They Will Be Life for You, an Ornament to Grace Your Neck

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GENESIS 35:1-36:43 | MATTHEW 12:1-21 | PSALM 15:1-5 | PROVERBS 3:21-26

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This chapter is a continuation of the previous one in that it is an account of Jacob becoming established in the land of his fathers. 

Jacob amicably parts ways with his brother Esau, and with a new name (Israel) and a new place (Bethel), he begins anew.  It is indeed a new beginning, and one that Jacob takes seriously.  His first course of action is to dispose of all the foreign idols that his wives had brought back with them.  He is determined to start afresh.

And God also reiterates his covenant with Jacob.  God says:  “Your name is Jacob, but you will no longer be called Jacob; your name will be Israel.” So he named him Israel.  11 And God said to him, “I am God Almighty; be fruitful and increase in number. A nation and a community of nations will come from you, and kings will come from your body. 12 The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I also give to you, and I will give this land to your descendants after you.”

The rest of the passage is a detailed genealogical accounting of Jacob and his brother Esau’s descendants.  There is also mention of Isaac and Rebekah’s passing.  Joseph and Benjamin were Rachel’s sons, and Benjamin was made even more dear to his old father Jacob because his birth came about from the death of his mother. 

To recap, these are the twelve sons and tribes of Israel:

23 The sons of Leah:
   Reuben the firstborn of Jacob,
   Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar and Zebulun.

 24 The sons of Rachel:
   Joseph and Benjamin.

 25 The sons of Rachel’s maidservant Bilhah:
   Dan and Naphtali.

 26 The sons of Leah’s maidservant Zilpah:
   Gad and Asher.

Next, our reading in Matthew is a straightforward account of Jesus’ views on the Sabbath, the Jewish holy day of rest.  Jesus needs no lesson in the ancient Law; and he needs no reprimand for having violated the rules of the Sabbath. 

He is the Lord of the Sabbath, and makes it clear that adherence to this Law is not what is pleasing to God.  Our love in action transcends every law, even the laws of the Sabbath.

Next, our psalm for the day is Psalm 15.  Yet another one that I was made to commit to memory as a child by my mother.  I memorized it in the old King James version (KJV), which is reproduced here in its entirety:

1Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill?

 2He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.

 3He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour.

 4In whose eyes a vile person is condemned; but he honoureth them that fear the LORD. He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not.

 5He that putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never be moved.

The verses from Proverbs for the day are also ones that are worthy of repeating.  Solomon, wise king of Israel speaks to the importance of holding on to wisdom and discretion:

21 My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight,
   preserve sound judgment and discretion;
22 they will be life for you,
   an ornament to grace your neck.
23 Then you will go on your way in safety,
   and your foot will not stumble.
24 When you lie down, you will not be afraid;
   when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
25 Have no fear of sudden disaster
   or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked,
26 for the LORD will be at your side
   and will keep your foot from being snared.

May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word.  Amen.

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