Thursday, November 26, 2015

40 Old Testament Stories: Jacob's Dream

Well, first of all, Jacob should really have known better then to lay down to sleep at a place called Bethel.

What did he expect when he fell asleep at a place named "House of God" - that's what Bethel means in Hebrew.

But sure enough - in his dream he sees a ladder and hears the voice of God.

He promises Jacob that every family on earth will be blessed because of him and his descendants.

Of course, Jesus is one of those descendants.

Friday, November 20, 2015

40 Old Testament Stories: Isaac's death and blessing

So, did I mention that Jacob, aka Israel, the patriarch, the namesake of the nation of God's chosen people was not a very nice guy.

I'm sure that I did.

Here is another example.  He tricks his dying, elderly father out of the special blessing that was intended for his older brother.

Yeah, there is the role model you want.  This isn't a little deception either - and oh, by the way he's pushed by his mother to do it.

God doesn't require that we be good to be a part of his plan.  He requires that we eventually are willing to follow him.

That part is still coming for Jacob.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

40 Old Testament Stories: Jacob & Esau

If it makes you parents feel any better, sibling rivalry is not a new thing.

If it makes you children feel any better, parental favoritism is not a new thing either.

We have in this story a very human look at the patriarch.

Remember that Jacob will, later in the story, become Israel, he is the father of the twelve tribes of Israel.  He is the one who gives his name to the nation that inherits the promises of God.

Notice that he is not a really good guy in this story.  He holds his hungry brother basically hostage until he gives up his birth right (not that Esau comes of really well in the story either).

But the trickster and blackmailer is not, perhaps, what we might be looking for in the patriarch of God's chosen people.

I suspect that a part of the story of Jacob is to remind us that God can use anyone.  He can use us even if we aren't particularly nice people.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

40 Old Testament Stories Every Christian Should Know: The Binding of Isaac

The story in Genesis 22:1-19 is often called the Sacrifice of Isaac.  I prefer the term the binding of Isaac, because he wasn't actually sacrificed.

I have to say that I have always found this story rather horrible.

I understand that the point of the story is to show that Abraham was willing to trust God with the most valuable thing he had - his only son.  The son that he had waited for for years, the son that he believed would never come.  I get it.

I also get that it prefigures God sending and sacrificing his Son for us.

I still find the story rather horrible.  The idea that God would ask a parent to kill their own child is bad enough.  The idea that God would ask a parent to kill their own child and then when they are willing to do it, basically say "psyche! I didn't mean it" is cruel.  While I know that there are lots of times in the Bible when God seems cruel, this just doesn't seem like the God that I know.

An interesting note to this story is that in the Quran there is an identical story but with Ishmael as the son who is nearly sacrificed.