tough day is good, it gives you the opportunity to appreciate the days that do go well.
But it affects you. I’ve spent the evening feeling just a touch down, nothing major, but just melancholy.
So I’m going to write this blog, and then curl up in bed and have a fairly early night. It’s good to have an early night every so often, or so I’ve heard.
Jacob and Rachel’s a pretty romantic story, really, especially in comparison to the way most of the couples have met to this point. He’s found his way to Haran, and meets some shepherds, and then along comes this shepherdess, who just happens to be from the family he’s trying to find in order to find himself a bride. Jacob waters her sheep, he weeps, he kisses her, and then she goes running home to tell her father.
It really has all the makings of a good Hollywood romance, doesn’t it? Right down to the conflict and that terrible bit in the middle where things nearly fall apart. Laban marries Jacob to his older daughter, Leah, first.
You know, if you really love something, or someone, you’ll give up all sorts of things. Jacob worked seven years, on the agreement that he could marry Rachel, and Laban – well, Laban betrayed him, it’s as simple as that. Yet, instead of spitting the dummy, Jacob confronts his now father-in-law, and when he’s told it will cost him another seven years labour, Jacob goes for it. Love makes us work harder, it makes us give up more.
And that’s one thing about the story of Jacob and Rachel, it really is a love story. The Isaac/Rebekah story says that Isaac loved Rebekah, yes, but it’s not a love story, not like Jacob and Rachel.
So what would you give up for the person you love? Would fourteen years unpaid labour be worth it to you?
I do feel sorry for Leah, but at the same time, she probably had a pretty good idea that she wasn’t going to be the favourite wife. I’m doubting that she had no idea what was going on for the whole seven years that Jacob was working for Laban.
But she got the first children. Along comes Reuben, born out of her misery, God blessed her – it wasn’t, after all, her fault that she was in this predicament. Then Simeon, named such because the Lord heard tha she was not loved. Third was Levi, with whom she hoped Jacob would finally become attached to her – then finally Judah – and here’s a key point. With Judah, she stopped focussing on her misery, on her loneliness, on her disappointment and negativity. With Judah, she praised God – and promptly stopped having children.
It took four children, but her focus eventually came to the important bit: God.
The word of the day is: Shpadoinkle.
I read a great quote on a friend’s Facebook page this evening:
Science has questions that may never be answered; religion has answers that may never be questioned.
It’s a fair enough quote. What I found, even before coming back to God, was that religion wasn’t the same thing as spirituality, and it certainly isn’t the same thing as a relationship with God. I had a friend comment today toward me, regarding irony, that I would be going back to organised religion. Fact is, that no, I’m not, and have not returned to organised religion, I’ve just rekindled my relationship with God.
So it may be, that religion has answers that may never be questioned, but God doesn’t stop us from asking questions. He doesn’t stop us from growing, or learning.
Okay, I understand the lure of finding a wife from your own people. I’ve joked, in the past, that I’m going to go to Scotland and find myself a nice wife there, back in the homeland my family came from – well, part of my family anyway. Scottish and Irish blood – I was born to cause trouble. Come on, though – I love my cousins, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t love my cousins.
It’s interesting, we’ve now seen this with Isaac and with Jacob – even though Abraham managed to get as far as Canaan, the land of God’s promise, they still seem to hold this tie to where they came from. It’s like they’re unable to completely let go of the past.
And isn’t that something that we all struggle with? No matter how far forward we come, no matter how much progress we make, no matter how much we focus on the promises of God, it doesn’t take much for us to look over our shoulder and start to rely on the things that are back there, instead of in the future. It’s extremely difficult to completely let go of the things of our past, and walk solely and totally in the promise of God, isn’t it?
Esau does something rather typical of a brother – he overhears what’s going on, and tries to copy the plan – usually with not such a good result, and I have to admit that really, going to find that non-Canaanite wife would be great, but a wife from Ishmael’s family could potentially have been the only option worse than picking a Canaanite wife!
I’m just speculating that, but it was pretty clear that there wasn’t a lot of love lost between Isaac and Ishmael.
So Jacob goes off on his journey, just like Abraham’s servant did.
What an interesting dream. I wonder about the angels, they’re wandering down here, and then wandering back up – almost like they get set assignments to actually undertake on Earth before heading back up to heaven.
Once more, God reaffirms his promise. I love how he never actually just sits back and rests on it. Instead of just accepting that the promise was made to Abraham, and thus, of course, flows down the family line, God keeps reaffirming it with the following generation. He actually came to Isaac, and now comes to Jacob to reaffirm his promise with them as well.
And once again, Jacob’s first action is to acknowledge God, just like his father and grandfather. That’s, perhaps, one of the most important things in life – acknowledge God first.
You know, sometimes, it doesn’t matter how certain you are that God’s involved, and you’re simply trusting him, there’s still an element of doubt and fear that sits with you.
I guess that’s natural, though, isn’t it. I mean, we’re still physical beings, we have a physical, biological body – the part of us that is tied to this world and lives according to the world.
I’m not going to go into a lecture about the Body, Mind and Soul at the moment, it’s just too in depth, I don’t think I could fit it in a smaller blog post!
Everything we do in God involves faith, though. Faith is the knowledge that we have success in God, but it’s also more than that – Faith is what allows us to ignore the whims of the body, and of our physical self. Acting in Faith is breaking free of our worldly selves, and entering, even for just a brief moment, into the spiritual world of the Father. It is what draws us nearer to him.
Well, this is a long chapter, but it’s a fairly well-known story, too. Isaac’s getting on in years, and he calls Esau, his firstborn to him and asks him to prepare a meal. Esau goes off, but Rebekah’s eavesdropped, and quickly sets Jacob up, instead, to make sure that he can get Isaac’s blessing. Isaac does it, and gets the blessing from his father, and gets out of there just in time for Esau to come in with his prepared meal – and he’s not happy to find out that his little brother got in ahead of him, and has gotten one up on him a second time.
I have a little brother, and we don’t always get along that well, but I tell you what, I’m suddenly grateful to have mine rather than Jacob!
God did, though, make this promise right from the beginning, and we see the fulfilment of that promise in Isaac’s blessing to Esau. The original promise God made before they were born, was that the older would serve the younger, and we see Isaac confirm that in his blessing, that Jacob will be lord over his brothers, and he says in turn to Esau that he will serve his brother.
A lesson from Jacob’s perspective: Just because you might be on the bottom rung, doesn’t necessarily stop you from achieving God’s blessing. I’m certainly not advocating deception and lying to do so, but God’s got a plan in store either way.
From Esau’s perspective: He still was blessed, and he was actually blessed pretty strongly. Isaac told him that he would be away from the earth’s richness and the dew of heaven above, but the most important line of Esau’s blessing was still to come. He would grow restless and he would throw off his brother’s yoke. He would be free one day.
It wasn’t really much comfort to Esau at the time, though. He’s ready to kill his brother – so Jacob’s forced to flea back to Haran.
I really don’t think there’s a great way to paint Jacob in an positive picture in this chapter, it’s something that I’ve actually found quite surprising throughout Genesis, and I’m surprised that I never noticed it before. The characters aren’t just flawed, but at times they’re distinctly villainous. There are some actions in Genesis that really, it has to be said, were not good at all.
No human’s perfect. I take comfort in the fact that these guys, the people God picked out as his chosen ones, still screwed up. They might have made some mistakes – serious mistakes too, not just something minor – but they were still blessed.
So, I just wrote a massively long email to a close friend, who’s been closer to me through much of the journey over the past couple of months than most – or at least, has known more about what was going on than most, throughout that period, and what I said there struck me, and I wanted to share it with everyone else too.
Since coming back into God’s arms, it’s been like he’s decided to take me through the intensive refresher course. A lot has been happening, and its been happening fast. Part of me wondered whether I was going too fast, and whether I should maybe take things a bit easier.
Then God asked me if there was such a thing as running towards him too fast. I gave it some thought, and came to the conclusion of no – and followed it up with asking that he just make sure I don’t miss any turnoffs on the way, because, after all, it’s a lot easier to miss the turnoff if you’re going faster, isn’t it?
So he pointed me to Proverbs 3:6
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
In other words, God said to me, if I’ve got my eyes on him, I’m not going to miss any turnoffs, because I’m already dead on track, and he’s going to make sure the road stays straight beneath me. It’s all under control.
So I’m not afraid, or worried. Some people might want to suggest that after the places I’ve been, I should ease back into things – but that’s a religious mindset, it’s living this mindset of the rules and regulations, the tenets and rituals. You know what? God doesn’t want rules and regulations, he wants our hearts. I’m going to stay close to him, and let him be the one to tell me if I’m off base with something.
My first favourite verse in this chapter is verse 4, concluding with the statement: through your offispring all nations on earth will be blessed.
Well, he was right, wasn’t he?
I’m in two minds about this chapter, though. I mean, this is almost an identical copy of the story of Abraham and Abimilech, just swap the name Abraham for Isaac. There’s a part of me that wonders, like I mentioned during the Abraham/Abimilech story, whether this is one of those tales that got confused during the aeons of oral tradition before it all got written down. Everything happens almost identically to the events with Abraham.
Alternatively, Isaac just didn’t learn from his father’s mistakes – or he did learn, and was going for the same result.
It’s interesting, though. This passage has Isaac exceptionally unsettled. It’s the first chapter after Abraham’s death, and really, it’s the first time we see Isaac without his father. He seems lost. He’s told not to go to Egypt, and instead goes to Gerar with the Philistines, then he wanders through the lands, digging wells, trying to find somewhere to settle, but he keeps running into arguments and disputes, until finally he comes to a place where he can settle himself.
It’s like Isaac got caught up in his father’s path, so much of this chapter is like what Abraham already went through. It’s like Isaac, for a while, was lost in this position of being Abraham’s son, rather than Isaac. He opens the chapter repeating, practically identically, something Abraham did, and then he ends up lost, unable to find somewhere to settle, until he returns back to the location of God’s promises, Beersheba.
It’s sometimes hard, when you’ve relied on someone else to lead you, to suddenly have to break out into your own path. God came to Isaac, though, while he was in that wandering mode, and in verse 23, God reminds Isaac that he is with Isaac, and that he will bless Isaac. So Isaac builds an altar, and calls on the name of the Lord – and things start to look up.
God’s always with us, we just need to remember that when we feel lost, and when we call on his name, he’ll help us.
One of my favourite songs, by a band I love called Kutless is a song called “Perspective,” the chorus of which says:
Why can’t you see
That freedom is sometimes just simply another perspective away?
Who could you be
If your lens was changed for a moment would you still be the same?
It’s really a powerful song, that points out that with many things in life, it’s how we look at them that determines how they affect our life and our circumstances.
The reason I bring this up, was from an event this afternoon. I was with some friends and we ended up going to visit the Botanic Gardens in Hobart – I love the Hobart Botanical Gardens, they’re beautiful. Anyway, as we’re driving up, it looks like it’s fairly busy (there was a wedding on, it turned out) and the car parks were fairly full at the top entrance. Anyway, just as we’re driving up, three cars are all pulling out of their car parks pretty much simultaneously. So we commented on how God had blessed us abundantly – with more than we actually needed!
Now you can say that that’s stupid, that it was just coincidence, you can say that God’s really not actually so deeply interested that he’s going to orchestrate the world to ensure that we not just had a car park, but had a choice of three! And you may or may not be right.
The point isn’t what happened, but what our perspective was. The immediate reaction in the car was to say thanks to God – and frankly, I don’t care if it’s stupid, coincidence, or overstating God’s involvement in our lives, because I’m glad to have been in a car with two other people, where all three of us had the first initial reaction to say, “Thanks, God, for blessing us!”
Perspective – it’s a single word that can change your entire world.
A couple of points out of this chapter, first of all, we really see that God fulfilled his promise to Abraham. The chapter opens with a part of the story that I’d forgotten about: Abraham had a second wife named Keturah. She gave birth to a handful of sons, and Ishmael also had a dozen sons.
Funnily enough, though, guess where all of Keturah’s sons and the nations who were born from them ended up going? East.
What I also find interesting is that Abraham’s death brings Isaac and Ishmael back together again. The death of their father gives them at least a temporary unity, in which they can bury their father alongside Sarah. Unfortunately, it didn’t really last – Ishmael’s sons lived in hostility toward all their brothers, apparently.
It’s sad, though, how as we grow older, families tend to grow apart. I’ve noticed it in my family, that get togethers have gotten less frequent as we’ve gotten older. Not so much with my siblings, but definitely with cousins and aunts and uncles, it seems to be getting closer to that situation where you only see your family at weddings and funerals! I’d prefer not to have that actually happen.
Jacob is sneaky and tricksy.
It’s odd, though, here’s another one of those stories where deception doesn’t seem to lead to anything bad happening, in fact, it’s almost like it was in God’s plan. God may not necessarily orchestrate deception or sin, but that doesn’t mean that he can’t make something beautiful out of it.
Jacob and Esau are both born, Esau first and Jacob second, but holding onto his brother’s heal. God told Rebekah that the older would serve the younger.
But I think the other point to remember is that Esau did choose to give up his birthright. I can imagine he’s been a bit melodramatic in this scene, if he was really on the edge of death. He was hungry, but really, I can imagine that if he’d been that hungry, there would have been other resources around. This family weren’t exactly struggling for resources. Remember how rich and powerful Abraham got? He left all of it to Isaac – there would have been other options there if Esau had really wanted them.
If something’s really important – it’s usually good to think before selling or trading it, and it’s good to make sure you’re getting a good deal. I wouldn’t really call a bowl of lentil stew a good deal.