Friday, July 20, 2007

Jacob in Genesis

Jacob in Genesis: A summary, including some discovered gems
(written by Jeff Jenkins, 7/15/07, with some help from NIV footnotes)

Jacob and Esau were twin sons of Isaac and Rebekah. Esau was born red and hairy, and grew up to become a hunter. When Jacob was born, his hand was grasping Esau's heel (Gen. 25:26), and so he was named Jacob, which means, "he grasps the heel," or, figuratively, "he deceives."

In Gen. 25:23, before the twins were born, Rebekah asked the Lord why she felt the babies fighting ("the babies jostled each other within her"), and the Lord's answer was "two nations are in your womb" and "one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger" (Gen. 25:23). This prophecy was fulfilled in II Samuel 8:13-14 when David conquered the Edomites in a great battle ('Esau' may mean "hairy;" he was also called 'Edom,' which means "red;" the Edomites were Esau's descendants), and from that time, through the reign of Solomon, the Edomites were subject to the descendants of Jacob.

Jacob, true to his namesake ("he deceives") got Esau to sell his birthright to him by taking advantage of the situation (Gen. 25:29-34). (Esau was out hunting, and came back famished, and Jacob was cooking up some stew. Esau asked for some, and Jacob said 'only if you sell me your birthright.')

Jacob also deceived his own dad, Isaac, and stole Esau's blessing that rightfully belonged to Esau as the eldest (Gen. 27). (Jacob's dad was blind in his old age, and, with the help of his mom, he wore animal skin so he would feel hairy like his brother, and wore some of Esau's clothes, so that he would smell like Esau. Though Isaac was suspicious because he heard Jacob's voice instead of Esau's, the animal skin and clothes, along with the freshly killed meat that Jacob brought, was enough to deceive Jacob's dad.)

However, what goes around, comes around. Jacob got a taste of his own medicine when Laban, Jacob's uncle, later deceived Jacob (Gen. 29:15-25 and again in Gen. 30:35-36). Tit for tat.

Yet God had predetermined to bless Jacob. You might ask, "How could God bless someone who was such a deceiver?" We have to remember, however, that no one is perfect. (The only perfect and sinless human being Who ever lived was Jesus the God-man, Who was and is God the Son, the second Person of the Trinity.) The Bible doesn't whitewash it's heroes; it is honest about their faults. If God only blessed those who were perfect, then no one would ever be blessed. After all, David was an adulterer, Moses was a murderer, etc. Even Abraham, the father of the faith, was a liar: Abraham, Jacob's grandfather, lied and said that his wife was his sister, in Gen. 20. Interestingly, Jacob later did the exact same thing (like grandfather, like grandson?), saying that his wife was his sister, in Gen. 26:7-11.

One example of how God blessed Jacob, despite Jacob's faults, is in Gen. 30:25-43. Jacob and Laban make a deal. Jacob had worked for Laban for 7 years to get Laban's daughter Rachel as a wife. At night, Laban tricked Jacob and sent his oldest daughter, Leah, into the dark tent instead. Jacob slept with her and in the morning, discovered the deception. Jacob got angry, but because he loved Rachel so much, he agreed to Laban's offer to work for Laban 7 more years for Rachel.

Because God blessed Jacob, Laban's flocks increased under Jacob's care. Well, after 20 years of working for Laban (Gen. 31:38), during which time Laban changed Jacob's wages 10 times (Gen. 31:7), Jacob wants to leave, and Laban wants him to stay and continue working for him. Nevertheless, Laban says "name your wages, and I will pay you," and Jacob asks that he be allowed to go through Laban's flocks and remove every speckled or spotted sheep, every dark-colored lamb and every spotted or speckled goat, for his wages (sacrifices could only be made with spotless lambs, so basically, Jacob was asking for the inferior ones). Though Laban agreed, he again deceived Jacob by secretly removing all the male goats that were streaked or spotted, and all the speckled or spotted female goats, and all the dark-colored lambs. He placed them in the care of his sons and sent them on a 3-day journey, so that Jacob wouldn't find them.

Well, Jacob proceeded to work his craftiness again. In Gen. 30:37-43, Jacob took cut tree branches and peeled the bark away, exposing the white inner wood of the branches. He placed those peeled branches in all the watering troughs so they would be directly in front of the flocks when they came to drink. The flocks mated in front of the branches and bore young that were streaked or speckled or spotted. In this way, he grew prosperous and came to own large flocks.

Now, for years I was confused about this. I thought that this was some long-forgotten scientific secret concerning breeding. But it sounds so ridiculous and unbelievable. I have even heard unbelievers use this as an example of how the Bible is full of myths, saying that peeled tree branches in drinking water cannot affect breeding, claiming that this is just one more example of how the Bible is a fairy tale. However, the Bible merely REPORTS that Jacob did this, and reports what resulted from it; the Bible is not claiming that this is a scientific method that will actually work. In fact, this was merely a superstitious belief (comparable to ones we have today, such as throwing salt over your shoulder) that Jacob had apparently heard either from his family or his culture. I think that mere genetic probability might have accounted for some of his success. But in any case, the REAL reason that it worked, was that God was continuously blessing Jacob.

Another thing that has confused me for years was the account of Jacob wrestling with God in Gen. 32:22-32. How could Jacob, a mere man, successfully wrestle with an angel, let alone God, all night long? It sounds impossible and ridiculous. Angels are far more powerful than humans. However, God (or possibly an angel, I'm not sure which) came to Jacob in such a form that Jacob could wrestle with him successfully...sort of like the way Jesus, God the Son, came to this earth in weak human flesh. But at the same time, he showed Jacob that he could still easily disable Jacob at will when, in verse 25, the angel (or God) touched Jacob's hip and caused it to be disjointed. I think this is an illustration of how godly men often "wrestle with God" in prayer. Jacob's persistence was soon rewarded and Jacob finally acknowledged that the blessing must come from God. Now that Jacob had acknowledged God as the source of blessing, the Lord acknowledged Jacob as His servant by changing Jacob's name ("he deceives") to Israel (which means "he struggles with God"), from which the nation of Israel got her name and her characterization: the people who struggle with God (memorialized in the name Israel) and with men (memorialized in the name Jacob).

(some of the above information comes from NIV footnotes, and some of it comes from my own discoveries and my own summary of the verses)

A Look At Psalm 2, Part 6

“Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” (Psalm 2:9)

The NIV footnote says, “This word will be fulfilled in the triumphant reign of Christ.”

“She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne.” (Rev. 12:5)

"Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. "He will rule them with an iron scepter." He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty." (Rev. 19:15)

"To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations — 'He will rule them with an iron scepter; he will dash them to pieces like pottery'" (Rev. 2:26-27)

The NIV footnote for Psalm 2:9 states, “Christ declares that He will appoint those who remain faithful to Him to share in His subjugating rule over the nations.”

“…thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”
The NIV footnote for Jer. 19:11 says, “Egyptians of the 12th Dynasty (1991-1786 B.C.) inscribed the names of their enemies on pottery bowls and then smashed them, hoping to break the power of their enemies by so doing.” ).

And now we come to the last three verses in Psalm 2:

“Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.” (Psalm 2:10-12)

The NIV footnote says, “The rebellious rulers are warned.” Regarding the word “rejoice” in verse 11, the NIV footnote says, “Hail the Lord as King with joy,” and regarding the word “trembling,” it says, “Awe and reverence.” The footnote for verse 12, regarding the word “kiss” says, “As a sign of submission. Submission to an Assyrian king was expressed by kissing his feet.”

“Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way…” Either submit to Christ Jesus as your Lord and Savior, the King of Kings, and follow Him in fellowship, loving obedience and an intimate relationship…or perish in Hell forever as a wicked rebel who refuses to obey their Creator.

So even Psalm 2 contains the gospel message of salvation.

A Look At Psalm 2, Part 5

“I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.” (Psalm 2:7-8)

Jesus’ prayer to the Father in John 17 reveals the fulfillment of this:
"I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me.” (John 17:6-8)

God the Father gives a gift to God the Son: the Father gives the heathen as the Son’s inheritance:

“Before the creation of the world, He chose us through Christ to be holy and perfect in His presence.” (Ephesians 1:4)

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)

“But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.” (II Thessalonians 2:13)

Therefore, the Church (made up of all who are born again) is the spotless, pure, holy Bride of Christ:
“That He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.” (Ephesians 5:27)

The Bride of Christ will be dressed in white:
"After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands." (Revelation 7:9).

A Look At Psalm 2, Part 4

“Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.” (Psalm 2:5)

One definition of “vex” is “to afflict with physical pain.” The plagues that God brought upon Egypt because of their sinfulness are one example of this.

According to the “SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASES TOP NEW LIST" (from the website
"The three most common infectious diseases in the United States are sexually transmitted according to a new Centers for Disease Control report. In 1995, the Center reported about 475,000 cases of chlamydia, 390,000 of gonorrhea and 71,500 new cases of AIDS." And, not surprisingly, "Persons having multiple sex partners are most at risk."

Who is most likely to get AIDS or some other STD? Homosexuals, drug users, and persons having multiple sex partners. In other words, those practicing sin, which is in direct rebellion against God’s Law and Commands. Why do we have latchkey kids, children born out of wedlock, birth disorders, abortion, divorce, etc.? Because people are sinners, and are doing things that are in direct violation of God’s Law. If everyone always walked in obedience to God’s commands, none of us would be vexed, and God’s wrath would not be against anyone…and no one would ever be cast into Hell.

“Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.” (Psalm 2:6)

The NIV footnote says that “holy hill” is “the site of the Jerusalem temple.”

In the midst of expressing God’s wrath against the wickedness of man, this is an announcement of Good News for all mankind! Even though we are all sinners, and have all rebelled and mutinied against God and His holy Law, turning against the will of our Creator, God steps in as the ultimate Hero in the midst of our sinfulness. For those who are willing to be rescued from sin and saved from Hell (and even this willingness is a gift of faith from God, given to the elect…so that even the willingness to accept salvation is something that we cannot claim to our own merit), God offers the free gift of eternal life, through His Son, the King of Kings! All we have to do is sorrowfully repent (not just regret, but be completely willing to turn away) from our sinful ways and ask Him for this free gift of salvation, which is only available through Jesus Christ Who is God the Son.

A Look At Psalm 2, Part 3

“He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.” (Psalm 2: 4)

The NIV footnote says, “The Lord mocks the rebels. With derisive laughter the Lord meets the confederacy of rebellious world powers with the sovereign declaration that it is He who has established the Davidic king in his own royal city of Zion (Jerusalem).”

How does God look at all these ungodly, humanistic heathens who verbally attack the Bible, attack Judeo-Christian morals, and attack Christians? Is God afraid of what these people might do? Is God worried? Hardly. This is the only verse in the entire Bible that speaks of God laughing. However, He’s not laughing with them; He’s laughing at them. God is laughing at His enemies who challenge Him and challenge His will and His Word. He sees these rebellious unbelievers---those who would mock God and challenge His will---and their worldly, humanistic reasoning, which comes from sin, as a pitiful joke. “Derision” means ridicule or mockery. These unbelievers, who are enemies of God, mock and ridicule God, His Son Jesus Christ, His Word the Bible, and His People (i.e., all who are born again). But God has the last laugh, and it is God Who will, in the end, mock them, when He throws them into Hell. One definition of “derision” is “mockery or laughter which shows scorn and contempt.” You may say, “Yes, I agree that God hates sin, but He LOVES the sinner!” However, the Bible would suggest that God’s wrath is against unrepentant sinners who are unbelievers:

“The boastful shall not stand in Your sight; You hate all workers of iniquity.” (Psalm 5:5)

“God is a just judge, and God is angry with the wicked every day.” (Psalm 7:11)

"The Lord trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence His soul hateth" (Psalm 11:5).

The NIV footnote says, “God’s anger is always an expression of His righteousness.”

You might say, “Yeah, but that’s the OLD Testament!”

And what exactly, I would reply, do you mean by that? Do you mean that the God of the Old Testament is a completely different God than the God of the New Testament? Do you mean that God’s character changed completely from the Old Testament to the New Testament?

God does not change. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” (James 1:17)

Neither did God save people in a different way in the Old Testament from the way He saves people today. People in the Old Testament were saved the same way that people are saved today. Good works did not save people in the Old Testament. People back then could not perfectly keep the Law, just like people today cannot perfectly keep the Law. The entire chapter of Hebrews 11 (in the New Testament) shows how even the Old Testament saints were saved through faith, not by works. The entire chapter of Romans 4 (again, in the New Testament) shows how Abraham was justified by faith alone, and not by works; i.e., "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." They were saved by their faith in the coming Messiah (i.e., looking forward and believing, with faith, at what will take place one day); we are saved by faith in the Messiah Who has come (i.e., looking backward and believing, in faith, at what already took place).

Neither were they saved by animal sacrifices; if they were, then Jesus wasted His time on the cross. Those animal sacrifices were only a foreshadowing…a picture…an object lesson…of what was to occur in the future, much like Communion or the Lord’s Supper is an object lesson (symbolism) of what has already occurred…it’s a physical way for us to remember what has already occurred in the life of every born-again believer, and it gives us a physical, tangible way to relate to something of extreme importance…in this case, the sacrificial death of Christ Jesus on the cross.

The God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament are the same God. In fact, the New Testament speaks of God’s wrath against unrepentant sinners as well:
“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness.” (Romans 1:18)

A Look At Psalm 2: Part 2

“Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One. “Let us break their chains,” they say, “and throw off their fetters.” (Psalm 2:1-3, NIV)

The NIV footnote says that Psalm 2 is “a royal psalm, originally composed for the coronation of Davidic kings.” “Later, prophetic words of judgment against the house of David and announcements of God’s future redemption of his people through an exalted royal son of David highlighted the Messianic import of this psalm.” “…it proclaims the blessedness of all who acknowledge the lordship of God and his anointed and “take refuge in him.” “This psalm is frequently quoted in the NT, where it is applied to Christ as the great Son of David and God’s Anointed.”

The NIV footnote says, “The nations rebel. In the ancient Near East the coronation of a new king was often the occasion for the revolt of peoples and kings who had been subject to the crown. The newly anointed king is here pictured as ruler over an empire.”

In Acts, we see a New Testament application of this:

"You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David:
" 'Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together
against the Lord and against his Anointed One.'
Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen." (Acts 4:25-28)

The NIV footnote says that the question “Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?” is “a rhetorical question that implies, “How dare they!” It also says “to rebel against the Lord’s Anointed is also to rebel against the One Who anointed Him. The psalm refers to the Davidic king and is ultimately fulfilled in Christ. The English word “Messiah” comes from the Hebrew word for “anointed one,” and the English word “Christ” from the Greek word for “anointed one.”

Thursday, July 19, 2007

A Look At Psalm 2: Part 1

“Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.”
(Psalm 2:1-3, KJV)

“Why do the heathen rage?” If you want to see how much the World (System, i.e., our society) hates Christ Jesus and Yahweh the Father, just go into an Internet Discussion Board on Religion and post some messages about how Jesus is the only Way to eternal life, how Jesus is God, how the Bible is the absolute standard for Truth, etc., and it won’t be long before you (or at least, Christians in general) will be verbally attacked.

I was just watching a talk show on t.v. where a father and his daughters, ranging from 12 years old to the oldest who was married, were involved with an abstinence organization where a daughter covenants with her dad to be sexually pure, and to abstain from sex until marriage, and then to remain always faithful to her husband. A female doctor was also there as the local “expert,” and that doctor was doing everything she could to challenge and question and come against what that father and his daughters believed and stood for. I had to change the channel, because the things that doctor was saying irritated me to such a degree (because I saw the utter foolishness and sheer folly in what that doctor was saying, though our society in general would have totally agreed with her) that I just could not stand watching it anymore. However, I noticed that the father and his daughters were being incredibly respectful and courteous, despite the constant badgering and challenges that the doctor put forth. It was interesting to note that, because of the high level of respect and courtesy the father and daughters were showing, the doctor, the host and the hostess also showed restraint and a certain level of respect in return. I was just hoping that the ungodly things the doctor was spouting would not poison those young girls. The doctor kept trying to imply that the father was some kind of dictator who forced his daughters to follow a lifestyle that was against their will, even though both the father and his daughters continually affirmed, calmly and confidently and respectfully, that such a choice was completely up to the girls, and that the father never in any way forced them to make such a decision. Another thing the doctor kept asking was (and I’m paraphrasing), ‘How could a young 12-year-old girl make such a decision when a child that young can in no way understand what that means? A child of that age should be free to explore her own body and her sexuality.” This is one of the things that angered me, especially since I didn’t see anyone challenging the doctor with the implications of what she was saying. Was the doctor saying that a 12-year-old girl should sleep around like a prostitute or whore? I’m sure she wouldn’t outright admit to that, but that’s what the implications were. And was the doctor saying that getting AIDS or some other sexually transmitted disease, having an abortion, and having children out of wedlock are all preferable to practicing abstinence until marriage? As the Psalm asks, “Why do…the people imagine a vain thing?” It seemed to me that this doctor’s attitude against abstinence was the same as the rebellious attitude shown in verse 3 of Psalm 2, which represents what those who would challenge God's commands would say regarding God's Law and the moral lifestyle of Christians: “Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.” Unregenerate man does not want to be accountable to his Creator.