From: January 17, 2019
Scripture for today: Genesis 35:1-36:43; Matthew 12:1-21; Psalm 15:1-5; Proverbs 3:21-26
From: January 17, 2018
From: January 17, 2017
Jacob, whose name became Israel, had finally found a place to pitch his tent. The place was called the “tower of Eder” (Hebrew: “Migdal Eder),” which literally means “Tower of the Flock.” It described a hill with a tower where the shepherds could watch over their sheep. Migdal Eder was located between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. It was a area of beautiful pastures and streams where Jacob’s flocks could graze and where he could finally be at rest from his running. Yet, it was also a place of grief and disappointment as he mourned the death of his wife Rachel and heard of the sinful incest of his son, Reuben. Migdal Eder was not mentioned again in the Scriptures until the prophet Micah, who wrote that it would be the place where the Messiah would be announced (Micah 4:8). And so, the gospel writer Luke reported that it was in the fields “nearby” Bethlehem that the angel appeared announcing the Messiah’s birth to the shepherds keeping watch over their “flocks by night” (Luke 2:8). Migdal Eder, the place where Israel found rest, was ultimately the place where the whole world could find rest. The place where Jesus Christ was first revealed.
From: January 17, 2016
The Pharisees (A strict Jewish sect) questioned Jesus, whether he would heal on the Sabbath. Jesus answered them, first with a question, and then with an action. The question revealed the hypocrisy of the Pharisees application of the 4th commandment (Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy), implying that they treat their animals better than they do their people. The Pharisees were strict law-keepers, not only of the written books of Moses, but also of the oral law (The Talmud and the Mishnah) which the rabbis had written as a commentary on how the commandments of the Torah were to be carried out. Jesus’ question revealed not only the hypocrisy, but the inaccuracy of their oral traditions. Then his action, to actually heal the man with the withered hand, answered not only their question concerning the Sabbath, but also revealed his identity as the Lord of the Sabbath. Yet, this only led to their further determination to kill him.
I’ve had the privilege of visiting Israel. They still have many Sabbath laws. They even run their elevators differently on the Sabbath, making them stop on every floor, so that no one has to lift a finger to work by pressing a button. How sad to focus so hard on law-keeping, yet miss the Lord to which the law was written to reveal.
From: January 17, 2015
God appeared to Jacob again at Bethel (“Beth” Hebrew for “house,” + “El,” “god.” Literally, “House of God.”) and He officially changed his name. Jacob, whose name was given to describe the way he grasped the heel of his twin brother Esau at birth, was now to be called “Israel.” This reflected a new start for Jacob. He was no longer Jacob (“Supplanter,” “heel-grabber”), but “Israel” (One who wrestled with God, one who prevailed with God). As Jacob (The phrase “you’re pulling my leg” may have arisen from his name), he tricked his brother Esau out of his blessing and birthright. But he met his match at deception in his father-in-law, Laban, who pulled a bridal night switch on him. Yet, even here, he out-smarted Laban in the end. But now his deceptive days are over. From now on he would not be living by his wits, but walking with a limp, leaning on God’s wisdom. And his twelve sons would become the Twelve Tribes of Israel.
From: January 17, 2014
Rachel, the love of Jacob’s life died giving birth to his 12th son. This was a time of great sorrow for Jacob. It probably contributed to the favoritism he showed Joseph and Benjamin, which led to more sorrow. Yet, God used this man and this family to found a people. A mosque sits atop Rachel’s tomb in modern Bethlehem today. It is surrounded by the Israeli security wall in a much contested area.
From: January 17, 2013
Jacob returned to the place where he’d had the “ladder” vision when first fleeing from Esau. The first time he was at Bethel, he was single, childless and afraid. This second visit, he returned with wives, concubines, servants, camels, donkeys, cattle, sheep and twelve sons. I wonder if he reflected on how far God had brought him since his earlier visit? It’s good to go back to the place where you first felt close to God. It often helps put us back on track when we’ve lost our way. It surely helped Jacob to be reminded of God’s name change (his new identity) and God’s purpose for him.
From: January 17, 2012
Matthew quotes Isaiah to show how Christ the King has fulfilled the prophecies in the OT. The Name of Jesus has indeed become the hope of the world. Will you call on His Name today? Will you pray in His Name believing?
From: January 17, 2011
When Jesus withdraws from a place, we should follow. No effective work can be done without Him. Troubling question: Would you notice His leaving?