Benoni and Benjamin #2

Monday, April 16, 2018

And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin (Genesis 35:18 KJV).

Dear friend, look and see—herein lies prophecy!

After a 20-year exile in the east, Abraham’s grandson Jacob is resettling in the land of Canaan. He is returning to the Promised Land with four wives, 11 sons, one daughter, and much livestock. One wife, Rachel, is pregnant; in fact, her delivery date is very soon. While the group is traveling—not far from Ephrath (in southern Israel)—she goes into labor quite painful.

Today’s Scripture reads in context: “[16] And they journeyed from Bethel; and there was but a little way to come to Ephrath: and Rachel travailed, and she had hard labour. [17] And it came to pass, when she was in hard labour, that the midwife said unto her, Fear not; thou shalt have this son also. [18] And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin. [19] And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem. [20] And Jacob set a pillar upon her grave: that is the pillar of Rachel’s grave unto this day.”

As her distressed soul is leaving her physical body, Rachel makes it known that she has suffered greatly to bring her child into this world. She uses her last breaths to name him “Benoni” (meaning, “son of my sorrow”). Jacob, her husband and the boy’s father, offers another name for his twelfth son: the child is “Benjamin” (that is, “son of the right hand”). Benjamin is his father’s strength; the bringing forth of a new life soothes Jacob’s soul as he bears the great loss of his beloved wife. Rachel finishes expiring, and Jacob buries her body just outside the little town of “Ephrath” (Bethlehem).

Just why would God include this bittersweet account in His Word? Was it just to take up space? To merely give us interesting reading? What underlying truths is He teaching? Dear friend, take these moments to think critically. Review those names—in light of prophecy—and you will realize a most glorious truth… or two….

 

Two Lives Bound Up

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Now therefore when I come to thy servant my father, and the lad be not with us; seeing that his life is bound up in the lad’s life; It shall come to pass, when he seeth that the lad is not with us, that he will die: and thy servants shall bring down the gray hairs of thy servant our father with sorrow to the grave (Genesis 44:30,31 KJV).

Behold, the “natural affection” this father has for his son!

Jacob’s son Judah is speaking to a man in Egypt (verse 18). Judah says that if his youngest brother Benjamin is not in their company, their aged and frail father will die heartbroken. Verse 34 relates that Judah does not want to see Jacob meet such a dire fate. Jacob has already lost one son, Joseph, and Joseph’s mother Rachel. In verse 20, Judah says of Joseph, “his father loveth him.”

In today’s Scripture, Jacob’s life is “bound up in the lad’s life” (tied, intertwined, linked). King Saul’s son, Jonathan, and young David were such close friends that Jonathan’s soul was said to be “knit” with David’s soul (1 Samuel 18:1). Recall the scarlet thread “bound” on the newborn’s hand in Genesis 38:28, or the scarlet line Rahab was to “bind” in her window (Joshua 2:18). The Hebrew word also underlies “conspiracies,” individuals so closely associated because they have a shared goal (1 Samuel 22:8,13; 2 Samuel 15:31; et al.). There is great attachment in all these cases.

The tender parental love underscored in today’s Scripture can be starkly juxtaposed with current “parenting” news: mothers undergoing horrific and barbaric procedures to let “medical professionals” mutilate and destroy their unborn children in their womb, newborn babies being thrown in trashcans and left for dead, parents imprisoning and starving their children, guardians mercilessly torturing and/or beating toddlers to death, individuals deliberately leaving their kids to smother in hot vehicles, parents poisoning their children to obtain life insurance money, and so on.

Have we really come “a long way” from our so-called “primitive days of superstition, grunting, and cave dwelling?!” “This know also, that in the last days perilous [dangerous] times shall come…. Without natural affection…” (2 Timothy 3:1,3; cf. Romans 1:31). Behold, regress—not “progress!”

Fury Turned Away? #4

Sunday, October 15, 2017

And tarry with him a few days, until thy brother’s fury turn away; Until thy brother’s anger turn away from thee, and he forget that which thou hast done to him: then I will send, and fetch thee from thence: why should I be deprived also of you both in one day? (Genesis 27:44,45 KJV).

How does this “fury” compare to Almighty God’s anger?

Jacob took precautions in the event that Esau was still holding a grudge after all those years. He sent a delegation seeking peace with Esau. Upon learning Esau was approaching with a massive crowd, Jacob divided his caravan (if Esau attacked one segment, the other could escape unharmed). Jacob prayed, and also sent a present of livestock. In spite of all that, their mother’s plan in today’s Scripture was effectual.

Esau refused Jacob’s gift because he was wealthy enough himself. Genesis 33:4 again: “And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept.” Esau actually did not follow through with his plan to murder his younger brother Jacob. What was the overriding factor? The passage of time had assuaged Esau’s intense fury.

Our anger, human fury, is fickle—it comes and goes. The more we promise to retaliate, and the more time that passes that we do not act, the less likely we will do something with full force as originally promised. This is typical human nature (as we know from personal experience), and it gives us insight into the Apostle Peter’s final epistle, which we briefly examined in an earlier study.

Notice chapter 1 of 2 Peter, verse 16: “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” Why would Peter say “we have not followed cunningly devised fables [tales of fantasy and fiction designed to deceive]?” He was answering the Bible scoffers referred to in chapter 3! These mockers were confusing God’s wrath with man’s wrath. God keeps His promises, no matter how extreme they are, or how long He takes to fulfill them….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Do angels age?

Fury Turned Away? #3

Saturday, October 14, 2017

And tarry with him a few days, until thy brother’s fury turn away; Until thy brother’s anger turn away from thee, and he forget that which thou hast done to him: then I will send, and fetch thee from thence: why should I be deprived also of you both in one day? (Genesis 27:44,45 KJV).

How does this “fury” compare to Almighty God’s anger?

Jacob, over 20 years after fleeing Esau’s angry face, returns to Canaan. Genesis chapter 32: “[3] And Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother unto the land of Seir, the country of Edom. [4] And he commanded them, saying, Thus shall ye speak unto my lord Esau; Thy servant Jacob saith thus, I have sojourned with Laban, and stayed there until now: [5] And I have oxen, and asses, flocks, and menservants, and womenservants: and I have sent to tell my lord, that I may find grace in thy sight.” Jacob, remembering Esau’s bitterness and fury long ago, seeks his favor.

“[6] And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, We came to thy brother Esau, and also he cometh to meet thee, and four hundred men with him. [7] Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed: and he divided the people that was with him, and the flocks, and herds, and the camels, into two bands; [8] And said, If Esau come to the one company, and smite it, then the other company which is left shall escape.”

Esau replies by coming with an “army” of 400 men! Jacob is terrified and troubled. Evidently, Esau has not forgiven him! Jacob prays (verses 9-12) and then he sends Esau a present of hundreds of various livestock (verses 13-19). Verse 20: “And say ye [to Esau] moreover, Behold, thy servant Jacob is behind us. For he said, I will appease him [Esau] with the present that goeth before me, and afterward I will see his face; peradventure [perhaps] he will accept of me.”

Chapter 33, verse 3: “And he [Jacob] passed over before them, and bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother. [4] And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept.Time has caused Esau’s wrath to pass….

Fury Turned Away? #2

Friday, October 13, 2017

And tarry with him a few days, until thy brother’s fury turn away; Until thy brother’s anger turn away from thee, and he forget that which thou hast done to him: then I will send, and fetch thee from thence: why should I be deprived also of you both in one day? (Genesis 27:44,45 KJV).

How does this “fury” compare to Almighty God’s anger?

We read today’s Scripture in context: “[41] And Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing wherewith his father blessed him: and Esau said in his heart, The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then will I slay my brother Jacob. [42] And these words of Esau her elder son were told to Rebekah: and she sent and called Jacob her younger son, and said unto him, Behold, thy brother Esau, as touching thee, doth comfort himself, purposing to kill thee. [43] Now therefore, my son, obey my voice; arise, flee thou to Laban my brother to Haran; [44] And tarry with him a few days, until thy brother’s fury turn away; [45] Until thy brother’s anger turn away from thee, and he forget that which thou hast done to him: then I will send, and fetch thee from thence: why should I be deprived also of you both in one day?”

Earlier in the chapter, Rebekah and son Jacob connived to have him get his father Isaac’s blessing rather than brother Esau. Of course, upon hearing what happened, Esau is outraged, inconsolable, and bloodthirsty. He actually vows to take Jacob’s life! Wise Rebekah reasons that, if she can send Jacob away for a time, Esau will calm down and back down from his resolution to kill Jacob. In chapter 28, Jacob escapes to Rebekah’s family in Mesopotamia (to the east of Canaan) to find a wife.

Fast-forward 21 years—yes, two decades have elapsed since Jacob escaped to Haran. Returning to Canaan, he meets brother Esau. Has their mother Rebekah’s plan worked? At this point, has Esau’s “fury turned away?” Has his “anger turned away” from his younger brother Jacob? Does Esau still harbor resentment? Will he slay Jacob as he intended all those years earlier? Dear friends, let us see what happens to man’s wrath….