Day 3: The Shaping of a Heart (and a Nation)

Today’s reading: Genesis 24-35, Psalm 5-6

A central figure in today’s reading is Jacob. From our introduction to him when he is still in the womb, we learn that he will strive to overcome any obstacle in his way. Perseverance is a core characteristic of the “heel-grabber.” What is remarkable in these chapters of Genesis is how God shapes that characteristic for good over time, and for the purposes of the covenant.

The way Jacob swindles his brother Esau out of both birthright and blessing, with a little help from Mom, offends our sense of how family is supposed to treat each other (and there will be several other examples of that today!) But it also reveals Jacob’s desire to “go places” and the ease with which Esau would sacrifice the family’s future–over a bowl of soup. God sees through Jacob’s deception to a heart that has the strength and endurance needed for the future of a people who, only two generations later, will find themselves enslaved.

So, as Jacob is on his way to the house of Laban, he has an encounter with God that is life-changing. He names the place Bethel (God’s House). Years later, after persevering through the treatment he receives from his uncle Laban and journeying home to face his brother and come to terms with his past, Jacob returns to Bethel. There God gives him a new name that will not only be his, but an entire nation’s: Israel.

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4 Responses to Day 3: The Shaping of a Heart (and a Nation)

  1. Linda says:

    This is a much more benign interpretation than I get out of this first three days. Several years ago I participated in a “read the Bible in a year” project and was struck at that time by the way we edit our Sunday school stories. (I still don’t get Ham’s great offense and why he and his descendants were condemned to slavery.) I also have a lot of trouble with the way women are treated. Okay, I know it’s ancient times, etc. But, for example, Lot is presented as the only good man in the entire city of Sodom. The only person good enough to be spared, along with his family, from destruction. The same wonderfully decent man who offered his daughters to the mob. I know he was being a good host and all, but, heck, his guests were angels. Couldn’t they fend for themselves.

    • runninrev says:

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts here, Linda. FYI–in my daily blog, I will not be trying to interpret the entire day’s reading. Rather, I’ll be using it to highlight just one aspect or thread of the reading that may inspire, challenge, encourage, etc. One of my hopes for the perfect 100 is that other people will then use this space to share about their own readings and discoveries, lifting up other parts of the reading.

      You are right to point out that there is a great deal of mistreatment of women in the pages of Scripture. One thing to consider as you read would be how often this mistreatment is simply reported as part of the unfolding story versus how often it is actually being condoned or endorsed by God (see the end of Day 4’s blog). Often, rather than being a statement about God, these passages reveal the ugly character of humanity, about which the Bible is quite honest. What is remarkable is that God doesn’t give up on Creation, but somehow manages to work through this ugliness, moving us toward God’s purposes.

  2. Di says:

    The reading today makes me think about what do I want to leave behind for my children? What is their inheritance? What do I want them to learn from my story?
    My question to ponder? Was it o.k to lend a helping hand in deception? Surely, God did not prompt Rebekah to help deceive her husband?

  3. debbie says:

    You know I really thought we lived in an immoral world till I read Genesis. No wonder women are oppressed. Even God’s chosen were asking their wives to pretend they were their sisters to keep them from being killed. The ultimate pimping if you ask me.

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