Walking Through Genesis- Chapter 31

Sometime (we are not told how long) after the agreement between Laban and Jacob a strife began to rear its ugly head. Laban’s sons were becoming jealous as Jacob was receiving all the material wealth their father had (of course we know that God was blessing Jacob, but apparently Laban and his sons did not see this, though Laban would soon find out that God was with Jacob). After the command came from God for Jacob to leave and return home, the discussion initiated between Jacob and his wives about the treatment they had received from Laban. Apparently, though Laban had made an agreement with Jacob, he changed it ten times. Additionally, Laban had squandered his daughters inheritance creating an even larger division in the family.

Understandably, then, Jacob attempts to leave without notifying Laban. Of course Laban becomes angry and then pursues Jacob, not only to find out what he was doing but also to find his daughters and many grandchildren. During the pursuit God appears to Laban in a dream and warns him not to speak good or bad. Finally Laban overtakes Jacob. A lengthy discourse takes place between the two. Rachel even made the mistake of stealing Laban’s idols but gets away without her father finding out. Jacob and Laban then make an agreement never to seek the ill of the other and then they depart, never to meet again.

Thankfully we are out of the whole childbearing battle from the previous two chapters! But we are still in the midst of family strife. Now the strife involves “extended” family. Boy could we spend a great deal of time here! Suffice it to say, we must be careful how we interact with family, and that includes extended family. A great deal of hurt can come from a foolish word, an action that was done in the wrong spirit, or even the disapproval. I have experienced this kind of hurt, and it takes a long time to heal, and the pain is still there. So as we live our lives, let’s work hard at avoiding the strife that Jacob and his family had the unpleasant experience of dealing with at this time.

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Walking Through Genesis- Chapter 13

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In Genesis chapter 13 Abram and Lot separate paths. It all began with fighting between Abram’s herdsmen and Lot’s herdsmen. Verse seven makes the additional statement, “At that time the Canaanites and the Perizzites were dwelling in the land.” Verses 8-13 then cover the details of the split, initiated by Abram. The chapter ends with God’s promise to bless Abram with land (verses 14-15) and offspring (verse 16).

There are several interesting parts of this account. To begin with, many times Lot received the raw end of the deal for separating from Abram. But upon closer examination Abram actually told Lot to separate from him. Now, could Lot have chosen a better, more moral place? Of course! But this does show us that sometimes even good people can make wrong decisions. Perhaps Lot could have stayed with Abram and found another way around the conflict between their workers. Undoubtedly the two men could have brought their workers under control and instructed them on how to deal with conflict. Before we move on, I will say that it is easy to pass judgment from the present looking back, but we must remember that unfortunately we do not have all the details of the situation.

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Another important fact to note is verse 7 were the writer informs us that Canaanites and Perizzites still inhabit the land. It would have made sense economically speaking for Abram and Lot to remain together for the security and added protection against these two groups of people.

A final thought is the reasons Lot used to determine which direction to choose. Now, before we get too hard on Lot, he had cattle, and cattle need grass and water. It made perfect sense. In fact, to choose otherwise would have been foolish, at least in the eyes of the world. The Christian must not make decisions on what makes sense solely. That is, while we should do things that are logical, believers should not bypass the all important step: prayer. One aspect of Abram’s life is that he was constantly building altars (see 12.7, 8 and 13.18). One part of building altars was praying to the deity, which in this case is God (Abram also prayed at one of the altars upon his return visit, see 13.4).

So, from this chapter of Genesis, we have learned:

• Sometimes good people can make the wrong decision or can influence others to make the wrong decision.

• Strife often becomes a barrier to protection, encouragement, and good relationships. Proverbs tells us that pride brings contention (Proverbs 13.10). And we learn from Christ’s example that humility cures hardships on relationships (see Philippians 2.3-8).

• When making decisions, follow Abram’s example of seeking God’s face. He knows the best way to take, and while it may appear to be the opposite of what makes sense humanly speaking, God’s ways are above ours (Isaiah 55.8).

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