GENESIS 34:1 – 36:43 and MATTHEW 10:1–25
The whole of chapter 34 is pretty much focused on Dinah, who is the daughter of Jacob through Leah. There are many interesting truths that can be examined from this chapter. At the onset we see Dinah going out to see the daughters of the land. We need to bear in mind that Jacob and his family at this time are in a foreign land; the land of the Canaanites. It seems that Jacob may have been a bit lax in providing a proper covering for Dinah. It was clear from the Lord in a previous declaration that Jacob was not to take a daughter from the Canaanites. (Gen 28:1) Should not this be true for his daughter?
In verses 2-4 we find that Shechem, the son of a prominent family defiled Dinah. He later was very much taken up with her that a proposal for marriage was introduced by Hamor, the father of Shechem, for his son, which he gave to Jacob. (vs 6) In verse 7 we see the anger and wrath of Dinah’s brothers but they held their peace for the time being. In verses 8 through 12 Hamor makes conciliatory gestures to Jacob and his sons so that the marriage can be realized. The sons of Jacob appear to be sympathetic as they propose circumcision for every male due to their not being of their lineage. (vs 13-17) It was a deceitful tactic that they employed so as to ensnare Shechem, his father and the men of the city. Take careful note of verse 23 and the words of Shechem and Hamor.
“Shall not their cattle and their substance and every beast of theirs be ours? only let us consent unto them, and they will dwell with us.”
Though the gestures of Shechem and Hamor seemed reasonable you see here an important truth. They saw the potential of what this marriage into Jacob (Israel’s lineage) would mean for them. They would soon multiply and potentially gain the advantage. It is easy to see modern day examples of this. Europe opened up its countries primarily through education exchanges in the mid 1970’s to several Arab nations. Why? It was primarily for oil concessions. Fast forward 40 years and what is seen today? You see a continent that has undergone a radical transformation by way of religion. Why do you think Immigration policies are so important? It helps a sovereign nation maintain its sense of identity. This is a lesson that Joshua should have heeded to in the matter of the Gibeonites. (Josh 9) This is what is now happening to America.
A brilliant book written by Bat Yeor in the mid 1980’s entitled “Eurabia” makes this case poignantly. This is also why the Bible goes to great lengths to warn about being unequally yoked. Young women are targets today oftentimes for this very reason. As fathers in the natural or in the faith we must take great care in being on guard for the devices such as the one being employed by Shechem and Hamor. If successful, the pure seed would have been defiled. We already have discussed some of the fallout from Abraham’s link with Hagar.
We later see that Levi and Simeon slew Shechem, Hamor and many men of the city. They spoiled their goods and took Dinah out of their house and restored her. Jacob upon hearing this news is very much grieved what his sons had done. In addition he is now worried about the fallout from this incident and what it may mean for the safety of him and his family. (Vs 30) The sons responded in trying to justify their act by saying should we just then let our sister be known as a harlot? Were Jacob’s sons right in what they did? There is much here to try and sort out however there is an interesting truth that needs to be examined.
This account, as dreadful as it is does give a window into the future dealings in how God will deal with His people. Let’s first consider the issue of circumcision. (Gen 34:13-17) Joshua, at the time of the crossing of Jordan did institute a new message of circumcision. We later find that in the New Covenant that we as Gentiles are circumcised and grafted into the branch. (This is the circumcision of heart) Just before the children of Israel went into Canaan land under Joshua there was an incident of immorality due to the prophetic ministry of Balaam. A man by the name of Phineas intervened and executed judgement by plunging the spear through the mid-section of the guilty party. (Num 25:7-11) Phineas was priest, he was a Levite. Though Levi was guilty of this sordid act (Gen 34:25-26) of the slaying of Schechem and family we find later that it is Levi who was given the privilege of the priesthood. (Exo 32:26) The whole account of Genesis 34 is a window of what was to be.
This does not justify the actions of any of the participants seen in this chapter but it still is amazing how God can speak and work in the midst of chaos to convey profound eternal truths which have a future relevance. It’s like the Tree of the Knowledge of good and evil seen in Gen 3. The enemy presented the tree as one that would make one wise, a tree that can even make you be like God Himself. He presented the tree as palatable and desired. There is only one problem. God established a Law concerning that Tree making clear that He had terms and conditions that had to be adhered too. Genesis 34 is really much more than the account of a wandering daughter and subsequent fallout involving Jacob, his sons and men of the land. There is a profound picture presented as to what would come. God does things in His time and in His ways. The sons of Jacob displayed circumcision in folly yet it would be the very means that God would employ at a future time. Immorality was to be judged and there would later come a time when judgement would be rendered by the sword under a Levitical priest but not as Levi and Simeon did here. Finally, we must be warned about the dangers of the uncircumcised mixing with the true seed or in today’s vernacular being unequally yoked. There are so many lessons to be learned from this chapter.
In verse one we see God again intervening on behalf of a patriarch. I feel to reiterate this point so that we come to understand how God works in the affairs of men. In the case of Jacob it seems the God is speaking so as to alleviate some of the pressure that is surely going to come as a result of the events surrounding Dinah in the previous chapter. You will notice that “the terror Of God” was upon Jacob so that no one pursued after him. (vs 5)
There is another reason why God is speaking to Jacob as well. In Gen 28:20 Jacob made a vow unto the Lord at Bethel. It is here some 9 years later where Jacob is told to return to that place and build a house unto the Lord. We must understand the power of a vow. God will hold us to it. As he plans his return to Bethel God demands that they put away strange gods and has a change of garments. This reminds me a bit of Joshua the high priest in Zech 3. He was being contended for by both God and Satan. God chose Joshua due to his being plucked from the fire. In other words, his life was pleasing to the Lord. God exchanged his filthy garments for new ones. (Zech 3:3-4)
Jacob realized that while sojourning in this land there was a mixture that had crept in. This was vividly seen in the matter of Dinah. Now, they are heading back to a place where Jacob had a powerful encounter with God. (Gen 28) It was at Bethel where Isaac told Jacob to not take a daughter from among the Canaanites. In chapter 34 we see that Jacob may have been too lax concerning his daughter among the Canaanites. Now it is time to return and to renew that vow and establish a house unto the Lord. God again reiterates to Jacob, the promise he made to Abraham. (Vs 11-12) In verses 16-18 we have the birth of Benjamin, the youngest of Jacob’s children but also the death of Rachel as she delivers. Soon afterwards Reuben (the oldest) committed immorality with Bilhah. (Rachel’s handmaiden) The Bible states that Israel (Jacob) heard about it. One can only imagine the sorrow upon Jacob after experiencing the loss of Rachel and then discovering that his eldest committed sin with his concubine. This is seen at the time when Jacob is praying over his 12 sons just before his death. Reuben lost the birth right as well. (Gen 49:2-3) There is a reunion between Jacob and his father Isaac just before Isaac’s death. (Vs 28-29)
This chapter is all about Esau. Why is it important? As mentioned earlier, Esau was a man of appetites. The problem with Esau is that he had no appetite for the things of God. We know he sold his birth right for soup but is it possible for us to do the same thing? Ask this question honestly! What are we really hungering for? What do we spend much of our time thinking about? What do we make time and provision for in our daily life? If we are honest we will get a fairly good idea where our priorities are.
Do we lightly regard the things of God? The Lord Himself has an appetite! What does He hunger for? The Lord hungers for the fruit of Faith. (Luk 18:8.) He moves and operates in the currency of faith. The account of the woman with the issue of blood is another good example. There were throngs of people around Him but He responded to the touch of one desperate woman; a woman who had “faith” to believe that she could be healed. (Math 9:20-22) Jesus looks for those who have an appetite for Him and for His Word and ways. He was limited in what He could do in Nazareth because of unbelief. (Math 13:58) This is the primary difference between Esau and Jacob. It came down to hunger. Esau had appetites for the world and its sinful ways. Jacob had his problems but he hungered for God and took advantage of those windows of opportunity that were presented to him. In addition, Esau took pleasure in adding to the pain and woes of his parents by taking wives among the Canaanites. He had an appetite to spite those who loved him the most. This is a problem today. When a person becomes offended, hurt or misunderstood they often find an “evil” pleasure in striking back against those who are closest to them. These are no small matters. If these appetites go unchecked the damage that can be done is immense. It becomes even more dangerous when such people find common ground with others who are going through the same thing. This is how cults and fanatic groups are formed. It is also a factor that can even lead to suicide. It is a spirit and it is powerful.
We must watch our appetites in these most volatile of days.
“Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.” (Math 5:6)
Today’s culture very much resembles what we see in Esau. It is a pleasure filled generation that only seeks to satisfy the flesh while not worrying about tomorrow. It is important that we be warned by the example of Esau. In verses 10-43 we are introduced to the descendants of Esau. We need to note that Amalek, who has roots from Esau, figures prominently in Israel’s future in a most adverse way. Amalek speaks of the works of the flesh and it is a tribe and people the Lord hated due to its consistent opposition to Israel. Though Esau never really caused Jacob harm during their years together, his offspring did. All of it can be traced to appetite. What do you really hunger for in your life? How desperate and hungry for God are you? There are many people today who would take a bowl of soup in place of a privilege because of self-based appetites.
We saw in the previous chapter how the Lord had to first change the mind-set of His disciples. The familiar verse about putting new wine into new wineskins (Mat 9:17) was needed for the next phase of ministry that the disciples were about to enter into. We noted as to how easy it is hold on to tradition or to methods and means that worked in the past such as the disciples of John the Baptist. We then saw the Lord demonstrate 5 profound miracles (Math 9:18-35) as an example of what the disciples were being called to do.
Jesus then spoke on the need of having compassion as the motivating force in going forth into the harvest. This needs to be emphasized since we can often get it backwards. We want to immediately be about the harvest (which is a good thing) without first being instructed in kingdom values; the values that address the issues of the inner man. The Sermon on the Mount with its subsequent Beatitudes cuts to the heart of who we really are. If this message first gets within us it will enable us to be far more effective in our respective ministry and harvest field.
Remember the verses from 2 Pet 1:5-7 where we see the seven steps that take us from Faith to Agape Love? This is the application of the Beatitudes into our life. Then in Paul’s letter to Philemon we see the ministry taking place from a position of Love and compassion where the Faith of God released. The motivation and compassion that results from such a heart is unlimited. This understanding is helpful as we now approach Math 10. In verses 1-4 Jesus commissions the 12 to go forth in the casting out of demons, healing sicknesses and diseases and the raising of the dead (Vs 1, 8).
Jesus instructs them at this time to limit their territory by not going into the regions of the Gentiles but to focus their work to the lost sheep of Israel (vs 5-6). This would later change at the birthing of the early church. In verses 9-10 the disciples are instructed to take nothing of earthly value for their journey. In other words they were to trust the Lord for their provision while engaged in the work. Through the years we have seen so many examples where people, who had a call to missions and ministry, opted out due to a tendency in not being able to trust God to meet their needs. Yes, we must be prudent in planning but at the same time there needs to be that ability to trust God to meet every need.
A person who is engaged in such a mission does not need the weight of wondering how needs are going to be met otherwise energy and effectiveness will suffer. The Lord is making clear that the disciples are ambassadors of the kingdom (vs 11-14). When reading the account of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis we are sobered as to the judgement that came upon that place. Yet the consequence of rejecting the gospel message today will be far more devastating. We have been blessed with abundant light and teaching therefore we are accountable. Comfortable, side-line, self-serving Christianity is not going to cut it today. Abraham had intimacy with God resulting in his ability to know the heart of God and what He was about to do. Abraham’s prayer life and intercessory effectiveness stems from his faith in God which resulted in his ability to be burdened by love and compassion for his nephew in a city that was about to be destroyed. If Sodom would have repented to the light and teaching that we have today then how much more should we be like an Abraham for our day (Math 11:23)?
In verses 16-33 Jesus warns them as to what they will face. These are instructions for us today as well. He will be sending us forth as sheep amongst wolves (vs 16). This is the reality and we must be prepared to know how to navigate through such a landscape. The Lord is sending His disciples into the enemy’s territory. It is more than just having a desire to heal the sick and see miracles (please understand that I am not minimizing these at all) but we are called to advance and take hold of the enemies ground. As we progress the battle will become more intense. We are to advance boldly yet with wisdom maintaining a posture of a lamb and a dove. Being wise like serpents speaks of our ability to know the enemy’s tactics yet function and respond in a way that keeps him neutralized.
As the advancement continues we find that family members will even rise up against one another. Why is this so? Everything eventually gets to what is truly in the heart. Can you see how just healing the sick and performing miracles is not going to be enough to sustain a ministry? The teaching and personal application of the Beatitudes (Math 5-7) is that which will establish our compass in these most challenging days ahead. In verse 34 the Lord makes clear that the message is about to cut even deeper.
Mat 10:34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.)
Who is this sword to be against? The sword will even come into the midst of one’s own house hold. This can speak to a natural house or family or even a church family. One of the last bastions of the enemy is within the church itself. He seeks to divide the body of Christ via doctrine, offenses and other devices. Remember the enemy was very prominent in the upper room at the last supper. It was here where the heart of Judas became fertile soil for the seeds of betrayal to be planted (John 13:2). This event occurred just before the Lord’s going to the Cross.
As we come to the conclusion of Math 10 we see the Lord making clear the need of taking up our cross and following after Him (vs 38-39). Math 10 is a chapter where the Lord commissions the 12 after His teaching (Math 5-7) and demonstration of miracles. He instructs his disciples to do likewise by healing the sick, performing miracles and raising the dead. He then warns that as they do so they will be treading on enemy territory and that they will need to be prepared as to how to progress forward. In going forward the enemy becomes even stronger and more cunning within a church and or house-hold. The Lord has as a remedy at this time; the sword and not peace. (at least in the way man would define peace) This is important! Peace would seem to be a more viable option. Let’s just get along and accommodate each other in our differences. True Peace, the fruit of Peace requires the “skilful” use of the sword so as to fully extract any tactic of the enemy. That is the message of the Cross. Are we in a position to be like the 12, to be commissioned for the challenges of our day?