Posts Tagged ‘Benny Thomas’

Pharez and Zara (Ge.38:11-30)


Birth of Judah’s sons from Tamar is very similar, superficially at least, to the birth of Jacob and Esau. Pharez did not catch the heel as Jacob did but having put forth hand withdraws as quickly as he put it out. Not before the midwife could tie a scarlet thread to his wrist. His brother Zara came forth followed by Pharez with the scarlet thread still on his wrist. Instead of heel catching Jacob we have in Pharez as a symbol for the nation of Israel, which started out as the heir of promise but their history showed the truth: in their falling off the gentiles symbolized by Zara shall fill in the breach.

In short one narrates the progression of the seed of Abraham and the other foretelling the rejection of Israel. Two variable speeds: God’s Plan and its fulfilment by the Son.

Narrative of the patriarchs runs parallel with its symbolism predictive of the coming of Messiah. For example Joseph is the forerunner of Jesus. The number of 12 is common for the patriarchs and the disciples. It also echoes as a memorial in heaven. Twelve refers to God’s ministry in heaven as well as on the earth. We have 24 elders of whom Apostle John refers thus: ‘The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne (Re.4:10)’. Disciples of Jesus were 12 in number as many as patriarchs were.



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“And Esau ran to meet him(Jacob) and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him; and they wept (Ge.33:4).”

Ways of the world are different from ways of the Lord God. As Sovereign Lord of heaven and the earth He sees the weal of His kingdom in a way different from that of Esau who sold his birth right for a mass of pottage. Yet he was a man of good parts who warmed up to overtures of good will from Jacob who had done him wrong. Saul, the first king of Israel similarly had some nobility but in trying to make his royal house secure against other contenders he found himself sliding into the other side of God. The shade of Samuel warned him thus, ‘…the Lord is departed from thee, and is become thine enemy? (1 Sa.28:16)’ None of his nobility in parts ever had a chance to add up. It was thus with Esau. He was a profane person since he had no respect for His ways. Do we not see fellows who are life and soul of a party sometimes make the news for domestic violence? Their fault owes to where their priorities lay. They are often pampering their public persona and laying so much importance to the point of negecting their real selves. Ways of the world teach the simple to take a worm’s eye view of their narrow world and not learning from that of God. The world accepts people at face value. Without God they are fragmented and while they are suffering from ravages of sin they can outwardly show friendliness and make time spent with them pass pleasantly.

For a child of God it has to be consistent inside out. ‘Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; (2 Co.10:5)’

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“But the Lord was with Joseph, and showed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison…because the Lord was with him, and that which he did, the Lord made it to prosper (39:21-23).”

The Spirit makes use of Joseph as an example because he chose to suffer for being good. Joseph tended sheep along with his brethren. He being seventeen was not mature enough to keep his mouth shut. He carried an evil report of his brethren to his father. His brethren did things that in his eye amounted to injury of his father’s name as well as loss, so he reported before it could get out of hand. He was good before the ways of the world had got into the act and they fumed as though he were a betrayer. His brethren thought he breached the cardinal rule of brotherhood: ‘See no evil, hear no evil, Speak no evil.’ In the eyes of Joseph it was safeguarding the interests of his father. Ways of the world want others to join and not spoil the effect of brotherhood by tattletale. If one looks at what they were capable of we know what has penned rules of the ways of the world. The prince of the power of the air, it is called.

Joseph’s brethren were scapegrace. As we shall see further down they were ready to shed blood of their sibling, steal a kid of the goat to explain their crime and lie outrageously before their father and sell him to caravan of strangers. This brings us to the lie Jacob told his own father in order to usurp the blessing reserved for Esau. ‘…Be sure your sin will find you out (Nu.32:23).’

Joseph suffered for being good. It was not to be bracketed with reckoning for his father’s past or future of his brethren. It was goodness of God directly connecting with him. Grace of God, fullness of which would be revealed with advent of Jesus cast an aura about Joseph. The keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all his fellow prisoners and grace was proof that God was with him.




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“With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself unsavoury (2 S.22:27; Ps.18:26)”. “As for such as turn aside unto their crooked ways, the LORD shall lead them forth with the workers of iniquity:..(Ps.125:5)”.

God prospered Laban, in visible terms, which he could appreciate. ‘For I learned by experience that the Lord hath blessed me for thy sake.’ Wealth is a blessing but Laban did not have the insight to seek it from God of Jacob. Instead he wanted it at his terms and pressing his advantage further. He pressed Jacob, ‘Appoint me thy wages, and I will give it (30:28).’ Behind his professed enthusiasm to pay wages we have on record that he had deceived him and changed his wages ten times. The face of greed has never changed neither then or now. Only that now people like Laban have become organized. When he says, ‘Corporations are people’ what he means is that he shall have the option to change wages and keep profits most unto who he chooses with excuse of bonus for the top management, operational costs, depreciation cost, sundries ad infinitum.

Here we see Jacob bearing witness, “But the God of my Father hath been with me.” How God took away the cattle of Laban and gave to him is a demonstration of the old adage, ‘The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.’

Laban agreed to let Jacob separate speckled and spotted cattle and all the brown cattle among the sheep, and the spotted and specked among the goats for his hire. Laban’s common sense smelled a sure thing. How often do speckled and spotted cattle are seen in nature? They are rare freaks of nature according to his understanding.

‘Jacob took him rods of green poplar hazel and chestnut tree; and pilled white strakes in them, and made the white appear…And the flocks conceived before the rods, and brought forth cattle ring straked, speckled, and spotted (Ge.30:32-42)’. The feebler were Laban’s, and the stronger were Jacob’s (vs.42). When God had decided to turn the tables on him Nature took the cues and made it happen. Palimpsestic memory of Nature works according to divine Plan for His glory. In order to make it simpler, consider our sense of vision: how we look at things and see them are not simple. Eyes see but in order to make sense requires areas in the brain to process the impressions. Laws of Nature know her sovereign Lord. Before I immigrated to Europe I had no inkling what a Citroën would look like from a stream of automobiles in a highway. After buying one and soon I saw only Citroën in tangled rush hour traffic. How come? Memory made it so natural. While we discuss the palimpsestic memory of Nature as indicative of glory of God we need understand Nature always works to glorify God. Man in his conceit often fails to know God in his daily lives and such failure to glorify God on a wider canvas finds substitutes. Status symbols for those who are in a hurry and we see the consequences around us (Ro.1:20-21).

For God’s children even what seems at first disappointments are fitting out wings for closer walk with God.



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“…The words of Laban’s sons saying, Jacob hath taken away all that was our father’s; and Jacob beheld the countenance of Laban, and behold, it was not toward him as before. And the Lord said unto Jacob, Return unto the land of thy fathers…(31:1-3)

God’s plan always works. Jacob needed a lesson in patience. Also he needed to fathom His mysterious ways. God’s ways and ways of the world are antithetical. Glory of the Lord God gave the earth its shape. The earth in return reflects it: the works of His hand are sustained and that is one kind of glory due to His majesty. It works despite of the fallen man who has no fear of God. How fallen man does merely created a cloud and we may name it as ‘ways of the world.’ Let us consider it in general terms and discuss how it worked in the breach of trust between Jacob and Laban.

Wherever the fallen man sets up his crooked ways the earth shall find ways to prove the point: The crooked shall be made straight and the rough ways shall be made smooth(Lk.3:5). This is what we read in other passages as well. God does not have to tempt any man but the earth shall find ways to serve His purpose. So a man eager to make easy money sets up a Ponzi scheme and digs deep into his friends and relatives to join the set up. All they need find are friends from their social circles whose swelling ranks make the man at the top of the pyramid rake in his profits without a sweat. Afterall living among your own kind and moving in same social circles gives each a certain understanding: worth of a dollar when invested wisely can make hundred in no time. It also has taught him social capital is how many friends and contacts he can always touch in need. With so much worldly wisdom stirring up man to play at stocks or other means to make profits ask yourself how come a sure thing as was promised to you all of a sudden crash down? Or a financial bubble make those talking in billions lose even the shirts off their backs? Glory of the earth may be obscured by man and his ways but shall nevertheless reach God to whom alone is Glory, Amen.

“With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself unsavoury (2 S.22:27; Ps.18:26)”. “As for such as turn aside unto their crooked ways, the LORD shall lead them forth with the workers of iniquity:..(Ps.125:5)”. (To be concluded)


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“Wherefore then hast thou beguiled me? (Ge.29:25)”

Jacob’s flight to Haran and his sojourn in the House of Laban were foreordained. While at Bethel God had visited him and also blessed him thus: ‘..In thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’ Sounds familiar is it not? We read it the chapter 12 when God called out Abraham from Haran. God’s promises are not scaled down because Jacob was deceitful and had unfairly won the birth right from his elder brother. God introduces Himself as ‘the Lord God of Abraham, thy father, and the God of Isaac:’ Predestination does not mean that man is not responsible for his actions good or bad.

Having deceived his aged father and won the blessing reserved for Esau, he met his match at last in Laban. He slaved for seven years for the hand of Rachel. What are seven years or seventy, for that matter? (By the way the number seven is significant, meaning a period that would in the lexicon of the Spirit mean ‘adequate under the circumstance’, and perfect). His love for Rachel was such the years seemed unto him but a few days. This love like his earnestness to covet blessings that birth right carried, is not a trifle but required time to be placed in proper perspective of God. Man calls it suffering when his expectations are dashed. In Jacob’s case Laban played the bait and switch game of a con artist and it worked. Jacob in his own way had set it up. God let him mature in hard service under one who ever kept changing his word. When God had taken over his life (even before he was born) he compensated the seven years stint in the House of Laban which works even now.

We are in the House of Laban in a manner of speaking. We serve a hard taskmaster who always shortchanges our blood and sweat and rewards with wealth that never can keep us in comfort we crave. Gift of God? Love. Such was love that Jacob felt for Rachel. It took the sting out of his existence.

What we call as sufferings is often our own making. We cut into fair share of another without a second thought, and later when we are denied justice in most atrocious manner by another, we hardly remember we had set the ball rolling. Thus it was with Jacob whose expectations were dashed and also sweat of his labour was only to keep the wily father-in-law in luxury. So at human level we reap what we sow but for a child of God there is post script written by God namely: “All things work together for good …who are the called according to his purpose (Ro.8:28).”



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“And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not (Ch.28:16). ”

This well known story throws up some important theological concepts.

Firstly sleep is a symbol for death.

What is sleep? God caused Adam a deep sleep and he slept (Ge.2:21) The Spirit used it in the sense mentioned above.

We shall consider sleep now in normal sense. The idea here is that sleep is from God. It is a blessing. It is a rest that is a shadow of God’s Rest from his labours. He sanctified end of His Creative Day as a Holy Day. The Preacher has this verse to observe what man may rightfully claim as his due at the end of each working day. “The sleep of a labourer is sweet, whether they eat little or much, but as for the rich, their abundance permits them no sleep (Eccl5:12-NIV)”. In contrast to what God has provided for man, what is wealth but what he generates by his own efforts. This boils over even after the day is done so much so it is insomnia that he has to cope with.

Secondly it gives us an insight into God’s Time, which is how the Spirit correlates God’s Will with life of man. Time and space do not make sense for eternal God. When God visited King Abimelech in a vision and warned him on account of Sarah it was for the present. When He gave Daniel a series of visions (Dan.10-12:9) it was for ‘the time of the end.” The vision of the ladder with each rung going up to the Lord must be several events hinged on one another. Angels going up and down signifies a door has been opened for the sleeper. It is reminiscent of St John’s vision (Re.4:1-2). The Spirit gave him a foretaste of the Salvation Plan of God as it were, which in narrating is for our benefit. As soon as he woke up he realized where he was. He exclaimed, “Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not.” This indicates our foreknowledge comes from God who equips each man for His service. Gift of prophecy is a gift. Gift of interpreting is yet another. Such are gifts the Spirit distributes to each accordingly so glory of God must be set as paramount.

Thirdly we need address an often-overlooked piece, namely the stones that served Jacob as pillows.

“…He (Jacob) took stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep (28:11).”

These stones serve as a memorial. This act is to be seen as a symbolic act very similar to Joshua at the crossing of Jordan (Jos.4:23). Jacob was a man fleeing for safety and was in a strange place settling down for a night’s rest. God’s vision was a private and it was to assure His protection.

Like the Shekinah glory of God separated the mercy seat and the Ark of the Testimony from surrounding areas the vision was a memorial to him. From what Jacob did following day we get the idea as to what it meant to him. Each of us is Bethel meaning the house of God. This idea is transferred to stones that served for pillows in the night. He set the stone up and poured oil upon the top of it. ‘He called the name of that place Beth-el; but the name of that city was called Luz at the first (vs.19).’This holds spiritual significance for us. Born again experience in a child of God marks a change over from serving the world. Pouring oil over the stone naturally indicates the infilling Spirit. The following verses are of help to us.

“Know you not you are the temple of God?

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;(1 Co.6:19;3:16-NIV)”

We can well appreciate the seven churches in Asia minor were such stones as Jacob found; these local churches were not the Church of Christ but indicative of God’s Will concerning the Body of Christ.


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