The Journey reading is about to turn the page on one of the most colorful families in scripture – the Isaac & Rebekah clan. The picture of them learning to follow God in spite of flawed character, foolish decisions and uneven faith gives the rest of us normal people hope.
There are literally hundreds of lessons we can glean from their stories, but I just want to briefly share one from each of our chapters for this week.
Genesis 33 – Forgiveness is a Beautiful Thing (or Bury the Hatchet, but not in Your Enemy’s Head)
When Esau and Jacob parted ways several years earlier, they did so in great anger and bitterness. Though time does not heal all wounds, it did seem to heal this one. When the brothers met again, they both demonstrated tremendous grace and humility which no doubt aided in their reconciliation. Relationships are precious jewels that should not be discarded lightly. Follow Paul’s admonition to do all that you can live at peace with all people (Romans 12:18).
Genesis 34 – Character Counts (or I Can’t Hear What You’re Saying because I’m Watching What You are Doing)
Through the years Jacob had lived up to the meaning of his name – “deceiver” – in his dealings with people. Now his sons were following his lead. As the saying goes, “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” While everyone is personally accountable for the choices they make, we are accountable for the examples we provide. As parents (or just as people whom others observe), we have to take seriously our responsibility to live our lives in such a way that it clearly points them to God (Matthew 5:16 and I Timothy 4:12).
Genesis 35 – What’s in a Name? (or Your Past Doesn’t Have to be Your Destiny)
Yes, Jacob lived a deceitful life. But on that journey he came to know the God who had remained faithful to him even when he was unfaithful to God (35:3). Jacob became a worshipper of God whose shifted allegiance deeply impacted everyone around him (35:4-7). God changed Jacob’s name to Israel (which means “God fights”) to demonstrate how the redemptive power of God’s unconditional love can transform a life. Your life will be changed if you learn to relax in God’s love and accept his grace.
Genesis 36 – Don’t be Unequally Yoked (or A Happy Wife Doesn’t Guarantee a Happy Life)
Esau initially married women outside of God’s covenant in order to make his parent’s angry (Gen. 26:34-35). But when he continued this practice, it demonstrated that he cared little about the covenant that God had made with his family. The result was that while Esau came from a Godly lineage (Abraham and Jacob), his own lineage shows no sign of attempting to continue down that path. Of the 81 names listed in ch. 36, only 2 reflect any hint of a belief in God. In fact, his descendants become mortal enemies of the nation of Israel. Choose well and wisely the one to whom you hitch your life’s wagon because it will have long term implications.