An unexpected ancestor {An Emmaus look at Genesis 49:10}

English: Joseph and His Brethren Welcomed by P...

English: Joseph and His Brethren Welcomed by Pharaoh, watercolor by James Tissot (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As the book of Genesis draws to a close so does the long and colorful life of Jacob. He’s tricked his brother out of birthright and blessing. He’s been tricked into marrying a woman he didn’t love. He’s wrestled God. And, along the way, he fathered 12 sons.

Among them, the beloved Joseph, the first son of Jacob’s wife, Rachel. From the time Joseph appears, we know he is favored by his father. He and his mother bring up the rear when the extended family is on course to meet up with a betrayed brother. He proudly wears his coat of many colors.

He’s also sold into slavery, imprisoned on a false accusation and forgotten before he’s remembered, released and raised to the second highest position in all of Egypt.

So, when his father, Jacob, gathers his clan around his death bed to pronounce a final word over them, it would be only logical in the eyes of the world that Joseph would be the one who received a blessing with messianic overtones.

Ah, but that’s where God’s plan diverges from the world’s wisdom.

To be sure, Joseph receives the longest blessing, but it’s not the one that points to the Messiah.

That blessing is reserved for Judah.

Yes, Judah.

The one who suggested that it would be foolish to just kill their younger brother when there was profit to be made from selling him.

The one who wouldn’t allow his third son to marry Tamar while he himself ended up fathering her twins.

The one who wanted to have Tamar burned for her transgression.

But he was also the one who offered to take the blame should any harm to to Benjamin when the brothers went to Egypt for the second time to buy food.

He was the one who pledged his life in exchange for Benjamin’s when the cup was found in the top of his sack.

And he, he is the one God chose, through the words of his servant, Jacob, to be the ancestor of the coming Messiah:

“Judah, your brothers shall praise you;
your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies;
your father’s sons shall bow down before you.
Judah is a lion’s cub;
from the prey, my son, you have gone up.
He stooped down; he crouched as a lion
and as a lioness; who dares rouse him?
The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
until tribute comes to him;
and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.
Binding his foal to the vine
and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine,
he has washed his garments in wine
and his vesture in the blood of grapes.
His eyes are darker than wine,
and his teeth whiter than milk.
– Genesis 49:8-12 (ESV)

Dead Sea-Judean Hills spring weeds in bloom

This post is part of a 31-day journey on the road to Emmaus. To begin at the beginning, click here. To see other “31 Days of …” posts from other bloggers, visit The Nester.

Repost: On the altar {An Emmaus look at Genesis 22:18}

Abraham embraces his son Isaac after receiving...

Abraham embraces his son Isaac after receiving him back from God (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s been a long time since Abram left Haran in response to God’s promise in Genesis 12. He’s traveled through Canaan, witnessed the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, twice lied about his relationship to his wife, tried to rush ahead of God’s plan to build his family, entertained angels and even had his name changed by God himself.

Oh, and he had a son. Well. two, technically, but one was the son of the promise, born to him when he was 100 years old and his wife, Sarah, was 90.

We don’t know how long Abraham was able to enjoy watching this promise fulfilled grow and live and play around the family’s tents before the word of God came again.

After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” – Genesis 22:1-2

The sentences echoed ones he had heard before. Many years ago, he heard God tell him to leave his country, his family, his father’s house and go to an unknown land. Now, he heard God tell him to take his son, his only son, whom he loves and go to an unknown mountain.

The next verse makes a powerful statement:

So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. – Genesis 22:3

He didn’t spend anguished night after anguished night trying to determine whether he should obey the voice. He didn’t put it off, hoping God would change his mind. He just went.

Along the way, Isaac, whom many believe was not the child pictured in Sunday school story books, wisely began to wonder aloud concerning the whereabouts of the lamb.

Abraham said that God would provide. Maybe it was a way of reassuring himself that somehow God would fulfill his promise that Abraham’s offspring would be as numerous as the stars in the heavens.

He found the mountain. God will provide

He built the altar. God will provide

He laid the wood atop the altar. God will provide

He tied up his son. God will provide

He lifted his son onto the altar. God will provide

He pulled out a knife. God will provide

He lifted the knife into the air. God provided!

A ram in a bush. A faith tested and found true. A conditional promise made an unconditional guarantee. Where the promise of Genesis 12:1-3  is predicated on Abraham’s following the call to go, the declaration of the Lord in Genesis 22:16-18 is based on a proven obedience.

“By myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.” (Emphasis added)

And there we have the next signpost on our Emmaus road. The first part of the oath focuses on the many. The second on the One – a promised one from among the sons of Abraham who would defeat his enemies and who would bless all the nations.

No greater defeat was ever handed to the enemies of God than the triumphant resurrection of Christ.

And through that, all who call on his name are indeed blessed.

Dead Sea-Judean Hills spring weeds in bloom

This post is part of a 31-day journey on the road to Emmaus. To begin at the beginning, click here. To see other “31 Days of …” posts from other bloggers, visit The Nester.

Repost: From all, one {An Emmaus look at Genesis 12:1-3}

Abram and Lot Depart Out of Haran (illustratio...

Abram and Lot Depart Out of Haran (illustration from the 1728 Figures de la Bible) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If the act of eating the fruit from the tree began man’s slow diversion from the company of God, the passing of years and the emergence of generation after generation of Adam’s similarly deceived descendants only added to the estrangement. The waters of the flood failed to wash away our self-centered nature and our ancestral attempts to raise a monument to our own ingenuity only served to raise God’s wrath as the people were scattered and languages confused.

With our propensity to turn away, God’s next step seems strange … and beautiful.

God turned to a polytheist living in Ur of the Chaldeans. He gave this man a simple command with an astonishing promise.

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country  and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” – Genesis 12:1-3

The end of the previous chapter in Genesis makes it perfectly clear that this man who was called to be the father of a great nation had a wife who was barren. Yet, with the sound of the promise lingering in the air and the resolve to obey gathering strength in his spirit, the childless Abram looked into the eyes of nieces and nephews and prepared to leave most of them behind.

Of course as we read through the book of Genesis, we find the promise unfolding. Abram (now known as Abraham) and Sarai (now rechristened Sarah) have a son Isaac, who has two sons, who have 12 sons each.

You get the picture. A great nation is being formed from the one man who simply said “yes” when God said “go.”

But it’s only part of the picture. For hundreds and hundreds of years, the latter part of the promise remained an unfulfilled anticipation … until the birth of a child in a tiny Judean town.

Matthew and Luke both tell us in their gospels that this child – Jesus – was a descendant of Abraham.

Had the story ended there, though, the promise would yet remain unrealized.

The promise had to go through the agony of the cross to the triumph of the resurrection. The final fulfillment continues through the ages every time a heart turns to Christ. Day after day, all the world is being blessed through Abraham.

From all the men in the world, one was chosen.

From the one chosen, all are blessed.

Praise be to the God of Abraham …

Dead Sea-Judean Hills spring weeds in bloom

This post is part of a 31-day journey on the road to Emmaus. To begin at the beginning, click here. To see other “31 Days of …” posts from other bloggers, visit The Nester.

Repost: Into the garden {An Emmaus look at Genesis 3:15}

No one knows for sure how long Adam and Eve were in the garden before things went so very wrong. Given the clues we have in Scripture, it might not have been long.

In Genesis 5:3, we discover that Adam and Eve had a son named Seth when Adam was 130 years old. By then, the tragic story of brotherly betrayal had already played out in the lives of the older sons, Cain and Abel.  Playing around with some simple math, rounded numbers and a rather significant amount of speculation, we can guess that it’s possible that Adam was 100 years old when he was expelled from the garden.

That doesn’t sound so bad until you realize that Adam lived to be 930 years old (Genesis 5:5). He lived about a tenth of his life before everything fell to pieces.

No matter how long their stay, there is no doubt about their departure.

A serpent’s crafty question, a woman’s faulty assessment and a man’s willing compliance set the stage for the fall of humanity.

But, God already had a plan – a plan he articulated even as he spoke judgment over man, woman and snake.

I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspringand her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.”
– Genesis 3:15 (ESV)

So, who is who? Clearly, we can identify the woman as Eve.

But, as my Momma might have said, “That ain’t just any ol’ snake.

While Genesis does not name the snake as Satan, that identification is traditionally held and Scripture itself supports the inference.

And, the offspring of the woman? Well, there we have the first reference to Jesus – just three chapters into the first book of the Scriptures.

As God pronounces his sentence on Satan, he acknowledges that the serpent will enjoy a temporary, illusionary victory. There would, however, be a son born from among the descendents of the woman who would crush Satan.

For a moment in time millennia later, it looked like Satan may have won. In the moment when the brightness of the Judean day turned dark and the Light of the world extinguished himself on a Roman cross, it certainly looked like Satan and his offspring had won the day.

It looked like he had truly bruised the heel of the woman’s Offspring.

Three days later, the Light stepped out of the tomb, rising to eternal life, reversing the effects of the fall and bringing forgiveness and salvation to all.

I like to think that He stepped the head of a serpent on the way out …
Dead Sea-Judean Hills spring weeds in bloom

This post is part of a 31-day journey on the road to Emmaus. To begin at the beginning, click here. To see other “31 Days of …” posts from other bloggers, visit The Nester.

(Repost) Emmaus: An Invitation to a Journey

hills in the Judean desert

hills in the Judean desert (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The sun burns high above a dusty Judean road. Two men embark on a seven-mile journey from Jerusalem to the town of Emmaus. They can make it to town by supper if they keep their pace.

If …

Like everything else they’ve tried to do over the past few days, it will be difficult. Their hearts, minds and souls are spinning with images, thoughts, ideas and emotions stemming from recent events. The one they had hoped would lead the Jewish nation from the tyranny of Rome had been brutally killed on a cross.

They had spent the entire Sabbath hiding in fear. If the ruling council could so easily condemn Jesus, could the condemnation of his followers be far behind?

Then came the morning news – a stunning report from some women of their company. The women told an amazing story – an amazing, crazy, unbelievable story. When they arrived at the tomb to take care of the body of Jesus, the women found the stone had been rolled away and an angel who made an even more startling announcement. Jesus had risen from the dead!

They shook their heads in confusion. Animated motions punctuated a lively discussion about what happened, what could have happened and what might happen next.

Suddenly, a stranger walked alongside them. He seemed to have no knowledge of what has transpired in Jerusalem. The disciples quickly filled him in on all the details, but are shocked at what he says in reply.

“O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” – Luke 24:25-26

Their hearts burned within them as the stranger talked. Beginning with Moses and the prophets, he told them everything about Jesus recorded in the Scriptures.

Only later when they saw the familiar motion of the breaking of bread did they recognize their travel companion. It was the Lord himself!

I’ve often wondered what it would be like to have walked with the disciples and listen to the voice of the Savior opening the Old Testament Scriptures to reveal how they foreshadowed his coming. What does it mean that he started with Moses? Does it mean he started with Moses’ story in Exodus or at the beginning of the books of Moses, Pentateuch?

And the prophets. Which prophets? What prophecies?

Or was it deeper than that? Maybe the Lord didn’t use individual passages at all, but, as a Master Teacher, was able to explain the entirety of the Old Testament as it related to his mission.

No one knows exactly, but thanks to great resources and cross-references, we can walk our own road to Emmaus. We can explore the ways Moses and the prophets pointed to the coming of Christ.

So, between now and Pentecost, join me on the journey with me as I explore these Old Testament references.

And, may our hearts burn with us as we travel …

Dead Sea-Judean Hills spring weeds in bloom

If you look back through the archives, you’ll find that I did a rather poor job of keeping up with the posting plan. I’ve decided to bring back the series for the 31 Days project. I’m starting early because  four posts were previously posted.

The {Empty} Travel Moleskine

It usually happens along I-83 somewhere between Harrisburg and the outer loop of the Baltimore beltway. I’ll be cruising along, singing along with whatever’s playing over the car radio. (Admit it, you do it, too.) Suddenly, I’ll remember something that I forgot to pack.

Fortunately my great moment of memory usually happens before the one exit at which I can make an easy on and off stop to pick up the needed items. Over the years, I’ve purchased pantyhose, toothpaste, brushes, pens, contact solution and who knows what else at that conveniently located Wal-Mart.

Last January 1, though, I didn’t remember until I was in the thick of the beltway traffic, which was surprisingly robust for that time of day on a holiday. It dawned on me that I had not packed a journal.

Generally, I’m meticulous about journaling while traveling. I write down everything – what I saw, where I ate, who I talked to, what the speakers said if I was at a conference. Part of me thinks that when I’m old I’ll enjoy looking back over the books and reading about my wanderings. The other part is terrified that when I get old I’ll forget that I wandered at all.

So I decided to treat myself to a new Moleskine notebook when I got to the airport.

Traffic turned out to be rougher than I thought and the shuttle ride from longterm parking to the terminal seemed to take just slightly to this side of eternity. It was getting ever closer to the boarding time, making it less and less likely that I would have time to sprint to a bookstore in the terminal.

I made it through security relatively quickly, chucked my shoes back on, tucked my ID and ticket away and headed toward the shops. Clearly, the lines were too long to score some pre-flight fast food, but surely the bookstore would be empty.

It was. Moments later, I had a small, black Moleskine. I hustled back to my gate where boarding was just getting underway.

When the captain told us we could now use approved electronic devices, I pulled out my iPod and Moleskine. I opened it to the inside cover where I wrote what you see in the photo above. This was supposed to be a busy travel year. I was going to co-lead a mission trip to Sweden. I would be going to Texas for meetings for The Seed Company. And, if things worked out right, I would go to the Allume conference on October.

It would be a great year for a responsible, stay-at-home girl with a wayfaring, explorer’s heart.

Over the next few days, I used it to journal through Passion 2012. I took notes on Francis Chan’s and John Piper’s talks (the only two that I saw in their entirety due to my schedule as a volunteer in the student prayer area). I wrote about the art installation going up on the plaza and the students I talked to and the God who talked to me. My last notes were from part of Louie Giglio’s message in the final session.

They turned out to be the last notes I would write all year in the small, black travel Moleskine.

The trip to Sweden was cancelled. My role at The Seed Company changed so I wouldn’t be going to the meetings. Finances were tight when tickets to Allume were available. Now, I can come up with the money, but the conference is sold out.

I suppose there’s some hope that a last-minute travel opportunity will come along, but it isn’t likely.

The wayfarer is staying home home.

It’s disappointing. And that’s where I’m at with it right now. Sure, I filled the gaps with great experiences with my friends and family, but not everything works out with that cinematic moment when you say, “Oh, yes, I see why things worked out the way they did.”

And you know what?

That’s OK.

****

And, that’s the way it was on the day I wrote this post and left it languishing in the drafts. I didn’t know how to end it. What’s the point? Maybe the whole point was that it’s OK to be disappointed when things don’t turn out the way they should.

Or maybe, just maybe, God wasn’t finished with the story yet.

The very next day after I wrote the above post, someone on Twitter announced that they had a ticket for sale. Not-so-long story even shorter, I will be going to Allume in October if all the transferring takes place as expected.

So, the story goes on. The wayfarer is wandering off again.

A Song for Sunday: Rooftops by Jesus Culture

I guess I’m thinking about evangelism after being at a Bridgebuilder’s Workshop all day. So, here is one of my favorite Jesus Culture songs, Rooftops.

Rooftops lyrics

Here I am before You, falling in love and seeking Your truth
Knowing that Your perfect grace has brought me to this place
Because of You I freely live, my life to You, oh God, I give
So I stand before You, God
I lift my voice cause You set me free

So I shout out Your name, from the rooftops I proclaim
That I am Yours, I am Yours

All the good You’ve done for me, I lift up my hands for all to see
You’re the only one who brings me to my knees
To share this love across the earth, the beauty of Your holy worth
So I kneel before You, God
I lift my hands cause You set me free

So I shout out Your name, from the rooftops I proclaim
That I am Yours, I am Yours
All that I am, I place into Your loving hands
And I am Yours, I am Yours

Here I am, I stand, with arms wide open
To the One, the Son, the Everlasting God

Deep and wide …

Five Minute FridayThis is another Five-Minute Friday post. Lisa-Jo gives us a prompt and bloggers write for five minutes without editing or revising. This week’s prompt is “wide.” Click over here to see what others have written.

Wide? With all due respect, what kind of prompt is that?

When I think of wide, I think of my waistline. Give me abreak, people, I’m over 40!

I also think of the children’s song, “Deep and Wide.” There’s a fountain flowing it, you know.

But what is it? What is deep an wide and why is a fountain flowing it? The song never explicitly tells us what exactly is deep and wide. I suppose we are to suppose that it is God’s grace, love, mercy, forgiveness – all those qualities of the Most High that are really difficult to explain to a toddler swinging his hands about as he does the motions.

But, those very traits of God have to be deep and wide.

There is a deep chasm between the Creator and his created, formed when our common ancestors succumbed to the temptation to make themselves equal to God by taking of the tree of knowledge.

That deep and wide chasm can only be filled by a love, grace, mercy, forgiveness and peace that runs deeper and wider than any divide that separates us.

Wednesday Worship Thoughts: Limited Time

Last week, I posted my take on the topic of “focus” as part of Lisa-Jo’s weekly Five Minute Friday experience. In it, I talked about how limited time tends to sharpen my focus.

It is at this point that I must tell you. The people I worked with at Project SHARE called me a walking iPod because any turn of phrase could be a prompt to sing a line of a song in which that phrase appeared. I kid you not. It actually became quite the game and stress-reliever.

So, it should be no surprise that my musings on limited time made me think of a song. Why not use that to resurrect the old Wednesday Worship Thoughts series?

The song, Limited Time by the band Reilly, always struck a chord with me (no pun intended) because I see so many people – myself included at times – just going through the motions of the daily grind. You have to work, do the laundry, clean the house, make dinner. You want to blog, read, go to a concert or a movie. Most days you just go from crisis to crisis without really thinking about the purpose for which you were placed on this earth.

And, all of us were placed for a purpose.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand,that we should walk in them. – Ephesians 2:10 (ESV)

And, the truth is that we are all here for a limited time. We only have a certain amount of God-given days to share the love of God with the ones we love. What are you going to do with those days?

As always, lyrics are below the video.

Limited Time Lyrics

Father we’ve proved we know not what we do
We’re spinning round and round wondering what is up and what is down
Ashamed, confused by twisted things we do
You came to change the ways clean the stains of the crooked man

It’s time we listen to what you’re asking for
It’s time we shine

You’re in my heart now, you’re in my soul now
You’re in my mind now, going to share you with the world now
We’re running on limited time sleepwalking half-alive
Can’t bury the truth inside going to share you with the world and shine

Salvation comes to those who do not presuppose
in a love that sent the Savior into the darkness of the earth
I choose to bow down low and join the chorus with all those
who bless and glorify your name

It’s time I listen to what you’re asking for
It’s time I shine

You’re in my heart now, you’re in my soul now
You’re in my mind now, going to share you with the world now
We’re running on limited time sleepwalking half-alive
Can’t bury the truth inside going to share you with the world and shine

Can a city on a hill be hidden
I’m going to shine because of you