Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Genesis 34 - 37

We see in Genesis 34 that Dinah the daughter of Jacob is raped by Shechem and we read that Simeon and Levi who are her brothers (Leah is their mother). They are outraged by this incident and plot against the city of in which Shechem lives. Shechem wants to marry Dinah and Simeon and Levi tell him that they cannot marry anyone who is not circumcised. If they will become as they are circumcised then they will be willing to stay and marry with them. The city agrees and all the men get circumcised and while they are sore and resting from this experience Simeon and Levi come in and kill all the men. They killed all the men and took Dinah back, and they plundered the town and took all the livestock, all their wealth, all the wives and their children, they captured and plundered. It seems that this incident is told so that we could see this as a sad commentary on Jacob's spiritual leadership. God intended to bring into being the offspring promised to Abraham and those who God is choosing are to worship the true God, not the gods of the people who are around them. For in the next chapter God comes to Jacob and tells him to go to Bethel, Jacob tells all those who are with him to put away all their foreign gods and to purify themselves and go to Bethel to make an altar to the God who answered him in the day of his distress and has been with him wherever he has gone. The people gave to Jacob all the foreign gods and rings they ha and Jacob buried them at Shechem. The Bible states that the terror from God fell upon the cities that were around them as they journeyed. so that they did not pursue Jacob and his families. This is necessary now for Jacob and his families reputation has changed from being peaceful shepherds to murderous warrior, thanks to the incident involving Shechem. God continues to show up when it seems that His plan and purpose are in jeopardy. We see here that God changes Jacobs name to Israel and He again reinforces His promise to Abraham - He tells him that He is God Almighty and He He will give the land to his offspring. We also see at this time Rachel, Jacobs wife and his father, Isaac die. The next chapter 36, tells of the story of Esau's descendants, we see that that they becomes kingdoms and they will become some of the chief enemies of Israel the nation as it comes into the promised land. Chapter 37 begins the story of Joseph as he moves into center stage as God continues to move His plan and purposes forward, in spite of the sinfulness of His people. We will look at Joseph in our next study.

I want to look at the promise of God made to Abraham in a little more detail as it is brought out more fully in the book of Galatians. I would encourage everyone to read the third chapter of Galatians it is there that the purposes of the Law of God are given. It is here where the promise made to Abraham are explained in more detail. Galatians 3:7 "Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. Verse eight: And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, "In you shall all the nations be blessed." and verse nine,So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.  God carried out His purposes by making promises to Abraham and continuing them through Abraham's sons, and we see that it was not just Abraham's physical sons, that God is talking about, but those that have been given faith to believe God just as Abraham. It was God's purpose to not just save the physical descendants of Abraham but His purpose all along with to save people from every tongues, tribe and nation. All this is possible because we see in verse 16: Now the promises were made to Abraham and his offspring. It does not say, "And to offspring's," referring to many, but referring to one, "And to your offspring," who is Christ. The Promises of God were made finally to Christ. In the end God was not relying on just man to bring to pass His purposes, He made the promise to Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ would not fail, would not falter, The promises and purposes of God were guaranteed to come to pass because God cannot fail. The offspring is Jesus Christ. And in the fullness of time Christ came. Verse that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. Verse 26-29: For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise. Now that is amazing - God is telling us that if we are Christs we are heirs - our union with Christ makes us heirs - God made the promises to Christ ultimately - and God is counting us in Christ and therefore heirs of the promise. When we read the story of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and now moving to Joseph we are reading about how God is moving on the behalf of His elect, how He is ensuring our day of salvation and how He is working so that we enter that promised rest - into that city made without the hands of man - the city that Abraham, and Isaac and Jacob and multitudes of others who did not gain the promise while here on earth but having died in faith have entered into that rest, that city made without hands.


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