Reading #1 – Genesis 34
Reading #2 – Psalms 16
Reading #3 – Proverbs 2
Reading #4 – Ezekiel 34
Reading #5 – Job 31
Genesis 34 – The Treachery of Jacob’s Sons. Jacob and his family had been in Schechem for a little while. Dinah had gone out unescorted which put her in a vulnerable position (1). Young Schechem fell in love with Dinah and raped her (2-3). Hamor went to Jacob to propose that his son marry Jacob’s daughter which Jacob wanted nothing to do with it. When the boys came in from the field and were told what had happened, they were infuriated and wanted revenge. To get back at the people of Schechem, they resorted to a ruse by proposing that the men of Schechem get circumcised (13-17). Being circumcised as an adult is beyond being painful but more so in that time because of the method they used which was an ordinary knife. The leaders presented the offer to the rest of the community and added in “we’ll get all of their flocks and herds in time” (20-24). Once the men were circumcised, Jacob’s sons used that opportunity to kill every male in the city, take their wealth, herds, wives, children, and Dinah, and left the city (25-29). Jacob was then angry with his sons for the destruction they had done. This destruction had set the tone for the fledgling nation (30-31).
Job 31 – Job Asserts His Integrity. This is Job’s closing argument before the would-be counselors. Before the attack, Job set the tone of his life by ministering to people and he calls G_d to testify to the truth (1-4). If he had walked in falsehood, stolen, cheated, and/or any other thing, the outcome would be justified. When Job appealed to the High Court of Heaven, he had to be sure that he was not in the wrong this required an accurate assessment of his life (7-10, Psalms 7:3-5). Job understood the consequences of adultery and for that reason, he remained true to his wife (11-12, Exodus 20:14). By giving to the poor, caring for the widows, and providing food, shelter, and caring for the orphans by providing clothing to those in need, he was adhering to the 2nd Great Commandment (Leviticus 19:18, and Mark 12:28-31). Job’s complete trust was in the Lord G_d not in what he possessed nor did he serve any other god other than the Lord G_d for two reasons; First, it is the desire of his heart to please the Lord by his actions (24-28); Second, it is the desire of G_d’s heart (Leviticus 19:9-18, Psalms 37:5-6). While this may seem extensive and be seen as “going overboard”, consider the implications when we go before G_d he will not just look at the current situation but everything surrounding it. For Job, it meant a complete review of his life. Job knew he could stand confidently before G_d and not be afraid of what all might be brought up (35-37, 1 John 3:21-22).
Psalms 16 – Portion in Life and Deliverer. This is a teaching Psalm about living before the Lord G_d in righteousness and its rewards. In Mosaic law, the Levites did not receive a reward because their reward was service to the Lord G_d (Numbers 18:20). While David was not a Levite, he was still called to ministry and that was the care of his kingdom in the presence of the All-Mighty. While it is advantageous to garner riches in this world, it is also a trap by which we get ensnared and that is what David is avoiding (1-2). David knew that all of the good things that occurred since he first went into hiding from Saul until the time of his coronation were because of his relationship with the Lord G_d (5-8).
Proverbs 2 – Pursuit of Wisdom. Wisdom is not knowledge although knowledge comes by pursuing Wisdom’s pathway (2 Peter 1:5-8). Wisdom helps us to make good choices about our life, how we divide the word of the Lord, and the judgments we make in life (4-6). Snap decisions, however easy to make often get people into trouble sort of like how David’s decision to conduct a census (2 Samuel 24). When we ask G_d for wisdom concerning a matter or an important decision, we must be willing to act on His counsel because if we don’t, we show that we really do not care what he says like the case of the people seeking the Word of the Lord through Ezekiel (Ezekiel 33:30-33). Those who will stand before G_d, listen to what He says, and are obedient to His word will know the abiding presence of the Lord (7-8). The abiding presence of the Lord will guide us in and through the trials although we cannot always sense his presence (20-22, Psalms 77:19-20).
Ezekiel 34 – Prophecy against the Shepherds of Israel. This warning to the shepherds (the teachers) speaks to their actions that have contributed to where the people are presently (2). The teachers and preachers of the law had become corrupt and had misused and misled the people under their care. The tone the shepherds set was “me first and all else 2nd” which caused people to abandon the way of the Lord G_d. Ezekiel was an anomaly because he did not echo the words of his colleagues but stood as a stark reminder of G_d’s truths (3-6). This diabolical twist of G_d’s word led to Israel’s demise and the followers paid the ultimate price which came about in the form of “exile”. The Shepherds would be fired for not taking care of the flock (10). Exile was not the end of the matter, it was the end of the chapter and the next act would be “restoration”. The problem with restoration is that it usually comes in times of trials and troubles (11-12).