Genesis 28:1-29:35; Matthew 918-38; Psalm 11:1-7; Proverbs 3:11-12
Such stories of sibling
dysfunction, aided and abetted by conniving parents! We see the fallout
from yesterday's reading when Jacob deceived Isaac and "stole" Esau's
blessing: Esau acts to spite his parents by taking foreign wives (Gen. 28:8-9).
We also see the seeds of the troubles that will come to Joseph from his
brothers in the future: the rivalry between Leah and Rachel for the attention
and love of their mutual husband (see Gen. 29:30). What trouble these
generations stirred up for their children!
And God yet confirms his choice of Jacob, appearing to him in a dream and
promising great blessing (Gen. 28:12-15). He also grants Jacob immediate
success in finding the wife of his father's wishes (see Gen. 28:2 for the
desire and chapter 29 for the fulfillment). Clearly, the Lord is at work
even amidst all these messy human relationships.
"Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it" (28:16), Jacob says. Couldn't that statement be true of more than just Bethel?
Surely God was in the deception of Isaac, in the trickery of Laban, in the
future discord between Joseph and his ten brothers. These men and women,
these players in Scripture, were often not aware of the Lord's presence and
activity - though God's plans were not thwarted by their ignorance.
Jesus, too, is not hampered. Though disbelief surrounds him, he still
restores the dead girl to life (Mt. 9:24-25). Though blindness confronts
him, he still gives sight (vs. 29-30). Though demons confront him, he
still brings healing and freedom (vs. 32-33).
The wisdom writers know this truth also. "The Lord is in his holy
temple" (Ps. 11:4), the psalmist writes, resting in the knowledge that God
is attentive and active. There will be justice; God will make it
right. "Surely the Lord is in this place" could be said by the
writer of Proverbs about the Lord's discipline. Though it looks - and is!
- painful, God is yet "in this place" though we are often "not
aware of it."
Look around today at your life, at the world around you. Where is the
Lord surely at work and you've not noticed? Are co-workers becoming more
responsive to the gospel? Are children growing in maturity and
self-control? Are you experiencing a measure of freedom in a particular
aspect of your life? Are coincidences falling into place? Are
difficulties besetting you from all sides? God is surely at work.
Let us be aware of it.
- Sarah Marsh
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