Monday, November 02 2020
During the Covid19 lockdown we are restricted to areas of safety. This has been achieved rather well by the Premier of Queensland. Borders are good for situations. Because of our borders we now have a Donut Day in Australia. We just bought dounuts to share in celebratory mode. What a strange custom we now have. But, we like it.
I was reading Genesis 31 last night and I came across another shut down border, possibly the first in Biblical history. The map indicated the area of the event, Ramoth Gilead, where the Tribe of Manasseh/Gad eventually settled. This border closure and covenant happened when Jacob, the son of Isaac and Grandson of Abraham went to Haran to escape threats by his brother Esau. (Gen 27:41) Now Jacob seems to have made more trouble for himself and his family, with the ire of Laban his uncle getting roused.
Jacob had worked for him for 20 years and was sick of it, deciding to leave with his possessions, wives, children and animals. Laban followed him and negotiated his side of the story. It is always good to have the other side of the story. One sided stories are always biased because of human perception.
In this story, Laban and Jacob agree to make a Covenant together. The place was given two names. One by Laban ( Jegar sahadutha ) Witness Pile in Aramaic. And Galeed in Hebrew. (The name of the place is also called Mizpah (Watchtower) ) All very strange but that is how they sorted out borders in that time. A pile of rocks standing at a witness. That was not all. Jacob made a sacrificial offering on the mountain and invited everyone to a covenant feast. (People love to eat) After they had eaten, they spent the night on the mountain. Both men took an oath to observe this covenant by the God of their ancestors, Isaac's and Nahor. Both families worshipped the same God, The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, also Nahor and Haran. Although we must note here that Rachel had stolen her family gods and Laban mentions them (Gen 31:30).
Laban threatened Jacob to keep his word and he did. In fact, Jacob had been told by God to leave the district and return to Canaan (Gen 31:13) and angels came along to guide him (32:1).
What can we glean from this incident that changed Jacob's life for ever? God literally took him to another district to raise his family.
If we think of our own lives, where are we now? Being in Australia feels like a very special place for those of us here right now. So many of us could be in another place, like UK, USA, Europe, Ireland or Cyprus. But, we are here. Can you trace God's hand in your life when you changed places to begin a new life?
With the Covid19 everyone in the whole world is reeling with wonder and fear, perplexed and confused by what is going on. Looking for a safer place to live. Unfortunately the world is now well populated and its borders are known and there are fewer places to be at peace and rest and especially safety from a pandemic.
In this Covenant and truce, God is right there. Jacob was a nervous man but street smart and he survived by praying a lot as God seems close to him. He had a big responsibility at this stage of his life (around 60 years of age) and he is only just beginning a new life. He is also fearful of his tough brother the hunter, Esau, so fear is still lurking in his perimeters.
In our new world of Covid rules, God is right here. We may be in lockdown, allowed less freedom than ever before, worrying about money, health, family. These are all genuine worries. To still our hearts, pray more, more often, read the bible to find treasures eternal (like this little gem) and remember, the Lord is still the King. I notice the road Jacob travelled in this story is called "The King's Way" on some maps. God the King of Kings went before him.
Maybe that is why we are so blessed, we keep praying for answers. Keep praying. YOU ARE SPECIAL TO GOD.
Link to other Scriptures and battles in this region. https://www.bible-history.com/geography/ancient-israel/ot/ramoth_gilead.html
This map from Wikipedia. Link to image.