Today's Reading: Genesis 32-34
Man, O Man! If I ever wanted to read something on how NOT to live with others, I would probably read today's reading. The heroes of the story in these passages are not the "chosen," "followers" of YHWH. They are the unbelievers and the ones that are on the "B team," who previously were "benched" from the game.
First, we have Jacob (the starting quarterback) who is returning to his homeland to face his brother Esau whom he cheated and deceived. I'm impressed with his fear, but most of his prayer seems self serving. (PERSONAL FOUL!)
Then Jacob does something that I think seems downright cowardly. He knows 400 of his brother's men are coming to meet him. Instead of taking the lead and meeting his brother face to face, he cushions his possible blow using his servants and cattle as a shield. He, then, sends his least favorite wife in front of his favorite one. At least at this point he has the guts to go just ahead of them, but honestly, he admits that he puts himself in the rear so he and his wives and children can run if there is a massacre! (UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT!)
I am impressed with Esau, though. It seems the years have made him the wiser man. He's less hot tempered. He's more generous. He's the one who greets his cheating brother with acceptance, forgiveness and weeping. Good for him! Esau's attitude and God's work in his life on behalf of Jacob (now Israel) opens the door for reconciliation and peace. (50 YARD GAIN!)
But, Jacob/Israel's sin has been passed on to his children.
Granted, a rape is a rape...kind of a hard thing to just "dismiss." But to deceive someone who has honestly tried to reconcile by saying, "If you do such and such, we will be able to be friends," and then to absolutely annihilate this contender while they are weak---this is not honorable in my understanding. I would be ashamed to have such things written about me. (What's the foul for being overly rough?)
I am also disappointed in Jacob's response to his sons. He is not concerned about his raped daughter; we see nothing about him comforting her or defending her himself. And he only enters the picture when he feels his own honor is being threatened. He doesn't chastise his sons for their violence, but instead for making trouble for himself. (BOO--ooooo!)
The lesson I am taking away from this passage is this: M., Disciple of Christ, just because you are saved by grace and have the promise of eternity, don't cheat or cheapen that grace by living in such a displeasing manner as to mock God's gift. Don't run to the altar to be saved or forgiven with no intention of being transformed. God forbid!
Embrace the new life with integrity! Learn to be a natural when it comes to forgiveness and reconciliation. Learn humility. Learn true repentance. And never, ever, ever hold a grudge. (GET IN THE GAME!)
And M., whatever you do, don't deceive and spread violence after violence. There is wisdom in the saying, "Never return evil for evil, but return good." If you're going to proclaim to the angels, "This is God's camp (32:1)," if you're going to say to the world, "I'm a disciple of Jesus Christ," your actions best fit your proclamation.
By the grace of God and the transformation by God's word at work in our hearts, may this be so.