“Jacob Wrestling with the Angel” – or arguing with God – as discussed in a May 12 post. . .
The Bible readings assigned in The Scribe’s* church for Sunday, August 3, 2014 are:
Genesis 32:22-31, Psalm 17:1-7,16, Romans 9:1-5, and Matthew 14:13-21.
By way of catching up, last week’s Old Testament lesson was Genesis 29:15-28, about Jacob getting snookered by his future father-in-law Laban, who had two nubile (“marriageable”) daughters, Leah and Rachel. The problem was that Jacob had the hots for Rachel and served Laban seven long years in order to marry her, but “they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her.” That’s when Laban snookered him.
In that time and place, the older daughter had to get married off first, but Laban didn’t tell Jacob that until after the wedding night. (What we would call today ex post facto.) That is, at some point during the wedding and/or wedding night, that crafty ol’ Laban switched daughters, with the result that Jacob married Leah, the older daughter, and “went in to her.” Jacob found out about it next morning,** and was naturally a bit sore. . . But then Laban got him to serve another seven years, but that time Jacob got to really marry Rachel.
(Just as a side note: Yours Truly got chastised after last week’s service – gently, by another member of the choir – for too-noticeably chuckling during the reading about Jacob and how he got bamboozled by Laban. And a bit of foreshadowing: Jacob gets even with Laban, and is in the process of doing so in the reading for August 3.)
So anyway, last week’s reading was from Genesis 29, but this week’s reading skipped over the chapters where Jacob got tired of Laban taking advantage of him, and of taking “his two wives, his two maids, and his eleven children,” and fleeing the country. So he sent his whole family and/or clan all across the river Jabbok and was left alone. That was when he ended up wrestling with an “angel” – who turned out to be God – and got literally “out of joint.”
This is a reading already covered in the post On arguing with God, the gist of which is that Jacob got his name changed to “Israel,” and so became a prototype for pretty much anyone and everyone who struggles with the idea of God. That post then added:
The point of all this is that maybe – just maybe – we today are supposed to “argue with God,” or “wrestle with God,” or even “wrestle with the idea of God.” Maybe, just maybe, that’s how we get spiritually stronger, by “resistance training” rather than passively accepting anything and everything in the Bible, without question or questioning.
And just as an aside, this day’s Gospel – Matthew 14:13-21 – has also been covered, by Another view of Jesus feeding the 5,000, which noted in part: Maybe the lesson Jesus intended was that, by His example, He got a bunch of normally-greedy people to share what they had.
So maybe the Bible really is for liberating the human spirit, not shackling it. . .
The upper image, courtesy of Wikipedia, is Jacob Wrestling with the Angel, by Alexander Louis Leloir (1865). Leloir (1843-1884), was a a French painter specializing in genre and history paintings. His younger brother was painter and playwright Maurice Leloir.
As to “the real Good News.” The term Gospel is from “the Old English gōd-spell . . . meaning ‘good news’ or ‘glad tidings.’ The word comes from the Greek euangelion.” See Gospel – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (Unfortunately these days that Good News seems to have been transmogrified into bad news, as in the perception, “How can we Christians get political power so as to control the lives of other people?” That seems to be the perception anyway. See e.g. Why are Christians so negative and judgemental? – RZIM Europe, Do Christians spend too much time being negative? – Christian …, and 5 Negative Effects of Complaining for Christians – Patrick’s …. The gist of which is that this perception presents a problem for all practicing Christians.)
* As to the “Bible readings assigned in The Scribe’s church.” Every once in a while I sink into the practice of illeism, referring to oneself in the third person. See On Moses and “illeism”.
As to “ex post facto.” See Ex post facto law – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, which noted in part that it usually refers to “a law that retroactively changes the legal consequences (or status) of actions that were committed, or relationships that existed, before the enactment of the law.” The term comes from the Latin for for “from after the action” or “after the facts.”
** As to Jacob only finding out about Laban’s daughter-switch until the morning after the wedding, see Benjamin Franklin’s famously saying that “in the dark all Cats are grey,” at Letter from Ben Franklin gives advice on dating older women | ….
The lower image is courtesy of http://www.theimperfectprincess.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Perception.jpg. Another note: If you Google “perception is everything” you should get some 57 million hits. One pity quote from Perception – Wikiquote: “It is one of the commonest of mistakes to consider that the limit of our power of perception is also the limit of all there is to perceive.”
In other words, don’t limit the power of God to your ability to perceive Him. . .
And as always, you can see the full readings at The Lectionary Page.