“Emmanuel” – This name for God is always popular around Christmas because it means, “God with us.” It makes sense that people would remember Him with this name during this time of year since Christmas is a celebration of Jesus coming to earth – God being present with us.
I’ve been studying Joshua quite a bit lately, and there’s this obscure little passage in Joshua 5:13. Joshua is about to lead Israel into the battle of Jericho and he comes across what he thinks is a man in the desert with a drawn sword. Joshua asks if he is “for us or against us.” Can you hear it? Joshua wants to know if He is with them. (Remember: “Emmanuel”means “God with us”) Revealing Himself as the “commander of the Lord’s army,” He answers saying he is not with him or against him, but that Joshua is on holy ground. Joshua immediately begins to worship, and the commander of the Lord’s army begins to give Joshua the details of how to take Jericho. The whole story is tied to Moses’ experience with the burning bush (even some of the same language is used – “take off shoes” “holy ground”) – anyway, it’s about God calling a man to follow him.
Ultimately, it’s sort of like Joshua was asking the wrong question. The right question to ask God is not “Are you for us?” but “Are we with You?” I wonder if we’ve been missing something at Christmas. Yes, it’s important to recognize “Emmanuel” – that “God is with us.” But what about the other question? – “Are we with God?” It’s the difference between asking Him to bless the things I’m involved in as opposed to me getting involved in the things He is blessing – His work. Do I serve God or is He here to serve me? I can’t speak for you, but I know in my life, God has proven Himself to be “with me” over and over again. On the other hand, I’ve failed to be “with Him” over and over again too. Emmanuel is consistently Emmanuel – always “God with us.” I’m not very consistent.
Like Joshua, I believe we are being called. God is calling us to join Him, to follow Him, to be “with Him.”Maybe the most important thing is for me to work for that.
Emmanuel is a great reminder of God’s faithfulness, but it also makes me recognize my own failures. My bride is a good example – the more she loves me, the more I realize I desire to do things for her. Her love inspires me to love her more. Emmanuel inspires me to love Him more because I recognize how amazing He truly is!
Prayer: Lord You are consistently, always, faithfully “Emmanuel.” Help me to be “with You” too.
Wow! I really love going to class on Tuesday nights. Right now I’m in "Special Issues in the Old Testament – Historical Literature." Anyway, last night, Dr. Loken gave us an overview of Genesis. There are lots of things he covered which I knew, but quite a bit that I learned too. Check out some of the stuff that was new to me:
Here’s the first:
There was a 6 day war between Israel and the Arab states of Jordan, Egypt, and Syria in 1967. Israel was attacked on three different fronts simultaneously. Israel had a secret operative who had worked his way into the ranks of the Syrian army and on their battle front, it was very hot and there were lots of mosquitoes. The secret operative explained that if they would plant eucalyptus trees they’d have shade and the mosquitoes would stay away. The Syrian army purchased these trees and planted them near their bases. The secret agent contacted the Israeli bombers who then proceeded to bomb the trees. They didn’t need coordinates, ’cause they could so clearly see these trees which were so out of place in the desert. Pretty funny!!!! Syria loses the battle ’cause they couldn’t stand the mosquitoes or the heat.
By the way, Israel not only won the war on every front, but they also gained quite a bit of land from each of their attackers. On the map, the light tan is what they occupied at first and the green area are what they gained afterwards.
In Genesis 17:9-14, God institutes the sign of the covenant – circumcision. Since the covenant was about Abraham’s seed/offspring it was very fitting that every time a male went to procreate, he would see himself and be reminded of the promise regarding his seed/offspring. It is also very interesting to note that there were many other cultures which circumcised men, but it was not common in Ur where Abraham was from and it was completely unique that Israel circumcised babies. Another miraculous thing is that the Lord instructs them to circumcise babies on the 8th day after birth. Doctors today have discovered that Vitamin K (which helps in clotting) spikes in men on the 8th day of life and then never reaches that level again. Without modern Vitamin K injections, doctors recommend the 8th day for circumcision even now because it’s the safest day in a man’s life for such a thing. Interesting that God instructed the people for their own safety even when their knowledge of medicine was lacking. Clearly this was not revealed to them by other men, but only by God.
Another sidenote to the circumcision thing: Joshua 5 records that after they had crossed the Jordan river and before they attacked Jericho, Israel rededicated themselves to the Lord and each man was circumcised. This would have debilitated them and left them virtually helpless in case of attack. They were incredibly vulnerable sitting debilitated between the Jordan river and Jericho. This was an incredible act of faith on the Israelites part. It is because of this act of faith that God takes away the disgrace of their Egyptian captivity, and they become a nation which others fear.
Here’s the last thing I’m gonna write about today:
First read the Scriptures about Jacob and Esau’s birth:
Genesis 25:21 – Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was barren. The LORD answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant. 22 The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, "Why is this happening to me?" So she went to inquire of the LORD.
23 The LORD said to her, "Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger."
24 When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb. 25 The first to come out was red, and his whole body was like a hairy garment; so they named him Esau. [e]26 After this, his brother came out, with his hand grasping Esau’s heel; so he was named Jacob.
OK – now here’s what I learned. Dr. Loken said that he had a student who was also a pre-med student one time who explained this phenomenon called (I forget but I’ll guess) "Twin twin transfusion" where the stronger twin dominates the mothers blood supply and when he is born he is stronger and usually red colored. The weaker is pale. Kind of the "runt" of the litter so to speak. By the way, the word/name "Jacob" was a wrestling term used when someone grabbed another’s heel and tripped him up throwing him to the ground.
Anyway, this explains why Rebekah, the mother, loved Jacob more. It’s kind of a mother’s role to care and nurture the weaker of the two. It also explains why Isaac like Easu – he was a man’s man – the kind of guy you’d want as an heir. Also – after what God said in verse 23, when you look at chapter 27:27-29 (knowing that Isaac thought he was talking to Esau), you realize that Isaac was trying to reverse the curse – going against what God had said. Check it out:
26 Then his father Isaac said to him, "Come here, my son, and kiss me."
27 So he went to him and kissed him. When Isaac caught the smell of his clothes, he blessed him and said, "Ah, the smell of my son is like the smell of a field that the LORD has blessed.
28 May God give you of heaven’s dew and of earth’s richness— an abundance of grain and new wine.
29 May nations serve you and peoples bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may the sons of your mother bow down to you. May those who curse you be cursed and those who bless you be blessed."
This was just something I had never thought about – cool stuff.