Posts Tagged ‘Genesis 35’

Genesis 35:16-28 – LETTERS TO JACOB – Part 5  

Letters to Jacob © Image created by Ross Cochrane

Dear Ross, 

I have devastating news. Rachel, my beloved wife, has died in childbirth. I am grief-stricken 

On leaving Bethel, the clan and I moved on toward Ephraththe region around Bethlehem. But Rachel went into labor while we were still some distance away. Her labor pains were intense. (Genesis 35:16 NLT) 

As you know, after so many years of not being able to conceive, Rachel gave birth to Joseph before we left Laban. She asked that God would give her another son. That was 15 years ago, but she continued to pray and now finally God has answered her prayer but sent such grief to my soul.  

My twelfth son was premature. The birth was incredibly difficult. After a very hard delivery, the midwife finally exclaimed, “Don’t be afraid—you have another son!”  

Rachel was about to die, but with her last breath she named the baby Ben-oni (which means “son of my sorrow”). Such a name would have been an unbearable burden for him and all of us to bear, so I called him Benjamin instead (which means “son of my right hand”).   

His name replaces the sorrow I feel at losing Rachel. No longer will he be associated with grief but with honour in our family. He is a blessing that issued forth from sadness.  

I buried Rachel on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem). I set up a stone monument over her grave, a lasting tribute to her memory. (Genesis 35:17-20 NLT).  

Yours in grief once again, 

Jacob 

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Dear Jacob, 

 Rachel has shared with you the destiny God has woven into your life. Fruit from hard ground, my friend. I am so sorry for your loss and yet amazed by the promises of God which will be fulfilled through your sons. 

For you, Bethlehem is a place of loss. A memory of someone gone. An acknowledgement of a life of sorrow and joy.  Your monument leaves a legacy for future generations to wonder.  

You renamed your son from Benoni (Son of my sorrow) to Benjamin (Son of my right hand). Perhaps you will find some consolation in that your monument will also mark the place where the Messiah will be born who will also be known as both a man of sorrows and One who sits at the Right Hand of God in heaven.  

The love of your life was buried in the place where the Savior will be born. When He will be born, angels will announce “Good news of great Joy”. Your descendants will be the ancestors of the Son of God. 

The prophet Micah in Micah 5:2 says, “But you, O Bethlehem, Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel, whose origins are in the distant past, will come from you on my behalf.”  

I pray, Jacob, for you and for me, that with our last breath, let us not see the sorrow, but the grace of what the Lord has accomplished in our lives and the legacy He gives us to leave behind. 

Isaiah 41:10 (NLT) says, Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with My victorious right hand. 

God’s strength, 

Ross. 

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Dear Ross, 

Thankyou for your words of encouragement and prophetic insight. At the moment however I am faced with yet a new challenge and great disappointment. 

After Rachel died, I travelled on to see my father. We camped beyond Migdal-eder, the watchtower of the shepherds near Jerusalem. While I was living there, I heard some disturbing reports. My eldest son, Reuben, had intercourse with Bilhah, Rachel’s maid (Genesis 35:21-22 NLT).  

You may not understand the significance of this in your culture, but in Canaan, this is seen as a way of showing disrespect for the leader of the tribe or family, a challenge to say that he is unfit. It is described as “making yourself strong”. I know I have not been there when my sons and daughter needed me the most, but I thought we had all made a new start. 

I deserve the scorn of my sons for my lack of leadership. I don’t really know what I will do, but Reuben will not be excused. He is my firstborn but he will never have the leadership of our family 

I have experienced more fear, grief, disappointment and heartache with my sons than ever before in my life. These ongoing attacks, however, have only served to strengthen my resolve to obey God.  

At present, I am taking no action against Reuben. I have twelve sons and God has promised that from my family will come the blessing given originally to Abraham, that through them all the nations of the world will be blessed. How He can use us to do that I really don’t know, but I trust Him. 

God alone can fulfil His promises to me. In the meantime, I am returning to my father, Isaac, in MamreIt is a place of rich historyIt is near Kiriath-arba (now called Hebron), where Abraham and Isaac both lived. Abraham and Isaac lived there as foreigners but this land was promised to them and to us as their family forever.  

My father is blind but meeting his grandsons may give him some pleasure in seeing God’s promises being unfolded before he dies. 

Still trusting in God’s promises, 

Jacob 

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Dear Jacob, 

Your letter reminds me that neither sin nor death can frustrate God’s purposes for His people. By faith, you have been blessed concerning things to come. 

Isaac must be well over 150 years old by now. He has lived an incredibly long life. (Genesis 35:28 NLT). I don’t want to live that long, but I do want my life to count for something. 

You have gone through so much of late, and you have overcome by your trust in God. You remind me that none of us are exempt from the trials of life; including the deaths of those we love, and the disappointments and stresses of family life.  

When the time comes for your father to die, you will be the great patriarch of the faith, the mantle of responsibility will be placed upon your shoulders to carry to the next generation. 

 Isaac will die in the faith, not having received the promises directlybut having seen it all from a distance and welcomed it. Abraham and Isaac were foreigners and nomads here on earth, looking forward to a country they could call their own. Like you, they have trusted in promises of God being fulfilled in generations to come. God is not ashamed to be called your God, and He has prepared you for a great purpose and blessing on the earth. You too, Jacob have received it by faith (Hebrews 11:13-20 NLT).  

In days to come at Migdal-eder, where you now reside, I prophesy that shepherds will hear of the Saviour who will come directly through your line.  

Thanks for being a friend, Jacob. I have to admit, there have been times when I have not particularly liked you or the way you have done things, but who I am to judge. I have equally not liked myself or my actions at times in my life. Nevertheless, you have always given me an example, especially of late, of someone who holds onto the promises of God in certain hope of seeing His purposes fulfilled. Only the gracious purposes of God will ensure the survival of our families during the perilous times in which we live. 

I will catch up with you again soon, my friend, 

Inspired to trust in the promises of God and His Word, 

Ross 

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Dear Ross, 

Much has happened since last I wrote to you and one day I will tell you about my son Joseph, but for now I am writing to let you know that my father, Isaac, breathed his last and died at a ripe old age, joining his ancestors in death. Esau and I buried him (Genesis 35:29 NLT). 

Once again Esau and I were reconciled, only this time in our grief. My grandfather, Abraham, bought the cave of Machpelah, near Mamrefrom Ephron the Hittite as a permanent burial site. Abraham buried his wife Sarah there and he was buried thereNow my father joins them. My mother, Rebekah, is also buried there. One day Leah and I will be buried there as well (Genesis 49:29-32 NLT). 

As you said in your last letter, I am now the patriarch of the family, heir of the promises and blessings of God, not only Isaac’s wealth. May the Lord help me to honour the heritage He has given me.  

May God be known as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. 

Jacob 

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Pastor Ross

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Genesis 35:11-16 – LETTERS TO JACOB – Part 4

Letters to Jacob
© Image created by Ross Cochrane

From Last letter,… 

Dear Jacob, 

… How incredible that God appeared to you personally! I have all sorts of questions however. How did God appear to you? In a dream? As a person? What other promises? This is so fascinating, but you left out all the details in your letter…. 

Ross 

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Dear Ross 

I am still getting my head around all that God said to me. Sorry if I didn’t tell you the full story. Let me fill in some details. 

I didn’t tell you that God said to me, “I am El-Shaddai—‘God Almighty.’ Be fruitful and multiply. You will become a great nation, even many nations. Kings will be among your descendants! (Genesis 35:11 NLT).   

I can’t help but think that I am a blessed man beyond what deserve. Not only has God assured me through my new name that He fights for mebut through His Name, He reveals more of Himself to meEl-Shaddai is a name that speaks His great provision and sufficiency.  

Apparently, kings will come from my descendants. How amazing is that? The Lord is omnipotent. Nothing is impossible for Him. He can turn someone like me into someone who is great, simply because He is great.  

My prayer is that He blesses my children and their children with the kind of greatness that comes from acknowledging that He is God Almighty in their lives. 

But God didn’t stop there. He spoke about the promises He made to my ancestors. He said, “I will give you the land I once gave to Abraham and Isaac. Yes, I will give it to you and your descendants after you” (Genesis 35:12 NLT). 

I trust Him to fulfil in me all that I am created for and that many people in the future will be blessed and that my descendants will be blessed. 

And that’s the full story. After that God went up from the place where He had spoken to me (Genesis 35:13 NLT). 

Your utterly amazed friend, 

Jacob 

P.S. Loved the quote you gave from Ephesians? (Sounds like a good book). 

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Dear Jacob, 

I am as utterly amazed as you are by your encounter with God. How incredible and awesome! 

2 Peter 1:4 (NLT2) says, “And because of His glory and excellence, He has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share His divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.”  

You may not fully understand what I am going to say to you next, Jacob, but God has spoken to other servants also through His Word about you.  

Not only will kings come from your descendants but also the Messiah, the King of kings and Lord of lords.  

1 Timothy 6:15 says, “For, at just the right time Christ will be revealed from heaven by the blessed and only almighty God, the King of all kings and Lord of all lords.”  

Thankyou for sharing your amazing story, but Jacob, you are the master of understatement! … 

I am still dumbfounded that you wrapped up your last letter with the words that God “went up” from the place He had spoken to you. What does that mean?  Jacob, where you speaking to God in the form of a person? Was this a bodily presence? A visible person? Face to face with God? Was this a vision? A dream? Did you see Jesus, Himself, a Theophany of the Christ? Or was it just an impression? Please be more specific!  

Ross 

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Dear Ross, 

My apologies for not being specific. Let me tell you specifically. I saw God face to face, in bodily form. It was not a vision or a dream and He ascended into heaven after He spoke with me. This may well be a manifestation of the One you speak about in your letter as the King of kings and Lord of lords. 

The experience stirred my heart so much that I set up a stone pillar to mark the place where God had spoken to me. Then I poured wine over it as an offering to God and anointed the pillar with olive oil.  

This was the only way I knew to show my respect for the place where I had met with God, face to face.  This place will always be a very special place of worship to me. 

As you know I originally named the place Bethel (which means “house of God”), because God spoke to me there. (Genesis 35:14 NLT) 

Strange, when He met with me, I somehow felt that He was like the purest of lambs sacrificed for sin on the altar, and He was the drink offering I poured out before Him in worship. Bethel, the house of God cannot contain Him and although He went up from that place, He still remains with me. I am His house and I am overcome with worship within. I am filled with His presence even now. 

Tomorrow we are leaving Bethel and moving toward Ephrath (Genesis 35:16 NLT). From there we will travel to meet up with my Father. Where ever I tread, this land is my inheritance, promised from time immemorial to my ancestors, and now to me.  

Heir of promise, 

Jacob 

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Pastor Ross

Genesis 35:8-10 – LETTERS TO JACOB – Part 3

From the last letter… 

Letters to Jacob
© Image created by Ross Cochrane

Dear Jacob, 

…. Tell me, did your sons actually repent and turn from their sins and turn to God? Did they seek God’s forgiveness and worship Him alone? Did your daughter find the healing she needed from her traumatic experience? I know that you finally fulfilled your vow, but did it make a difference in their lives as well?  

Ross 

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Dear Ross, 

Your questions are a little personal and sensitive. I can’t answer for my sons or my daughter.  I cannot control the choices of my children. They know that God is central to my life. You will have to write to them to find your answers.

Soon after my last letter, My Mother’s old nurse, Deborah, died. She was buried beneath the oak tree in the valley below Bethel. Ever since, we have called the tree Allon-bacuth (which means “oak of weeping”) (Genesis 35:8 NLT). 

She helped my mother in raising me so many years ago. She had been staying with my father Isaac until she heard about my return. She gave me the news about my Mother’s death and stayed on to live with us until her own death. I grieve deeply over her loss. 

Deborah nursed me when my name was Jacob; thief of Esau’s blessing, and now I bury her as a new person; heir to God’s promises. I wrote a poem which I spoke over her grave. 

DEBORAH  

“Thou too, Deborah, whose indulgent cares 

Nursed great thief, and formed my tender years, 

Expiring here, an ever-honoured name! 

Adorn El-Bethel with immortal fame: 

Thy name survives, to prompt our pensive hearts; 

As sacred lessons grace to us imparts. 

Soon as thy funeral rites are fully paid, 

Beneath the oak in honour of the dead; 

The sins and tempests of the past now o’er, 

turn, as heir of paths yet to explore.  

(based on a poem by Virgil) 

The things of my past are falling away in so many ways and I have new spiritual pursuits.   

Yours in grief, 

Jacob 

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Dear Jacob, 

What a beautiful tribute in poetry in your last letter. In a time when things are beginning to be going so well for you, you have now experienced great grief. Christmas and the new year aren’t exempt from grief. Bethlehem experienced the rage of a tyrant and the deaths of innocents, but you don’t know about that yet. 

So sorry to hear about your Mum’s death and that of Deborah, your nurse. Tell me, did you ever meet up with your Mum again before she died? Deborah was obviously well-respected. I love the way you expressed your grief by naming the tree nearby, “the oak of weeping. 

May the Lord help you and me to grieve the losses of our past and bury them each with the thoughtful reflection you have given Deborah. 

God bless you as you grieve, 

Ross 

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Dear Ross, 

I’m sorry, but I can’t talk about losing my Mum. It’s all too painful. What I can tell you is that in the midst of all my grief, God appeared to me. 

I have come full circle. 20 years ago, I escaped to Paddan-aram and on the way God appeared to me at Bethel. Now I have returned from Paddan-aram, and God has appeared to me again at Bethel. God has blessed me. God has never given up on me. He said to me, “Your name is Jacob, but you will not be called Jacob any longer. From now on your name will be Israel.” So God renamed me Israel” (Genesis 35:9 NLT). This is very significant for me. 

Israel means either “the man who prevails with God” or “God prevails and rules over the man.” For me, both are true. The reason I limp is because I prevailed upon God to bless me and God has certainly prevailed over me in that I want to serve Him as my King.   

I may limp, but I am learning that blessing comes from cursing when you finally obey God. I feel as if I have finally entered into my destiny as the man God intended me to be, no longer Jacob the deceiver but Israel the authentic.  

My life has been anything but problem-free. I have experienced much pain, most of it brought about by my own actions, yet in my many fights with God, He has allowed me to prevail as Israel, to prevail not over God, but with Him, to enter into my destiny having grown through the ordeal. 

He also gave me a number of other promises for the future. 

Yours, limping but moving ahead, 

Jacob  

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Dear Jacob, 

I understand your reluctance to talk about your Mum. Sorry for asking.  

How incredible that God appeared to you personally! I have all sorts of questions however. How did God appear to you? In a dream? As a person? What other promises? This is so fascinating, but you left out all the details in your letter.  

Nevertheless, after reading your last, very moving letter, I found myself praying that God would continually return me to the place of promise and blessing, no matter what pain life may hold in getting there.  

I want Him to change any accoutrements of my past that suggest a lie, and to lead me into my destiny, and to fight for me to be authentic also. I want Him to help me not fight against Him but with Him.  

Thanks for all your inspiring letters this week. So pleased to be in correspondence and reading about your journey. 

Ephesians 3:20 (NLT) says “Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” 

Ross 

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Pastor Ross

Genesis 35:3-4 – LETTERS TO JACOB  

Letters to Jacob © Image created by Ross Cochrane

Dear Jacob, 

I hear you are moving away from Shechem.  I’ve got to admit that I feel relieved. Shechem may be a good place for trade but it is a morally corrupt place and dangerous for your family. You know this of course, from the recent events that have transpired. I honestly don’t know how you will manage. You will need God’s help. 

I am concerned about you. Jacob, I feel I know you well enough now to be able to encourage you to find God’s plan and follow it. God answered your prayers during a stressful time in your life many years ago. Remember. He will do it again. 

I have also been experiencing a little stress recently. Nothing in comparison with you, but I also need motivation to go to the Bethel that God wants for me and honour Him in that place. I can declare that He has never left me, or forsaken me, even in my lowest moments when I haven’t been listening to him. He remains faithful always. 

All the best with your move, 

Ross  

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Dear Ross, 

Just a quick note. You have heard right. We are moving. “We are now going to Bethel, where I will build an altar to the God who answered my prayers when I was in distress. He has been with me wherever I have gone.” (Genesis 35:3 NLT) 

I have collected all pagan idols and earrings from my family and household, and buried them under the great tree near Shechem(Genesis 35:4 NLT) 

My family and household servants paraded their connections with false religion on their bodies, but at least they gave them up willingly to me. Burying them under the great oak was a good idea. I was trying to indicate that Shechem and its pagan ways are finished? We are dead to the world and alive to God. As for me and my family, we will worship the Lord. 

My grandfather Abram built an altar at Shechem near this great oak TreeSo buried the remnants of our idolatrous living in the shadow of his altar as a sign to God that I mean business? It’s not going to be easy. 

Respectfully, 

Jacob 

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Dear Jacob, 

I am impressed and inspired by your letter. Like you, I want to bury what is past and enter into new pathways that God has designed for me. May God help us bury all that stands in our way of serving Him.  

Acts 3:19 (NASB) says, “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;” 

This letter will probably get to you while you are traveling.

By the way, I hope you don’t mind me asking, but what did you do with the women and children that your sons took captive after the massacre? You mention nothing of them. I am just hoping that they were not buried also.  

You must be afraid of retaliation from the towns around you. I’m glad you are moving and I am praying for your protection. 

Looking forward to your next letter.  

Praying for your protection, 

Ross 

Pastor Ross