Posts Tagged ‘Unbelievable’

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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

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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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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