Old Testament: Genesis 28:1-29:35
Genesis 28:1-29:35 Switched At Marriage
Jacob had a dream about a ladder going to heaven with angels going up and down on it. This is the origin of two famous songs, “We are climbing Jacob’s ladder” and possibly “Stairway to Heaven.”
Meanwhile, back at the ranch at Laban’s place, Jacob falls in love with the beautiful Rachel. He agrees to work for her father Laban seven years for her. He gets outsmarted by his Uncle Laban who somehow gets away with switching Leah into Jacob’s marriage bed instead. Then he gets another seven years’ work out of Jacob for Rachel. Talk about dysfunctional.
In Chapter 28, Jacob left home to find a wife amongst his Uncle Laban’s daughters (vv. 1-5). In contrast, Esau found a third wife but still married outside of the covenantal line of Abraham. He married his cousin from the line of Ishmael (vv. 6-9).
Jacob had a dream about a ladder going to heaven with angels going up and down on it. Kids used to sing a song in Sunday School with the lyrics, “we are climbing Jacob’s ladder.” It comes from this passage. BTW, “Stairway to Heaven,” has nothing to do with this passage.
The message from Jacob’s dream was that God was going to protect him (vv. 10-15). He was also going to bless him through the agreement he made with his father, Abraham. Jacob marked the spot where he had the dream and worshipped there (vv. 16-19). He set up a pillar and poured oil over it, symbolic of the Holy Spirit (v. 18). He called the place Bethel which means “house of God” (v. 19).
Jacob, “the cheater,” tried to make a deal with God (vv. 20-22). Jacob vowed to give God ten percent back of all that God gave Him if God would protect him and give him clothes and food till he got back to his people. Commonly, we call this a bribe. This is not an argument for tithing since tithing under the Mosaic system was not a bribe and was actually 23 1/3 per cent that the Jews gave for the support of the Levirate worship system (see blog A Tithy Over Tithing).
Meanwhile, back at the ranch at Laban’s place, in Chapter 29, Jacob fell in love with the beautiful Rachel. He agrees to work for her father Laban seven years for her. But, alas, the deceiver gets deceived by Laban who supplants Rachel with the appearance-challenged Leah and gets another seven years’ work out of Jacob for Rachel. Now who’s the “trickster?” This did not make for good family relations.
Since Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah, Yahweh favored her at first by giving her four sons, Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah (vv. 31-35).
New Testament: Matthew 9:18-38
A woman touches the edge of Jesus’ robe and is healed. A ruler came to Jesus to ask Him to heal his daughter. He went to see her and said she was only sleeping. Everyone thought that was very funny. He pulled her up and she was fine. They didn’t think it was so funny anymore.
He healed a couple blind men and told them to shut up about it but they didn’t.
He healed a man who couldn’t talk because he was demon-possessed. Jesus cast out the demons releasing his mute button. The religious leaders said He did it by the power of Satan. You just can’t please people sometimes.
Jesus said there was a big harvest to be collected and that people should pray laborers out to harvest the large amount of crops. We don’t have that problem anymore . . . hey . . . wait . . .
Matthew 9:18-38 Funny? How Am I Funny?
A Jewish synagogue official approached Jesus to have Him raise his daughter from the dead (v. 18a). He expressed faith by asking Jesus to just lay His hand on her (v. 18b). Jesus began to follow the man to his home along with the disciples (v. 19). He was interrupted by a woman who had had bleeding issues for twelve years (v. 20). She thought if she could just touch His cloak that her bleeding would stop (v. 21). She must have been thinking very loudly because Jesus must’ve heard her. He turned around and said to her that her faith had healed her and at that very moment, it did (v. 22).
Back to the synagogue official, Jesus arrived at his house and there were a bunch of noisy flutists playing funeral dirges there (v. 23). Jesus kicked them out, saying that the official’s daughter hadn’t died but was just sleeping (v. 24). They thought He was being very funny. Had he been Joe Pesci, He would have said, “How am I funny?” Instead, He just kicked them out. He took the girl by the hand and she got up (v. 25). It didn’t take a modern newscast for the news of this to spread all around (v. 26).
Then there were two blind men walking down the street shouting, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!” (v. 27). He went into a house and the blind men approached Him. He asked if they really thought He could heal them and they answered in the affirmative (v. 28). So He touched their eyes and told them that He would heal them according to their faith (v. 29). Then they could see! He told them in no certain terms no to tell anybody what had happened (v. 30). There were already too many people coming to see Him and making it hard for Him to get His work done. They went out and told everybody anyway (v. 31).
As the blind men were leaving, a demon-possessed man was brought in who couldn’t speak (v. 32). Jesus tossed the demon out and then the man was able to speak. No one had ever seen anything like that in Israel (v. 33). Of course, the religious leaders dissented saying that Jesus was only able to throw demons around because He was one of them Himself (v. 34). He thought He might even have been doing His work through Satan himself (v. 34).
The reason Jesus was hearing and casting out demons was not so people could lead a happier life. He was actually doing it to prove that His teaching was from God (v. 35). He wanted the Jews to accept His coming Kingdom. He was mainly concerned about the spirituality of the people more than their physical diseases (v. 36).
There are people today that go to church for what they can get out of it. That would be fine if what they wanted was to have a deeper relationship with the Lord but, too often, they only want to meet clients or girlfriends, be healed, or have people who will bring them meals when they are sick. The purpose of church is to teach about God and bring others to the Lord. Pot luck dinners and enjoyable music is a sidelight. Jesus said that He didn’t have enough workers (v. 37). He still doesn’t (v. 38). Imagine if people went to church to serve rather than be served (cf. Jesus’ mission in Mark 10:45).
Psalm 11:1-7 Target On Your Back? A Psalm Of Trust By David
Psalm 11:1-7 Target On Your Back?
Ps. 55: 6 says, ” . . . Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest.” Here, in Psalm 11, David exhorts the righteous to flee like a bird (v. 1). But first he states that he is taking refuge in the Lord (v. 1). That’s because it is a psalm of trust. Did you know you can take flight and take refuge at the same time?
David will again vent a little bit and then end up trusting the Lord at the end . . . again.
David said that the wicked are out hunting for the righteous (“upright in heart,” v. 2; “righteous,” v. 3). The “righteous” are the ones trusting the Lord. Remember Abraham was counted as righteous because he trusted the Lord (cf. Rom. 4:9; Gen. 15:6). Since Cain and Abel the wicked have been hunting down the righteous.
David could have written this at several points in his life. He had been chased by Saul or when he was chased by his own son, Absalom (cf. 1 Sam. 18-31; 2 Sam. 15-18). He had a target on his back. Christians who are “upright in heart” and “righteous” in Christ will have a target on their back.
We used to sing verse 4 as a song in our church. “The Lord is in His holy temple.” Years ago when I was trying to get from Atlanta to Dallas to seminary, Charles Stanley, pastor of First Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, would see me in the hallway and ask me how things were going. They usually were not going very well. He would listen to my report and then say, “God is still on His throne.” I was like, “Whaaaa?” I didn’t say that but I thought it. I knew God was on His throne. He was telling me that things were not getting away from Almighty God. He was right. We should always realize that no matter how bad things get, God is still on His throne.
That doesn’t mean that believers won’t have hardships. They will. God allows them to be “tested” (v. 5). He tests both the “wicked” and the “righteous.” He favors the righteous, though. Which is a good thing. In fact, He hates the “wicked” who love violence (v. 5). He rains down “coals of fire”* on them and brimstone and really, really bad weather like burning winds (v. 6).
Here’s the positive finish, as usual: God is righteous, loves righteousness, and the righteous are going to see Him up close and personal (v. 7). David always ends on a positive note. Are you?
* NASB margin
Proverbs 3:11-12 A Personal Trainer
This verse is quoted in Hebrews 12:5-6. That’s because it’s pretty important. I asked a friend of mine who was a prosperity preacher what he did with portions of the Bible that said we would suffer. He really didn’t have an answer. How could you?
These verses say that God will discipline us. Some people pay a lot of money to have a “personal trainer” to get them in shape. Do you know what personal trainers do? They force you to be disciplined!
We don’t have to ask God to discipline us. He already does (v. 11). Because He loves us (v. 12). We aren’t supposed to “loathe” his discipline (v. 11b).
You’re not loathing, are you?
Choose Life: Scripture: Matthew 9:28 NASB “Open Your Eyes”
“When He entered the house, the blind men came up to Him, and Jesus said to them, ‘Do you believe that I am able to do this?’ They said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord.’” Matthew 9:28
Physical blindness is symbolic of spiritual blindness. We all come into the world spiritually blind. Some of us will leave being able to see spiritually.
Some of us are not willing to change. The blind men would have quite different lives being able to see when they couldn’t have previously. Can you imagine being blind and then being able to see?
The same is true when we can’t see or understand spiritual things. Our lives are completely changed when we can see spiritually. Jesus asked the blind men if they believed that He could heal their eyes. They said they did believe. They knew only God could heal their eyes. They knew only God could have “mercy” on them (v. 27). They also knew He was the Messiah, “the Son of David,” (v. 27) who was the Promised One.
Are you willing to have your spiritual blindness healed? If you have never trusted Christ, you will have a new life (cf. 2 Cor. 5:17; see also the story of the blind man in John 9:1-41). If you have trusted Christ, you still need to ask Christ to open your eyes so you can be closer to Him.
Are you ready for that kind of a change? Trust Him to keep opening your eyes.
And if you do, you will find that you are choosing life (Deut. 30:19)!
I have taken numerous class in Greek, Hebrew, Bible surveys and exegesis. But here’s probably the most important thing you can do before you read Scripture. Ask God to open your eyes so you can see what He has for you (cf. 1 John 2:27 ). I did this years before I went to school and it’s still the most important thing to do when trying to learn the Bible.
Try asking God to show you what He wants you to see before you read the Word today.
You’ll be blessed.
The purpose of Choose Life is to pick a positive help out of the One Year Bible (OYB) reading plan for the day. There is always something positive in the Word of God to cheer us and give us strength. For more on today’s reading, check out my One Year Bible blog: Funny How?