Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Jacob’s Concern For His Own Welfare -- Genesis 34:27-30

Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have brought trouble on me, by making me odious among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites; and my men being few in number, they will gather together against me and attack me and I shall be destroyed, I and my household.”

Please understand the context. Two of Jacob’s sons have just murdered every adult male in the city of Shechem in a clearly unfair attack. Likely all of his sons were involved in the looting of the city, taking for themselves all the livestock, all the earthly goods, and even the children and wives, of the Shechemites. As an engaged reader, I could hardly wait to hear what Jacob, to whom God had re-iterated His Covenant to make him a great nation, had to say about it all. And true to form, Jacob does not disappoint.

Surprisingly, his concern was all about himself. His sons’ actions were not criticized for what they were – sinful acts of violence based on revenge and personal gain, and perhaps even a twisted sense of cruelty. Instead, he lamented the fact that what they did caused him ‘trouble’. Their actions made him detestable among all the peoples of the land.

And to boot, Jacob was smart enough to know that if all the rulers of the neighboring cities united and decided to attack him and his family, his resources could not withstand the military offensive they would launch against him. Worse still was the fact, not that he would be attacked and defeated by the enemies’ much stronger and larger units, but that indeed he and his household would be destroyed. He would come to ruin.

Here is a man hand-picked by God, spoken to directly by Him, ensured of a legacy and a covenant underwritten by the Creator of the Universe, and with previous experience in God’s saving power and strength. And yet amidst certain adversity, although through no direct action of his own, he falls to pieces worrying about his ruin and destruction.

What does God need to do before man takes Him at His word? What does He have to do before you and I take Him at His word? In Focus on the Family’s “The Truth Project”, Dr. Del Tackett asks us a very piercing question. It is this: “Do you really believe that what you believe is really real?” I dare say that while our motions and often our emotions, especially during our singing of psalms and praises at our worship service, would indicate that there is nothing our God cannot do and that He knows what is the very best for us, our actual behavior during the rest of the week, and especially when we face great difficulty, would dictate that we answer Prof. Tackett’s question in the negative. “No, we do not.”

As you study this verse today, I challenge you to determine a personal means by which you can turn your answer to Del’s question into a positive one. I do not know exactly what that entails for you. I can only share with you what it meant for me. While I only recently heard the question asked by “The Truth Project” phrased the way it has been in that program, I dealt with a very similar question many years ago. My training and my personality had taught me to be ‘proactive’ in my approach to life rather than ‘reactive’ whenever possible. So, during my thirties I decided to make a very conscious decision, more as a defensive (proactive) course of action than anything else – just in case I ever needed to rely on that decision. And what was that? That God was exactly Who He claimed to be, and that any limitation in His demonstrated power on my life, or evidence of His grace or blessing on me, was or would be a direct result of my lack of faith or my own sin, and not for any lack of His love for me or any weakness in His own all-powerfulness.

Since then that decision has served me so well. Coupled with my own discipline to adhere to decisions I make about God and my faith, especially those that parallel Scripture, that very decision has been both a lifesaver and ultimately the means by which my life was freed up to pursue what God had in store for me. Let me share with you just two significant times when that became very clear to me.

The first is an occasion I do not talk about very often. It was a very dark time in my life. The situation had the potential of thrusting me in to total and utter ruin. Remember I said I was proactive, and even disciplined. I did not say I was always wise, or especially careful in my life. As a result I managed to get involved in a situation that was not what God wanted for me, no matter how much I tried to convince Him it was. Ultimately, because of Who He Is and because of how much He loved me, God arranged for me to be catapulted out of it against my own volition. My free will got me into the mess, but God’s Free Love pulled me out of it. But not without discipline, not without being set aside from Christian ministry for several years, not without heartaches, and what have you. Yet, when I realized that it was He who took charge, I yielded totally to His ‘tough love’ for me. In that experience, I also found out that being proactive and disciplined in an area of life that is not wise or appropriate for a Christian to be in, can indeed be humbling, if not devastating.

The second experience was in August 2008 when I was first diagnosed with colon cancer. That same day, I drew on my decision made nearly thirty years earlier, that my God was indeed the God of the Universe and the same God that was with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. If God wanted to allow me to live, He would. If He wanted my life over, that would be fine with me. I did what I believed Scripture instructs us to do in those circumstances. I prayed and I asked the elders of my church to anoint me with oil. I started taking care of my God-given body by exercising regularly and eating healthier. And I left the rest to God. He didn’t let me down.

God had proven Himself to me over and over in my life during my teens and as a young husband and father. He no longer had to do that. But unless I had made that solid decision that I did in my thirties – that beyond a shadow of a doubt, even when the Enemy tries to get us to doubt, the decision that God is Who He is and that “I really believe what I believe is really real”, I would never have been able to make it through my darkest days and/or my bout with cancer. I would encourage you to consider, proactively, making such a decision, and then never forgetting you did make it. It is then that life takes on a whole new perspective, one with assurance, confidence, patience, joy and total reliance on the only One Who can provide all of that.

Join others following Ken on Twitter
Check-out AccordConsulting, SCA International, and Human Resources for the Church.

Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

No comments:

Post a Comment