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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Marseille, Our Second Port of Call

 Marseille is the oldest and third largest city in France. The city was built in just about 600 BC, well before the Romans settled the region. It is documented by Roman travelers and Greek merchants that it was, that long ago, the most important trading settlement of the Mediterranean Sea.

In the late Middle Ages, the Renaissance period, King Francois 1 decided to protect this very important port from his enemies and had two forts built. One was on the island of If, part of the archipel of Frioul, a group of small outcroppings about a mile or two from the entrance to the port of Marseille. You may recognize it, below, as the location where the fictional character; the Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas was imprisoned.

You can visit the island and fortress by boat while in port. The largest of the Frioul islands has stores, restaurants, beaches and houses on it.

 


 Another boat trip you can take is to the calanques, the little coastal bays and cliffs along the coast east of Marseille. It’s a stunning trip: there are many tiny villages that are only accessible by boat. The water is turquoise and since Marseille is known for its wonderful weather this would make a lovely day.

Speaking of the weather there are lots of beaches you can go to too. The largest is The Prada.

You can also take a cute little train for just a few Euros to Notre Dame de la Garde, high on the tallest hill. This church is dedicated to the sailors, completely covered in gold leaf and has the best views in the city.

You will also want to explore the beautiful Old Port. There are some very interesting neighborhoods and sites to visit around it. One of the most special is the new museum called MUCEM, a museum dedicated to Mediterranean cultures. It is situated on the edge of the Old Port where the docks have been turned into a large park with walkways and benches. One of the neighborhoods is called Le Panier and is the oldest part of Marseille today. It is undergoing a huge gentrification, and many artists and craftspeople live there. It’s very picturesque with cobblestone streets and hills. There is also a market near there with a North African influence with its exotic foods, Provencal fabrics and North African ceramics.

I also discovered that there is a free way to take a private or semi private tour of the city. Much like Chicago Greeters and Charleston’s Free Tours by Foot, you can make a reservation for a tour and just tip your guide any amount at the end. Guides are local and volunteers. http://www.marseilleprovencegreeters.com/en/  

And remember! You’ll be in France! So you must eat! The most famous dish of Marseille is its Bouillabaisse, a very elaborate fish stew made with lots of rock fish and some shellfish.

Also associated with Marseille are aoli, a garlic mayonnaise (Rouille), tapenade, a spread made with crushed olives and of course olive oil, which comes from the olive groves that grow all around the region. You may also want to try its famous aperitif, Pastis, an anise liqueur whose recipe is kept secret.

Some cruisers skip the city though and go into Provence.  It’s only about 30 kilometers, so a very short train ride. Aix is a popular excursion from here. (The buses to Aix have free wifi – something travelers are always looking for!) And I can help you with your plans to visit these other areas.

But if you’ve never been to Marseille, I’d suggest getting to know that first. In 2013 Marseille received the City of European Culture award. To be considered for this honor they started sprucing the city up in 2012. And they’ve done a beautiful job!

Let me know if you need the original flyer about our Western Mediterranean Cruise with prices and full itinerary. And feel free to pass this email along to anyone you think might be interested in joining us!

Nancy Geiger


 

 

 

 

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Majorca, Our First Port of Call



Majorca (Mallorca in Spanish) is the most popular of Spain's Mediterranean islands. Although it is heavily crowded in July and August crowds considerably drop off in September when we’ll be there on our cruise. And the weather will still be great!

People flock to the island’s beautiful coast filled with upscale resorts, but you can also find secluded beaches and picturesque coves.


And the beaches are only a small part of Majorca’s draw. Head toward the mountains and hike to the hilltop monasteries. You’ll find kite-surfers, windsurfers and be able to look down on sailors in the turquoise waters. Rent a bike and explore the honey-stone villages. Majorca is a mecca for European cyclists. Or wander through almond and olive groves

Excursions and tours that you can book include visiting Majorca's Drach Caves, home to the largest underground lake in the world. Situated on the outskirts of the ancient fishing village of Porto Cristo, these natural wonders will leave you mesmerized. With exceptional lighting and a perfect mix of shadows, you can see the caves' authentic beauty with Lake Martel below.

You may also visit the ancient La Cartuja monastery. Once a royal hunting lodge, the monastery was later inhabited by Carthusian monks. In 1838 it became the chosen sanctuary of composer Frederick Chopin and writer Georges Sand.

Or explore Majorca's north coast and the spectacular Valldemossa, Michael Douglas' home for twenty years. A ship excursion will take you to this charming town, set against a large wall of lime rock, long protecting it from coastal winds and invaders. At Costa Nord Foundation, you will watch a documentary in which Michael Douglas explores the legacy of artists and thinkers enchanted with this region. And you’ll finish your day tasting four Mallorcan wines paired with delicious breads and olive oil at San Bosch.

Maybe you’d like to play golf, snorkel or take a glass bottom boat ride. It’s all available.

But this is one port of call that you don’t have to take an excursion. The ship will dock at Palma de Mallorca, the largest city on Majorca. It’s a big, bustling place with a wonderful old town around the landmark cathedral that dominates the oceanfront.

The architecture of this ancient Mediterranean port blends Gothic, Moorish and Renaissance styles. Palma's winding streets make way to grand churches, yacht harbors, beaches, fountains and old castles. Because there is so much history so close together, it's a perfect port to explore on foot.

This sun-kissed port is also an outdoors city in-season, with much pedestrian traffic and the opportunity to eat or relax outside in myriad settings -- some free (parks and boulevards), and some in conjunction with visits to museums and historical sites (always be on the lookout for interior courtyards, extra features of older buildings, and the high door knockers that used to save horseback callers the trouble of dismounting to announce their arrival in years gone by).

A local bus which travels from the ship to the center city is about 2 Euros each way, so you can save your money for souvenirs, like: Majorica pearls, leather goods (particularly shoes), hand-blown glass and any locally made handicraft from the wood of the olive tree -- unusual and unique to the area.

And that’s just one of our stops! Are you tempted? I hope so because if you’re reading this you’re invited to join us!
Let me know if you need the original flyer with prices and full itinerary. John and I spent a week in Majorca when we were living in Germany and I promise you – it’s a treat!

Nancy Geiger
 
 

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Genesis 31 Jacob heard that Laban’s sons were saying, “Jacob has taken everything our father owned and has gained all this wealth from what belonged to our father.” 2 And Jacob noticed that Laban’s attitude toward him was not what it had been.3 Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Go back to the land of your fathers and to your relatives, and I will be with you.”

4 So Jacob sent word to Rachel and Leah to come out to the fields where his flocks were. 5 He said to them, “I see that your father’s attitude toward me is not what it was before, but the God of my father has been with me. 6 You know that I’ve worked for your father with all my strength, 7 yet your father has cheated me by changing my wages ten times. However, God has not allowed him to harm me. 8 If he said, ‘The speckled ones will be your wages,’ then all the flocks gave birth to speckled young; and if he said, ‘The streaked ones will be your wages,’ then all the flocks bore streaked young. 9 So God has taken away your father’s livestock and has given them to me.

10 “In breeding season I once had a dream in which I looked up and saw that the male goats mating with the flock were streaked, speckled or spotted. 11 The angel of God said to me in the dream, ‘Jacob.’ I answered, ‘Here I am.’ 12 And he said, ‘Look up and see that all the male goats mating with the flock are streaked, speckled or spotted, for I have seen all that Laban has been doing to you. 13 I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and where you made a vow to me. Now leave this land at once and go back to your native land.’”

14 Then Rachel and Leah replied, “Do we still have any share in the inheritance of our father’s estate? 15 Does he not regard us as foreigners? Not only has he sold us, but he has used up what was paid for us. 16 Surely all the wealth that God took away from our father belongs to us and our children. So do whatever God has told you.”

17 Then Jacob put his children and his wives on camels, 18 and he drove all his livestock ahead of him, along with all the goods he had accumulated in Paddan Aram to go to his father Isaac in the land of Canaan.

19 When Laban had gone to shear his sheep, Rachel stole her father’s household gods. 20 Moreover, Jacob deceived Laban the Aramean by not telling him he was running away. 21 So he fled with all he had, crossed the Euphrates River, and headed for the hill country of Gilead.

22 On the third day Laban was told that Jacob had fled. 23 Taking his relatives with him, he pursued Jacob for seven days and caught up with him in the hill country of Gilead. 24 Then God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream at night and said to him, “Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.”

25 Jacob had pitched his tent in the hill country of Gilead when Laban overtook him, and Laban and his relatives camped there too. 26 Then Laban said to Jacob, “What have you done? You’ve deceived me, and you’ve carried off my daughters like captives in war. 27 Why did you run off secretly and deceive me? Why didn’t you tell me, so I could send you away with joy and singing to the music of timbrels and harps? 28 You didn’t even let me kiss my grandchildren and my daughters goodbye. You have done a foolish thing. 29 I have the power to harm you; but last night the God of your father said to me, ‘Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.’ 30 Now you have gone off because you longed to return to your father’s household. But why did you steal my gods?”

31 Jacob answered Laban, “I was afraid, because I thought you would take your daughters away from me by force. 32 But if you find anyone who has your gods, that person shall not live. In the presence of our relatives, see for yourself whether there is anything of yours here with me; and if so, take it.” Now Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen the gods.

33 So Laban went into Jacob’s tent and into Leah’s tent and into the tent of the two female servants, but he found nothing. After he came out of Leah’s tent, he entered Rachel’s tent. 34 Now Rachel had taken the household gods and put them inside her camel’s saddle and was sitting on them. Laban searched through everything in the tent but found nothing.

35 Rachel said to her father, “Don’t be angry, my lord, that I cannot stand up in your presence; I’m having my period.” So he searched but could not find the household gods.

36 Jacob was angry and took Laban to task. “What is my crime?” he asked Laban. “How have I wronged you that you hunt me down? 37 Now that you have searched through all my goods, what have you found that belongs to your household? Put it here in front of your relatives and mine, and let them judge between the two of us.

38 “I have been with you for twenty years now. Your sheep and goats have not miscarried, nor have I eaten rams from your flocks. 39 I did not bring you animals torn by wild beasts; I bore the loss myself. And you demanded payment from me for whatever was stolen by day or night. 40 This was my situation: The heat consumed me in the daytime and the cold at night, and sleep fled from my eyes. 41 It was like this for the twenty years I was in your household. I worked for you fourteen years for your two daughters and six years for your flocks, and you changed my wages ten times. 42 If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had not been with me, you would surely have sent me away empty-handed. But God has seen my hardship and the toil of my hands, and last night he rebuked you.”

43 Laban answered Jacob, “The women are my daughters, the children are my children, and the flocks are my flocks. All you see is mine. Yet what can I do today about these daughters of mine, or about the children they have borne? 44 Come now, let’s make a covenant, you and I, and let it serve as a witness between us.”

45 So Jacob took a stone and set it up as a pillar. 46 He said to his relatives, “Gather some stones.” So they took stones and piled them in a heap, and they ate there by the heap. 47 Laban called it Jegar Sahadutha, and Jacob called it Galeed.

48 Laban said, “This heap is a witness between you and me today.” That is why it was called Galeed. 49 It was also called Mizpah, because he said, “May the Lord keep watch between you and me when we are away from each other. 50 If you mistreat my daughters or if you take any wives besides my daughters, even though no one is with us, remember that God is a witness between you and me.”

51 Laban also said to Jacob, “Here is this heap, and here is this pillar I have set up between you and me. 52 This heap is a witness, and this pillar is a witness, that I will not go past this heap to your side to harm you and that you will not go past this heap and pillar to my side to harm me. 53 May the God of Abraham and the God of Nahor, the God of their father, judge between us.”

So Jacob took an oath in the name of the Fear of his father Isaac. 54 He offered a sacrifice there in the hill country and invited his relatives to a meal. After they had eaten, they spent the night there.

55 Early the next morning Laban kissed his grandchildren and his daughters and blessed them. Then he left and returned home

In spite of Laban’s unfair treatment Jacob still prospered. Laban’s sons were jealous and Laban was selfish. We saw a little of that when Abraham’s servant came for Rebekah and how he bargained his daughters for free labor. He was used to controlling people.

According to custom Rachel and Leah were supposed to have received the benefits of the dowry Jacob paid Laban (in this case the 14 years of labor). When Laban didn’t give them that they realized they weren’t going to get an inheritance from him either. So they were fine with Jacob’s plan to take the wealth he had gained and leave.

The little gods, or idols, were common in homes back then. They were thought to protect the home and offer advice in time of need. They also had a legal significance in that they could be passed down in the family and the person who had received them could rightfully claim the greatest part of the family inheritance. Which is probably why Laban was so concerned about them.

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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Genesis 30

Genesis 30 When Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she became jealous of her sister. So she said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I’ll die!”
2 Jacob became angry with her and said, “Am I in the place of God, who has kept you from having children?”

3 Then she said, “Here is Bilhah, my servant. Sleep with her so that she can bear children for me and I too can build a family through her.”

4 So she gave him her servant Bilhah as a wife. Jacob slept with her, 5 and she became pregnant and bore him a son. 6 Then Rachel said, “God has vindicated me; he has listened to my plea and given me a son.” Because of this she named him Dan.

7 Rachel’s servant Bilhah conceived again and bore Jacob a second son. 8 Then Rachel said, “I have had a great struggle with my sister, and I have won.” So she named him Naphtali.

9 When Leah saw that she had stopped having children, she took her servant Zilpah and gave her to Jacob as a wife. 10 Leah’s servant Zilpah bore Jacob a son. 11 Then Leah said, “What good fortune!” So she named him Gad.

12 Leah’s servant Zilpah bore Jacob a second son. 13 Then Leah said, “How happy I am! The women will call me happy.” So she named him Asher.

14 During wheat harvest, Reuben went out into the fields and found some mandrake plants, which he brought to his mother Leah. Rachel said to Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.”

15 But she said to her, “Wasn’t it enough that you took away my husband? Will you take my son’s mandrakes too?”

“Very well,” Rachel said, “he can sleep with you tonight in return for your son’s mandrakes.”

16 So when Jacob came in from the fields that evening, Leah went out to meet him. “You must sleep with me,” she said. “I have hired you with my son’s mandrakes.” So he slept with her that night.

17 God listened to Leah, and she became pregnant and bore Jacob a fifth son. 18 Then Leah said, “God has rewarded me for giving my servant to my husband.” So she named him Issachar.

19 Leah conceived again and bore Jacob a sixth son. 20 Then Leah said, “God has presented me with a precious gift. This time my husband will treat me with honor, because I have borne him six sons.” So she named him Zebulun.

21 Some time later she gave birth to a daughter and named her Dinah.

22 Then God remembered Rachel; he listened to her and enabled her to conceive. 23 She became pregnant and gave birth to a son and said, “God has taken away my disgrace.” 24 She named him Joseph, and said, “May the Lord add to me another son.”

25 After Rachel gave birth to Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, “Send me on my way so I can go back to my own homeland. 26 Give me my wives and children, for whom I have served you, and I will be on my way. You know how much work I’ve done for you.”

27 But Laban said to him, “If I have found favor in your eyes, please stay. I have learned by divination that the Lord has blessed me because of you.” 28 He added, “Name your wages, and I will pay them.”

29 Jacob said to him, “You know how I have worked for you and how your livestock has fared under my care. 30 The little you had before I came has increased greatly, and the Lord has blessed you wherever I have been. But now, when may I do something for my own household?”

31 “What shall I give you?” he asked.

“Don’t give me anything,” Jacob replied. “But if you will do this one thing for me, I will go on tending your flocks and watching over them: 32 Let me go through all your flocks today and remove from them every speckled or spotted sheep, every dark-colored lamb and every spotted or speckled goat. They will be my wages. 33 And my honesty will testify for me in the future, whenever you check on the wages you have paid me. Any goat in my possession that is not speckled or spotted, or any lamb that is not dark-colored, will be considered stolen.”

34 “Agreed,” said Laban. “Let it be as you have said.” 35 That same day he removed all the male goats that were streaked or spotted, and all the speckled or spotted female goats (all that had white on them) and all the dark-colored lambs, and he placed them in the care of his sons. 36 Then he put a three-day journey between himself and Jacob, while Jacob continued to tend the rest of Laban’s flocks.

37 Jacob, however, took fresh-cut branches from poplar, almond and plane trees and made white stripes on them by peeling the bark and exposing the white inner wood of the branches. 38 Then he placed the peeled branches in all the watering troughs, so that they would be directly in front of the flocks when they came to drink. When the flocks were in heat and came to drink, 39 they mated in front of the branches. And they bore young that were streaked or speckled or spotted. 40 Jacob set apart the young of the flock by themselves, but made the rest face the streaked and dark-colored animals that belonged to Laban. Thus he made separate flocks for himself and did not put them with Laban’s animals. 41 Whenever the stronger females were in heat, Jacob would place the branches in the troughs in front of the animals so they would mate near the branches, 42 but if the animals were weak, he would not place them there. So the weak animals went to Laban and the strong ones to Jacob. 43 In this way the man grew exceedingly prosperous and came to own large flocks, and female and male servants, and camels and donkeys.

Jacob follows his grandfather Abraham’s example of sleeping with his wife’s servant when his wife (or in his case wives) had trouble having children. We mentioned when Abraham did it it was the custom of the day. And it still was…. For the pagans. Just because something is socially acceptable doesn’t mean it’s right.

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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Genesis 29

Genesis 29 Then Jacob continued on his journey and came to the land of the eastern peoples. 2 There he saw a well in the open country, with three flocks of sheep lying near it because the flocks were watered from that well. The stone over the mouth of the well was large. 3 When all the flocks were gathered there, the shepherds would roll the stone away from the well’s mouth and water the sheep. Then they would return the stone to its place over the mouth of the well.
4 Jacob asked the shepherds, “My brothers, where are you from?”

“We’re from Harran,” they replied.

5 He said to them, “Do you know Laban, Nahor’s grandson?”

“Yes, we know him,” they answered.

6 Then Jacob asked them, “Is he well?”

“Yes, he is,” they said, “and here comes his daughter Rachel with the sheep.”

7 “Look,” he said, “the sun is still high; it is not time for the flocks to be gathered. Water the sheep and take them back to pasture.”

8 “We can’t,” they replied, “until all the flocks are gathered and the stone has been rolled away from the mouth of the well. Then we will water the sheep.”

9 While he was still talking with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep, for she was a shepherd. 10 When Jacob saw Rachel daughter of his uncle Laban, and Laban’s sheep, he went over and rolled the stone away from the mouth of the well and watered his uncle’s sheep. 11 Then Jacob kissed Rachel and began to weep aloud. 12 He had told Rachel that he was a relative of her father and a son of Rebekah. So she ran and told her father.

13 As soon as Laban heard the news about Jacob, his sister’s son, he hurried to meet him. He embraced him and kissed him and brought him to his home, and there Jacob told him all these things. 14 Then Laban said to him, “You are my own flesh and blood.”

After Jacob had stayed with him for a whole month, 15 Laban said to him, “Just because you are a relative of mine, should you work for me for nothing? Tell me what your wages should be.”

16 Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 17 Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel had a lovely figure and was beautiful. 18 Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, “I’ll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel.”

19 Laban said, “It’s better that I give her to you than to some other man. Stay here with me.” 20 So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.

21 Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife. My time is completed, and I want to make love to her.”

22 So Laban brought together all the people of the place and gave a feast. 23 But when evening came, he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and Jacob made love to her. 24 And Laban gave his servant Zilpah to his daughter as her attendant.

25 When morning came, there was Leah! So Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? I served you for Rachel, didn’t I? Why have you deceived me?”

(Insert – after really thinking about Jacob deceiving Isaac by pretending to be Esau, we kind of look at his a little differently now, don’t we?)

26 Laban replied, “It is not our custom here to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older one. 27 Finish this daughter’s bridal week; then we will give you the younger one also, in return for another seven years of work.”

28 And Jacob did so. He finished the week with Leah, and then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife. 29 Laban gave his servant Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as her attendant. 30 Jacob made love to Rachel also, and his love for Rachel was greater than his love for Leah. And he worked for Laban another seven years.

31 When the Lord saw that Leah was not loved, he enabled her to conceive, but Rachel remained childless. 32 Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, “It is because the Lord has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.”

33 She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Because the Lord heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too.” So she named him Simeon.

34 Again she conceived, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” So he was named Levi.

35 She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “This time I will praise the Lord.” So she named him Judah. Then she stopped having children.

It was the custom of the day for a man to give a dowry for his wife. But Jacob had arrived with nothing, so his working for seven years was to take the place of the dowry.

There was another custom however that Jacob didn’t know about and that was that the younger sister couldn’t be married before the older one. Labon tricked him into working another seven years. The deceiver had now become the deceived! The good thing for Jacob though was he didn’t have to wait seven more years to marry Rachel.

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Friday, November 14, 2014

Jacob's Ladder

Genesis 28: 10-11 Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Harran. 11 When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep.

Beersheba is situated southwest of the Dead Sea. He was alone and probably very sad; feeling apart from both his parents and God.

Genesis 28: 12-22 He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. 13 There above it stood the Lord, and he said: “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. 14 Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. 15 I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

16 When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” 17 He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.”

18 Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. 19 He called that place Bethel, though the city used to be called Luz.

20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear 21 so that I return safely to my father’s household, then the Lord will be my God 22 and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.”

Angels  of God are described in the Bible as being messengers of God and in Jacob’s dream he sees them going up and down the ladder between Jacob on earth and God in Heaven.

Jesus spoke of this in John 1:51 He then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.

He Himself would be man’s representative to God and God’s representative to man. According to this Gospel Jesus says He will take the place of the ladder! Because He is the way and the ONLY way to God.

John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Jacob didn’t just see the way open between he and God, he got a verbal promise given to him personally upon which his faith could rest. He got the same fourfold promises given to Abraham and Isaac.

  1. The actual physical land where Jacob now was.
  2. His seed would multiply
  3. That the Messiah would come from his line “all peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.”
  4. That God would personally be with Jacob and that He loved him.
This experience was the turning point in Jacob’s life. It might be compared to our own conversion. He sets up the stone so he could always remember this important place as the holy place where he met God. And he anoints it with oil (always used to symbolize the Holy Spirit and consecration to God in Scriptures.) Bethel means House of God.

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Back to our Genesis Chapter 27/28 Study

Back to Jacob – We are given far more details about Jacob’s actions, emotions, and response to God than about most individuals of the Old Testament.

It’s interesting that God’s promise of a seed starts out through one person at a time until after Jacob. Abraham to Isaac to Jacob….and then to Jacob’s 12 sons – each as important as the other in Israel’s history. Scripture records many events in Jacob’s life. We see his sins, his faith and God’s dealings with him in grace, in chastisement, by revelation and by rebuke as he molds Jacob’s character into the dignified man of stature he eventually became. You’ll notice that God allows Jacob to experience from others the same kind of deception and suffering he inflicted upon his father, Isaac – with his taking Esau’s birthright and then Isaac’s blessing.

We’ll get to it shortly, but you’ll remember that Jacob leaves his parents and goes to live with his uncle Laban for twenty years. Laban lied to him about earning his wife and also about his wages many times. In his old age his sons lied to him about what happened to Joseph. Some people would call this Karma, but it’s God disciplining him in a way he can see his own sin.

God disciplines His own and He often does this by circumstances of life.

Isaac’s blessing was also prophecy. It was God promising through Isaac –

1.      That the land which his son would possess would be blessed with heavenly dew, which in Israel is so heavy that even in the dry season it almost takes the place of rain. The land would be fertile, full of grain and wine.

2.      Nations would serve his line. People would bow down. People bowed down to Jacob’s son Joseph in Egypt. And of course we will ALL bow down to Jesus one day.

3.      Isaac also blessed him with headship over his brother. Although he was really blessing Esau with headship over Jacob. (Isaac was trying to annul God’s original declared purpose in regard to the younger ruling over the elder.)

4.      The Abrahamic promise of cursing and blessing. He just reasserted God’s promise to Abraham that he would be so identified in God’s family and with God Himself that God would consider those who cursed him as though they cursed God and those who blessed him as though they blessed God.

Then Jacob left and Esau came in and Isaac realized what had happened. And he trembled violently. Imagine how he felt when he realized that he had tried to manipulate God, but God had stepped in and prevented him! He realized he couldn’t change God’s sanction and told Esau so.

Esau regrets his former action, but regret and remorse are not repentance.

Isaac gave him the portion of temporal blessing and prophecy relating to the future which God knew most fitted the life which Esau had already chosen for himself.

1.      Esau’s land would be rocky and dry (“away from the earth’s richness, away from the dew of heaven above”). Edom is a mountainous stronghold with a few fertile places, but very little rain.

2.      Esau and his descendants would be known throughout history for their continual violence and conflict, particularly in relation to the more peaceful Israel whom they constantly harassed and even persecuted.

3.      He would serve his brother – for a long time Israel was over Edom.

4.      “You will throw his yoke from off your neck.” The time came when Judah lost Edom.

Eventually Edom disappeared. One commentator wrote that by “refusing to value their spiritual possessions while they had them they ended in being discarded by God from being instruments of blessing to the people around them.”

I couldn’t help but think of America when I read that. (Re-read statement)

Isaac calls Jacob back to give him the full Abrahamic blessing:
Genesis 28:1-9 So Isaac called for Jacob and blessed him. Then he commanded him: “Do not marry a Canaanite woman. 2 Go at once to Paddan Aram, to the house of your mother’s father Bethuel. Take a wife for yourself there, from among the daughters of Laban, your mother’s brother. 3 May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and increase your numbers until you become a community of peoples. 4 May he give you and your descendants the blessing given to Abraham, so that you may take possession of the land where you now reside as a foreigner, the land God gave to Abraham.” 5 Then Isaac sent Jacob on his way, and he went to Paddan Aram, to Laban son of Bethuel the Aramean, the brother of Rebekah, who was the mother of Jacob and Esau.
6 Now Esau learned that Isaac had blessed Jacob and had sent him to Paddan Aram to take a wife from there, and that when he blessed him he commanded him, “Do not marry a Canaanite woman,” 7 and that Jacob had obeyed his father and mother and had gone to Paddan Aram. 8 Esau then realized how displeasing the Canaanite women were to his father Isaac; 9 so he went to Ishmael and married Mahalath, the sister of Nebaioth and daughter of Ishmael son of Abraham, in addition to the wives he already had.

Esau, who had been indifferent and easy going, turned all his blame and bitterness on Jacob. Rebekah hears him say he is going to kill Jacob, so sends him away to her brother Laban. Remember when she had told Jacob “let the curse be on me”? Well, the first part of that curse was she lost her favorite son. It’s thought they never saw each other again.

So how can we apply this story to our lives? Isaac shows us that it is possible so to live in the light of a past great experience with God that in the present we stagnate, become spiritually lazy and blind and indifferent to God’s call to new decisions and new sacrifices.

From Rebekah we learn that it is possible to know God’s Word, to believe it, to be sound and to recognize when others are not acting according to God’s revealed Word, but yet in personal actions ignore God’s requirements of plain truthfulness, honesty, integrity and righteous conduct. Orthodox belief accompanied by unrighteous conduct will lead to God’s chastisement and sorrow.

From Jacob we learn it is possible to be so convinced that we are in the right, legally, that any conduct seems allowable .We should not be going after our “rights” in ways that don’t please God.

And from Esau we learn not to blame others for the consequence of our own indifference to God and spiritual things.

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