I Don’t Get It!

I DON’T GET IT!

And all who went out of the gate of his city listened to Hamor and his son Shechem, and every male was circumcised, all who went out of the gate of his city. On the third day, when they were sore, two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, took their swords and came against the city while it felt secure and killed all the males.   Genesis 34:24-25

I’d love your feedback. Tomorrow I’m going to post our collective responses to my question today. This is a first! I’ve been thinking about this story off and on all night so here’s my question being posed to you.

How can Simeon and Levi, two sons of Jacob with no history of violence, so easily go in and kill hundreds of men in a weakened condition? They broke their covenant vow with them, then murdered them in cold blood. Does the need for revenge – for raping their sister, Dinah – really fuel such a rage? I would think that any man or woman would have to work their way up to mass murder. They must have killed before on a smaller scale to do this so easily but I don’t see evidence of it.

As I write this, the city of Ferguson, Missouri is rioting. A community that has no history of violence is suddenly filling the streets. It is in response to the reported ‘cold blooded killing’ of a young black man. Is this similar?

I look forward to your insights! Where will you comment? Here on our comment page.  Or, on our facebook page. I will also pose the question there – and you can ask our Father about it. See what wisdom we hear, and then share.

www.facebook.com/daughtersofpromise

Lord, show us something about Simeon and Levi, something about human nature, something about ourselves, that we need to know. Amen

 

The Nature of Exegetical Teaching

THE NATURE OF EXEGETICAL TEACHING

Exegetical teaching is one where the teacher takes a passage of scripture and teaches it verse by verse.  There are two ways to do this.  1.) From a scholarly point of view and, 2.) From a scholarly point of view with an equal emphasis on personal application. Continue reading “The Nature of Exegetical Teaching”

What God Considers Treacherous

WHAT GOD CONSIDERS TREACHEROUS

And all who went out of the gate of his city listened to Hamor and his son Shechem, and every male was circumcised, all who went out of the gate of his city. Genesis 24:34

         Dinah has been raped by the son of the king of Shechem. Her brothers, the sons of Jacob, are bent on revenge. Their plan is to somehow compromise the physical strength of the viral men of Shechem so that they will have opportunity to do them harm without risking their own lives. The plot? To feign a treaty, to suggest that all the men of Shechem be circumcised, leading them to believe that both tribes will share the sacred rite of brotherhood. Commercially, both will benefit. Circumcision, the sign of the covenant between Jewish people and their God, was used as a weapon of treachery.

         To understand how serious this is, think of it this way. You invite a certain person to share communion with you on Sunday and after the service, you take advantage of his proximity to kill him. Shocking to think of it this way.

         There are lesser acts of treachery too; praying with someone to learn their secrets, buttering up the pastor for personal gain, marrying someone for money, and making a promise with your fingers crossed behind your back.

         Simeon and Levi were the two sons of Jacob that masterminded this scheme. Later, when Jacob gave his final blessing to his sons, each was given land as an inheritance. All except Simeon and Levi. Jacob could not forget what was in the heart of his sons. Rightly so – for these two brothers went on to plot unthinkable things against their own brother, Joseph. They seized him, considered murdering him, but instead, sold him into slavery. They dipped his clothes in the blood of an animal and proceeded to massacre the heart of their father by saying that a wild beast had killed him.

         When I perpetrate or even take part in deceitful acts, even small ones, they corrupt my heart. My response to wrongdoing is deadened. The next time around, it will be easier to sin. I will not be in touch with the regression either. Not until it’s too late.

         What is being done in the name of Jesus that God would consider treacherous? Where, in the name of God, am I manipulating others and justifying it?

Don’t let me read the stories in scripture, be shocked by their evil, and fail to see my own sin. Let the stories in Your Word be my teacher, Lord. Amen

Spirit-Possession

SPIRIT-POSSESSION

And God said to Abraham, “As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations.  Genesis 17:9

         I woke up very early this morning praying for each family member, that in each part of this day, their trust and faith in God would not fail.  I prayed that their hearts would be ruled by peace, not anxiety.  I asked for His Spirit to rise up strong in each of them, giving them direction, stability, and endurance.  One might ask if anything is particularly wrong – that this mother would wake up early and pray like this.  The answer is no.  Not really.  Yet, there are spiritual challenges just because life here is imperfect and every day brings spiritual struggles.

         In every part of Abraham’s blessing, his offspring was mentioned and included.  So it is with God’s promises to every child of the kingdom.  What good is it if I trust Christ and keep my faith to myself?  I must do all I can to love Jesus well while loving my family.  The decisions I make today have an outcome yet to be seen.  Every important decision reaps results within my family a hundred years from now.

         As God spoke to Abraham about the covenant He was making with him, Abraham fell on his face.  It was more favor than he could take in.  The love of God is like that.  It comes with promises that sound too good to be true.  Humility and awe are expressed on our knees.  And here’s the thing ~ He doesn’t lay the burden of the future of our family on us without promising the resources to help us get there.  The treasury of heaven is at our disposal and the Spirit of the very God who makes the promises lives inside of us.  When our hearts and bodies fail, we can rely on Spirit-possession to take over.   Who else that we serve today will be so kind!

         In the next 24 hours, I will be required to do a dozen things.  Those who ask, though they love me, will not empower me to do the job.  I will have to harness the internal resources to rise to the task.  Some think the same is true of God.  Every command in scripture causes them to strive.  Many then resent Him for being unreasonable.  Oh, for a paradigm correction.  What God requires, He enables on eagle’s wings.  Nothing is too hard when the wind of God’s Spirit propels our family forward – singing all the way.

Yes, I’m in covenant with You.  Yes, I pray for my offspring.  But You carry them on this day as I lift them to You.  No one is too heavy for me for they are not in my arms, but Yours.  Amen

But He Loves Her!

BUT HE LOVES HER!

But Hamor spoke with them, saying, “The soul of my son Shechem longs for your daughter. Please give her to him to be his wife. Genesis 34:8

            How many times has sin been excused because of a love professed? Affairs are condoned because someone cried, “But I found my true soul mate.” A couple whom should never marry do so anyway because they insist that they love each other. Proclamations of love seem to provide valid excuses for most anything.

            For Hamor, the king of Shechem, the matter is pretty uncomplicated. His son loves Dinah, got carried away and raped her, and now wants to marry her to make it right. What is the problem? The mindset of the ungodly is simplistic. They follow their passions.

            For Jacob and his family, the matter is much more complicated. God wants a pure bloodline for the coming Messiah. He’s told them not to intermarry. To act honorably, Jacob’s family should honor the promise that they made to God and turn down the marriage offer. Instead, revenge will color their judgment and they will disgrace the sacred rite of circumcision.

            Is there a sin in my life that I excuse because doing it makes me feel happy? Or it brings needed funds? Or it brings me peace? Or helps me cope?   To honor my marriage vows to God, I will enter seasons of discomfort. I must ask for the grace to live through them. God promises grace, after all. I’m never allowed to take a vacation from God’s ways just because things got hard and doing something else makes me feel better. When the only way of escape is contrary to God’s way, I can be sure that God will make another way.

How well I remember my bad choices because I felt ‘I couldn’t take it anymore.’ Thank you for the suffering that increased my spiritual stamina. Give me the grace to never take sinful detours again. Amen

Question: Have you ever taken the easy way out because you followed your heart? Perhaps your relationship with God has been distant ever since. Go back to where you lost your intimacy and make things right today.

Taking Responsibility Too Far

TAKING RESPONSIBILITY TOO FAR

And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, the prince of the land, saw her, he seized her and lay with her and humiliated her. Genesis 34:2

            How much responsibility did Dinah assume for the rape she suffered? Probably a lot. Maybe she embraced all of it. After all, if she hadn’t given in to her curiosity to explore Shechem, she wouldn’t have been there to be preyed upon. It was probably hard to separate her part – and the predator’s part. She may have been in the wrong place but she didn’t go there to engage in sexual behavior. The idea of a violent rape was the man’s idea, not hers. In eternal realms, God held him responsible for it.

            It is human nature to go to extremes when dealing with responsibility. Either I’m not willing to assume any, believing that everyone else is to blame, or I take every ounce of the blame.

            I’m 60 years old. I’ve made a lot of alliances over the course of my life. Some friendships have been seasonal and significant to my spiritual journey. Some others, I wish I’d never made. I was naïve and didn’t see the true nature of the one I let close. In one case, the damage done by the ‘friend’ was severe. I spent years assuming all responsibility for the fallout. I reasoned, “It’s my fault for making friends with this person.” I couldn’t see that my naiveté and their inappropriate behavior were two separate things.

            Maybe you’re in a business relationship gone bad. Maybe you married someone you regret. Maybe you chose to go somewhere once and had no idea that something awful would happen as a result. The only thing worse than grieving the loss is to punish yourself for what is not your fault. The guilt for other people’s sinful behavior lies with them. They conceived it. They committed it.

            What complicates this is what happens when others who love us hear what we suffered. Consider what went down when Dinah told her family about the rape. I can hear her father rage. “How could you have gone outside the camp to bring this on yourself!” This is often where misplaced responsibility is born. People in grief don’t think clearly and often speak things they regret. They play the ‘only if’ card.

            What can I do today if I am partly responsible for something bad going happening? How can I come to understand the truth about true guilt and over-responsibility? From personal experience, I would advise two things. 1.) Ask God to show you a safe person to tell your story to, someone who will listen like Jesus listens. 2.) Seek God in prayer, study, and meditation about your story. Ask Him to reveal your story ‘to you’ the way that He would tell it. I have found that my version of my own story and His version are two entirely different narrations.

            As long as I assume responsibility that isn’t mine, there is no healing. Letting go of false guilt opens the door of hope.

You promised that Your sheep would hear Your voice. Speak today, Lord. Be the counselor that each one of us needs. Amen

Question: If you’ve been wronged, are you the one who has beaten yourself until there’s hardly a person left? Would you entertain the thought that you’ve assumed responsibility that may not be yours? Start with this. Imagine another person coming to you with a story identical to yours. What feedback would you give them about who is to blame?

I Can’t Stand Not Knowing

“I CAN’T STAND NOT KNOWING!”

Now Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Jacob, went out to see the women of the land. Genesis 34:1

            Has curiosity ever gotten you in trouble? There was something in you that just had to know what you didn’t know. Thoughts of what lay on the other side were obsessive. Restraint gave way to indulgence.

            Dinah’s life has been sheltered. She has only known the ways of her extended family. She’s heard stories of other tribes but has never seen them up close. Now, with the outskirts of Shechem her new home, she’s interested to know the ways of their people. She leaves the protection of her family to satisfy her curiosity. She will be raped and her innocence will be stolen.

            There are many things God tells his children to stay away from. Mystical spirituality, the way the occult, beckons to the curious.  How many have tasted of hell’s delights and paid a high price in the after effects? A door was opened that gave Satan access to their lives. Most don’t know how to close it, or even that it can be closed, and live a lifetime of torment that comes from spiritual compromise.

            What am I to do with my God-given curiosity? What can I do for my thirst for what is hidden? Is it wrong to want to know the secrets of the kingdom? No. I am the child of a Father who loves to teach me His ways. “There is a God in heaven who is the revealer of mysteries.” Daniel 2:28   My thirst for all that makes me feel intellectually and emotionally stimulated is found in God. If I ask Him to teach me, He takes me to stunning places of wisdom and understanding. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. John 16:13

            Satan has led people to believe that spending time with God is boring, the reading of scripture is monotonous, and prayer is the stodgiest thing of all. The problem is compounded by the fact that many of our spiritual teachers haven’t found real life in God either and keep perpetrating the lie. They are merely reporters on their traditions.

            Oh, to meet someone whose heart bubbles over with what God is teaching them.   Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Romans 11:33

            Dinah roamed outside safe boundaries. She was never the same again. Roaming outside God’s boundary lines exacts a stiff price. It’s never worth it. The best things of life are found at home in the courts of our King.

I pray for everyone reading this who doesn’t know You as the revealer of secrets. Open the eyes of their spirit to Your Word. Open the ears of their heart to Your voice. Amen

Question: Are you suffering today because you opened a door to what God has forbidden? Are you tormented because of it? Repent of that act and ask God to cleanse you of all effects. With sin confessed, Satan no longer has legal right to you. Ask God to close the gate and seal it by the power of His Spirit.