Sunday, July 13, 2008

Genesis 35 - little gods

I miss things in the Bible. I am constantly surprised at the things I do not see in the verses I read until someone points them out. But it's hard to miss how broken Abraham's family has become in Genesis 35. And yet God continues to both use and bless them.

The chapter opens up with God giving Jacob an instruction to build an altar to Him. That is a gift of a task, a chance to serve the Lord and carry out His direct order. But do you know what Jacob has to do first? He has to empty his house of false idols. Here is what Jacob says in verse 2, "Get rid of the foreign gods you have with you, and purify yourselves and change your clothes."

I feel like that sometimes. I feel like God has a task He wants me to do. He has a lot He wants me to accomplish for Him, but my house and my heart are too full of foreign gods. There is no room for Him or His work. I have my own mission and do not have the time or spiritual space in my heart for Him.

I wonder though, does God still work that way? Does He call us to do things that we can't really do when we've still got foreign gods in our eyes? Do we ever have to empty our own houses before we get to build an altar to Him?

Hard to say, but a few months ago something happened that makes me think maybe that's still the way God works. On a Monday, I emailed my counselor who I had not seen in over a year. I basically said, "I need to start seeing you again. This silly website I started has grown and I think I will become a jerk if I don't get grounded in the Lord." 24 hours after I sent that email, the first book publisher contacted me out of the blue.

Maybe that was coincidence. Maybe emailing my counselor wasn't an act of me cleaning up my house and my heart. Maybe the publisher's email had nothing to do with anything at all. But maybe, God still believes that we can't build His altar, we can't walk His road, we can't move in His direction, if we are still in love with foreign gods.


Christianne said...

hey jon, i just got back from vacation and am just catching up on all your posts. i have to tell you, this morning was a great morning to read the week's devotions on genesis. it was like church in bed. :)

anyway, i wanted to say that reading a bunch of these posts in one long sitting really magnified for me how much i've come to love this exercise of reading and blogging through the bible. at first i wasn't sure how engaged i would feel with these chapter-by-chapter clips, but now i've come to be so encouraged by each of them. i appreciate how personal you are on all your sites. your transparency and candor are not only refreshing, but healing, at least to me.

so, thanks. be encouraged that God is really using you, no matter if you can or ever will personally see all the bottles that are being opened that you cast out here into the internet sea.

lor said...

hey Jon,

While i absolutely agree with you on this, for me, I have to pay attention that I don't swing too far to another extreme in that I allow the gunk I carry around to come between me and God and then don't come around Him at all...

like we can't come before Him until we're all cleaned up and perfect. and then it becomes an excuse to avoid addressing it.

for years, I avoided coming back to God, thinking I had to get myself fixed up first.

I think God would rather us come before Him with gunk and let Him help us clean it up rather than try to do it ourselves and fail miserably

Joe said...

When I think of gods, I am reminded of three things:

1. When Moses was used to delivered the children of Israel, God told Moses to tell them that "I Am sent you". The Israelites knew of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob but they were also exposed to all the little gods of Egypt. Moses knew this and sought clarity from God. God told Moses to tell them the what's up.

2. God told Jeremiah to preach to Judea: "What the?!?! You are going to worship some things that are made out of the things I created? Really? Really. Cereally serious? Think about that and get back at Me."

3. Which relates to some Deut 4 action. Verse 15 hits it home with "Don't look up at the sky, sun, moon, stars and be like 'ooh I worship that instead of the God who created all that'. Keep your eyes fixated on Me.'

While I can stand on the justice and holiness of God, I thank Him for His tender mercies.

andrew said...

I don't think God has the word coincidence in his vocabulary. Everything that happens is through God one way or another. Sometimes it's hard to tell at the time, but when you look back you can tell that God was using those situations to shape you as a person. We should just try to trust in his providence as best as we can even in the most trying times.

vikki (Philippines) said...

I have a 50 yo friend taking counseling lessons this year. She discipled me (via Navigators Ministries) in high school and now i'm a professional away from home and we got in touch again. Her prayer in taking these classes was that she will not be boastful or be like a know it all. It had such a great impact to me in terms of developing Godly character.

Such ability to understand how vulnerable our hearts are to be corrupted i believe should be emulated. I'm not quoting LOTR cos then there's no stopping me in la la land again... :)

thanks for the post! Still with ya in Genesis.

Anonymous said...

Great insight.

Brenda said...

I recently read something that highlighted that we, as humans, can only serve one master. So if we are in love with food or drink or sports or anything else, we are not wholly surrendering to God's grace. It's something I have to work on every day.