well, it’s Jacob!
we hear the name “Jacob son of Isaac”, what comes to mind?
A mother’s boy, “a quiet man, staying among the tents”
[Genesis 25:27], and cooking lentil stew [Gen 25:29]?
Wasn’t it unusual for a man to be cooking when there were women
around to do it? And
wasn’t he rather cowardly for fleeing from his twin brother Esau after
stealing their father’s special blessing meant for Esau?
Don’t we see Jacob as a weak and rather cowardly, callow,
Esau plotted revenge, Jacob fled to Paddan Aram.
Where was that? My Bible atlas reveals it was in north-west
Mesopotamia. Hmmm. So Jacob
walked, or more probably rode, some 1400 kilometres, alone, from
Beersheba to Paddan Aram? Weren’t
bands of bandits, raiding marauders, and warring armies fairly common in
those days? Say, don’t
tell me Jacob was tough enough to take care of himself on such a long,
arduous and dangerous trip?
arrival at Paddan Aram, Jacob saw three flocks of sheep lying down near
a well. “Lying”?
Doesn’t that mean that they had been there for a long time?
Why weren’t they watered and sent back to pasture?
Genesis 29:2 & 3 explain that, “The stone over the mouth of
the well was large. When all the flocks were gathered there, the
shepherds would roll the stone away from the well’s mouth and water
the sheep.” Does
that mean that it took a number of shepherds to move the large stone?
three groups of shepherds had gathered with their flocks.
And then this stranger from a faraway land, Jacob, comes and
tells them: “Look, the sun is still high; it is not time for the
flocks to be gathered.” Is
that not like saying, “Hey, stupid, why are you gathered here?
It’s not yet time! Don’t
you know how to herd sheep?”
if that is not enough, our boy wonder gives them an order: “Water the
sheep and take them back to pasture!”
[Gen 29:7]. Why did
Jacob act in such a high and mighty way?
Perhaps the answer is in the previous verse?
“The shepherds had just told Jacob they knew his uncle Laban
“and here comes his daughter Rachel with the sheep.”
Could it be that the sight of Rachel made Jacob want to show off
in front of her?
Jacob saw Rachel….he went over to the stone [Note: the large
stone], rolled the stone away and watered his uncle’s sheep” [Gen
29:10]. Hey, weren’t the
other shepherds ahead of Rachel in the queue?
So why didn’t they protest or give this upstart stranger a
beating? Was it because
after they had seen him single-handedly move the large stone, they did
not want to tangle with this super-tough guy?
Super-tough guy? Isn’t
this the Jacob whom we all thought was a weak, cowardly fellow?
was Jacob showing off in front of Rachel?
To find the answer, we will have to fast forward to Gen 29:19
which says: “Rachel was lovely in form, and beautiful”.
Is this the age-old story of boy meeting beautiful girl and
falling head over heels in love? Let’s
Jacob kissed Rachel, lifted his voice, and wept”.
The NIV says he wept aloud. Was
his kiss a chaste, 'cousinly' kiss? Not likely.
To kiss a beautiful woman, then shout [what else except for joy?]
and weep [if not with happiness, then what?], we can only conclude that
it was a romantic kiss.
Jacob such a romantic man? Well,
his uncle Laban asked him a month later, “Just because you are a
relative of mine, should you work for me for nothing?
Tell me what your wages should be.”
The Bible says, “Jacob was in love with Rachel, [Aha!] and
said, ‘I’ll work for you for seven years in return for your younger
daughter Rachel’.” Was
this not bravado, a grand gesture to impress Rachel with how much he
was the wedding dowry for a shepherdess seven years of a man’s work?
And was there a need for Jacob to make such an offer?
His father Isaac was a very wealthy man.
[“The man (Isaac) ….became very wealthy” – Gen 26:13.]
When Isaac asked Jacob to go to Paddan Aram and to get a bride,
would Isaac not have given Jacob enough silver for the journey and a
dowry for a bride? Did Jacob
deliberately prolong his stay in Paddan Aram also in order to avoid
returning home and facing the wrath of Esau?
well, so Jacob was a strong man, a tough fellow, a romantic man madly in
love and given to extravagant gestures?
Could this be a more complex man than we had thought?
service on 18 Feb was led by Dr Tan Lai Yong. Dr Tan is from Bethesda
Frankel, studied at BGST in 1990-93 and is now teaching in a Medical
College in East Asia. He spoke from Psalm 84.
Psalmist says that the dwelling place of the LORD is beautiful.
Even the sparrow will find its home and the swallow will build her
nest. I read this and wondered
about the hidden risks of a bird dwelling so near to the altar.
What if some pilgrim comes along, forgets or is too poor to buy the
doves for sacrifice and conveniently catches me and there my life is on
the chopping block. This is
Romans 12:1 in real life. To
dwell in the house of the LORD, knowing that His purpose is better than
our own fears.
someone who is involved in training rural healthcare workers, I am often
on the road. Like any other
traveler or tourist, when I reach a new place, I wonder where I will sleep
that night. Sometimes it will
be a well furnished hotel. At
times, I lodge in a wooden bed wondering if the bedbugs are hungry.
But no matter where we stay, we must not stray from the conviction
that the Psalmist holds – that it is good to dwell in the LORD.
the LORD will not allow us to stay put and hold ourselves in holy huddles.
He sets us out on pilgrimage. He
wants us to be in the world where we can be His witnesses.
Psalms 84:5 say: Blessed are those
whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.
days, we often hear about reaching the unreached in the 10/40 window.
The unreached of this region comprises some of the poorest people
in our world today. Infant
mortality, malnutrition and famine sweep through these places. The
Brown-Driver-Briggs explains the word “Baca” as term that is related
to the crying sound of hungry camels whose mother camel has little milk
and the cries that come out of this despairing situation.
If we allow the LORD to lead us out of our comfort zones, we may
come alongside very sad situations of suffering and tears.
But, He is the one who will bring comfort, sometimes through us,
sometimes through the “autumn rains” that He brings.
churches are to set our hearts on pilgrimage, to go through these valleys
and bring acts of love and healing in our witness.
The Lord will add his autumn rains.
the Psalmist makes it clear that while we are on pilgrimage, reaching out,
serving, running projects, 2 important features must stand out:
Our hearts must be focused on prayer.
The pilgrim constantly cries out to God (v8).
Our hearts must remain humble. The
focus is never on us or our projects or our achievements.
The focus is on the Christ the anointed one, our shield and
fruit is hatched and nurtured through prayer.
We need to serve as good stewards of our time and resources but we
should not imagine that God only looks at our numbers and successes.
In pilgrimage, both the individual and the church should echo the
words of John the Baptist that He must increase and I must decrease.
we are not in a race to see who does the most.
God sends us out but He also calls us to dwell in His Word, to rest
in Him and to be silent before Him. The
Psalmist says that he rather be a doorkeeper in the house of the LORD than
dwell in the tents of the wicked.
There are many job descriptions in the Old Testament concerning the
temple. There are singers,
musicians, gatekeepers etc. But
this word “door-keeper” is not mentioned.
the Psalmist is saying that I am willing even to be a nondescript nobody
yet be as thrilled just to be in the house of the LORD.
The truth is that there is no such person as a “nobody” in
God’s house. We
should ask ourselves humbly if we need or hang on to high sounding job
descriptions. A pilgrim should
be remembered by his journey and not his title.
84 is a reminder of the twin needs to dwell in the LORD ( v 1-4 and again
9-12) and also to be on the move as servants-pilgrims (5-8).
When I used to work as a prison medical officer, I used to have a
sandwich lunch in the BGST library as it was right in the middle of my
drive from Queenstown Prison and Sembawang Drug Rehabilitation Centre.
I thank the Lord that this was a place where I could read, reflect
and dwell on Him before rushing off to the clinics along the way.
God allowed me the time with BGST as a divine gift to be to help me
regain my perspective while working with very needy and toughen prisoners.
I pray that each person who passes through BGST will enjoy the same
comfort and challenge of dwelling and pilgrimage.
Speaker this week (25 Feb) was Dr Quek Swee Hwa.
Commencing in Term 2.
more details, kindly contact us at tel. 63538071 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ivan Liew 23/2
Edwin Chak 24/2
Jessie Tan 27/2
Henry Yeong 28/2
Christine Ng 28/2
Ravi Shankar 28/2
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This page is updated on 26 Feb 2004.