Why Judah?

lion.jpg

While continuing to read through Genesis, I ran across this:

9 You are a lion’s cub, Judah; you return from the prey, my son. Like a lion he crouches and lies down, like a lioness—who dares to rouse him? 10 The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,until he to whom it belongs shall come and the obedience of the nations shall be his. 

Genesis 49:9-10

Judah is the fourth son of Jacob, also known as Israel. In that culture, usually it would be the firstborn son that would receive the largest blessing, so I did a little research to see if there was an answer somewhere in the Bible explaining God’s choice.

There isn’t an explanation. But here is a blog post that I found on the website, One for Israel that I thought had some great thoughts on the subject:

The Mysterious Choice of Judah

May we all have the attitude of Leah, as described in the article above!

(One for Israel describes themselves as such: We are an Israeli ministry composed of Jewish & Arab followers of Yeshua (Jesus) who are all about blessing Israel through sharing the gospel online, educating the new generation of born-again believers through our one and only Hebrew-speaking Bible College in Israel, and helping holocaust survivors by supplying humanitarian aid.)

 

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Are you on a pilgrimage?

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7 Then Joseph brought his father Jacob in and presented him before Pharaoh. After Jacob blessed Pharaoh, 8 Pharaoh asked him, “How old are you?” 9 And Jacob said to Pharaoh, “The years of my pilgrimage are a hundred and thirty.

Genesis 47:7-9a

This got me to thinking, what is a pilgrimage like?

Pilgrims are on a journey to a very specific destination. They don’t let any sort of hardship get in their way. They keep plodding forward no matter the sacrifice. They don’t complain about injury or hunger or thirst. They realize that it is all just a part of the journey. Nothing stops their progress but death.

Sometimes they travel with their family and friends, but often they must leave behind all they know, both people and places. They miss their family, wishing that they could be with them, and hoping that one day, they too will reach the holy site. But the excitement of the journey far outweighs any loneliness.

I have never made a pilgrimage, but the little bit of traveling I have done gives me a small sense for some of the feelings a pilgrim might experience. For instance, my daughter and I went to Paris for a week last spring.

First we had to sacrifice a bit on our spending at home so that we could afford expensive plane tickets and lodging at a safe hotel. We spent months studying guide books and researching activities, laws, routes, hospital locations, etc. online. We were able to talk with some friends who had just been to Paris the spring before, and learned tips from other friends who had visited years ago.

We tried not to talk too much about our excitement with those who weren’t going or hadn’t been, as we didn’t want to incite jealousy. Some people didn’t even know we were going until after we got back – so maybe we kept it a little too low key sometimes!

The journey was long and left us feeling physically ill. Operating in a foreign language was tiring. I was always just a little bit on edge for our safety, as terrorist attacks have become somewhat common there, and we are just two small women. We missed family and friends a little. But the joy of being there and experiencing things we had never experienced before far outweighed any discomforts.

We would go back there in a heartbeat! We loved our “pilgrimage”.

May I be a pilgrim here in my everyday, too.

Even heroes need comfort

lonely hero

Genesis 24:67

Isaac married Rebekah. So she became his wife, and he loved her; and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.This verse struck me.

Here this 40 year old bachelor nomad meets and marries this beautiful girl in the same afternoon. There is no record of Isaac’s verbal reaction to the the story of how God miraculously guided his father’s servant to the girl, that God encouraged her relatives to let her go, and that God gave her excitement to go to a place she has never been to marry a man she has never met.

I suppose the fact that he did listen and then immediately married Rebekah means that the story of her arrival meant something to him. And it does say that Isaac not only married Rebekah, but that he truly loved her.

But I must admit that I didn’t like the very end of the verse: and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death. Being at the end like that left me feeling like he used his marriage just as a way of finding comfort.

The Bible says that Isaac’s mom, Sarah, lived until she was 127 years old, which would mean that Isaac was about 37 when she died.

Being his mom’s only child probably meant that she totally doted on him. And he was relatively young when she died. Losing her would have been a big deal. So I can see why he needed comfort. But still. She’s your wife! How about loving her for her?

In the next chapters of Genesis there is no mention of thoughts of his mom, only love for his wife and how he wants God to bless her. So while his relationship with Rebekah did help assuage the grief caused by the loss of his mother, he was thrilled to be married to Rebekah, herself, as a person, not just as a comfort.

This shows that the Bible heroes of old loved and lost and needed help getting over those loses just like us today.  I thank God that I have a husband who I love just for himself. But I also thank God that my husband can be a comfort to me in the face of other little losses that I face throughout the day.

No one can replace God, but it is nice that He gives us other humans to help us along the way.

A Little Bit of Interest

I am working on a “surprise” Christmas present for my daughter. Well, I had dreamed that it would be a surprise. But reality dictated that she know – there was no way I was going to be able to create it in secret – she stays up as late as me now, and I can’t spend her whole school day working on it, as much as I would like to.

So she knows that I am knitting her a blanket for Christmas. I saw one like it at Ikea and thought, “Hey, I could make that.” It is a simple beige stockinette stitch with several basic cables running down its length. I love the look of cable knit and thought it would be fun to try making it myself.

I had to start over five or six times, each time learning something I didn’t know I didn’t know. Finally, I was able to continue. However, a twin size blanket is a lot bigger than the scarves and baby blankets I have knit in the past. And Christmas is not moving for me, or anyone, this year, so there is a bit of pressure to keep the blanket growing. At first it would have made a cute snake blanket, but now it would do fine for a very large cat or a medium-sized dog. So I still have a ways to go.

The time crunch has introduced something that I generally don’t accept in my creations – obvious errors. Sometimes I realize right away, or within 20 or so stitches that I messed something up. I go back and fix that right away. But other times I don’t realize I have done something wrong until it becomes noticeable several rows later. I hate seeing the error, but with a deadline looming, I can’t afford to keep going back. I console myself by saying, “The blanket will be so big and will usually be folded up or snuggled around someone, so people won’t notice the mistakes too much.”

I also know that my daughter isn’t a perfectionist so won’t mind. She hasn’t met a blanket she doesn’t love, so I have that going for me, too. And because I am making it for her, she will cut me some slack just because that’s who she is.

Finally, I noticed that, while the errors are quite obvious if you look at the wrong side of the knitting, they are hardly even noticeable when looking at the right side.

All of these things made me think of how God sees our mistakes and how he covers them over with his love so that they don’t ruin our lives, just add a bit of interest – something that draws people closer to find out what’s up, giving us an opportunity to tell them about how God loves and heals us.

Do I purposely knit mistakes into the blanket? Absolutely not. But it is nice to know that a little goof up here or there isn’t the end.

 

The Ultimate GMO

*Image is from Rodale’s Organic Life

Genetics. We can’t get away from them. Pretty much everything we eat, unless you are a strict geophagist, has a genetic component. And what constitutes a genetically modified organism? People have been modifying the genomes of plants and animals for millennia. Just look at all of the varieties of apples we have, or man’s best friend.

It seems that the term, GMO, is reserved for creatures whose genome has been altered by means that are beyond natural cross-breeding; alterations that would never happen in nature, by any stretch of the imagination.

And what about our genomes? We are finding that things people once thought were simple choices, like alcoholism, lesbianism, being socially insensitive most of the time (now known as autism) have very strong genetic components.

I, of course, struggle with autism, and I am certain I could very easily become an alcoholic, which is why I am very careful about how much and when I drink.

So why does God tell me through the Bible,

“Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18)?

God does not say I shouldn’t drink alcohol at all, but I shouldn’t let it take me over, instead, I should let Him take me over. But for someone who is a candidate for alcoholism, I can understand how that would be a very tough statement for someone who actually does struggle with alcoholism.

And why, when God knows it is extremely difficult for me to think of the perspective of others (actually it is impossible, on my own, without a lot of coaching, first), does he say this in Philippians 2:1-4:

(1) Therefore if you have any encouragement in Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, (2) then make my joy complete by being of one mind, having the same love, being united in spirit and purpose.

(3) Do nothing out of selfish ambition or empty pride, but in humility consider others more important than yourselves. (4) Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

As I was talking with a friend about this the other day, suddenly the following flowed out of our conversation. Now, keep in mind that I have a biology minor, so I am somewhat well-versed in the scientific perspective of biology in general, and genetics in particular. But as we were talking, God seemed to pour this through us:

Yes, we are all genetically predisposed to various things, be it singing, stealing, dancing, dealing, cooking, cheating, making things, murder, smiling, smoldering, you get the picture. It is impossible for us, on our own power, to follow what the Bible says, to even want to follow what the Bible says, without this:

(5Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. (6Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. (7)So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’ (8The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you it is with people born of the Spirit.” (John 3: 5-8)

So, Jesus is saying that to be part of His kingdom, I need to be genetically modified. I need to be unnaturally changed by the supernatural to even be interested in living life to the fullest.

Does God actually change our physical genome, or does he just give us the supernatural power to overcome our genome, I don’t know.  I just know that I want that!

Jesus, later in that chapter tells us how we can experience being born again:

(16For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:16 -17)

Believe in Jesus, and God will genetically modify you by giving you his Holy Spirit to help you do the impossible.

Wow! I want to be the ultimate GMO! How about you?