In our Old Testament reading this week, we continue in Jacob’s story. After stealing his brother, Esau’s, birthright, Jacob fled from Esau, fearing for his life. In our chapters this week, we hear that Esau is on his way to meet Jacob, along with 400 men. Jacob is terrified and cries out to the Lord for help, but then chooses to go and meet his brother. We read in the following chapter of a beautiful reconciliation and display of forgiveness between the two brothers.
In stark contrast to this family reunion, the following chapter tells a tragic story. Dinah, one of Jacob’s daughters is raped by Shechem, a Prince of the region. Two of Dinah’s brothers subsequently murder Shechem and all the other males in his city and plundered all the wealth they could find. This story is such a stark account of human sinfulness and speaks clearly of our need for a Saviour.
Chapter 35 tells the story of Jacob returning to Bethel to build an altar to God. God subsequently reaffirms the promise He previously made to Jacob’s grandfather, Abraham, resulting in Jacob pouring out an offering to God.
Our New Testament readings this week feature Paul calling both the Galatians and the Romans back to the Gospel in which they first believed. In his letter to the Galatians, Paul reminds them that it is not by the works of the law that they are saved, but by having faith in the Lord.
Paul finishes by encouraging the Galatians to live by the Spirit and not to gratify the desires of the flesh. Paul outlines a life in the Spirit as one which produces the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control.
Let’s live our lives in the freedom of knowing that, because of the Father’s grace to us, we are completely forgiven, and that we need not do anything to earn this forgiveness. Let’s enjoy the loving embrace of our Father who welcomes us home and seek to become more like His Son, Jesus Christ, through the transformative power of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.
Some questions to help you ponder:
- Take some time to meditate on the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5: 22). Ask God if there is a particular fruit which He is challenging you to grow more in.
- Is there a way in which you are still gratifying the desires of the flesh, rather than living your life by the Spirit? Pray to God about this.
- Is there a family member or a friend who, like Jacob, you need to be reconciled with? Pray about this with God, that He would help you forgive or to ask for forgiveness.