The Jewish and Arab cultures have an intertwined history that goes all the way back to Abraham. It is one of the classic confrontational relationships in human history. As you read Genesis we are reminded that “there is nothing new under the sun.” Real people living everyday lives and making choices to honor or reject the authority of the Living God.
“Then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven, and He overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. But his wife, from behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.”
What is the main thing that this story is amplifying for our faith? Why was Lot’s wife treated so harshly? In what was is this story a metaphor for all human conflict?
God heard the lad crying; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter with you, Hagar? Do not fear, for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is. “Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him by the hand, for I will make a great nation of him.” Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water; and she went and filled the skin with water and gave the lad a drink.
It is easy to forget that God has the ability to connect with billions of people at one time. When You live outside of time, different rules expand God-connections. Incredible to think about! Also interesting how water stories pop up throughout the God Story.
But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”
It is hard to imagine this situation. How could God ask this of any man? Abraham appears to be resigned to his and Isaac’s fate. Try to imagine his feelings as he hears God’s Voice of intervention!
Now all the wells which his father’s servants had dug in the days of Abraham his father, the Philistines stopped up by filling them with earth. Then Abimelech said to Isaac, “Go away from us, for you are too powerful for us.” And Isaac departed from there and camped in the valley of Gerar, and settled there.
Throughout the God Story adverse and imperfect events propel God’s guidance in our lives. What seemingly impossible situations have you experienced that have been turned around? As you think about your personal story where do you feel you have seen God’s hand moving?
When Esau heard the words of his father, he cried out with an exceedingly great and bitter cry, and said to his father, “Bless me, even me also, O my father!” And he said, “Your brother came deceitfully and has taken away your blessing.”
It is brutal as you listen to Esau’s pain. In what ways do you feel blessing has be stolen from you? That you have stolen from another? Why is receiving a blessing such a huge thing for the human soul?
Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When he saw that he had not prevailed against him, he touched the socket of his thigh; so the socket of Jacob’s thigh was dislocated while he wrestled with him. Then he said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking.” But he said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
So he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” He said, “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.”
This is an awesome story. What if Jacob hadn’t prevailed? How does this angel-fighting thing work anyway? What is best, a passive or engaged approach to living? Be careful which parts you have for dinner!
God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; You shall no longer be called Jacob, But Israel shall be your name.” So He called him Israel. God also said to him, “I am God Almighty; Be fruitful and multiply; A nation and a company of nations shall come from you, And kings shall come forth from you. “The land which I gave to Abraham and Isaac, I will give it to you, And I will give the land to your descendants after you.”
Jacob will father 12 sons who will be the patriarchs of the twelve tribes of Israel. God is always concerned with the bigger picture. He is way down the road from us – perhaps because He is unbound by time!