Purpose & Potential Archives

January 13, 2004

Male Validation

Genesis 26:34-35; 27:46; 28:6-9
34 When Esau was forty years old, he took as wives Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Basemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite. 35 And they were a grief of mind to Isaac and Rebekah.

46 Rebekah said to Isaac, "I am weary of my life because of the daughters of Heth; if Jacob takes a wife of the daughters of Heth, like these who are the daughters of the land, what good will my life be to me?"

6 Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him away to Padan Aram to take himself a wife from there, and that as he blessed him he gave him a charge, saying, "You shall not take a wife from the daughters of Canaan," 7 and that Jacob had obeyed his father and his mother and had gone to Padan Aram. 8 Also Esau saw that the daughters of Canaan did not please his father Isaac. 9 So Esau went to Ishmael and took Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael, Abraham's son, the sister of Nebajoth, to be his wife in addition to the wives he had.

Many men deal with the "Esau syndrome." Without rehearsing all of Esau's story, early on he was willing to sacrifice the long term ("birthright") for immediate indulgences. Then once he realized what he lost, he spent the next season of his life trying to overcome his "failure" and prove his worth to those he felt he had disappointed - his father (giving away his birthright), his mother (bad marriage choices). He then complicates the issue by taking on more responsibility (a new wife). He never is at ease until he encounters Jacob. Something happens during these years that finally Esau is at ease with himself.

I don't know why we (men, or me) try to make up for past mistakes by going overboard trying to prove ourselves to others and gain their approval. Is is out of regret for past mistakes? Have we let our failures defines us so that we need others to validate us? At some point, each man has to grow up and find that he has God's approval, birthright or not, a wife from the right family or not, and learn to be comfortable in his own skin if we will ever be able to walk in the "blessing" (Genesis 33:4, 8-11)

Lord, help me to live with nothing to prove, comfortable with who you've made me to be and with what you are doing in me.

June 28, 2007

The Scarlet Thread of Redemption and Restoration

Ruth 4:13-15 (NKJV)
12 May your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah, because of the offspring which the LORD will give you from this young woman.”

13 So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife; and when he went in to her, the LORD gave her conception, and she bore a son. 14 Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the LORD, who has not left you this day without a close relative; and may his name be famous in Israel! 15 And may he be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you, who is better to you than seven sons, has borne him.”

As we were praying today (during our BoD meetings) there was a spirit of introspection and repentance. The Lord brought me to this passage in Ruth as I recalled the words of v 15, "may he be to you a restorer of life..." These words were spoken to Naomi, a widow weary and bitter because of her perspective of how God has dealt with her in the past. As I began to meditate on this passage I skimmed the overall story of Boaz, Ruth, and Naomi. I want to try to record my observations for my personal future reference.

First, v 15 has some imagery that I'd like to connect. It's understood that Boaz is a picture of Jesus, the Kinsman Redeemer. The "he" in v 15 has an application to him. "He" also refers to the LORD "who has not left (her)." The "he" could also refer to the child born to Ruth and Boaz who brings comfort to Naomi and will sustain her, like the Holy Spirit does, and is the validation of her identity. This is so important to Naomi who feels she had lost everything. Upon her return to her homeland (Bethlehem), she is so wounded that she tell those who come to greet her to call her "Mara" - bitter. Mara(h) is the place where the bitter water became sweet after the staff had been cast into the waters - a picture of the cross removing the bitterness of sin. Now Naomi (which means "pleasant"), has experienced God's restoration and redemption. God had taken the shame of her past and honored her. This happens to the entire genealogical line of Ruth and Boaz as well.

Boaz's own family line (and Naomi's as well as a distant relative to Boaz) is filled with shame as well. His great, great, great, great-grandfather Perez was the offspring from the nearly incestuous relationship between Judah and his daughter-in-law Tamar (read the story here). Tamar's story is one of rejection and broken promises - a woman who felt forced to take her situation into her own hands. Her resulting pregnancy with twins brought forth Perez, the one who has "broken through," had the "scarlet thread" tied to him to become the holder of the birthright. The shame of Perez's conception was covered by a legacy of blessing. That "scarlet thread" of redemption now has tied Naomi and Ruth not only to Boaz, but to the Messiah who would come through this line.

The last words regarding Naomi leave her nursing the fruit of her own suffering. What a tender picture! From shame to honor, bitterness to fulfillment, breakdown to breakthrough! He is a restorer of life.

March 3, 2011

Creating a Legacy

Numbers 13:6,8 (NIV)
6 from the tribe of Judah, Caleb son of Jephunneh;
8 from the tribe of Ephraim, Hoshea son of Nun

In the list of the leaders who we chosen to spy out the promised land, their tribal linage is noted. I focused on the two who not only got to go in to possess the land, but lead the people into the promise.

Caleb is from the tribe of Judah. In Genesis 49:8-12 is the blessing that Jacob pronounced on his son Judah:
8 “Judah, your brothers will praise you;
your hand will be on the neck of your enemies;
your father’s sons will bow down to you.
9 You are a lion’s cub, Judah;
you return from the prey, my son.
Like a lion he crouches and lies down,
like a lioness—who dares to rouse him?
10 The scepter will not depart from Judah,
nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
until he to whom it belongs shall come
and the obedience of the nations shall be his.

Now more than 400 years later, Caleb is a freed slave wondering in the dessert. But God's plan is at work. Caleb will become admired for courage, his legacy one of faith and tenacity. And as a "general" who leads God's people into the promise he sees his enemies defeated. To me, Caleb initiates the legacy of significance carried by the tribe of Judah as promised by the Lord (the tribal lineage of the Messiah)

Joshua is of the tribe of Ephraim. Ephraim is the second son of Joseph. The dream that God gave Joseph of his brothers (and eventually the world) bowing to him was not only fulfilled as the Lord raised Joseph us as a leader in Egypt, but all these centuries later as Joshua leads God's people into the land. Just as God used Joseph to preserve His people, so would He use Joshua to fulfill the promise given to the Patriarchs.

On the day when they were nearly killed for giving their report, I doubt Joshua and Caleb we thinking about the word God had given to their forefathers centuries before. While wandering in the wilderness for an additional 40 years, it probably didn't feel like they were contributing to a God-ordained legacy. As they waged was to possess a land, I doubt they did so with the intent of making a name for themselves. What was at work was not only for their own benefit, but the fulfillment of God's promise generations before that would have an effect generations beyond thier own.

I think of Shealyn Hamilton, an itinerant Baptist pastor and my great-great grandfather. I think of my son, and his son one day. I must keep in mind that it is my responsibility to the generations before me and the ones that follow, to live my life in faith and obedience. God has given a promise to my "tribe" and through my family line that has an eternal impact.

Lord, let me be known as a man who has the same heart and faith as Joshua and Caleb.

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