Saturday, October 31, 2020

2020.10.31 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 35:16–36:43

Read Genesis 35:16–36:43

Questions from the Scripture text: Where do they go in Genesis 35:16? Where are they about to arrive? But what happens to whom? What does the midwife say in Genesis 35:17? What was departing (Genesis 35:18)? Why? What did she call his name? What did his father call him? What happened to Rachel (Genesis 35:19)? By where? Who does what in Genesis 35:20? What does Genesis 35:21-22 call him? Where does he go? What happens in verse 22? Whom does Genesis 35:22-26 describe? To whom does Jacob come, where, in Genesis 35:27? How old was Isaac (Genesis 35:28)? What four things happen to Isaac in Genesis 35:29? Who buried him? Whose genealogy does chapter 36 give us? Whom does Genesis 36:2-3 describe? Who bore whom where, in Genesis 36:4-5? Then where did Esau go, with whom, in Genesis 36:6-8? Whom does Genesis 36:9-14 list? In what way is this list organized? What are they now called in Genesis 36:15-19? What nation inhabited Seir before the Edomites (Genesis 36:20)? What are their sons called in the list in Genesis 36:20-30? What kings begin to be listed from Genesis 36:31? What time period does this list of kings cover (Genesis 36:31b)? What are the names in Genesis 36:40-43 called (cf. 1 Chronicles 1:51–54)? How is the land described in Genesis 36:43? Who is the last person mentioned in the chapter?

The unifying theme of this extended section of transition is death. Deborah has just died (Genesis 35:8), and now Rachel dies. Isaac dies. And the kings of Edom from now until the time of 1 Samuel die.

Parents are dying people, and their children are dying people. There is an appropriate symmetry to Rachel dying as she gives birth to Benjamin. Even his two names (son of my affliction, son of my right hand) remind us of how desperately the children of Adam need Christ, because in him we all sinned and died. 

So, her soul is departing (Genesis 35:18), which reminds us that much more important than how Benjamin comes into the world will be his condition when he has departed from it. Our first self-care must be the care of our souls. Our first care of our children must be the care of their souls. How sad that it isn’t until he is departing (cf. Genesis 49:4) that Jacob takes any action concerning the soul-threatening sin of his son Reuben (Genesis 35:22). Parents and their children die; so let them live with a care for eternal souls.

For, believers die, but Christ takes away the sting of it. Genesis 35:29 tells us that “Isaac breathed his last and died, and was gathered to his people, old and full of days, and his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.” It’s very important to see what happens with his soul. In between his death and his burial, “he was gathered to his people.” 

Your soul will be gathered to your people when you die, but which of the two peoples will that be? The seed of the serpent or the seed of the woman? Are you in Christ? Are His people your people in this life? When you die, you will be gathered to your people. Relationships with believers in this life can be tough, because we are still sinners. But there is a sinless fellowship with one another—and, especially, a sinless fellowship and enjoyment of our God and our Redeemer—that comes at death for believers.

Unbelievers die. The line of Edom are, generally speaking, unbelievers. It is sobering to read a list of names where each represents a clan of people who have died in their sin. Since Scripture focuses so much upon the covenant people, we can be forgetful that there are nations perishing in their sin. What missionary zeal should arise in our hearts, when the Lord brings them to remembrance! Hearing about Edom ought to make us long for the gospel age, in which reconciliation and salvation goes out to the nations. But here we are in that age. Are we living like we are in that age?

Finally, kings die. Of the line of Edom, it is especially the kings (Genesis 35:31–38) whose deaths are mentioned. This ought to be comforting to Israelites who were often in conflict with, or persecuted by, Edomites. Do not fear them. They can only kill the body. And they themselves die. “In God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (Psalm 56:10).

On the other hand, this is a good caution against putting our hope in kings. Or presidents. Or supreme court justices. Suppose we were to get all of the men whom we would like in every one of these positions. What then? “Do not put your trust in princes, nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help. His spirit departs, he returns to his earth; in that very day his plans perish. Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in Yahweh his God” (Psalm 146:3–5). Even if we were to get every man we wanted in every position, the Lord could immediately remove them. 

Kings die. Neither be afraid of them, nor put your hope in them.

What does prioritizing eternal souls look like in our thought life? In our everyday life? Of what men are you tempted to be overly afraid? In what men are you tempted to place too much of your hope?

Suggested songs: ARP146 “Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah” or TPH159 “Abide with Me”

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