Friday, June 18, 2010

God Blesses Jacob -- Genesis 35:11-12

God also said to him, “I am God Almighty; Be fruitful and multiply; A nation and a company of nations shall come from you, And kings shall come forth from you. And the land which I gave to Abraham and Isaac, I will give it to you, And I will give the land to your descendents after you.”

As I study this section today, Israel is once again the target of global criticism for its military and political stance with respect to the Palestinians, both in the Gaza strip and the West Bank. And yet, when I read the text, I see clearly that the descendents of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob have been given the ‘promised land’ as theirs. If all the parties involved had the same worldview with respect to the Word of God, there would be no dispute whatsoever with respect to the Jews’ right to all of present-day Israel; there would be no middle-east crisis that involved Israel. Unfortunately, we are not all on the same page.

God had indeed given the ‘promised’ land to Jacob’s descendents. And over thousands of years, perhaps because of their rebellion against God, various empires were allowed to take it away from them. The Jews spread all over the world. As time passed, they yearned for a land they could once again call their own. In 1948, God allowed them to re-establish the Promised Land as their very own, a land politically recognized by almost the entire world, as the state of Israel. There the truly ‘chosen people’ are indeed recognizing God as the Almighty, although many have not accepted His Son Jesus as their Messiah yet. God is both protecting and blessing them. They are being fruitful and multiplying just as this verse promised.

The phrase “A nation and a company of nations shall come from you, And kings shall come forth from you” is a reference, going back in history, to the fact that Jacob’s descendents will consist of all the tribes of his people, the Israelites, each with their leaders. If we accept that this verse is written in such a way that the events described therein were to occur in a chronological order, then we can establish that it will be after all of these tribes are formed that the ‘land’ would be given to Jacob’s descendents. As we study the early books of the Bible, we will see exactly that. What is occurring today in the modern Middle East is a battle with respect to that ‘ownership’ promise God had made back in the days of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

In these verses and the one before (verse 10), God is simply reminding Jacob of a few things, beginning with the revised name He had given him earlier. Jacob, as a man close to God, knew all that God had to say to him. He needed nothing new, only to be reminded of what in fact God has already said, promised, done, and expects. God does that with us periodically. That is one reason why we today have His Word. It is a reminder of what He has already said, promised, done, and expects. May we gladly receive these reminders from a loving God, and an Almighty Father.

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