Old Testament: Genesis 31:17-32:12
Genesis 31:17-32:12 Mesopotamian Idols
Laban, Rachel’s father, is upset because Jacob and company fled before he, Laban, could throw them a party! Ha. I believe that a lot. Laban is really ticked because his “gods” are missing. I hate when that happens. Jacob tells him to go look through all his stuff if he wants. He didn’t know Rachel had taken them. Turns out Rachel is as good as anyone in the family business of deceit and says she’s very sorry but she can’t get up because of the time of the month (if you know what I mean). But she’s really sitting on the “gods.”
Jacob got mad at Laban for all his offenses so they made a pact not to strangle each other. They showed each other a “heep” of love and put up monuments.
Leaving Laban and going back to his own people, Jacob is afraid of his brother Esau, whom he cheated out of . . . well, everything. Good reason to be afraid. He sends his messengers out to let Esau know he is coming. But he is very afraid and asks God to protect him.
In Chapter 31:17-55, Jacob secretly absconded to avoid his uncle and crossed the Euphrates River (v. 21). Once he had crossed the river, Jacob headed for the hills, literally, toward Gilead. Gilead was a mountainous region east of the Euphrates. Rachel stole Laban’s household idols (v. 19). Who knows why. They were miniature images of female deities who maybe were suppose to help her fertility.
Laban caught up with them past the river and had been warned by God not to give Jacob a hard time (v. 24). Laban told Jacob he couldn’t understand why Jacob didn’t make an announcement so Laban could have thrown him a party (vv. 26 -28). Laban asked why Jacob had pilfered his gods (v. 30). Jacob said he didn’t know anything about the swiping of the gods. He actually didn’t know that Rachel had purloined them (v. 32b). He said he would kill whoever had done it (v. 32a).
Laban searched through all of Jacob’s stuff to try to find the idols but couldn’t. Rachel was sitting on top of them on her saddle and asked that Laban not have her get up since she was on her period (vv. 33-35). After the search, Jacob was peeved at Laban. He said he worked for him for twenty years and hadn’t cheated him though Laban had acted a bit below-board with him (vv. 36-41). Jacob said God was protecting him (v. 42).
Laban and Jacob made a covenant not to hurt each other and then we never heard from Uncle Laban in Mesopotamia again (vv. 43-55, cf. Gen. 48:7, Rachel was from Paddan Aram in Mesopotamia).
In Chapter 32:1-12, as Jacob continued on his way, he bumped in to some angels. So he named the place Mahanaim which meant two camps, that of his people and that of the angels (v. 2).
Jacob was afraid to bump into his old brother, Esau, for fear he’d harm him (cf. Gen. 27: 41 -42). He sent messengers out ahead of him to his brother, Esau (vv. 3 -8). They came back to tell Jacob that Esau was heading toward them with four hundred men (v. 6). Jacob prayed a humble prayer to God for protection (vv. 9 – 12).
New Testament: Matthew 10:24-11: 6
Jesus tells His disciples not to expect any more on earth than He has. They are not to fear for their lives or put their relatives before God. God cares for sparrows and He cares much more for them. He even knows how many hairs are on their heads (like Justin Bieber not just Bruce Willis).
Jesus promises that righteous people will receive their reward even if they’re just passing out cold water to children.
John the Baptist is in prison and asks to make sure if Jesus is really the Messiah. Jesus says He is and that He is doing miracles to prove it.
Matthew 10: 24-11:6 His Eye Is On The Sparrow
Jesus tells the disciples that they will be treated the same as He is being treated. They are calling Him Satan (vv. 24-25).
The disciples should not fear those who hate them (vv. 26-28). They should proclaim the gospel fearlessly (v. 27). Their Father is the one who holds the keys to Heaven and Hell (v. 28). He cares about tiny, little birds so He’s going to care a lot more about them (vv. 29-30).
Jesus will remember whoever is proud of Him, He’ll forget about whoever is ashamed of Him (vv. 32-33).
People will be divided about Christ. Even a person’s family can turn against him for being a Christian (vv. 34-36). But a person is not worthy of being a Christian if he doesn’t love Him more than anyone else, even family (v. 37). A person must be willing to carry death around with him all the time to really gain the deepest experience with Jesus (vv. 38 -39).
Whoever supports a true disciple of Christ will receive the same reward as “one of these little ones,” i.e., a disciple (vv. 40-42).
In chapter 11, John the Baptist, who was in prison, was confused about what was going on. He asked Jesus if He was truly the Messiah or if they should keep looking for Someone else (vv. 1-3). Jesus sent messengers to John to tell him that He was doing miracles and preaching the gospel that was predicted in the OT of the Messiah (vv. 4 -5, cf. Isa. 29:18). Those who weren’t offended by what He was doing would be blessed (v. 6, contrast later in the chapter, Matt. 11:20).
Psalm 13:1-6 How Long? A Psalm Of Trust By David
Psalm 13:1-6 How Long?
Here’s another “how long?” passage. I count over forty of them in psalms. I guess God knew we’d need them. I count over forty times the psalmist asked God, “how long?” OK, my software counted over 40 times the phrase was used. I think I’ve used that phrase with God over forty times myself.
David starts out by whining again. He thinks God has forgotten him (v. 1a). Don’t forget that Hebrew poetry is parallelism so he asks kind of the same thing in the next line when he wonders how long God will “hide” His face from him (v. 1b).
David feels like he can only talk to himself about his troubles (v. 2a). He thinks his enemy has gotten the best of him (v. 2c, 4). David pleads for God to help him before he gets snuffed (v.3b).
David affirms his trust in the Lord and in His hesed. Hesed is a really cool Hebrew term that means lovingkindness or God’s covenantal binding love. David is asking God to remember His pledge to him (v. 5).
Again, David starts by whining but ends up affirming, once again, his trust in Yahweh.
When you start out by whining, how do you finish your prayers?
How long does it take you? (Get it? How long?)
Take your time. God will wait for you.
Proverbs 3:16-18 Happy Feet
The “her” in v. 16 is Wisdom personified again as a woman. Hang with her and you’ll live longer (v. 16a). You’ll be more respected and have a more abundant life (“riches” v. 16b, cf. John 10:10).
If you seek God’s wisdom (remember Prov. 1:7 is the theme of the book?), you will have a much more peaceful life (v. 17). You’ll have more life by eating of her fruit (v. 18a).
You’ll have “happy feet” (v. 18b). Oops. I mean you’ll be happy because you’ll be holding “fast” to her. Well, yeah, you’ll have “happy feet.”
Choose Life: Scripture: Matthew 10:31 NASB “His Eye Is On The Sparrow”
“So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:31
There is a popular spiritual called “His Eye Is On The Sparrow.” It was written by a couple of white people in 1905 though the best known version is sung by Ethel Waters (not Ethel Merman!) and was the title of her autobiography. The song was inspired by a trip to Elmira, New York by the lyricist, Civilla D. Martin. She and her husband befriended a Christian couple there. The husband had been bedridden for twenty years but then was able to transport himself to work by wheelchair. They were able to maintain their joy despite their afflictions. The lyricist wanted to know how they could do it. The wife replied, “His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.” That became the main lyric of the song.
Do you realize that God loves you much more than sparrows that He provides for every day (cf. Matt. 6:26)? Two of them sold for one sixteenth of a poor person’s daily wage. And that’s for two of them! Not one falls to the ground without God knowing about it. Jesus said we are worth much more than that to Him!
How are you feeling about your relationship with God today? Do you realize how much He loves you (cf. 1 John. 4:8, 16)? Can you start contemplating how much more you’re worth to Him than a sparrow?
If you can, you will find that you are choosing life (Deut. 30:19)!
Are you feeling down today? Recount how many things God has provided for you. “Count Your Blessings” is the name of another hymn. It goes on to exhort us to “name them one by one”!
Here is the first stanza,
“When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.”
Can someone tell me why we don’t sing hymns anymore?
Can you name your many blessings today?
Can you name them “one by one”?
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: Mesopotamian Idols