Feb 2, 2022

(Genesis 34, Mark 5; Optional Psalm 25:12-22, Proverbs 7:1-5)

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GENESIS 34 – In both our Old Testament and New Testament chapter today, notice that your GROUP and your FEELINGS can really mis-lead you. VERDICT: trust God and what HE says! To prep for our Gen 34 reading, remember that the first audience to Genesis being written was hundreds of years after this sad story happened. Moses was inspired by God to write this down to instruct the generation of Israelites who had been slaves in Egypt for hundreds of years. They were often TEMPTED to intermingle / intermarry with the Canaanite people of the land, with disastrous results (see Num 25:1-9). Jacob’s sons in Gen 34:13-17 wrongly make it SOUND like the problem is something EXTERNAL (circumcision).  But GOD makes clear that it’s a faith / worship issue; the people of the land don’t know Yahweh and will turn hearts away from the one true God. Some WRONGLY try to make it a race issue (ignoring that there’s only ONE race – see Acts 17:26). God makes clear that it’s really a faith issue (Ex 34:11-16).

Remember that God made clear to Abraham that at THIS point in history His people were to be SOJOURNERS through the promised land that NOW belonged to the Canaanites. Hundreds of years later God said that He would bring them BACK to the land and THEN they would carry out God’s righteous judgment, but NOT NOW (see Gen 15:12-16). I think the seed for the horrors of Gen 34 may have been sown in Gen 33:18-19. Up until then, the only land that had been purchased was a burial plot (Gen 23 – and note the twin emphases on Abraham being a sojourner AND a blessing to the current inhabitants of the land). And before Gen 34, the only established city where we see God’s people getting overly enmeshed with is Sodom (see the disastrous results in Gen 13-18).

Gen 34:2-3 – The awful result when Shechem follows his lusts. But the rest of the chapter is the deadly over-reaction when Jacob’s sons follow THEIR passionate feelings. They may have FELT they were getting justice, but when we don’t listen to what GOD has said (see Gen 15:12-16 and how Jacob’s family was to be a BLESSING in Gen 28:14), we MAGNIFY INJUSTICE. The law of God under Moses (hundreds of years after Gen 34 happens) will graciously LIMIT the response to sin. When one man sins, you are NOT to destroy a whole village!

MARK 5 – We continue to see Jesus’ power and authority, as He frees a man from a legion of demons, commissions that man as a missionary to his hometown, heals a woman who all the doctors couldn’t help, and raises a girl from the dead as easily as if she’d been taking a nap.

Your GROUP can be very wrong… The whole village couldn’t help (or effectively restrain) the demon-possessed man in Mk 5:4. But see what Jesus did in Mk 5:15! A whole group of doctors couldn’t help the lady in Mk 5:25-26, but see the complete healing (not just physical) Jesus brought in Mk 5:28-34. The group in Mk 5:35-40 said that the situation was even beyond Jesus’ help.

Which brings up that your FEELINGS can also be very wrong…  Jesus tells the father NOT to listen to the crowd OR his feelings: “Do not fear, only believe” (Mk 5:36). The crowd mocks Jesus when He rebukes them for their emotional over-reaction (v 37-40). And don’t miss how Jesus won’t let the lady quietly shrink away with her physical healing. He wants her to be truly WHOLE, and so gently provokes a public profession that pulls her well beyond her comfort zone (v 30-35).

Optional Psalm 25:12-22 – In this psalm, David is very aware that his troubles are a MIX of a group of enemies wrongfully pursuing him AND his own sin. But he doesn’t succumb to paralysis by guilt nor fear of the enemies. Instead, a righteous fear of God (see v 12, 14) leads to a humble confidence that he can bring ALL his troubles to God, confessing his sin and asking for help. Compare Hebrews 4:14-16.

Optional Proverbs 7:1-5 – AGAIN note the intentional diligence in holding on to and applying godly wisdom. And note AGAIN that a significant part of the help in applying godly wisdom is avoiding sexual sin. AGAIN we’ll see that it LOOKS enticing / fun, but leads to destruction.