January 18, Thursday

The AMI QT devotionals from Jan. 15-21 are provided by Cami King. Cami, a graduate of University of Pennsylvania and Gordon Conwell Seminary (M.Div.), is currently serving as a staff at Journey Community Church in Raleigh.

 

 

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS?”

Genesis 38:1-10

At that time Judah left his brothers and stayed with an Adullamite man named Hirah. 2 There Judah saw the daughter of a Canaanite man named Shua. Judah acquired her as a wife and had marital relations with her. 3 She became pregnant and had a son. Judah named him Er. 4 She became pregnant again and had another son, whom she named Onan. 5 Then she had yet another son, whom she named Shelah. She gave birth to him in Kezib. 6 Judah acquired a wife for Er his firstborn; her name was Tamar. 7 But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was evil in the Lord’s sight, so the Lord killed him. 8 Then Judah said to Onan, “Have sexual relations with your brother’s wife and fulfill the duty of a brother-in-law to her so that you may raise up a descendant for your brother.” 9 But Onan knew that the child would not be considered his. So whenever he had sexual relations with his brother’s wife, he withdrew prematurely so as not to give his brother a descendant. 10 What he did was evil in the Lord’s sight, so the Lord killed him too.

We will spend the next few days unpacking this dark and difficult chapter of Genesis. But first, we need context.

Judah, Joseph’s jealous brother who spearheaded his sale into slavery, moves away, marries, and has sons. The eldest grows up and marries. Yet he does evil and God takes his life. (We can only imagine what he must have done!) There was a common practice in the Ancient Near East (i.e. back in OT days) called Levirate marriage. In a society where it would have been forbidden for a woman to re-marry outside the clan and where women were utterly dependent upon the men in their family (father/husband/son – in that order) for protection and sustenance, in the event that a woman became a widow but had no sons, her husband’s brother was required to marry her and bring forth a male child. Think of this not only as a way to propagate the family name (which was important), but also as a kind of life insurance policy for the widow— ensuring her care and protection.  This is what is happening in the verses above.

Like I said, we’ll unpack all this in the days ahead, but for today I want to summarize some things this chapter teaches us. We see in this story of Tamar and the family of Judah just how vulnerable women were in the Ancient Near East (and arguably still are in many parts of the world today). We are reminded that there are often structures in society that leave certain people over-exposed.  We see just how selfish, broken, sinful, and downright evil people can be—even those called the people of God. We are reminded that the Bible is not a compilation of stories about heroes—not Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and certainly not Judah. There is only one hero–God. And this God works good even in our sin and is present with us even in abuse. We are reminded that God is indeed El Roi (“the God who sees” [Gen. 16:3]), and that our All-Seeing God also cares deeply (enough to avenge the mistreated and to preserve this story for our viewing today).

To be continued tomorrow…

Prayer: Almighty God, thank You for being the God Who Sees—not only me, but all those whom You have created.  You see us and are intimately aware of our lives. I pray Your protection for those of us who find ourselves in positions of vulnerability today. I pray Your humility for those of us who find ourselves in positions to help. May I be mindful of You as I move throughout my day today. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today:  Numbers 4


Lunch Break Study

Read Luke 10:25-37:  Now an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus, saying, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you understand it?” 27 The expert answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.” 28 Jesus said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” 29 But the expert, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him up, and went off, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, but when he saw the injured man he passed by on the other side. 32 So too a Levite, when he came up to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan who was traveling came to where the injured man was, and when he saw him, he felt compassion for him. 34 He went up to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever else you spend, I will repay you when I come back this way.’ 36 Which of these three do you think became a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” 37 The expert in religious law said, “The one who showed mercy to him.” So Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.”

Questions to Consider

  1. What is eternal life (see John 10:10 & 17:3)? According to the verses above, how can a person experience eternal life?
  2. Why do you think Jesus connects our love of God and our love of our neighbor in this way? (See also Matthew 22:36-40.) How do these two things challenge the way you typically think of eternal life.
  3. Who are your neighbors? (Make a list) What would it look like for you to “Go an do the same” (v. 37)? How might this position you for a greater experience of abundant life?

Notes

  1. Eternal life is both life forever with God (in the New Heaven and New Earth) as well as life abundant (the best quality of life—living life as God designed and intended). In John 17, Jesus explains that eternal life (life forever and abundant) is all about relationship—to know God and Jesus the Messiah is to have eternal life. In Luke, Jesus also explains (by His affirmation of the expert in the law’s words) that in order to position oneself to receive this life eternal, one must both love God and love neighbor.
  2. The witness of Scripture as a whole presents one’s love of God and one’s love of neighbor as two sides of the same coin. If we love God, we will love those around us. If we are God’s children (conformed to God’s likeness) we will be in the world as God is (or would be in our place). (See also 1 John 4:20 & John 21:15-17.) And eternal life – that thing that Jesus came, died, and rose to give us—is defined by Christ Himself as the knowledge of God and is experienced (inherited, entered into, etc.) through our love of God and one another. Eternal life is not just dying and going to heaven. It is living forever in the all-consuming love of God that inevitably manifests as love of others.
  3. Spend some time in personal reflection.

Evening Reflection

Spend some time this evening praying for the neighbors (near and far) that you listed in our Lunch Break Study this afternoon. If you didn’t write a list, take some time to write one now. Ask God to show you practical ways you can love them as yourself. Pray for divine appointments and opportunities in the days and weeks ahead for you to demonstrate God’s love to them.

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