I feel like God sent these guys out into the world and said, “Make good choices!” Their response was, “Challenge accepted,” but not in a good way. We have to remember that Moses is writing this to instruct the nation of Israel. This story is a carefully cultivated story by the Lord to teach them who He is. It is fun to look through the story and consider what God is teaching them.
Jacob wrestling God teaches them that there is no point to wrestling with God, He will win. Our pride will tell us, “Yeah, I can take him!” Also the fact that Jacob clung to God until he received His blessing is really beautiful. Jacob also gets a new name after he wrestles God. This brings tears to my eyes because I feel this in my bones. After I “wrestled” with God (years resisting admitting He is real) I know He has made me new (Sarah 2.0 maybe?)
The debacle at Shechem teaches them that they better deal with the people living in the Promised Land exactly the way God says to. Any contact with them would cause the Israelites to sin. Dinah goes to hang out with the woman of Shechem and gets raped by their kings son! What a godless group of people. And if that is not bad enough Jacobs sons jump in to avenge her and it goes from bad to really bad to everybody is dead. The message is “I am God, I know what I am doing, please do what I tell you to do because I created you and I love you and I know what is best.”
Matthew 11: 7-30
My nerdiness is totally going to spill out all over the place today. Right here in these verses Jesus makes the OT come alive for us Christians!!!!!!! Johns ministry (remember out in the woods, honey and locust, “Kingdom is coming!!) kickstarted what the prophets and the law of Moses looked forward to!!! If you don’t like reading the OT or don’t get it, that’s because you have only understood the end of the story!! At the beginning you learn why we need Jesus, who Jesus will be, why Israel has so much to do with it, and the beautiful anticipation of waiting for Jesus to come. It jumps off the page! AAGGG!!!
These people in these towns that John and Jesus have preached in are missing what is right in front of their face because they are getting hung up in the presentation. And here is where Jesus lowers the boom. He says “Ya’ll have seen me do these miracles, and you should know that this is what you have been waiting for, but you are so hung up on your expectations of what a savior should do, you don’t believe me because I offended you because I ate with ‘sinners’. You will not be able to stand before God and say “you didn’t give us a sign,” because you saw these signs with your own eyes, and you will be held accountable in a way Sodom is not.” And this is the whole point isn’t it? We miss God because we are hung up on the way something should be done, or whatever.
But Jesus’ burden is light. You don’t have to be like the Pharisee’s and make yourself look right before you fall into His arms. He does not put expectations and traditions on us. It is simple and pure. In these verses He is telling them God told you I was going to come and here I am. Come to Me those who are weary, and I will give you rest. This was the verse Doug was teaching on the day I got saved so I guess we will call it my salvation verse. I was weary from wrestling God, I set my burden in His hand and He gave me rest.
Psalm 14: 1-7
This one stings a little. I can remember how smart I thought I was when I decided there was no God. I was learned and wise and I knew everything about everything. I was also in my 20’s. Gosh I wish I was actually as smart as I thought I was in my 20’s. Fools say there is no God.
Look how cool this last verse is because it ties our whole reading for the day together!! Who will come from Mount Zion to rescue Israel? JESUS!!! In our NT reading today Jesus says, “I’m the One you have been looking forward too!!! When the Lord restores His people Jacob will shout with joy and Israel will rejoice! We read about Jacob and the name change to Israel that starts a new nation chosen by God in the OT reading!! How cool is that!!!
Proverbs 3: 19-20
Remember from the Psalm, “Only fools say in their hearts, “there is no God.”” This is foolish because God founded the earth, created the heavens and by his knowledge the deep fountains burst forth. Challenging that is like Jacob looking at God and saying, “Yeah, I can take Him.” Low view of God=you lose. High view of God=you win.