Monday, January 14, 2013

"Even through the bad, the ugly, comes God" - 01/14/13 - Genesis 37:1-39:23, I Chronicles 2:3-8

"Judah said, “Brothers, what are we going to get out of killing our brother and concealing the evidence? Let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites, but let’s not kill him—he is, after all, our brother, our own flesh and blood.”  (Gen 37:26-27)

His Word - there isn't one word that is there by accident.  Each and every Word is God-inspired, God breathed.  It isn't by chance that in the middle of the story of Joseph growing up to being in jail - there is a section of Judah's life. 

Joseph is the continuing history of the Israelites - the story of Judah brings us back to the Savior - our Savior - my Savior.  Both stories, of Joseph and Judah, show us how humans bring mess into God's plan  - again.  How favoritism continues to breed jealousy, division, evil in the family.  It brings back to mind "God spoke to Cain: “Why this tantrum? Why the sulking? If you do well, won’t you be accepted? And if you don’t do well, sin is lying in wait for you, ready to pounce; it’s out to get you, you’ve got to master it.” (Gen 4:6-7)

Life 101 - It is unfair. 

There are times we do our best and still get the shaft, which is why it is essential to keep our eyes focused on His face, His ways.  To utilize His measuring stick, His Word.  To have faith that no matter what, He is in complete control and loves us more than anything.  Remember - He gave His only Son - for you. 

We are "His" favorite.

If we don't live life like this, we will live it in the opposite manner.  We will allow sin to pounce on us and get us.  It will "master us".  This is a struggle we will have as long as we live on this world.  A struggle we will fail to win at times. 

Thank the Lord for His grace and mercy!!!!

I find great hope in the life of Judah.  While researching Genesis 38, I learned the following about the people Judah had separated himself from his brothers to go and become a part of:

"The Canaanites were descendants of Can the grandson of Noah.  the religion of the Canaanites was an agricultural religion, with pronounced fertility motifs.  Their main gods were called the Baalim (Lords), and their consorts the Baalot (Ladies), or Asherah (singular), usually known by the personal plural name Ashtoret.  The god of the city of Shechem, which city the Israelites had absorbed peacefully under Joshua, was called Baal-berith (Lord of the Covenant) or El-berith (God of the Covenant).  Shechem became the first cultic center of the religious tribal confederacy (called an amphictyony by the Greeks) of the Isreaelites during the period of the judges.  When Shechem was excavated in the early 1960s, the temple of Baal-berith was partially reconstructed; the sacred pillar (generally a phallic symbol or, often, a representation of the ashera, the female fertility symbol) was placed in its original position before the entrance of the temple.

The Baalim and the Baalot, god and goddesses of the Earth, were believed to be the revitalizes of the forces of nature upon which agriculture depended.  The revitalization process involved a sacred marriage (hieros gamos), replete with sexual symbolic and actual activities between men, representing the Baalim, and the sacred temple prostitutes (gedeshot), representing the Baalot. (Judah visiting the prostitute was actually his act of worship.)  Cultic ceremonies involving sexual acts between male members of the agricultural communities and sacred prostitutes dedicated to the Baalim were focused on the Canaanite concept of sympathetic magic.  As the Baalim (through the actions of selected men) both symbolically and actually impregnated the sacred prostitutes in order to reproduce in kind, so also, it was believed the Baalim (as gods of the weather and the Earth) would send the rains (often identified with semen) to the Earth so that it might yield abundant harvest of grains and fruits.  Canaanite myths incorporating such fertility myths are represented in the mythological texts of the ancient city of Ugarit (modern Ras Shamra in northern Syria; though the high god El and his consort are important as the first pair of the pantheon, Baal and his sexually passionate sister-consort are significant in the creation of the world and the renewal of nature.

The religion of the Canaanite agriculturalists proved to be a strong attraction to the less sophisticated and nomadic-oriented Isreaelite tribes.  Many Isreaelists succumbed to the allurements of the fertility-laden rituals and practices of the Canaanite religion, partly because it was new and different from the yahwistic religion and, possible, because of a tendency of a rigorous faith and ethic to weaken under the influence of sexual attractions.  (Kind of sounds like the direction our world is going today.)  As the Canaaanites and the Israelites began to live in closer contact with each other, the faith of Israel tended to absorb some of the concepts and practices of the Canaanite religion (another proof of how essential it is to walk In God and His Word).  Some Israelites began to name their children after the Baalim; even one of the judges, Gideon, as also known by the name Jerubbaal ("Let Baal Contend").

As the syncretistic tendencies became further entrenched in the Israelite faith, the people began to lose the concept of their exclusiveness and their mission to be a witness to the nations, thus becoming weakened in resolve internally and liable to the oppression of other peoples".  (This hits so close to home and "how is my walk", "am I an oppression"?)

Why great hope in the life of Judah?  Because, God took from this lineage and brought from it our perfect Christ.  When you trace back Christ lineage, you find those who allowed sin to master them.  The persons listed in this family tree are not perfect - they lived and absorbed the ways of the "Canaanites of the world".  

Just as I have and do and will.  

Being a child of God, I am listed as part of the lineage of Christ.  My part of the family tree isn't perfect, beautiful - it's really a branch when looked upon that should be cut off!  And that is where my awesome Daddy comes in.  He takes what is rotten - the bad and the ugly and creates good from it.  Just as He did with the life and choices of Judah - and all the others in Christ lineage. 

I sit here looking out the window at the barberry bush.  It is very ugly right now without leaves, full of little thorns - much like the ugly cross and the thorns they put on His head.  But it is full of life.  Within the branches there is constant movement from the little birds that are feeding off of it.  I see them all puffed up, moving from branch to branch.  Even when the bush looks completely dead in its dormant stage, they are given food from it to continue living so they may bring forth new life this spring.  As He did when it was thought all was lost, when Christ died on the cross.  Even the little birds know to come to the bush, their feathers protecting them from the thorns.  It amazes me how their little bodies keep from freezing in this weather.  Am I drawn to the cross, to Him in such the same way?  It brings to mind how He loves me so much more than the birds.  How He provides and takes care of me.  How He has given me protection from the cold and thorns of life.  He has given me His Word to keep from becoming a part of the "Canaanite world" I live in.  He has given me eternal life with Him.

I stand amazed that He has taken my "Judah like steps" to become the "steps of being Christlike".  How He prevails.  How even through the bad, the ugly - comes God.  

How He took the ugliness of the Cross and gave us Good......


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