Tuesday, October 5, 2010

OTC Day 16: Genesis 33-34

God is not the source of all our troubles. In fact, He is not even the source of most of them. Most of the difficulties we face are the result of sin: when others sin against us, or when we make sinful choices of our own. Genesis 34 makes that clear.

The only people not blamed in the entire account are the victims: Dinah and the men of Shechem. They were

sinned against while everyone else made their own contribution to the disgusting display.

Hamor is certainly guilty. He raped Dinah and then negotiated to secure her as his own. He sounds more selfish than smitten, seemingly wanting his own plaything. He wasn’t concerned with confession or repentance.

Jacob’s sin was one of omission. He comes across as a spineless political coward. Instead of defending his daughter, he sought to save his own skin by covering up the sin against her (see verse 30).

Because of Jacob’s passive refusal to defend his daughter, her brothers rose to her defense. Their “grief and fury” are understandable but their response is indefensible. They demonstrated that they’d learned their father’s deceitful ways well. Using their religion as a smokescreen, they incapacitated the men of the city and murdered them in cold blood. How did this honor Dinah? How could it possibly please God?

In spite of the gruesome account of chapter 34, it’s encouraging to find it in the Bible. God ensures that it is there to teach us that He chooses people who are still sinners, not people who have conquered sin. This is a comfort for all of us who continually stumble, fall, and fail. God can use us, in spite of ourselves, no matter what we’ve done. In fact, murderous Levi’s descendants became the priests for the nation of Israel!

It also shows us that God can use even our sinful failures to bring about His purposes. The sin of Jacob and his family once again brought trouble, and trouble drove Jacob to seek God.

1. What changes have you witnessed in Jacob’s character as he transformed from the faithless Jacob to the faithful Israel? How have you seen God change you since you’ve become a Christian? What areas do you think He still wants to work on?

2. What does God’s answering of Jacob’s prayer in Genesis 32:9-12 teach us about prayer?

3. How do the actions of Jacob’s sons reflect his former ways of trickery?

4. Do you think the brothers’ actions were noble, corrupt, or a mixture of both? Why?

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