Sunday, January 15, 2017

January 15

Genesis 31:17-32:12; Matthew 10:26-11:6; Psalm 13:1-6; Proverbs 3:16-18

The Statue of Liberty.  The Eiffel Tower.  The Taj Mahal.  The Great Wall of China.
They are all symbols, markers.  They are witnesses to a time or a faith or a dynasty or a nation, built to last through time and to be a reminder of the initial reason for their creation.  They are meant to cause people to remember and to act accordingly.  

In Genesis 31:44-52, Laban and Jacob build just such a memorial.  Jegar Sahadutha (Aramaic) and Galeed (Hebrew) both mean "witness heap."  This group of stones and pillar served as the evidence of the agreement the men make, sealing their pact of honorable behavior and peace.  The new name of the place reveals the new significance of the place.  

Just verses later, Jacob encounters the angels of God again and names the place Mahanaim ("two camps"), acknowledging once again the presence of God (Gen. 32:1-2).  Earlier, we saw Jacob build a pillar and rename Luz to Bethel to give voice to his vision of the house of God (Gen. 28:1-22).  And we'll continue to see God's people use names and stones as ways of remembering God's work and presence in their lives.

I struggle with remembering God's goodness and faithfulness.  It's so easy for me to forget, to doubt.  I've often considered setting up a pile of stones, or installing a mezuzah (a parchment attached to Jewish homes as a way of reminding them of their connection to God and their heritage), or even getting a tattoo - something that would be an on-going reminder of who I am in Christ.  I hate forgetting, and yet I desperately need help remembering!  I haven't acted on these impulses because I realize that any of these physical witnesses would do the job only temporarily.  Much like my wedding and engagement rings, they'll be a remarkable memory-goad for a time, but then familiarity and constant exposure will numb the prompting.  The significance of the symbol isn't lost, but its ability to spark memory is diminished.

Perhaps an answer for my faltering memory isn't something physical.  Perhaps Jesus' response to John's disciples in Matthew 11:5 is a better place to look for reminders. "The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor."  These are the markers of God's on-going presence and activity - the change from brokenness to health.  I can look at the blind pride in my own life turn to humbling sight; I can notice the deadness of adulterous relationships raised to new life because of Jesus; I can hear the good news preached to me ("the poor") through Scripture.  While tangible monuments might lose their power, these more-intangible witness heaps remind me of the work of God going on all the time, all around me.  God is good, and I have proof, and perhaps these "pillars" will help me remember just a little bit longer.

- Sarah Marsh

How did God speak to you in Scripture today? Click here to share your reflections on God's word or read past posts. We'd love to hear from you. 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Sarah. You're a good preacher, sister.... I mean, daughter.
    And how about a few "amens" chiming in from you, our dear, but unseen, readers.
    Reading the OYB with you is a joy!