You are two weeks into our Great Adventure-congratulations! I hope you are learning as much as I am. Every year when I go through my OYB (a practice I hope you'll adopt), I'm amazed at all the new things God teaches me and opens my eyes to in His Word! For instance, can you believe how much Jesus appears even in the first half of Genesis? We learned that in the Hebrew text He appears as the Alpha and Omega in the first sentence of the Bible. From John chapter 1 (and other passages), we discover that Jesus is also the light, the Word, and one of the co-Creators of Genesis chapter one as well. Several times in the first few days, Jesus appears as part of the triune deity when God uses the words, "us" and "we." We saw Melchizedek the Christ type (maybe even Christ) offering the first communion to Abraham. We saw Isaac as another Christ type, carrying the wood on his back to be the actor in a live drama about the coming sacrifice of Messiah. We also noted from Adam to Noah, the declaration of Messiah was present through the combination of their names. Really, there are so many references to Jesus Christ in Genesis, and we aren't even finished discovering them yet.
We have so many exciting readings coming up, so don't let up. God has many treasures and surprising (or not so surprising) truths about human nature to reveal to you in the days to come. For today, we discover that "junior high girl mentality" and sex slavery can be traced all the way back to Genesis!
30:16 "You must come and sleep with me tonight!" [Leah] said. "I have paid for you with some mandrakes that my son found." The behavior of these women is so pathetic and ludicrous; it almost makes me embarrassed to be associated with the female species! I suppose in their culture, having children to carry on a name and a legacy was everything. Still...gosh! The only person happy about the arrangement was probably Jacob who had plenty of variety in his nightly diet. But can you imagine the continuous strife and petty jealousy among all those women? Add in monthly mood cycles and I'll bet Jacob was ready for Prozac (or a monastery).
Genesis 30:37 Commentary on Jacob's speckled lambs: How did this method work? It is possible Jacob knew more about animal husbandry than we do today; but it is more likely Jacob did the best he knew, and God blessed it. The Hebrew translation of verse 43 says, "The man burst out exceedingly exceedingly." God really blessed Jacob, but why? Because of how great or good Jacob was? No. It was because of the promises God made to Jacob (Genesis 28:13-15) and the covenant made to Abraham. In the same way, blessing comes from the Lord to us, not because we are great or good, but because of the covenant God has made with us through Jesus, and promises He has given us in His word.
31:6,7,12 You know how hard I have worked for your father, but he has cheated me, changing my wages ten times. But God has not allowed him to do me any harm..."The angel said, ‘Look up, and you will see that only the streaked, speckled, and spotted males are mating with the females of your flock. For I have seen how Laban has treated you. Even when man plans evil or has wrong intent toward us, the Lord's will prevails for our good. This is a repeated theme throughout the Bible. We must remember, even when others are mistreating us, they have no real power over us. God may allow it for a season, but He sees what is going on. If we wait on Him He will always turn our circumstances into good somehow, and He will certainly grow our character through it. Laban's mistreatment of Jacob eventually helped Jacob become a wealthy, independent shepherd so he could return to his home.
10:5-6 "Don't go to the Gentiles or the Samaritans, but only to the people of Israel-God's lost sheep. Jesus' ministry was specifically to the Jewish people, not the non-Jews (Gentiles). Non-Jewish ministry did not come until after His death. However, throughout the Old Testament, God did offer salvation to the non-Jewish nations, so they were never excluded from His plan of redemption. I wasn't sure about this verse, so I asked my Messianic Jewish friend, Mark Biltz over at El Shaddai Ministries. He pointed me to the following verses:
Matt. 15:24 Then he said to the woman, "I was sent only to help the people of Israel-God's lost sheep-not the Gentiles."
Jer. 50:6-7 "My people have been lost sheep. Their shepherds have led them astray and turned them loose in the mountains. They have lost their way and cannot remember how to get back to the fold. All who found them devoured them. Their enemies said, 'We are allowed to attack them freely, for they have sinned against the LORD, their place of rest, the hope of their ancestors.'" (Also read Ezekiel 34:7-12.)
Says Mark, "Jesus was fulfilling His mission. He knew His disciples would later bring in the Gentiles. But you have to lay the foundation first."
8: Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons. Give as freely as you have received! Recently I asked one of my earthly spiritual heroes, M.A. Thomas of India (the Papa to thousands of orphans worldwide), if he thought healing was a special gift only reserved for a few. He quoted this verse where we are commanded to do this regardless of gifting, and told me how his church in India holds healing services weekly now, and they are seeing so many miracles. I realized that the reason we don't see more of these miracles is because we're not asking or holding healing services.
A very cool thing happened to me while I was in India in September, testing out Papa's suggestion for healing prayer. One of the orphan girls who helps in the kitchen in Papa's home got a high fever. I saw her lying on a couch and went over to give her medicine and a cool rag, and to pray for her. I asked God to heal her, and instantly, her fever broke, and she was completely recovered. It was such a holy moment for me, being a physical mom and a spiritual mom in a moment of need, allowing God to heal her through my prayer.
On another side of the prism, think of it this way. Whenever we share our faith and bring people into God's kingdom, we bring healing to their spiritual sickness, we raise the spiritually dead back to life, we give sight to the spiritually blind, and we open the ears of the spiritually deaf. Don't get me wrong, Jesus does this through us and it's not of ourselves. But these are even greater miracles than any physical healing. Let us never forget what power we have in Christ!
Questions for personal reflection:
Think of a time in your life when someone had control over you and it seemed they used it to take advantage or hurt you. How did it end up? If you are still in it, how are you responding to the situation? Do you believe that God sees and can bring good out of it?
Does it bother you that Jesus came first to the Jews and not to us? Why or why not?
When was the last time you prayed over a person who needed healing? Would you be willing to make this a regular practice of life?
Do you see any themes God has interwoven throughout the Bible so far, tying both Old Testament and New Testament together? If so, what?