Friday, July 28, 2017

Tender Shepherd

"The Meeting of Jacob and Rachel" by William Dyce (1806-1864)
TODAY'S SPECIAL: Genesis 29:1-18

TO CHEW ON: "Then Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice and wept." Genesis 29:11

Today's reading paints a very human Jacob. A tent-dweller versus outdoorsman Esau, he was a mama's boy (Genesis 25:27-28). Now, due in no little part to his and his mother's cunning, he (at 40+ years - Genesis 24:34) was forced to leave home due to twin brother Esau's threats to kill him after Dad dies.

Traveling east, he arrived at a well where shepherds were gathered with their flocks. He inquired if they know his mother's brother Laban, and they did! Then, even as they were talking, who should come along but Laban's beautiful daughter Rachel with her father's flock.

Jacob promptly removed the stone from the well (he may have been the indoors type but was obviously no wimp), watered Rachel's flock, told her who he was, and kissed her in a patriarchal greeting, so overjoyed at finding his family he broke down in tears.

We know, from reading the whole story, how his trials were just beginning. But God had big plans for him. To put them in motion, Jacob needed to leave home and live under the discipline of Laban. Laban would give him a taste of his own treacherous nature and Jacob would, as a result, develop into a man of character. Unlike Esau who, intent on instant gratification, sold his birthright to quell hunger pains, Jacob would end up working 14 years for the girl he loves.

The happy 'coincidences' in today's reading did no doubt reassure Jacob, as he thought back on them years later, when he again felt Godforsaken. They would remind him that God had led him, caring for him tenderly and personally—the shepherd of a human sheep, if you will—all that time.

God is the same with us. For if we examine our histories we will see how God's hand has been with us too, moving the pieces on the game boards of our lives in the big things, like meeting our spouse, to the little, like reminding us that we need to drop by the store. As Jesus put it:

" ' My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.' " John 10:27,28.

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for watching over me as closely as you watched over Jacob. Help me to remember this and be reassured when I feel alone and afraid. Amen.

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Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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