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Tag Archives: Israel

Solomon — 1 Kings 11:41-12:4

The rest of the events in Solomon’s reign, including all his deeds and his wisdom, are recorded in The Book of the Acts of Solomon. Solomon ruled in Jerusalem over all Israel for forty years. When he died, he was buried in the City of David, named for his father. Then his son Rehoboam became the next king. Rehoboam went to Shechem, where all Israel had gathered to make him king. When Jeroboam son of Nebat heard of this, he returned from Egypt, for he had fled to Egypt to escape from King Solomon. The leaders of Israel summoned him, and Jeroboam and the whole assembly of Israel went to speak with Rehoboam. “Your father was a hard master,” they said. “Lighten the harsh labor demands and heavy taxes that your father imposed on us. Then we will be your loyal subjects.”
1 Kings 11:41-12:4

Dear God, I’m going to wrap up the 1 Kings telling of Solomon’s story by looking again at this initial exchange between Israel’s leaders and Rehoboam. Apparently, by the end of Solomon’s reign we know there were two pretty distinctly negative things about him:

  1. He worshiped other gods because of his many, many wives.
    He was a harsh king that gave people harsh labor and high taxes.

It takes me back to 1 Samuel 8 when Samuel warned the people who were then the leaders of Israel:

“This is how a king will reign over you,” Samuel said. “The king will draft your sons and assign them to his chariots and his charioteers, making them run before his chariots. Some will be generals and captains in his army, some will be forced to plow in his fields and harvest his crops, and some will make his weapons and chariot equipment. The king will take your daughters from you and force them to cook and bake and make perfumes for him. He will take away the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his own officials. He will take a tenth of your grain and your grape harvest and distribute it among his officers and attendants. He will take your male and female slaves and demand the finest of your cattle and donkeys for his own use. He will demand a tenth of your flocks, and you will be his slaves. When that day comes, you will beg for relief from this king you are demanding, but then the Lord will not help you.”
1 Samuel 8:11-18

I’ve mused in these journals what Israel (and David) would have looked like if David had been a judge and not a king. I think David’s life would have played out completely differently. Even if he had been more of a warrior judge like Joshua instead of a spiritual leader judge, he still would have lived a much different life. But I suppose that any of us that make ourselves king, whether it be in reality or figuratively in our own minds or families, will end up needing people to rule over. That can include a spouse or children. But if we can keep thinking of ourselves as your servants and the servants of those whom you called us to love, them we have a chance at being more useful to you and getting more done in the long run.

Father, help me to be exactly who you need me to be for those around me. Use my life to draw others’ hearts to you. Increase through me and help me to decrease. Do it all for your glory and so that you are worshipped.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2019 in 1 Kings, 1 Samuel, Solomon

 

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Emails to God – Advising Through Conflicts of Interest (Esther 1)

1 This is what happened during the time of Xerxes, the Xerxes who ruled over 127 provinces stretching from India to Cush: 2 At that time King Xerxes reigned from his royal throne in the citadel of Susa, 3 and in the third year of his reign he gave a banquet for all his nobles and officials. The military leaders of Persia and Media, the princes, and the nobles of the provinces were present.

4 For a full 180 days he displayed the vast wealth of his kingdom and the splendor and glory of his majesty. 5 When these days were over, the king gave a banquet, lasting seven days, in the enclosed garden of the king’s palace, for all the people from the least to the greatest who were in the citadel of Susa. 6 The garden had hangings of white and blue linen, fastened with cords of white linen and purple material to silver rings on marble pillars. There were couches of gold and silver on a mosaic pavement of porphyry, marble, mother-of-pearl and other costly stones. 7 Wine was served in goblets of gold, each one different from the other, and the royal wine was abundant, in keeping with the king’s liberality. 8 By the king’s command each guest was allowed to drink with no restrictions, for the king instructed all the wine stewards to serve each man what he wished.

9 Queen Vashti also gave a banquet for the women in the royal palace of King Xerxes.

10 On the seventh day, when King Xerxes was in high spirits from wine, he commanded the seven eunuchs who served him—Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar and Karkas— 11 to bring before him Queen Vashti, wearing her royal crown, in order to display her beauty to the people and nobles, for she was lovely to look at. 12 But when the attendants delivered the king’s command, Queen Vashti refused to come. Then the king became furious and burned with anger.

13 Since it was customary for the king to consult experts in matters of law and justice, he spoke with the wise men who understood the times 14 and were closest to the king—Karshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena and Memukan, the seven nobles of Persia and Media who had special access to the king and were highest in the kingdom.

15 “According to law, what must be done to Queen Vashti?” he asked. “She has not obeyed the command of King Xerxes that the eunuchs have taken to her.”

16 Then Memukan replied in the presence of the king and the nobles, “Queen Vashti has done wrong, not only against the king but also against all the nobles and the peoples of all the provinces of King Xerxes. 17 For the queen’s conduct will become known to all the women, and so they will despise their husbands and say, ‘King Xerxes commanded Queen Vashti to be brought before him, but she would not come.’ 18 This very day the Persian and Median women of the nobility who have heard about the queen’s conduct will respond to all the king’s nobles in the same way. There will be no end of disrespect and discord.

19 “Therefore, if it pleases the king, let him issue a royal decree and let it be written in the laws of Persia and Media, which cannot be repealed, that Vashti is never again to enter the presence of King Xerxes. Also let the king give her royal position to someone else who is better than she. 20 Then when the king’s edict is proclaimed throughout all his vast realm, all the women will respect their husbands, from the least to the greatest.”

21 The king and his nobles were pleased with this advice, so the king did as Memukan proposed. 22 He sent dispatches to all parts of the kingdom, to each province in its own script and to each people in their own language, proclaiming that every man should be ruler over his own household, using his native tongue.

Dear God, I find the advisors’ advice interesting. They weren’t as concerned about the idea of the king’s authority as they were concerned about the authority of men over women in the entire society. Getting more personal, they were more concerned about their own lives and their own wives. They had a conflict of interest in giving this advice. Did they do the right thing?

I am reading a terrific book right now about the different Presidents of the United States and their relationships with each other behind the scenes (The Presidents’ Club). It is interesting to see the times when a former or current president will reach out to another under the guise of helping, but it really falls into the category of helping their own self-interests. The book is also clear that it is often easier for the person who isn’t the president at the time to make an aggressive decision than when they are president. They give an example of a president never taking the country into a war while he was president, but then encouraging his successor to take a harder, more aggressive line in using the military to advance foreign policy.

I guess my point is, Xerxes needed some sound counsel and got this instead. Perhaps it was cultural, but it would have been nice if he had just gone to his wife and asked her why she wasn’t coming. Perhaps she had a good reason.

Father, I know that marriage, especially between kings and queens of that era, are not what I think of as marriage now. I know that there is no comparison. My point is, this man needed some wise counsel. Perhaps he got it for that time. I, however, don’t think he did. Help me to seek wise counsel when I am in a quandary. Help me to know how best to tap into your wisdom in any given situation. Help me, also, to be your counsel to others. Give me your words and your voice. Help me to look beyond mine and others egos into the depths of what you might have me to do that might even be at my own expense so long as it is for your glory and your plan.

 
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Posted by on May 26, 2012 in Esther

 

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Emails to God – Jesus in Egypt (Matthew 2:19-23)

19 After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 20 and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.”

21 So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, 23 and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene.

Dear God, it is interesting that Luke’s account of Jesus’ birth totally skips Egypt, the death of the babies, and Herod. I wonder why. Luke’s account is supposed to be from Mary, so I wonder why Luke would have left this out. Did he not think it was important to the narrative he was trying to tell? He obviously goes into more detail about a lot of other things regarding the birth, including John the Baptist, Mary’s angel visit, etc.

I can’t imagine the strain of this period for Joseph and Mary. They had to have been thinking, Okay, when I signed up for this I never imagined I would have to move to Egypt in order to save the child’s life. Now they are left with moving here and there trying to keep the kid safe, eventually ending up in their hometown after a few years.

I wonder what the Egyptian years were like. I wish we had some kind of account of them here. I just read some Wikipedia explanations of the time in Egypt, and they sound interesting, if not a little fantastical. There is apparently a lot of apocrypha about Jesus’ family in Egypt, and the Coptic church in Egypt uses them extensively as they describe Jesus’ time in their land. Some of the miracles include palm trees bowing to him, idols falling before him, springs of water suddenly appearing out of the ground, etc.

I guess my point in all of this is that there is sooooo much that I do not know. There is sooooo much that I do not understand. Are these stories true? I don’t know. I wasn’t there. But, in the end, there is certainly an indication that this man made an impression, even when he was a baby. There was certainly something heavenly and divine about him. His arrival changed the course of time wherever he went. It’s amazing.

Father, I read this story and I simply worship you for it. I can only try to appreciate what Joseph and Mary suffered through this time, but it is more than I can imagine. But through it all I see that I owe you my complete submission. I give myself to you. All that I am for all that you are—that is the exchange I make with you.

 
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Posted by on November 5, 2011 in Matthew

 

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Emails to God – Helpless Parents (Matthew 2:13-18)

 13 When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”

 14 So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15 where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

 16 When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. 17 Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:

 18 “A voice is heard in Ramah,
   weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
   and refusing to be comforted,
   because they are no more.”

Dear God, I cannot imagine feeling this helpless as a parent. I have spent some time in the past talking about Joseph and his faithfulness/obedience to you here. His responsiveness to your word was impressive. But I don’t want to focus on that today. I want to focus on the idea of the powerless parents who saw the government come through and kill their children. They had absolutely no power to stop it. All they could do was watch in horror. And why did it happen? Because an insecure man couldn’t stand the idea of his successor having been born. If only he had known how the plan could work out.

So there are a few things here:

  1. The obedience of Joseph:
  2. The horror the Bethlehem parents experienced
  3. Herod’s insecurity over invalid presumptions he made

I have heard stories about the Sudan and the atrocities there. Women and girls being raped and killed. Men being beaten and killed. And there is nothing the fathers can do to protect their families. They are helpless. They are impotent in the worst way.

I think that there are similar forces at work against my family, but they are harder to see because they infiltrate the mind. Media is the worst. Television. Internet. Music. They are all working against my family, and while I can make some draconian rules against allowing such things in the house (and we do have limits), there is simply no way I can completely shield my children, wife, or myself from them.

Father, protect families in a way that only you can. Protect the families of the Sudan and everywhere else where atrocities are occurring, including human trafficking. Bless those who have suffered and give them peace. Free the captives. Ease the souls of those who were charged with protecting them but were unable to. And protect my family. I feel the attacks. I feel the insidiousness. Please help me to navigate my way through parenting my children so that our family might be a place where we feel your presence and love despite my sin.

 
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Posted by on November 4, 2011 in Matthew

 

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Emails to God – Who were the Wise Men? (Genesis 2:1-12)

1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:

6 “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,

are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;

for out of you will come a ruler

who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

 

Dear God, there are so many mysteries about these men. Who were they? Where did they come from? What made them follow the star? Why did they choose the gifts they brought? When did they arrive? Why didn’t Herod send a representative with them to ensure he learned more about Jesus? How did they know about the Jewish prophecies?

 

Given all of that, I think the overall takeaway from this story is that something significant happened when Jesus was born. People like these men could see it. Time changed. I don’t know how they counted years before the B.C. and A.D. system came about, but somewhere along the way it was so significant that they decided to go back and renumber everything around his birth almost 600 years afterward. Jesus’ arrival rippled throughout creation, even into the heavens. No only did earth experience it, but the universe experienced it too.

 

Father, I look at this story and, while I have more questions than answers, it is simply a reminder that you are to be worshipped. Jesus is to be worshipped. I accept this blessing and offer you my love. I submit my life to you. All I am for all that you are. I submit my life to you regardless of what is in it for me, for you are worthy of living my life for.

 

 
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Posted by on November 3, 2011 in Matthew

 

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Emails to God – The End of Genesis (Genesis 50:22-26)

22 Joseph stayed in Egypt, along with all his father’s family. He lived a hundred and ten years 23 and saw the third generation of Ephraim’s children. Also the children of Makir son of Manasseh were placed at birth on Joseph’s knees.

24 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die. But God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” 25 And Joseph made the Israelites swear an oath and said, “God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up from this place.”

26 So Joseph died at the age of a hundred and ten. And after they embalmed him, he was placed in a coffin in Egypt.

Dear God, I wonder what kept the Israelites from going ahead and taking off back for their homes. Why didn’t they leave Egypt? Were they afraid they had been away too long and wouldn’t be welcomed back to their own land? Were they happy in Goshen and saw no reason to leave? I supposed this would have been the time to leave if they were ever going to do it. Why didn’t they?

I also wonder what Joseph died from. He obviously died before a lot of his brothers, and he died comparatively young when you consider how old everyone else was living. So did he get sick from a disease? Probably. Funny, but we don’t often think of a Biblical character’s cause of death. They just die because they didn’t have a lot of doctors going around giving an accurate diagnosis.

As I finish off Genesis with this passage, I suppose the overarching message of the book is that you had a plan, you placed the fate of your plan in very fallible people (from Adam, to Noah, to Abraham, to Jacob, etc.), and your plan somehow endures until this day. Is every date in here correct? Every story precise? I doubt it. But there is certainly a sense that you were there, you are here, and it is going to be okay in the long run.

Father, help me to sense your presence over my very flawed life. Help me to turn loose of the need to get everything perfect and simply let you live through me. Bless others through me, even though there are times when I am not tuned into you. Move beyond my abilities into a place in my life where you live through me even beyond my ability to consciously channel you. I am a fool, and I know your plan if foolproof. Let your plan reign.

 
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Posted by on October 24, 2011 in Genesis

 

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Emails to God – Testing Forgiveness (Genesis 50:15-21)

15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” 16 So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: 17 ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept.

18 His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said.

19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. 21 So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.

Dear God, this family was deceptive until the end. These guys are awful. Up until now there is no indication that they had told Jacob what really happened to Joseph way back when (although this story intimates he found out somewhere along the way). But here they are lying to him and telling him that their father (whom Joseph loved) gave him instructions that he never gave. In fact, if Jacob were really to have given those instructions, wouldn’t he have more likely given them directly to Joseph than gone through the boys?

On the other side of this is the fact that Joseph was able to see beyond the pain of his situation and even any anger he had towards you for the way your plan unfolded. He accepted the suffering. He accepted the trials. Now, would he have accepted it if things hadn’t worked out so well for him in the end? Probably not, but it would still have been easy for him to not let his scars heal and hold on to the pain and bitterness.

Father, I still have grudges against people that I have got to let go of. In fact, while I was writing this my wife talked about some physical symptoms she felt during a recent illness, and it reminded me of a woman in this town who has done some things to hurt me because she is basically afflicted by the same symptoms on a constant basis but she doesn’t realize it. So when the thought of her crossed my mind I was instantly angry. So I still have issues. I still have grudges. Give me your perspective on these things and give me healing because I am, frankly, the only one they really hurt, and yet the feel so good to hold on to.

 
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Posted by on October 22, 2011 in Genesis

 

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Emails to God – A Lesson in Mourning (Genesis 50:1-14)

1 Joseph threw himself on his father and wept over him and kissed him. 2 Then Joseph directed the physicians in his service to embalm his father Israel. So the physicians embalmed him, 3 taking a full forty days, for that was the time required for embalming. And the Egyptians mourned for him seventy days.

4 When the days of mourning had passed, Joseph said to Pharaoh’s court, “If I have found favor in your eyes, speak to Pharaoh for me. Tell him, 5 ‘My father made me swear an oath and said, “I am about to die; bury me in the tomb I dug for myself in the land of Canaan.” Now let me go up and bury my father; then I will return.’”

6 Pharaoh said, “Go up and bury your father, as he made you swear to do.”

7 So Joseph went up to bury his father. All Pharaoh’s officials accompanied him—the dignitaries of his court and all the dignitaries of Egypt— 8 besides all the members of Joseph’s household and his brothers and those belonging to his father’s household. Only their children and their flocks and herds were left in Goshen. 9 Chariots and horsemen also went up with him. It was a very large company.

10 When they reached the threshing floor of Atad, near the Jordan, they lamented loudly and bitterly; and there Joseph observed a seven-day period of mourning for his father. 11 When the Canaanites who lived there saw the mourning at the threshing floor of Atad, they said, “The Egyptians are holding a solemn ceremony of mourning.” That is why that place near the Jordan is called Abel Mizraim.

12 So Jacob’s sons did as he had commanded them: 13 They carried him to the land of Canaan and buried him in the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre, which Abraham had bought along with the field as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite. 14 After burying his father, Joseph returned to Egypt, together with his brothers and all the others who had gone with him to bury his father.

Dear God, it strikes me in this story that Joseph officially mourned his father’s passing for at least 90 days (70 days of mourning in Egypt, a couple of weeks traveling to the burial site, and then a solid week after they arrived before they placed him with his fathers. There were probably more days in there than that, but we know from this account that it was at least 90 days.

My wife described the Jewish traditions for mourning death several years ago, and I remember her telling me that their tradition seems to have a much more realistic and healthy way of mourning. Without remembering the details, what I do remember is that they give the person who lost their loved one a long time to get over it. They are given space, and even permission, to grieve.

When my wife lost her mother almost 20 months ago she went into her mother’s death expecting to be prepared and adjusted because her mother had been sick for a while. She is continually surprised that she still feels the pain so acutely this many months later. She feels like she should be over it by now. She thought the pain would be, if not gone, then almost totally diminished much sooner than this.

Then, a few weeks ago, my brother-in-law lost his father. He had been sick for a while as well, and yet I think it surprised him to see how hard it was for him to lose his father.

Father, I think that our modern American Christian culture needs to learn how to mourn the loss of our loved ones. There is probably something we can learn from other cultures, including the Jews. In fact, I just found this web site that outlines the Jewish mourning process: http://www.uscj.org/soeast/columbus/mourning_custom.htm Help me to be the resource that my friends and family need me to be in their times of mourning, and help me in my times of mourning. Be glorified in me and give all of us peace as we make our ways through life.

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2011 in Genesis

 

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Emails to God – The Death of Jacob (Genesis 49:29-33)

29 Then he gave them these instructions: “I am about to be gathered to my people. Bury me with my fathers in the cave in the field of Ephron the Hittite, 30 the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre in Canaan, which Abraham bought along with the field as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite. 31 There Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried, there Isaac and his wife Rebekah were buried, and there I buried Leah. 32 The field and the cave in it were bought from the Hittites.”

33 When Jacob had finished giving instructions to his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed, breathed his last and was gathered to his people.

Dear God, this isn’t that important, but I think it is interesting that Jacob will end up being buried with Leah and not Rachel. I’m surprised he didn’t give instructions to have Rachel moved too since where he was buried was so important to him. Anyway, it isn’t important, I don’t think. Just interesting.

I wonder how each of the sons felt when Jacob died. I am sure the ones who were cursed by him at the end were conflicted between loving their father, hating their father, and the sense of knowing that they would never be able to earn their father’s respect back because he was gone. I’m sure that Joseph and Benjamin really grieved in a more pure way, simply loving their father and missing him.

Yesterday was my mother-in-law’s birthday. She passed away just over 19 months ago, and it was a hard day for my wife. Even though there were things about her mother that frustrated her (who doesn’t have things about their parents that frustrate them?), she deeply loved her mother. Of course, there were some areas where my wife felt like she didn’t live up to her mother’s expectations and those are things that she will now have to come to terms with on her own and not ever have them physically resolved with her mother.

Father, that leaves me to my role and responsibility as a father to my children. How have I cursed them? How have I made them feel like they don’t measure up—all in the name of trying to mold them into the people they need to be for life. I know I have scarred them, and that thought kills me. I know they have wounds from me that will never fully heal, no matter how much I try. We all carry those wounds around. We all carry those scars. They are a little like the scars that I can see on my skin from childhood. They aren’t anyone’s fault, but I will forever have a reminder of that bicycle accident when I was 11-years-old because I can see the scar on my right knee. So help me to not scar my children anymore, and help me to bless them and not curse them so that they might live lives that are both submitted to you and in peace.

 
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Posted by on October 19, 2011 in Genesis

 

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Emails to God – Deathbed Curses (Genesis 49:5-28)

5 “Simeon and Levi are brothers—

their swords are weapons of violence.

6 Let me not enter their council,

let me not join their assembly,

for they have killed men in their anger

and hamstrung oxen as they pleased.

7 Cursed be their anger, so fierce,

and their fury, so cruel!

I will scatter them in Jacob

and disperse them in Israel.

8 “Judah, your brothers will praise you;

your hand will be on the neck of your enemies;

your father’s sons will bow down to you.

9 You are a lion’s cub, Judah;

you return from the prey, my son.

Like a lion he crouches and lies down,

like a lioness—who dares to rouse him?

10 The scepter will not depart from Judah,

nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,

until he to whom it belongs shall come

and the obedience of the nations shall be his.

11 He will tether his donkey to a vine,

his colt to the choicest branch;

he will wash his garments in wine,

his robes in the blood of grapes.

12 His eyes will be darker than wine,

his teeth whiter than milk.

13 “Zebulun will live by the seashore

and become a haven for ships;

his border will extend toward Sidon.

14 “Issachar is a rawboned donkey

lying down among the sheep pens.

15 When he sees how good is his resting place

and how pleasant is his land,

he will bend his shoulder to the burden

and submit to forced labor.

16 “Dan will provide justice for his people

as one of the tribes of Israel.

17 Dan will be a snake by the roadside,

a viper along the path,

that bites the horse’s heels

so that its rider tumbles backward.

18 “I look for your deliverance, LORD.

19 “Gad[i] will be attacked by a band of raiders,

but he will attack them at their heels.

20 “Asher’s food will be rich;

he will provide delicacies fit for a king.

21 “Naphtali is a doe set free

that bears beautiful fawns.

22 “Joseph is a fruitful vine,

a fruitful vine near a spring,

whose branches climb over a wall.

23 With bitterness archers attacked him;

they shot at him with hostility.

24 But his bow remained steady,

his strong arms stayed limber,

because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob,

because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel,

25 because of your father’s God, who helps you,

because of the Almighty, who blesses you

with blessings of the skies above,

blessings of the deep springs below,

blessings of the breast and womb.

26 Your father’s blessings are greater

than the blessings of the ancient mountains,

than the bounty of the age-old hills.

Let all these rest on the head of Joseph,

on the brow of the prince among his brothers.

27 “Benjamin is a ravenous wolf;

in the morning he devours the prey,

in the evening he divides the plunder.”

28 All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said to them when he blessed them, giving each the blessing appropriate to him.

Dear God, I told my wife this morning, “Isn’t it interesting to call your children to you on your deathbed and curse half of them.” Now, I didn’t do the numbers and see that it was half, but really, do you really need to curse any of your children on your deathbed?

I am continuously amazed at how the little comments I make, usually in jest, are taken as damning curses by my children. Since I have seen the results of my teasing, I am so much better about it than I used to be, but I still let things slip, looking for the joke—even at their expense. Just this weekend my son mentioned something that I said in front of my parents that was rude. I would have thought that I hadn’t done anything on that trip to their house that hurt my kids, but when he gave me his example he was right.

Father, my desire is to only speak blessings over my children—both directly and indirectly. I want them to feel not only loved by me, but also blessed by me. Help me to use my words in a positive way to encourage and bless them. Help me to love them richly. Love them through me. Show me where I am foolish. Show me where I need to encourage them to do better through a blessing instead of relegating them to a life of giving into their vices through a curse. I do not want to live verse 28, giving each the blessing appropriate to him or her. I want to give the blessing that you want them to live into. You do not want them to live into their negative qualities. You want them to live into your calling for them. Help me to see that and to give them that blessing as their father.

 
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Posted by on October 18, 2011 in Genesis

 

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