connecting people to the gospel
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Total Sermons: 97
Because God's message of salvation comes to his covenant people they must prepare for conflicts among themselves. Such conflicts are inevitable, if not more than a bit alarming as marking the life of God's people, because God's people are essentially no different than those outside God's covenant community; they are sinners. The conflicts that mark the life of God's people precisely because God's message comes to them are seen in the beginning of the story that centers on Joseph. Conflicts mark the life of God's covenant people for two basic reasons. First, God's messenger is sinful and secondly, God's message is offensive, and it is offensive not because there is anything wrong or defective about that message, but because the one's receiving the message are sinful. It means suffering for all God's people.
While Esau's genealogy does not strike us as filled with great spiritual insight, we must agree that as part of Scripture it is filled with the characteristics Paul explains that all Scripture possesses. It too is profitable for our growth equipping us for every good work that God has created us in Christ Jesus to do. We perhaps understand it in this way when we understand Ch. 36 in light of its place in the lager story of Genesis and indeed the whole Bible. What we see in Esau's descendants are similarities that lead us to the conclusion that from a number of perspectives there really is very little difference between the Edomites and the Israelites. What we have to conclude is that the difference centers on God; God brought his word and revealed to Jacob's forefathers and Jacob where to live and how to live. God blessed Jacob and his descendants in a way in which he did not bless Esau. It tells us something profound about how the Christian should think about his or her difference in relation to the non-Christian and how the Church corporately should do as well.
Having been told to go back to Bethel and engage in the right worship of God, Jacob leads his household in this worship and then journey's on. The second part of Genesis 35, though, mentions three events that reveal the truth that even though Yahweh has promised fulfillment of his covenant with Abraham and his descendants, and even though this fulfillment is in the midst of taking place, nonetheless it takes place in the midst of certain kinds of failures. It is this union of fulfillment and failure that marks the life of God's people now as they journey on toward the final fulfillment in the New Heavens and New Earth. What lessons do we learn from these failures mentioned in this text and their union with God's fulfillment of his promises?
After two of Jacob's sons, Simeon and Levi, enact sinful revenge against the men of Shechem for sin committed against their sister by one man of the city (Gen. 34)--a vengeance that was partly fueled by Jacob's indifference to the whole matter--Jacob and his household are placed in a dangerous situation. Jacob fears for his safety and that of his household. In the midst of this, God tells Jacob to go to Bethel and make an altar that he and his household would worship God. It reveals that the fundamental purpose for which God creates his covenant people is for the worship of God. Thus, it is the worship of God that God's people must make as their focus. According to Genesis 35 it will mean that they pursue holiness, encounter God's protection and focus on who God is and what God does.
After Jacob wrestles with God, he then meets Esau and his warriors. Jacob's response changes from being an attempt to atone for his own sin and appease Esau to recognizing that he was undeserving of the covenant blessing. So, he offers it back to Esau by bowing down to him. Yet, before Jacob can say anything Esau embraces him. Esau had been reconciled in his heart to his brother apart from anything Jacob had done. God was at work, both in Jacob's life and Esau's. We learn in this encounter that God is at work apart from the actions of those who receive his blessing, that the recipients of God's blessing demonstrate humility and graciousness because they know themselves to have been dealt with mercifully and graciously by God, and that while God brings reconciliation between those who have salvation and those who do not, this does not then mean that the Christian and non-Christian are pursuing the same things.