Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf…….? (or the speckled goats)

15 01 2011

DAY FIFTEEN : Genesis 31 v. 1 – 55; Matthew 12 v. 1 – 21; Psalm 9 v. 13 – 20

Jacob flees from Laban
v. 19 : “When Laban had gone to shear his sheep, Rachel stole her father’s household gods…”
Laban pursues and catches up with Jacob – God warns him in a dream not to harm Jacob.
Rachel sits on the stolen gods and tells her father that she can’t stand up, as it’s her ‘time of the month’. Ooh…that’s below the belt, Rachel !!

20 years Jacob has been with Laban and family, working for him.
v. 42 – the God of Abraham and the ‘Fear of Isaac’ (see later)
Jacob and Laban make a covenant-promise (to give each other space) – I love the way they can’t agree on the place name – both give it their own, different name.

Matthew 12 v. 1 – 21 :
The religious group keeping a close eye on Jesus criticise Him and His disciples for picking corn to eat on the Sabbath. Jesus retorts:
“I tell you that one greater than the temple is here. If you had known what these words mean, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice”, you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

The religious group keeping a close eye on Jesus criticise Him and His disciples for healing on the Sabbath (in fact, it is noted as a reason to plot to kill Jesus !!)

Jesus is trying to keep a lid on all the healings, asking people to keep quiet (impossible, really). I get the sense it is more to do with extending His ministry and influence as long as possible before the inevitable…..

The words of the prophet Isaiah, attributed now to Jesus, remind me of God’s voice over Jesus as His baptism :
“Here is my servant, whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight…..In His name the nations will put their hope.”

My re-created thoughts…..

The theme of much of the story so far through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, has been “faith or fear”. It is fear that leads each of these men to do deceitful things (passing wives off as sisters etc.), but the phrase in todays reading (apparently only found in Genesis 31), “THE FEAR OF ISAAC”, has taken my mind on a journey.

What we fear impacts upon our life-decisions, charts the course of our life-journey. Fear makes us do the strangest things. 

Jacob runs off with his family, fearing Laban will take them from him.
Laban begins to fear God, when He starts speaking to him in dreams, and it does affect the way he is with Jacob. The covenant they make elevates Jacob to a position Laban has never before seen him (an equal, rather than the son-in-law he can push around).

Jesus clearly fears none of the religious authorities, and, in fact, we heard Him say a few days ago, instructing His disciples in Matthew 10
“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather be afraid of the One who can destoy both soul and body in hell.”

So, for me, the “Fear of Isaac” is a reminder that Isaac had to learn that healthy awesome respect for God, which meant he feared nothing more than the holy will and purpose of God. Nothing became more important to him than doing the will of God and allowing God’s holiness, not human fear, to guide his life.

It raises questions of life for me today….
what, or who, do I fear and how does that compromise who I am to be, in God ?
do I nurture a holy respect for God’s purposes and will for my life ? (‘I am no longer my own, but Yours, Lord’)
do I fear disobeying God more than I fear offending others ? (watch the example of Jesus, and St. Paul, here)
am I learning the gospel principle that God’s holiness in me will conquer every fear ? (‘perfect love drives out all fear’)

Grant me, Lord, a holy awe,
a trembling before You,
the ‘Fear of Isaac’ grip my life,
and shape all that I do.

Grant me, Lord, life free from fear,
kept safe in Your perfect love;
a faith-filled life which honours You,
touched with holiness from above.