Monday, January 30, 2017

Sermon notes- Words of Mercy; preached on 1.29.2017

We think of mercy as not giving someone what they deserve (if it is justice for what they have done; something unpleasant or hurtful) but there is more to it than that. I am going to focus today more on mercy with your speech than with your behavior.

In the Book of James in the Bible it is written;

Jas 2:13  For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.

Jesus, in the Sermon He gave seated on a hillside early in Matthew to his small group of disciples, said;

Mt 5:7  Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

God also said in other places that His will for us is for us to show mercy to others above religious obligation.

Ho 6:6  For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.

Which Jesus confirmed;

Mt 9:13  But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Mt 12:7  But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless.

We know from the Bible’s clear statements and our own lives that God is merciful. The first time mercy and merciful are used in the Bible are regarding God saving Lot’s life;

Ge 19:16  And while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the LORD being merciful unto him: and they brought him forth, and set him without the city.

Ge 19:19  Behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight, and thou hast magnified thy mercy, which thou hast shewed unto me in saving my life; and I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die:

But, WE are called to show mercy, too, as followers of Christ. Many times preachers take something like mercy and elevate it to such a height that you and I cannot attain unto it. For you see, you will probably not be called upon to show mercy to a condemned prisoner or a wounded soldier on a battlefield. So, outside of NOT killing the neighbor’s dog for digging into your flowerbed is mercy just one of those high and lofty commands that don’t have much importance to you personally?

I want to repeat verses that apply directly to God’s children; those who have believed and trusted in Him.

Jas 2:13  For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.

Mt 5:7  Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

Ho 6:6  For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.

And mercy isn’t just a bitter pill we are supposed to swallow to please God, Paul tells us in Romans 12:8 that we are to express mercy with cheerfulness.

8  Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.

Each of us is called to show mercy. Now, as I said you and I probably won’t be called on to show mercy to a condemned prisoner or some other extreme and dramatic and tragic case. Most of our mercy expressed will be within our families, our church, and our work.

You have the opportunity most often to show mercy with your words, by being kind, gentle, compassionate, and understanding not with sarcasm, snarkiness, bitterness, or accusations based on your paranoid and egotistical assumptions about another’s motives. You have the opportunity most often to show mercy to your spouse, your children, siblings, parents, coworkers, employees, neighbors, etc.

Are you merciful? Do you refrain EVER from rendering to someone the consequences you think they so richly deserve? Or must you have your proper respect, your props, regardless of who you hurt or how you hurt them in your righteous vengeance?

Remember, you who are faithful door knockers, tract hander-outers, those of you who bless every family event or outing of friends with incessantly talking about the horrors of Hell and how wonderful it is to be “saved” and as ‘in with God’ as you yourself are and why wouldn’t everyone want to be just like you? Remember, that how you act and treat other people is the biggest part of your witness, the most visible example of whether you actually have the fruit or proof of the Holy Spirit dwelling in you, a more powerful voice than all efforts to try to sell Christ like insurance or hanging tracts on people’s doors like pizza coupons. (Try Christ! You’ll love Him. And this week at church if you bring a friend you’ll get free sausage and mushrooms!)

Don’t hide being jerk behind being a faithful church goer and soul winner.

Those of you who show up to church only when it’s convenient and participate in soul-winning activities IF and when to do so doesn’t take you out of your comfort zone the very same thing applies. You have to ask yourself if anyone would have enough evidence to even guess you are a born-again Christian since you won’t tell anyone about Christ lest you not get invited to family gatherings, hunting with friends, or approval at work. No matter what you want to do or not do you are a witness for Christ every time you go out in the world or interact with your family in your home.

A famous heathen once said, “Your actions are speaking so loud, I can’t hear what you are saying.”

We know you’re an orange tree if you have oranges hanging from your branches. People should know you are a Christian and have the Holy Spirit indwelling you if you wear and bear this fruit.

Galatians 5:22  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23  Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24  And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26  Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

Remember the last time your spouse or child did something that offended you, not just offended you, but that you were sure was a strike against you in some way. Maybe it called into question your authority in the home or showed contempt, you think, for some great effort you had put forth. Your words strike at the offender. You go right for the juggler. After all, it’s only justice, only fair considering how much contempt they’ve shown you.

And we don’t let these things go. Mercy, bitterness, compassion, these things are all related in their relationship to each other. I had a elder relative who said something to me after my daughter committed suicide and I still cringe over it. It was thoughtless but in keeping with an almost clinical lack of empathy for others’ pain. I’m still angry and hurt about it. But, the problem is, my that person is now dead. See how powerful these things you are holding in your heart are? How they last? Words spoken to you, thoughtless, cruel words, have a tremendous effect, especially when they come out of the mouth of someone you love and whose approval you desire.

In the husband and wife relationship the Holy Spirit, whom Paul is giving voice to here, admonishes husbands;

Col 3:19  Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.

Is not a vengeful tongue a weapon of bitterness? Is not your unwillingness to show mercy and refraining from the hurt you want to bestow on someone who you think so richly deserves it with your words a sign that God’s mercy for YOU is absolutely necessary?

After all, God shows His mercy to people who don’t deserve it one stinking bit.

Ro 5:8  But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

And, in His everyday will He even benefits the heathen, the unbelieving pagan, and the malicious person.

Matthew 5:44  But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45  That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

And you, vile, depraved sinner on whom God showed mercy for your sexual immorality, your drunkenness, your faithlessness to every standard of goodness you were taught by your parents and teachers before you were saved and even after you believed, will not allow a merciful spirit in your heart for someone who said something to you that you aren’t even sure what they meant? You cut and lash and hurt with a tongue as sharp as a sword, as a knife?

Now, if you aren’t feeling comfortable with applying mercy to your personal dealings and view it as a grand doctrine only that applies only to judges, soldiers, and God Himself please note this;

Ps 37:21  The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again: but the righteous sheweth mercy, and giveth.

A wicked person doesn’t pay his bills. But a righteous person goes beyond just paying his debts and gives his money liberally. Here’s more of the context of the passage.

Ps 37:21 ¶  The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again: but the righteous sheweth mercy, and giveth. 22  For such as be blessed of him shall inherit the earth; and they that be cursed of him shall be cut off. 23  The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. 24  Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand. 25  I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread. 26  He is ever merciful, and lendeth; and his seed is blessed.

So, understand that applying mercy to your everyday existence is not out of order. It even applies to helping someone in difficult circumstances whether their fault or not as we saw from the previous passage. Remember the verses that many of us have memorized in Proverbs 3?

5  Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Well, here is what is before it.

1 ¶  My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: 2  For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee. 3  Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: 4  So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man.

And again, with regard to what mercy can mean for us from the Bible.

Pr 14:21  He that despiseth his neighbour sinneth: but he that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he.

Pr 14:31  He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor.

Showing mercy will bless you.

Pr 21:21  He that followeth after righteousness and mercy findeth life, righteousness, and honour.

Mercy is good for you. It elevates you and having a bitter, merciless attitude is extremely unhealthy. Here mercy is contrasted against being cruel.

Pr 11:17  The merciful man doeth good to his own soul: but he that is cruel troubleth his own flesh.

Now, I’ve been focusing on the mercy you show with your words being the expression of it. Or, more clearly, the words you don’t speak reflecting your willingness to show mercy. I want to take a little side trip for a second to define evil in the Bible. The word, evil, can mean many things based on the context.

Among other things evil can mean malicious intent, intent to do harm.

Ge 37:20  Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say, Some evil beast hath devoured him: and we shall see what will become of his dreams.

Ge 50:20  But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.

Ex 32:14  And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.

Here, with the tongue specifically.

1Pe 3:10  For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: 11  Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.

(Explain how to define evil and eschew here)

Now, notice the context of evil in these two verses; linked with malice, guile, hypocrisy, and envy in one and railing or ranting against someone in the other as in a railing accusation in 2Peter 2:11, to speak against someone as in rail on the Lord God of Israel in 2Chronicles 32:17.

1Pe 2:1  Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings,

1Pe 3:9  Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.

And this warning about your tongue in the context of teachers (masters) causing people to stumble or be offended by the words they say. But, mark the warning about the tongue.

James 3:1 ¶  My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. 2  For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. 3  Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. 4  Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. 5  Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! 6  And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. 7  For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: 8  But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. 9  Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. 10  Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. 11  Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? 12  Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.

You who are of a meek and quiet spirit, who pride yourselves on not being harsh, physically cruel, and hot-tempered, are you merciful with your words? Do you prefer the sting of rebuke or to deliver the pain of hard words when you feel wronged or slighted?

Do you know how many children have been cut by hateful words of a parent, words they often carry with them for the rest of their lives? Do you know how many marriages have been weakened by unmerciful speech? Do you know how many friendships have been ended by giving someone just what you think they deserve with your words?

I know one of your Modus Operandi, your ways, “If you really loved me…or God…you wouldn’t have said, done, etc.” I know what you’re up to even if you pretend like you don’t. The submissive person has their own way of punishing someone for real or imagined slights.

What have you accomplished by not having a merciful spirit? The Bible says you troubled your own flesh. You certainly didn’t reflect God’s mercy on you.

You who are used to being in authority in your home, your business, or organizations. You Type A people, you know what the Discovery Channel and National Geographic call Alpha types. Those of you who demand your propers from everyone. Some of you can’t even let a child win a game you play because the thought of losing to anyone even to someone weaker than yourself is an affront to your massive ego and insecurity. Do you think you are not required to show mercy? Do you think that dominating others, your life’s passion, is higher than God’s commands in His word?

One of your M.O.’s goes something like this, “If you ever do what she did, why, I’ll….” You’re playing the verbal domination game. You have no evidence the person is guilty of something or even thinking about it but you are so mad at someone you can’t punish or who doesn’t care if you punish them you lash out at who is available to impress upon them how BIG you are compared to them.

When you are old and lying in a sickbed of death and the only people near you, you are certain, don’t love you but just fear your wrath, and the ones missing long ago convinced themselves they wanted nothing to do with you, do you realize that you are one pathetic, miserable, and lonely old person because you led a life with no regard for mercy. Oh, how alone, how frail you will be, longing for someone to stop by and show they care. But, sorry Charlie, you can only express your righteous wrath at people who should love you who don’t show you proper respect in your not so humble opinion for so long, before they scatter like birds.

An unmerciful life is a life not lived well, no matter how much success you think you’ve achieved or how right you are.

Words mean something. Mercy is important, more important even than your convictions, your sense of what is proper. Remember;

Jas 2:13  For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.

There are two things in the Bible that blood-bought, born-again, saved and sanctified, church-going, Christians often don’t give the importance they should. One, is that God holds His words above even His name, a name to which all will bow the knee. See Psalm 138:2.

The other is that mercy is a greater thing than even judgment.

Now, I want to add that I am separating mercy from forgiveness. Forgiveness from God includes restoration to fellowship with Him. Forgiveness for us can’t always include that. If you had an employee who stole money from your cash register you might forgive them but even if you kept them on you would be an idiot to put them back on the cash register. More dramatically, if a young boy or girl is sexually abused by an authority figure in their life; teacher, youth pastor, or even parent forgiveness cannot include restoration to the offender’s former role. That is a cruel expectation for someone who has been the victim of what some call “unfinished murder.”

Mercy, however, is something that is within our grasp. I have not delved into mercy for such egregious violations of standards of conduct; a thieving employee or a pervert predator. I am talking about what is within your grasp, in the hurts and wrongs, perceived or real, done to us by each other on a daily basis, things we hold onto sometimes for decades, and how we respond to people close to us with our words. We are more likely to face what I’ve talked about today in our daily lives and I hope and pray it helps you or at least makes you pause and consider the effect of your words on others.

But, remember, if there is anyone out there who has not trusted Christ and His righteousness for their salvation from an eternity of agony and the free gift of eternal life with God, you are going to have a hard time understanding why mercy is so important for Christians. God has been merciful to us, who are most undeserving of it, and we are called to show mercy to others.

Salvation is predicated upon belief. First, believing what Christ said about Himself, that He was God in the flesh. John 3:36 defines believing ON Christ as believing what He said. We then have in John 14 where Jesus says that He is the only way to God the Father and, in fact, to see Him is to have seen the Father. We have verses in Colossians and Hebrews that say that He is the visible image of the invisible God. We have verses like in Romans 10 that says we must believe that He rose from the dead to be saved and to call on His name, confessing to God that we believe. We have verses in Hebrews 6 telling us that we have to turn from what we think has been justifying us, say your race, your religious denomination, your country, your culture, whatever, and turn toward God. We have;

Ac 16:31  And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved...

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Genesis 33:16-20 comments: Jacob goes to Canaan

16 ¶  So Esau returned that day on his way unto Seir. 17  And Jacob journeyed to Succoth, and built him an house, and made booths for his cattle: therefore the name of the place is called Succoth. 18  And Jacob came to Shalem, a city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Padanaram; and pitched his tent before the city. 19  And he bought a parcel of a field, where he had spread his tent, at the hand of the children of Hamor, Shechem’s father, for an hundred pieces of money. 20  And he erected there an altar, and called it Elelohe-Israel.

Jacob had no intention of following Esau to Seir. Jacob takes a right turn into Canaan having come down from Syria, leaving Esau to return to Seir in Edom. He was probably very relieved at having escaped what he thought should be vengeful wrath on the part of Esau.

Succoth, as you can see by the text with the words after the colon defining what went before it, means booths. Booths are temporary stalls, shelter for Jacob’s beasts. There he purchased land from Hamor’s family which we shall soon find was a fateful act on the part of Shechem. Jacob builds an altar and names the altar Elelohe-Israel, which Strong said means, “the mighty God of Israel.” I suspect Jacob was very thankful that He did not receive what he thought could be coming to him.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Genesis 33:1-15 comments: Jacob and Esau meet again

1 ¶  And Jacob lifted up his eyes, and looked, and, behold, Esau came, and with him four hundred men. And he divided the children unto Leah, and unto Rachel, and unto the two handmaids. 2  And he put the handmaids and their children foremost, and Leah and her children after, and Rachel and Joseph hindermost. 3  And he passed over before them, and bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother. 4  And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept.

    5 ¶  And he lifted up his eyes, and saw the women and the children; and said, Who are those with thee? And he said, The children which God hath graciously given thy servant. 6  Then the handmaidens came near, they and their children, and they bowed themselves. 7  And Leah also with her children came near, and bowed themselves: and after came Joseph near and Rachel, and they bowed themselves. 8  And he said, What meanest thou by all this drove which I met? And he said, These are to find grace in the sight of my lord. 9  And Esau said, I have enough, my brother; keep that thou hast unto thyself. 10  And Jacob said, Nay, I pray thee, if now I have found grace in thy sight, then receive my present at my hand: for therefore I have seen thy face, as though I had seen the face of God, and thou wast pleased with me. 11  Take, I pray thee, my blessing that is brought to thee; because God hath dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough. And he urged him, and he took it. 12  And he said, Let us take our journey, and let us go, and I will go before thee. 13  And he said unto him, My lord knoweth that the children are tender, and the flocks and herds with young are with me: and if men should overdrive them one day, all the flock will die. 14  Let my lord, I pray thee, pass over before his servant: and I will lead on softly, according as the cattle that goeth before me and the children be able to endure, until I come unto my lord unto Seir. 15  And Esau said, Let me now leave with thee some of the folk that are with me. And he said, What needeth it? let me find grace in the sight of my lord.

Esau, whom Jacob thought would be possessed of a wrath and fury against him and want to kill him and his family, has clearly not kept this burden of bitterness and anger in his heart. He has been blessed by God and holds no resentment to Jacob. Here are several good lessons for us. Even a person who felt he had been cheated out of his inheritance and birthright by his brother can be forgiving. Also, no matter how badly you have been served by someone God can still bless you abundantly and give you much more than you believe you have lost. We will see this with Joseph, coming up, how bad circumstances can have good endings. Esau does not now hate his brother, Jacob.

This is most admirable of Esau considering what state he was in when Jacob left the family those decades ago considering many of us still hold grudges from our childhood and young adulthood.

Genesis 27:41 ¶  And Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing wherewith his father blessed him: and Esau said in his heart, The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then will I slay my brother Jacob.

It doesn’t say that Esau had specifically forgiven Jacob but so much water had gone under the bridge and God had blessed Esau so abundantly it was no more a part of him. He had let it go.

But, Jacob still is not completely convinced. He rejects the offer of traveling together or even Esau leaving some of his own servants with Jacob to help. Better safe than sorry in case of some hidden treachery, the suspicious Jacob probably thinks, a trickster paranoid about the deception of others.

Is it not usually the case that a person who is sneaky and crafty is suspicious that other people are just as conniving as he is? Of course, Jacob, the trickster, did have to deal with Laban, the exploiter. It is only natural he would fear Esau, whom he himself had manipulated and taken advantage of earlier.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Delay in my next post

I've been asked to preach at church this Sunday morning so I've been busy working on my sermon. I'll be posting another entry here as soon as possible after I'm finished.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Genesis 32:24-32 comments: a wrestling match

24 ¶  And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. 25  And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him. 26  And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. 27  And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob. 28  And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed. 29  And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there. 30  And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved. 31  And as he passed over Penuel the sun rose upon him, and he halted upon his thigh. 32  Therefore the children of Israel eat not of the sinew which shrank, which is upon the hollow of the thigh, unto this day: because he touched the hollow of Jacob’s thigh in the sinew that shrank.

We do not know until later that when God appeared or walked with a person it was the Lord Jesus Christ, the Word by which all things were created, the second part of God called the Son of God, the physical image of God’s person (Hebrews 1:3; Colossians 1:15). He is in other places called the angel of God or the angel of the Lord, the meaning of an angel being an appearance of someone who is also somewhere else, which we have seen (see Genesis, chapter 16, 21, 22, 31).

Isaiah 63:9  In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old.

God walked with Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:8). He spoke to Noah (Genesis 6). He appeared to Abraham (Genesis 12, 17, 18). He appeared to Isaac (Genesis 26). God spoke to Jacob in a dream (Genesis 31). Here, God in the form of a man, which would be the preincarnate Jesus Christ, confronts Jacob when he is alone. They have this colossal wrestling contest. Wrestling is perhaps the oldest combat sport known to man.

Wrestling is mentioned in the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh, in Greek mythology, in Hindu, and Persian writings. It is depicted on very ancient cave art in Mongolia and on Egyptian tombs. Preachers have long played out this scene as an example of contending with God in prayer for something that you want.

Paul says that we contend against spiritual beings that inhabit the spaces above us.

Ephesians 6:12  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

While any wrestling we do is spiritual in prayer and fighting our flesh this was a bonafide physical wrestling match in the flesh, at least for Jacob anyway. I would be careful talking about wrestling with God in prayer. We do not get things from God by trying to pin Him down in prayer or forcing something from Him. God’s mercy does not come to us through our force.

Ephesians 6:18  Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

Philippians 4:6  Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

The promises offered to us are not awards we win in a fight with God.

Romans 6:23  For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

We receive these things by trusting in Christ’s resurrection.

Romans 10:9  That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

And by believing what Jesus said about Himself in John 14, that He is the only way to God and that He is in fact the image of God the Father. In John 3:36 believing on Christ is defined as believing what He said. So, in;

Acts 16:31  And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

There is no athletic contest with God involved. If there is a wrestling match, it is between you and your flesh. But, what we can say here with certainty is a principle of holding on to God and not letting go, which some of us have done. We need to understand in all ways and at all times that it is God who is in control of our destiny. There is no war with Satan, who can do nothing without God’s permission, and no ransom paid to Satan for our souls, as the ransom is paid to God by God. See Exodus 30:12. But, as the parable of the friend pleading with his friend for food in Luke 11 and the parable of the unrighteous judge in Luke 18, it is expected that we will be persistent in prayer and not give up.

To make this a spiritual principle we have to understand that God often makes Himself apparent to us in reality for nothing happens that is not either caused by God or permitted by God; no cell function, not a beat of your heart, or not even sickness and death. For instance, someone you love is sick, very sick. You pray fervently for their release from the bondage of sickness. It means a lot to you that they get well. Do not, “let go,” but pray fervently, fast if you are led to by the spiritual and emotional urgency of the situation, but understand you may be wounded in the process. It may be God’s will that the one you love must go to Him. But, your persistence and sincerity will result in a blessing and you will be changed by the, “struggle.” This is just one example of possible applications and preachers have come up with many others.

Jacob holds on and refuses to let go until God blesses him. He is given the name Israel which typically is said to mean "God prevails" or "God contends" but here the meaning in context ironically refers to Jacob prevailing with God. Jacob demands that his opponent tell him His name. But, there is no need. Jacob knows with whom his encounter has been. Peniel and Penuel are two spellings of the same word. There may be another reason but one reason for including both spellings is the question among Jewish authorities regarding the spelling, I have read. Both mean ‘to see God face to face.’ Who then has Jacob wrestled with?

John 14:9  Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?

Hebrews 1:3  Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;

Colossians 1:15a  Who is the image of the invisible God…

Those who trust in Christ’s righteousness and realize they are spiritually bankrupt and destitute on their own shall see God face to face. They are made clean and pure by Christ. (see Job 11:4; Psalm 24:4; and Proverbs 20:9 for pure as clean.)

Mt 5:3 ¶  Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven….8  Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

(The preparation of a heart to receive Christ is found in Psalms and Isaiah, among other places.

Psalm 34:18  The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.

Isaiah 66:2  For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.)

Jacob will carry with him, in his limp, a reminder of a very close encounter with the living God. He has had impressed upon him the unseen power of God in the company of angels he met. He has been impressed with the immediacy of God in his life with the encounter with the pre-incarnate Christ. These are two things that should give us pause as we face uncertain events ahead. There is invisible to us a great host which God can and will use for His purposes and God Himself does not only meet us in close encounters but His very Spirit dwells inside of us by virtue of the faith He gave us when we believed. (i.e.; Romans 3:22; 8:9.)

Monday, January 16, 2017

Genesis 32:9-12 comments: Jacob's sincere prayer for deliverance

9 ¶  And Jacob said, O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, the LORD which saidst unto me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee: 10  I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands. 11  Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children. 12  And thou saidst, I will surely do thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.

Jacob’s prayer acknowledges who God is and then repeats what God told him to do. He makes the interesting statement that he knows he is not worthy of the least of God’s mercies or the truth that God has revealed to him and so he humbles himself. Then, he pleads for deliverance from the imagined fury of his brother for he fears his brother will slaughter his entire family. He finally restates the promise God made to his family.

Moses does this when God tests him by threatening to destroy the Hebrews when Aaron made them a golden calf to worship and they engaged in their wicked heathen worship.

Exodus 32:13  Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever.

We must be careful of imposing human limitations on God as if He needed to be reminded of His promises or He might forget them. Since God clearly knows the future and what will be done, not only what we will do but what He will do, the reminder is on the human’s part an argument expressing the justification for confidence that God will help. We do this in argument with each other when we remind a boss or a spouse or a friend or acquaintance of something they had promised when its performance appears to be in doubt. It rarely means that we actually think they’ve forgotten the promise.

Here it should be noted that Jacob is making a direct prayer to God with a purpose, not a prayer at God meaning nothing. In Christian culture much is often made of the so-called Lord’s Prayer of Matthew 6.

Matthew 6:9 ¶  After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10  Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11  Give us this day our daily bread. 12  And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

It is repeated in movies and literature, in public events and private, and yet, as per the context, it is not, “the Lord’s prayer,” but is a model of a prayer for His disciples and us. It is Jesus teaching the disciples how to pray and in what form to make a prayer, not even the only form in which to make a prayer. Yet, most people in the Christian culture and even those who just have a passing acquaintance with it but feel vulnerable will use this as an excuse not to engage God but to throw up a ritualistic prayer as if that means something. Why not just repeat Genesis 1:1 and then ask for something? What about John 1:1-18? Here, Jacob is seeking and assumes he has an audience with the throne of God and is not just repeating a formula, a chant, or a mantra.

Hebrews 4:11 ¶  Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. 12  For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13  Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do. 14  Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. 15  For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. 16  Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Always remember Jesus’ own admonition against endless and vain repetitions and ritualistic prayers.

Matthew 6:7  But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

Speak to God directly if you know He is there to hear you, as Jacob has done. Throw words out you do not believe if you only hope there is a God and have no intimate contact with Him through your spirit.

God wants your genuine, heart-felt prayers and concerns. Of what value is throwing up the Lord’s Prayer when something bad happens, considering you have no regard for God at any other time unless you force your children to recite meaningless mantras like;

“God is great. God is good. Let us thank Him for our food. Amen.”

“Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. Amen.”

Then, there is the good old stand-by, “Bless this food to our bodies and our bodies to your service.”

What do memorized ritual prayers mean if nothing is behind them? Do you think those recited prayers are considered in these verses?

Psalm 141:2  Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.

Psalm 107:21  Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! 22  And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing.

Jacob here is speaking to God, not at Him. How do you pray?

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Genesis 32:3-8 comments: Jacob's fear of Esau

3 ¶  And Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother unto the land of Seir, the country of Edom. 4  And he commanded them, saying, Thus shall ye speak unto my lord Esau; Thy servant Jacob saith thus, I have sojourned with Laban, and stayed there until now: 5  And I have oxen, and asses, flocks, and menservants, and womenservants: and I have sent to tell my lord, that I may find grace in thy sight. 6  And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, We came to thy brother Esau, and also he cometh to meet thee, and four hundred men with him. 7  Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed: and he divided the people that was with him, and the flocks, and herds, and the camels, into two bands; 8  And said, If Esau come to the one company, and smite it, then the other company which is left shall escape.

Jacob and company are about to meet even another group, but this one does not comfort or put Jacob in awe but terrifies him. Jacob knows that he did his brother wrong twenty years ago. He has to pass through Esau’s territory.

Genesis 25:30  And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom.

Genesis 36:8  Thus dwelt Esau in mount Seir: Esau is Edom.

Notice the following as the Hebrews travel to the Promised Land.

Deuteronomy 2:1 ¶  Then we turned, and took our journey into the wilderness by the way of the Red sea, as the LORD spake unto me: and we compassed mount Seir many days. 2  And the LORD spake unto me, saying, 3  Ye have compassed this mountain long enough: turn you northward. 4  And command thou the people, saying, Ye are to pass through the coast of your brethren the children of Esau, which dwell in Seir; and they shall be afraid of you: take ye good heed unto yourselves therefore: 5  Meddle not with them; for I will not give you of their land, no, not so much as a foot breadth; because I have given mount Seir unto Esau for a possession. 6  Ye shall buy meat of them for money, that ye may eat; and ye shall also buy water of them for money, that ye may drink.

Clearly, Jacob has kept informed about his brother’s doings. He appears to be making an offering to Esau, to hopefully buy off his desire for revenge. Jacob’s servants, which he sent as scouts to see what Esau’s mind was about, tell him that Esau is coming his way with four hundred men. It does not look good for Jacob, his family, his servants, and his wealth, if not his life.

Dividing his group into two Jacob hopes that if Esau attacks one the other will escape. Notice two things here. God made provision for Esau even though Esau, perhaps, did not do right by our view. He was a carnal, a man dominated by his flesh. But God took care of him. He was not part of the ministry to reconcile man to God except in this part with his relationship with Jacob. But God put his territory in the path of God’s man so that God’s man would have to pass through it. 

There are a lot of potential sermons in this passage, for instance, how you as a Christian, a type of Jacob, may have to pass through an Esau’s territory to get where God wants you to go. Or, how you may have to face an unsaved person or a brother in Christ whom you’ve wronged in the past. How your fears may blow things all out of proportion to what God has planned. Many sermon possibilities, many examples of the Christian’s real life experiences.

Another thing to consider is how fearful Jacob is even though God told him to go back to his own place. He lacked the courage of his faith to believe God would continue to bless and protect him. Here we see in the Bible an understanding of our weaknesses. Even in the face of our greatest spiritual triumph, even doing God’s perfect will, we sometimes have fear and uncertainty, doubts and concerns. It is not unusual, does not show you are denying God’s will, just that you are human and weak.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Genesis 32:1-2 comments: Jacob's group meets another

1 ¶  And Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him. 2  And when Jacob saw them, he said, This is God’s host: and he called the name of that place Mahanaim.

Jacob sees an amazing sight from the spiritual world. An army of God’s angels approaches him. This is a sign to Jacob showing the protection of God.

Psalm 34:7  The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.

Angels are spiritual beings, typically unseen to us.

Psalm 104:4  Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire:

What a spectacular and frightening apparition that must have been.

As he saw God’s host, His army, Jacob called it Mahanaim, the plural of a word that is translated as camp or host or armies elsewhere. Jacob may have named it based on his people meeting God’s angels, two groups passing each other, his and the angels. Remember what angels are; representatives of something or someone that is somewhere else.

Hebrews 12:22  But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, 23  To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,

We are surrounded by a great army of God’s saints that have gone on ahead of us, as a matter of fact. Paul says this after talking about the great saints of God that have gone on before us.

Heb 12:1  Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2  Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Genesis 31:43-55 comments: a stone witness

43 ¶  And Laban answered and said unto Jacob, These daughters are my daughters, and these children are my children, and these cattle are my cattle, and all that thou seest is mine: and what can I do this day unto these my daughters, or unto their children which they have born? 44  Now therefore come thou, let us make a covenant, I and thou; and let it be for a witness between me and thee. 45  And Jacob took a stone, and set it up for a pillar. 46  And Jacob said unto his brethren, Gather stones; and they took stones, and made an heap: and they did eat there upon the heap. 47  And Laban called it Jegarsahadutha: but Jacob called it Galeed. 48  And Laban said, This heap is a witness between me and thee this day. Therefore was the name of it called Galeed; 49  And Mizpah; for he said, The LORD watch between me and thee, when we are absent one from another. 50  If thou shalt afflict my daughters, or if thou shalt take other wives beside my daughters, no man is with us; see, God is witness betwixt me and thee. 51  And Laban said to Jacob, Behold this heap, and behold this pillar, which I have cast betwixt me and thee; 52  This heap be witness, and this pillar be witness, that I will not pass over this heap to thee, and that thou shalt not pass over this heap and this pillar unto me, for harm. 53  The God of Abraham, and the God of Nahor, the God of their father, judge betwixt us. And Jacob sware by the fear of his father Isaac. 54  Then Jacob offered sacrifice upon the mount, and called his brethren to eat bread: and they did eat bread, and tarried all night in the mount. 55  And early in the morning Laban rose up, and kissed his sons and his daughters, and blessed them: and Laban departed, and returned unto his place.

Laban replies that Rachel and Leah are his daughters and that Jacob’s offspring belong to him. He claims that Jacob’s sheep are his sheep and everything Jacob has carried off belongs to him. He then admits that he could not possibly do any harm to his daughters and their children, weakly cutting Jacob out of the equation. After this verbal domination game he then offers a covenant to Jacob. I would presume he knows he is beaten in this, that he cannot go against Jacob and face God’s wrath.

They laid a pile of stones to memorialize their covenant. Laban called it Jegarsahadutha which Strong says, confirmed by the context, means ‘witness heap.’ Jacob calls it Galeed. This also means ‘witness heap’ according to Strong’s. It is given the names Galeed and Mizpah, meaning a watchtower. Laban, and most fathers can understand this sentiment as Laban warns that this heap of stones signifies that God is watching Jacob’s behavior toward Laban’s daughters. Laban acknowledges Jehovah God as the judge between himself and Jacob. Neither of them is to pass that heap of stones to each other with the intent of doing harm. Jacob agreed and offered a sacrifice and then they had a meal. The next day Laban departed after kissing his daughters and grandchildren, presumably never to see them again.

Laban has engaged in a psychological device where he feels more secure even though he has no security. The presumed weaker party in a conflict, it is revealed, has a powerful ally who changes the balance of power in the conflict. The party that thought it had all the power now demands an agreement where they mutually agree not to harm each other, as if he still had the power to harm the weaker party and would be held back by the agreement he proposed. Neither Laban, nor you, nor your employer, nor your government, nor any individual or collective you can imagine is able to stand against God; all contracts, signed agreements, and treaties aside.

God’s plan of reconciling mankind to Himself continues and another saint has been nurtured and strengthened in a potential enemy’s camp, receiving booty and gain, then moving on. The stage is now being set for the creation of the people of Israel, through which Christ will come.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Genesis 31:36-42 comments: Jacob's cry against Laban

36 ¶  And Jacob was wroth, and chode with Laban: and Jacob answered and said to Laban, What is my trespass? what is my sin, that thou hast so hotly pursued after me? 37  Whereas thou hast searched all my stuff, what hast thou found of all thy household stuff? set it here before my brethren and thy brethren, that they may judge betwixt us both. 38  This twenty years have I been with thee; thy ewes and thy she goats have not cast their young, and the rams of thy flock have I not eaten. 39  That which was torn of beasts I brought not unto thee; I bare the loss of it; of my hand didst thou require it, whether stolen by day, or stolen by night. 40  Thus I was; in the day the drought consumed me, and the frost by night; and my sleep departed from mine eyes. 41  Thus have I been twenty years in thy house; I served thee fourteen years for thy two daughters, and six years for thy cattle: and thou hast changed my wages ten times. 42  Except the God of my father, the God of Abraham, and the fear of Isaac, had been with me, surely thou hadst sent me away now empty. God hath seen mine affliction and the labour of my hands, and rebuked thee yesternight.

Jacob is very angry, or wroth, used previously in reference to Cain in Genesis 4. He chode, the past tense of chide, meaning to rebuke someone, to speak angrily at. The Hebrew word is translated for plead, strive, contend, and debate. He defies Laban to explain what sin he committed against Laban to justify this hot pursuit and search of Jacob’s belongings. He served Laban for two decades and served him well, looking after and multiplying Laban’s possessions, taking responsibility himself for any losses. He suffered much physically. For fourteen years he worked to earn Leah and Rachel and for six years the wealth that was his, enduring many changes of payment. Laban is a crook and were it not for God’s hand in this Jacob is certain he would have been forced to go away empty handed. God saw his suffering and hard work and that is why Laban was warned by the God of Jacob’s fathers not to harm him.

Be warned about employers like this. This is a good lesson to learn also regarding God’s will in blessing someone in a difficult situation where those with power are against him. God can help you prosper even when you are being cheated, oppressed, or held in contempt. This does not justify an employer saying that you should trust in God so he can cheat you out of your pay. It just lets you know that God can help even in a situation where everything seems to be against you if you are doing right. Notice the extra mile that Jacob went to protect Laban’s assets and take losses upon himself. Jacob was an independent contractor whose hours worked in a day were not determined by his employer. He used his knowledge and God’s will to accomplish his work making sure that his employer received no hurt, when possible.

For you who complain about how you are treated by your employer do you take responsibility for losses ‘on your watch’ like Jacob did? Of course, this only applies to an independent contractor situation you might think. But, at work, do you give your employer all the time they are paying you for? Do you take office supplies home or do you have little regard for wasting your employer’s equipment or being efficient? This is a two-way street. The employee who expects God to bless them in spite of a bad situation better not find that he or she is just as much a villain as the boss, if they want that blessing.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Genesis 31:25-35 comments: the search

25 ¶  Then Laban overtook Jacob. Now Jacob had pitched his tent in the mount: and Laban with his brethren pitched in the mount of Gilead. 26  And Laban said to Jacob, What hast thou done, that thou hast stolen away unawares to me, and carried away my daughters, as captives taken with the sword? 27  Wherefore didst thou flee away secretly, and steal away from me; and didst not tell me, that I might have sent thee away with mirth, and with songs, with tabret, and with harp? 28  And hast not suffered me to kiss my sons and my daughters? thou hast now done foolishly in so doing. 29  It is in the power of my hand to do you hurt: but the God of your father spake unto me yesternight, saying, Take thou heed that thou speak not to Jacob either good or bad. 30  And now, though thou wouldest needs be gone, because thou sore longedst after thy father’s house, yet wherefore hast thou stolen my gods? 31  And Jacob answered and said to Laban, Because I was afraid: for I said, Peradventure thou wouldest take by force thy daughters from me. 32  With whomsoever thou findest thy gods, let him not live: before our brethren discern thou what is thine with me, and take it to thee. For Jacob knew not that Rachel had stolen them. 33  And Laban went into Jacob’s tent, and into Leah’s tent, and into the two maidservants’ tents; but he found them not. Then went he out of Leah’s tent, and entered into Rachel’s tent. 34  Now Rachel had taken the images, and put them in the camel’s furniture, and sat upon them. And Laban searched all the tent, but found them not. 35  And she said to her father, Let it not displease my lord that I cannot rise up before thee; for the custom of women is upon me. And he searched, but found not the images.

Having caught up with Jacob, Laban confronts him. Laban accuses Jacob of running off with HIS daughters like captives taken in war. He makes it sound like he would have been okay with their leaving and would have thrown them a party. A tabret is a musical instrument. See the context? The same word is translated in some places as a timbrel. This is like a tambourine today. Jacob has denied Laban the privilege of kissing his children and grandchildren goodbye, Laban complains. Then, while he admits that he has the power to hurt Jacob, presumably to kill him, take his goods, and return his daughters and grandchildren to his control, that the God of Jacob’s father warned him not to do so, as we have seen.

In verse 30, Laban brings up the accusation that Jacob has stolen his household gods, the images that Rachel had stolen as per verse 19. These gods, these idols, as I noted before, were particular to Laban’s family worship and their theft was a great wrong done to him, in the context of the culture of the ancient world. This is how degenerate the ancient world had become since the time of Noah, worship perhaps brought with his wife or children from the pre-Flood world, perhaps.

Jacob replies, justifying his actions based on his fear of Laban, and acknowledging the severity of the crime of stealing Laban’s household gods and not knowing that it was Rachel who stole them, and promises that whomever stole them will die.

He tells Laban that anything he finds that belongs to him, to take it. Laban does a search but cannot find the images. Rachel has hidden them in the equipment on which she sits, which belongs on her camel. She is sitting on that in the tent. She makes the excuse that she cannot get up because she is in her monthly period. This excuse is accepted and, of course, no one would have suspected that one of Laban’s daughters stole the family images. A woman in the ancient world, when married, left her family worship and that would mean the family images, as well. She was to embrace fully the religion of her husband’s family although she had no part in its inheritance except through her eldest son. Rachel, like many Christians today, cannot let go of the idols in which they place their trust.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Genesis 31:17-24 comments: Laban catches up with Jacob

17 ¶  Then Jacob rose up, and set his sons and his wives upon camels; 18  And he carried away all his cattle, and all his goods which he had gotten, the cattle of his getting, which he had gotten in Padanaram, for to go to Isaac his father in the land of Canaan. 19  And Laban went to shear his sheep: and Rachel had stolen the images that were her father’s. 20  And Jacob stole away unawares to Laban the Syrian, in that he told him not that he fled. 21  So he fled with all that he had; and he rose up, and passed over the river, and set his face toward the mount Gilead. 22  And it was told Laban on the third day that Jacob was fled. 23  And he took his brethren with him, and pursued after him seven days’ journey; and they overtook him in the mount Gilead. 24  And God came to Laban the Syrian in a dream by night, and said unto him, Take heed that thou speak not to Jacob either good or bad.

In the last passage we saw that God had kept Laban from doing Jacob harm.

7  And your father hath deceived me, and changed my wages ten times; but God suffered him not to hurt me.

We also saw in Abraham and Isaac’s lives how God had protected them from the power of others to do them harm. Jacob and his family are going to make their escape from Laban on camels, a common conveyance in those days. He drove the sheep he had won for himself and carried all of his goods with him. His intention was to return to Isaac in the land of Canaan. Laban, not aware that his daughters and son-in-law had taken off went to shear his own sheep and did not know for three days that Jacob left. He took off after Jacob’s party with plenty of backup. Laban’s force overtook Jacob’s party at Mount Gilead. But, God came to Laban in a dream, as He had come to Abimelech reported back in chapter 20, and warned him not to harm Jacob. In fact, just leave him alone.

Rachel had stolen Laban’s household gods, little figurines used for worship in this world. See comments on 4:16-18. Remember that there were gods a family worshipped and a god the community worshipped if they lived in a city. Each family had their own gods which represented the worship of ancestors. Living under the government of the family with the father as head, priest, and chief domestic divinities were formed from this ancestor worship for protection and success. They were intensely personal to the family and their theft would have been regarded as a great sin against the father of the family. It is also important to note that after the Flood when these gods were formed it was also possible to believe in a more powerful god, a unifying entity, such as a Zeus or a Baal or even Jehovah God, the LORD of the Bible, creator of all things, as well as your household images.(45) This is what happened and this is part of what Jehovah God was undoing by bringing men back from this idolatry, after the Flood but based in part on the added worship of mighty… men of renown, the giants from whom one can suppose that the famous gods of the ancient world were formed, and ancestors like Noah and Shem.

So, you can see that Rachel had committed a grievous wrong in that world.

(45) Numa Denis Fustel De Coulanges, The Ancient City: A Study of the Religion, Laws, and Institutions of Greece and Rome (1874, repr. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2006), 123.