Posts Tagged ‘Deceit’

Unbelievable12.png

Unbelievable! © Ross Cochrane

Genesis 34:14-16 – WHY? UNBELIEVABLE! (Part 4)

Shechem has raped Dinah, Jacob’s daughter. He now wants to marry her as a child bride and has kept her at his house. Surprisingly, Jacob’s sons don’t respond by speaking of the disgrace of raping their young sister! They don’t speak of the disgrace of child kidnapping and child sex slavery! They don’t talk of the disgrace of what they are really thinking! Instead, they talk of Circumcision. “We won’t let you marry her…” they say, “… because you’re not circumcised.”

WHY?!

Why circumcision? … Random. Circumcision is a sign of the covenant given to Abraham. What has this got to do with anything? If you want to talk about a sign why not a sign like a tattoo on the arm or something similar? Or wear colors on their leather jackets. At least those are signs that can be seen. But Circumcision? Really?

Here’s how I understand it. It seems to me that the sign of circumcision has something to do with the promise of Abraham having many descendants, being fruitful and multiplying (see the last post). The sign reaffirms God’s promise right at the very place where the sexual act takes place. It marks the sexual act as set apart for God’s purposes.

God was looking for obedience, but not just obedience. He wanted Abraham’s heart. This was a covenant sign of fruitfulness but also a sign of complete faith in God. The ritual needed to speak of the relationship. The outside sign needed to reflect an inward change of the heart concerning marriage and family and faith.

Romans 2:28-29 (NLT) speaks of what it means to be a Jewish believer. It says “For you are not a true Jew just because you were born of Jewish parents or because you have gone through the ceremony of circumcision. No, a true Jew is one whose heart is right with God. And true circumcision is not merely obeying the letter of the law; rather, it is a change of heart produced by God’s Spirit. And a person with a changed heart seeks praise from God, not from people.”

The sign of Circumcision reminds the Jewish male believers that God has authority over them even in the most private aspects of their lives. He designed them and set them apart for sex within the context of their marriages, with their wives alone. It prompts them to remember, “As for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.”

So what is going on in Genesis 34? Circumcision for someone like Shechem makes no sense at all! He is not part of the believing community. Shechem and the Hivite community have rejected faith in God. Now Jacob’s sons are also acting as if they have no faith … to the point of blasphemy. They are willing to desecrate a holy covenant ritual in order to amplify the intensity of their revenge?

DISCONNECTION

Twisting things around, Jacob’s sons say, in effect, that Circumcision is the only thing that separates them from the Hivite community. It’s a partial truth designed to achieve evil purposes. Circumcision is not the only reason for Jacob’s family to be separated from the Hivite community. What is? Hivite unbelief and a culture totally opposed to the things of God.

RELIGION AND REVENGE

Jacob’s son’s don’t mention anything about faith in God. Yet they want to use a holy sign of faith in Israel’s community as a means of revenge, the very opposite to the unifying sign of faith it was designed by God to be. Religion used as a means for murder. Nothing has changed. This is terrorism at its religious worst. Deceiving Shechem and themselves, they weave their evil trap further…

“… then we will give you our daughters, and we’ll take your daughters for ourselves,” they say, “We will live among you and become one people.” They have no intention of doing this.But if you don’t agree to be circumcised, we will take her and be on our way.” (Genesis 34:16 NLT). Are they really interested in Dinah or in revenge?

Are they really interested in Dinah or in vengeance?

Jeremiah 9:8 (NLT) mirrors what they are doing. It speaks of the deceit of religious people. “…their tongues shoot lies like poisoned arrows. They speak friendly words to their neighbors while scheming in their heart to kill them.”

The POSB commentary makes an interesting aside. “How many churches and ministers deceive people by leading them to put their trust in the church and its rituals instead of Christ Himself?”

Genesis 34 invites me to reflect upon being honest in how I respond to immorality. I am encouraged not to use religion as a means of manipulation or for indulging in revenge against those with whom I disagree. I am to be honest in expressing my faith and witnessing the change that has occurred in my heart because Christ died for my sins. I am to call for God’s justice in the world, even when depravity is an acceptable way of life in the community. I am to seek God’s heart and God’s promises, not simply fit in with cultural norms for my life and family.

Pastor Ross

Advertisements

Unbelievable9.png

Unbelievable! © by Ross Cochrane

Genesis 34:8-13 – UNBELIEVABLE, TOO (Part 2)

Hamor tries to speak with Jacob and his sons. “My son Shechem is truly in love with your daughter,” he said. “Please let him marry her” (Genesis 34:8 NLT).

Shechem, the pedophile, rapist and kidnapper, can see the shocked looks on the faces of Dinah’s brothers. This deal is going south so he steps in and cuts to the chase. He says,

“Please be kind to me, and let me marry her,” he begs. “I will give you whatever you ask. No matter what dowry or gift you demand, I will gladly pay it—just give me the girl as my wife.” (Genesis 34:11-12 NLT)

SHECHEM, if only…

Shechem, the pedophile, has the nerve to come to Jacob and his sons and ask for a child marriage with Dinah, the one he has raped and kidnapped. He doesn’t even use her name! She is just “the girl”. He does not bring Dinah back to the family, humbly bow before them and admit his guilt and willingness to undergo a negotiated discipline for his crime. Be kind to me, he says. Unbelievable! Shechem, if only…

Shechem is willing to buy Dinah for a high price to get what he wants, but not acknowledge the shame and criminality of his actions. He is rich and Dinah is simply a commodity that he wants to keep without any trouble from the family. She is already his child sex slave.

Again the Bible calls Shechem’s act for what it is.

“But since Shechem had defiled their sister, Dinah, Jacob’s sons responded deceitfully to Shechem and his father, Hamor” (Genesis 34:13 NLT).

JACOB, where are you?

Where are you Jacob, when it counts? Still, you are silent and allow your sons to negotiate on your behalf. Don’t you realize that they only want revenge? Don’t you understand that they are willing to use anything to get back at Shechem and the Hivite community as a whole? You may not like the outcome of all this.

Jacob’s sons revert to their father’s tactics when things get out of hand. Deceit is an old standby in this family! They think that given the circumstances it is OK to lie. Still Jacob does nothing and says nothing. His leadership in this situation is manifestly imperceptible, conspicuously absent.

What Jacob’s sons say next will shock everybody… (see next post).

Pastor Ross

Genesis 31:5 – “YOUR MOTHER SHOULD KNOW”

“Let’s all get up and dance to a song

That was a hit before your mother was born”

Though she was born a long, long time ago

Your mother should know (Your mother should…)

Your mother should know (…know) 

(The Beatles; Magical Mystery Tour; 1967)

Your mother should know, Jacob (Your mother should…). With the help of his mother Rebekah, Jacob deceived Esau out of his birthright and family blessing (Gen. 27:6-23). Rebekah was singing and dancing to the song of deceit a long, long time ago. Jacob knows the song well. The lyrics to the song haven’t changed either; “For the wages of sin is death, …” Romans 6:23 (NLT). Jacob escaped Esau’s murderous Macarena. Now he has to avoid Laban’s sons slanderous Sword Dance.

Sing it again.

When Jacob vocalised the lyrics of deceit a long, long time ago, he lied his way into this corner of the dance floor in Haran, which was a long, long way from home, but he didn’t escape from deception.

A master of choreographed trickery, Laban is an old time dance hall crooner. Deceit slides with silken tones from his mouth. He enters into agreements only to change tunes and do a soft shoe sham shuffle when it appears that Jacob is succeeding. Jacob’s wages have been changed 10 times. Jacob has danced to Rebekah’s song and now for 20 years it has been Laban’s song.

He married his wives on this dance floor of fraud. But this time he doesn’t want to sing it again. This time he doesn’t want to dance his way into another round of being deceived and tricked by a man much more at ease and skilled with the Tango Trick-Step than even he is.

“You know how hard I have worked for your father, but he has cheated me, changing my wages ten times. But God has not allowed him to do me any harm” (Genesis 31:6-7).

Sing it again. Not this time!

Instead, Jacob sings a desperate chorus to his wives. A chorus echoed throughout the Bible. Psalms 120:2 (NLT) says “Rescue me, O Lord, from liars and from all deceitful people.” 

Lift up your heart and sing me a different song that was a hit before your mother was born, way back in the days of Abraham. Deceit moves us away from harmony with God. But Jacob has now lived with integrity, listening to and prospering from the purposes of God and his integrity is dancing its way toward the promised land. God has been patiently at work in his life, teaching him the steps.

Deceit’s consequences leave us singing and dancing to the same old song over and over again. It was a hit in Adam’s day. It declares “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? But I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve” (Jeremiah 17:9-10 NLT).

The invitation Jacob gives is to sing and dance to a song older than time itself. It is the song sung in the corridors of heaven. 1 Corinthians 15:22 (NLT) declares “Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life.” 

It became the song of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and it’s still sung today. It’s lyrics declare that the past can be redeemed; I can overcome my sense of helplessness by trusting in God’s power, my sense of social isolation by acknowledging His presence, my feelings of inadequacy by knowing that He is able, my feelings of defeat and dread by realising that he works all things together for good. He has turned my mourning into dancing (Jeremiah 31:13).  

Zephaniah 3:17 (NLT) says “For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty Saviour. He will take delight in you with gladness. With His love, He will calm all your fears. HE WILL REJOICE OVER YOU WITH JOYFUL SONGS.” 

Psalms 40:3 (NLT) says “HE HAS GIVEN ME A NEW SONG TO SING, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what He has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord.” Acts 16:31 (NLT) says, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved…”  

Sing it again… 

Pastor Ross