Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Genesis: Chapter 46

While this is a chapter with another sweet reunion, my mind was impressed on a couple other fronts today.  My first impression from this chapter was the attentiveness of God; the second was the alternating names of Jacob and Israel.  Throughout scripture Jacob is seen as a spiritual man and his life journey is all about spiritual growth.  It was after he left Padan-Aram that God gave Jacob the new name, Israel.  Jacob seems to be the name most associated with his humanity, and Israel depicts a man of faith.  That is the journey we all want to continue to make progress upon--from reliance on self to direction by the Spirit.  It reminded me of a t-shirt I saw that played upon the common depiction of evolution from a bent-over ape to an upright man.  It was titled Christian Evolution:  it began with an upright man and ended with a prostrate man.  On our face before God is the most glorious position we can assume.

The chapter opens with Jacob seeking that direction and blessing of God.  His father and grandfather had been commanded to stay out of Egypt; deciding to go was a decision fraught with emotion.  On the emotional side is the overpowering desire to see his son.  On the practical side is the drought and famine.  On the spiritual side is the commands to his ancestors; so Jacob went to the God of his father.  As always, God was faithful to meet with him and direct him.  And here is the first attention to detail I caught: '...and Joseph's own hand will close your eyes."  In our culture we try to avoid discussing the obvious reality of death, but God is both direct and comforting.  God knows and cares about the future and His foreknowledge and compassion were given to Israel. 

The genealogies speak to me, too, of God's minute concern over every soul.  This is, of course, the genealogy of Jesus who would be born 1700 years later.  I see it as evidence, too, that every soul matters to God.  He knows our names--even the number of hairs on our head scripture says.  We have a detail-oriented God!  Every soul should matter to us as well, because there is another genealogy that is kept:  the Lamb's Book of Life.  Jesus loves each and every one of the souls walking about us; we need to reach out to them and welcome them into the family for His name sake.

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