Posts Tagged ‘Disgrace’

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Unbelievable! © Ross Cochrane

Genesis 34:8-15 – WHAT?! WHY? UNBELIEVABLE! (Part 3)

“Hamor tried 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, Hamor’s son, the pedophile, kidnapper, and rapist, 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.

“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).

Jacob’s sons reply, “We couldn’t possibly allow this,…  (Genesis 34:14 NLT)

They tell Shechem and his father, “It would be a disgrace for our sister to marry a man like you!” Finally, someone willing to call this a disgrace. This is a slap in the face to someone who is used to getting his own way, the man who is respected in his community.

But where is this conversation going?

Jacob’s sons don’t talk of the disgrace of rape and pedophilia! They don’t talk of the disgrace of child kidnapping! They don’t talk of the disgrace of child marriage! They don’t talk of the disgrace of their own evil thinking! Of all things, they talk of Circumcision. They say “We won’t let you marry her…

“… because you’re not circumcised.”

WHAT?!

“But here is a solution. If every man among you will be circumcised like we are,” (Genesis 34:15 NLT). What are they thinking?

This is a curve ball and a half. Unbelievable! What are they thinking? Why doesn’t Jacob step in?

To get a handle on what is happening here, I time-travelled back to the days of Abraham and realized how ludicrous their proposal is.

Back then, everything is going along smoothly when one day God tells Abraham he will have many descendants. Abraham laughs in amazement. He reminds God that he is 100 years old and Sarah is 90 – improbable, if not impossible, that they would have a child at this age. God is not at all deterred. He says “The covenant will come through the child you have with Sarah. His name will be Isaac”, (which incidentally means “laughter”). When will Sarah conceive and have a child? God says “Next year!”

You can’t get better than this. Abraham can add this to the list of God’s promises – wealth, name change, descendants from whom the world will be blessed (Genesis 12:1-3). Apparently, each generation will have the covenant reaffirmed, forever. And if that wasn’t enough they had a land package thrown in with the deal. It was a permanent covenant concerning this land so nothing Israel or any other nation can do will ever take it from them. God gave it to them, permanently throughout their generations, forever. The promise is still true today and causing quite a bit of trouble.

But then, just when everything sounds great, God throws a curve ball! He chooses a sign for the covenant, one which was a little unusual, to say the least. Sometimes God’s plans are not all that easy to follow. You have to be really sure that God spoke before you act on this one – each male has to be circumcised for generations to come. That was the sign of the Covenant, even for Abraham’s servants. This was the mark of the everlasting covenant. At around about this time I would have been saying to God, “Can you choose a different sign? Please!”

Abram doesn’t waste time. The first thing Abraham does when God has finished speaking is to circumcise Ishmael and every other male around the place, even himself.

I don’t know about you but I would not have liked having this enforced on me. You would have to have a very convincing argument to get me to agree to this as an adult. Abraham obviously had a lot of authority and respect. Still, I wonder how he broke the news to all the males in his household? Ishmael was 13 years old. Did he get circumcised willingly? Nothing is said about this.

Were they forced to do so or given a choice to leave? If you refused, God said you would be “cut off” from the promises to Israel. That could mean exile or even the death penalty. The death penalty would be quite a convincing argument and incentive to agree, I guess.

WHY?!

Why not a tattoo on the arm or something similar? Circumcision, after all, was a hidden sign. Who would see this sign but the person to whom it was given and his marriage partner? This sign is incredibly important (find out why in the next post).

Pastor Ross

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Genesis 30:22-24 – HOW TO OVERCOME THE REGRETS OF YOUR PAST

HOW TO OVERCOME THE REGRETS OF YOUR PAST

HOW TO OVERCOME THE REGRETS OF YOUR PAST

Regret, like an old injury, seeks to restrict your present and to destroy or control your future.

Confronting regret is like doing battle with a street fighter. He wants to dominate and cut you with a switchblade so that you bleed before you even have the chance to pray. He’ll badger you into doing yet another round and you’ll see the faces of those you have disappointed and hurt in the crowd that gathers. There’s no place to go.

You’ve done battle with regret before but this time you know you must think differently in order to overcome him. You may need to refuse to fight, apologise and seek forgiveness. You may need to spend some time admitting the harm that you have caused until the crowd makes room for you to move on. Rachel comes humbly before God with sin in her hand and places it, with her wounded heart, at God’s feet.

Something changed that day. A breakthrough of faith and the response of God’s mercy. God remembered Rachel’s plight and answered her prayers by enabling her to have children (Genesis 30:24 NLT). At long last, Rachel conceives and gives birth to a son; Joseph (and later Benjamin is added to her family). The mandrakes (love apples) she acquired from Leah had nothing to do with this pregnancy (Genesis 30:5); God hears Rachel’s prayer and gives her a son (Genesis 30:23-24).

She names him Joseph, which means either “to take away” or “to add” (POSB commentary). “God has removed my disgrace …” (Genesis 30:23 NLT). Rachel declares that God has taken away her reproach and added richly to her life. He has turned cursing to blessing. Some read this as referring to the disgrace of not being able to bear children, but no such disgrace exists except in the eyes of her culture. Rachel had much more in her life that was barren. This is a confession of a desolate existence lived without asking for God’s help, not only an account of her neighbours attitudes to her not being able to have children.

What do you do when your life is a trainwreck of regrets; jealousy and abuse and unfulfilled hope.

  • She agreed to marry an old man already married to her older sister.
  • She lived in a bitter jealous power play with her sister
  • She forced her maid servant to be a surrogate mother with Jacob so she could look good in the eyes of others
  • She trusted in superstitious love potions in order to bear children herself 

These choices only served to increase the barrenness between her and God. Our frantic search for happiness without God attracts the dry, famine producing winds that blow ever stronger with the power of regret. But now, as she submits to and is humbled before God, in the midst of her dysfunctional life, God answers her prayer and gives her a child. 

Joseph, her firstborn son, will remind her of the new life that issues like a newbirth as she trusts in God as her Saviour. Joseph will save his family from a terrible famine through the POWER OF FORGIVENESS. He will foreshadow a coming Saviour who will do the same for us. 

I may have to live with the consequences of my choices but I am reminded that there is no twisted dysfunction in my past that is too great for God to forgive, no damaged goods that cannot be redeemed and restored, no distorted perspectives that cannot be cleansed and re-viewed from heaven’s eyes, no regrets that can restrict my present or rule my future. 

Like Rachel “God has removed my disgrace” when Christ bore my sin upon the Cross. I can choose to live a life of grace and beauty as I trust in Him, today. 

Pastor Ross