Reading #1 – Genesis 31
Reading #2 – Psalms 13
Reading #3 – Lamentations 4
Reading #4 – Ezekiel 31
Reading #5 – Job 28
Genesis 31 – Jacob Leaves Secretly for Canaan. It is said, “there is no honor among thieves”. In Jacob’s case, this is particularly true. During the 20 year period that Jacob dwelled in Syria, his wages had been changed several times. According to Jacob, Laban was the bad guy and Jacob was the honest one well, that is not a true statement. When Jacob arrived in Syria, the agreement was that Jacob would serve Laban for seven years the marital price for Rachel. Unlike the servant who came to Laban to get a wife for Isaac, Jacob arrived in Syria with the clothes on his back and a good story. This was probably part of the reason Abraham prohibited his servant from taking Isaac to Syria in the first place. 20 years have past and the once amicable relationship has given way to hostilities between Jacob’s men and Laban’s men. Jacob feels he has to get out of Syria as quickly as possible so he calls his wives out to meet him and then lies to them (4-13). Jacob gets up in the middle of the night, packs his family up, and heads out into the desert back to Canaan. Before leaving Rachel takes her father’s household gods something that she did not need. Jacob deceives Laban by taking off in the middle of the night without telling Laban about his plans which creates problems for Jacob and his family as we will find out later in Genesis. When Laban caught up with Jacob, he was furious that Jacob had been deceptive which was like calling the kettle black. Of course, Laban was also upset that someone made off with his house-hold gods so he goes looking through Jacob’s tents but doesn’t find them because Rachel hid them (30-35).
Job 28 – Job Tells of Earth’s Treasures. It seems, that things can be found with a little bit of work and determination but wisdom is not one of them (12-13). For over 4000 years since mankind has walked the earth, he/she has had many ground-breaking inventions and has reached new heights in space and in the sea but the one that thing that has not held up to the test of time is “man’s wisdom”. For the three counselors, this was where they tripped up or “tripped over the cornerstone” (Psalms 118:22, Isaiah 28:16, 1 Peter 2:6-8). How is it possible that a man like Job could have been afflicted like he was and yet be righteous? The one place that is the hardest to search is in the heart of man that is, tell me what happened and how in the name of All that is Holy did you end up here? Everything can be bought with money or traded with stuff but to understand the indescribable G_d, no price on earth will satisfy it (14-23). The only thing that can ever satisfy the price is “Reverential fear of the Lord” which is to be obedient to what he tells you and trust him even when all evidence points to the fact that we are believing a lie (28).
Psalms 13 – Prayer for Help in Trouble. When we face trouble, like Job and Jacob, our first resource needs to be the Throneroom of G_d. If it is anything else, we will be deceived and mislead in time. Jacob trusted his mother who sent him off to her family one known for lies and deception. When we look to our wisdom, we will be deceived because, in our eyes, we are right and the other party is wrong. When we go to the Throneroom, we must be prepared to hear the whole council of G_d, not just the part where we hear “you poor kid, you have been hurt by that bully” (1-4). When we listen to G_d’s council, as Jacob did and Job would have to, we can be sure that we will know the truth, and the lies that we allowed to surround our lives with will dissipate (5-6).
Lamentations 4 – Distress of the Siege Described. The distress in Jerusalem that led up to the exile in 586 was completely avoidable. The nation did not listen to the words of the prophets because the kings and people of the court did not listen and that included the priests and Levites. The lie the people glommed onto was, “we are the chosen people and we will continue to be it so we will never see the destruction that was promised.” The nation one was vibrant, growing, and righteous before G_d until pride found room in the storehouses of G_d’s temple where it did not belong (1-2). The thing is, if G_d was willing to let Jerusalem, the city of David, go through the troubles and trials without stopping it, it can happen to anybody and it doesn’t matter how big, small, robust, alive, and/or dying it may be. Even animals will treat their young better than the human will when the food runs out (3-4). The punishment of Sodom and Gomorrah was a quick death no one knew it was coming until the destruction fell. The punishment of Jerusalem and her sister was slow, agonizing, and painful that the nation would see from the shores of Babylon (6). The nation would endure 70 years of exile until the time set for it to end but even at that, it would be felt until long after Jesus had died and the last of the apostles had passed away (21-22).
Ezekiel 31 – Pharaoh Warned of Assyria’s Fate. There is a common issue with mankind and that is, he/she doesn’t believe that they can fall. Egypt was powerful, wealthy, and excellent fighters but there is always someone no matter how much we delude ourselves. Assyria was compared to a strong Cedar tree, grows deep roots, and grows tall. If Assyria could fall to the horde of Babylon, “Egypt you are next on the pecking order” (2-5). This was a wake-up call for Egypt which they, like Judah and Israel, did not listen to because, in their pride, it was not conceivable that this powerhouse of a nation could fall and become irrelevant within the space of a few years. When we allow Pride to build us up, it will also just as quickly puncture a hole in the lining of our life to cause a leak. When we fall, there will always be others that depended on us and so they will lose the gift we provided (10-14).