“Biology or Sin?” January 16

 

Gentlemen, excuse me for a minute while I talk to the ladies. Ladies, have you been guilty of using biology as an excuse to disobey the second greatest commandment, to love your neighbor as you love yourself?

Rachel had stolen from her father and when he came looking for his property, she used the fact that it was “that time of the month” to cover her sin! Is it possible we do much the same thing in various ways?

Also, what was Jacob’s wrestling with God all about? Did Jacob “win” that wrestling match, why did he go away with a permanent limp, and what does it all mean? Why does God allow us to wrestle with Him in prayer sometimes?

 

Today’s Readings:
Genesis 31 & 32
Psalm 8.6-9
Proverbs 3.19-20
Matthew 11.1-30

 

Biology or Sin?

 

Genesis 31 & Genesis 32:

Traditions & Unburned Bridges

 

Today we’ll talk about Jacob and his divine wrestling match, but first, I want to comment on a couple of other passages.

Jacob has decided to take his two wives and his children and head home.

In 31.16-20 and 31.35 we see these two sisters, Jacob’s wives, express belief in God, “… whatever God has said to you, do it.”

The next thing we know Rachel has stolen her father’s household gods before they head off (31.19)!

It seems so ridiculous that once she knew the truth she could think there was any power in something made by man’s hands! And yet, don’t we come up with our own man made solutions instead of waiting on and trusting God?

Maybe, she “kind of believed.” How else could she explain how Jacob prospered in spite Laban’s schemes?

Maybe she found it hard to leave behind her family “traditions”? Remember many of the pagan people believed in many gods, not just one. Maybe she didn’t want to “burn any bridges” with those other “gods.”

Again, what about us? Do we say we trust God on the one hand, but “not burn our bridges” on the other? What are you hanging on to “just in case”?

 

The Manner of Women

 

And this one’s for us, ladies:

Jacob had left without telling Laban. Now Laban returns home and finds Jacob and his daughters gone, along with his household god. 

25 So Laban overtook Jacob. Now Jacob had pitched his tent in the mountains, and Laban with his brethren pitched in the mountains of Gilead.

26 And Laban said to Jacob: “What have you done, that you have stolen away unknown to me, and carried away my daughters like captives taken with the sword? 27 Why did you flee away secretly, and steal away from me, and not tell me; for I might have sent you away with joy and songs, with timbrel and harp? 28 And you did not allow me to kiss my sons and my daughters. Now you have done foolishly in so doing. 29 It is in my power to do you harm, but the God of your father spoke to me last night, saying, ‘Be careful that you speak to Jacob neither good nor bad.’ 30 And now you have surely gone because you greatly long for your father’s house, but why did you steal my gods?”

31 Then Jacob answered and said to Laban, “Because I was afraid, for I said, ‘Perhaps you would take your daughters from me by force.’ 32 With whomever you find your gods, do not let him live. In the presence of our brethren, identify what I have of yours and take it with you.” For Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen them.

33 And Laban went into Jacob’s tent, into Leah’s tent, and into the two maids’ tents, but he did not find them. Then he went out of Leah’s tent and entered Rachel’s tent. 34 Now Rachel had taken the household idols, put them in the camel’s saddle, and sat on them. And Laban searched all about the tent but did not find them. 35 And she said to her father, “Let it not displease my lord that I cannot rise before you, for the manner of women is with me.” And he searched but did not find the household idols (Gen. 31.25-35).

Rachel had stolen from her father and when he came looking for his property, she used the fact that it was “that time of the month” to cover her sin! Is it possible we do much the same thing in various ways?

God knows we have hormonal issues. He created us that way, but He promised in 1 Corinthians 10.13:

“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man [or woman]; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”

God does not give us more than we can handle as long as we rely on His grace. He said, “you may be able to bear it!” The word “may” there is not tentative; it doesn’t mean “might.” It’s definite!

anger yellingPMS, menopause, none of it gives us a right or excuse to break God’s commandments. That means we can be patient and kind (1 Cor. 13.4), not use unwholesome speech (Eph. 4.29), and respond with grace instead of anger (Eph. 4.31-32), in spite of how we feel! We can love God and others (Matt. 22.39), even when our hormones are going crazy.

Now to 32.24-32—Jacob’s wrestling match.

 

Jacob’s Wrestling Match

 

Jacob was on his way home. He had sent his wives and children ahead so that he could be alone. According to Matthew Henry, he was “full of care and fear” about this meeting with his brother. Remember he had fled from him in fear of his life twenty years ago. And, although there had been information exchanged (Jacob was aware that his father was still alive—31.18), he had not seen Esau since he fled.

While camped along the journey, Jacob wrestled with the “Angel of the Lord,” actually, the pre-incarnate Christ. God allowed Jacob to struggle in prayer and with tears, but notice even when it was hard, Jacob didn’t quit. Also realize that if God wanted to prevail against Jacob He could have crushed him like a bug. This was “a mild opposing” to build spiritual muscle, much like what a sparring partner might do when training a boxer. God was using the struggle to strengthen Jacob’s faith.

Matthew Henry says that God touched his hip and put it out of joint (32,25) to prove that He was indeed God. No one else could do that with just a touch. But that it was “a divine touch which wounded and healed at the same time.”

This is a great picture of prayer. Like Jacob, we need to be willing to continue in prayer, sometimes with tears, often over an extended period of time. And sometimes we have “battle scars” because of it.

Even though Jacob had to wrestle through these things, it was God in him who would also strengthen him to prevail. Romans 8.26-27 says:

“Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”

It was also important for Jacob to understand that it was God and God alone who was sovereignly working in all of this. Remember he had spent twenty years in the middle of a pagan culture. He needed to see his weakness and God’s greatness. Paul said:

“Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12.10).

This out of joint hip was to be a constant reminder to Jacob of his encounter with God and to remind him of the need to trust in and rely on God alone. In the same way, God gave Paul a thorn in the flesh:

“Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself!” (2 Cor. 12.7).

When we find success and receive blessing from God we can so easily get puffed up with pride, thinking it was because of something worthwhile in us.

So if you seem to be wrestling with God over something, stay faithful, persevere, know that God is working in you, as well as, through you.

“The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5.16b).

Luke told us to always pray and not faint, cave in or give up (Lk. 18.1).

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Psalm 8.6-9:

Worthy of Praise

 

Verse 9, “O LORD, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth!”

God and God alone is worthy to receive all our praise!

 

Proverbs 3.19-20:

All by His Wisdom

 

Why is it so difficult for us at times to accept God’s wisdom as superior to our own? Think about these verses:

19 The LORD by wisdom founded the earth;
By understanding He established the heavens;
20 By His knowledge the depths were broken up,
And clouds drop down the dew.

The wisdom, which we sometimes reject, contains the thoughts, intents, purposes and understanding of the God who created the world and everything we see!

“What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him?” (Ps. 8.4).

We should be amazed at His mercy, grace and patience with us!

 

Matthew 11.1-30:

When We Need Reassurance

 

prayer bible

I couldn’t help but think about the beautiful picture in verses 2-6 and how it fits with what we’ve been talking about in Genesis. Here faithful John the Baptist is in prison, probably tired and cold, maybe wondering if it’s all worth it and just wanting to be sure he’s not going through this for nothing.

He sends two of his disciples to Jesus and asks, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?” In other words are you really Him?

Notice that Jesus doesn’t scold him, but sends the messengers back to reassure him. He does so by using the truths of Scripture. He tells him what is happening outside the prison and how it is the fulfillment of prophecy.

“Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Go and tell John the things which you hear and see. The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.’” (vv. 4-6).

Jesus goes on to tell the crowds, “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist …” As we wait on God, we too can ask him for reassurance and confirmation and He will speak to our hearts, most often through His Word … if we will but read it with open hearts.

I’d like to comment on one more verse from this chapter.

Verse 13, “For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.”

Matthew Henry says that, “John was as the loop that coupled the two Testaments.” Things had changed. Before John, God spoke through the Law and the Prophets. Both pointed to the need for a Savior. Now God would speak through Jesus His Living Word (Heb.1:1-2) and through the written Word in both the Old and New Testaments.

May God bless you as you read and study and, at times, wrestle in prayer and with tears,
Donna

 

Trivia Question:

From where did the phrase “at wit’s end” come?

Psalm 107. 23-27 says:

23 Those who go down to the sea in ships,
Who do business on great waters,
24 They see the works of the Lord,
And His wonders in the deep.
25 For He commands and raises the stormy wind,
Which lifts up the waves of the sea.
26 They mount up to the heavens,
They go down again to the depths;
Their soul melts because of trouble.
27 They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man,
And are at their wits’ end.

But the good news as the Psalm goes on:

28 Then they cry out to the Lord in their trouble,
And He brings them out of their distresses.
29 He calms the storm,
So that its waves are still.
30 Then they are glad because they are quiet;
So He guides them to their desired haven.

And when we go through the storms of life, He is the One who will calm the storm and see us through to our desired haven.


Today’s Featured Resource:

 

Resolving Everyday Conflict

“Resolving Everyday Conflict” – Review


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6 thoughts on ““Biology or Sin?” January 16

  1. Rachel felt fine when she sat on the idols she stole. Sometimes we, as ladies, when we feel awful & are stertched to our limits, might react in an ungodly way. I agree it’s not right, but we’re just flesh & blood. Could the gentlemen, children & friends also please do their bit to be more sensitive and understanding. It would be appreciated so, so much. Thank you & God bless!

  2. “Do we say we trust God on the one hand, but “not burn our bridges” on the other? What are you hanging on to “just in case”?”

    These questions really hit me, since I struggle with the temptation of clinging to my own solutions rather than seeking the Lord’s. Thanks for reinforcing the need to completely trust God, and not our own devices or false idols!

    • I think that’s a common struggle, Dani. I know I’ve done the same thing. I’m glad the post was an encouragement to you. Blessings!

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