(Actually, to be honest, this was done on February 4.)
Today’s readings are Genesis 34, Mark 5, Job 1 and Romans 5.
Genesis 34 is the sordid story of Dinah’s rape and her brothers’ act of vengeance. One Jewish tradition has it that, after this event, Dinah never spoke another word for the rest of her life.
Our job, as men, is to step up and speak out for the women in our lives. Over the past couple of years we’ve seen and heard many cases where women have been abused in some way. In this case, Jacob did nothing and Simeon and Levi over-reacted, similar to David and Absalom in 2 Samuel 13.
Thomas Constable notes that this chapter is significant for four reasons:
1. It explains why Jacob passed over Simeon and Levi for special blessing.
2. It shows the importance of keeping the chosen seed separate from the Canaanites. [Note: See Calum M. Carmichael, “Forbidden Mixtures,” Vetus Testamentum 32:4 (1982):394-415.]
“The law [of Moses] said that Israel was not to intermarry with the Canaanites or make treaties with them but was to destroy them because they posed such a threat. This passage provides part of the rationale for such laws, for it describes how immoral Canaanites defiled Israel by sexual contact and attempted to marry for the purpose of swallowing up Israel.” [Note: Ross, Creation and . . ., p. 569.]
3. It gives a reason for the sanctification of Jacob”s household that follows (Genesis 35:2, 4).
4. It demonstrates the sovereign control of God.
Regarding Jacob’s fear in v. 30, Gordon Wenham remarks:
“Of course, fear is natural in such a situation, but the reasons Jacob gives for damning his sons betray him. He does not condemn them for the massacre, for abusing the rite of circumcision, or even for breach of contract. Rather, he protests that the consequences of their action have made him unpopular. Nor does he seem worried by his daughter”s rape or the prospect of intermarriage with the Canaanites. He is only concerned for his own skin.” [Note: Wenham, Genesis 16-50 , p. 316. Cf. 19:8.]
Mark 5 tells us about three miracles of Jesus–casting a demon out of a man into swine (vv. 1-20), and then two miracles of healing intertwined (vv. 21-43).
Mark and Luke called this area the country of the Gerasenes, but Matthew called it the country of the Gadarenes. Gergesa (also referred to as Gersa and Kersa, Kursi) was a small village about midway on the eastern shore of the lake. Gadara was a larger town six miles southeast of the lake”s southern end. This incident apparently happened somewhere near both towns on the southeast coast of the lake.
View across the Sea of Galilee to the cliffs of Kursi
This double miracle taught the disciples that Jesus not only had the power to control nature (Mark 4:35-41) and demonic spirits (Mark 5:1-20) but also death. These were important revelations to those who had exercised some faith in Him. They learned that Jesus was more than a man and even more than the greatest of the prophets. Undoubtedly God used these revelations to enable the disciples to see that Jesus was the divine Messiah (Mark 8:29).
Job was possibly a contemporary of Abraham. It is possibly the first book written.
Job was a righteous man of integrity and he prayed for his children as they partied. There was nothing inherently sinful in what they were doing, but Job offered a burnt offering in case they sinned.
“What a beautiful example is furnished by Job to Christian parents! When your girls are going among strangers, and your boys into the great ways of the world, and you are unable to impose your will upon them, as in the days of childhood, you can yet pray for them, casting over them the shield of intercession, with strong cryings and tears. They are beyond your reach; but by faith you can move the arm of God on their behalf.”
— F. B. Meyer
Then Satan shows up and accuses Job of loyalty to God only because God had blessed Job with good gifts. So the Lord allowed Satan to take anything away from him except his physical health. As reports came to Job of loosing his portfolio and then his progeny, Job chose to worship God instead of blaming Him. I love this verse…
21 And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”
In this first round of spiritual warfare Satan was singularly unsuccessful in shaking Job from his standing in faith. Job successfully battled against spiritual attack and fulfilled the exhortation that would come many hundreds of years later from the Apostle Paul: that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand (Ephesians 6:13). Job made his stand —
- against fear and did not give into panic.
- against make-believe pretending and appropriately mourned.
- against pride and humbled himself before God.
- against self and decided to worship God.
- against a time-bound mindset and chose to think in terms of eternity.
- against unbelief and did not give into vain questionings of God.
- against despair and saw the hand of God even in catastrophe.
- against anger and did not blame God.
— David Guzik
Romans 5 begins with five wonderful results of justification by faith.
- If we were justified by works, we could have no peace with God. Peace with God only comes through the reconciling work of Jesus Christ.
- If we were justified by works, we would not stand in an atmosphere of grace (v. 2a) but be continually needing to justify ourselves before God through our good works.
- If we were justified by works, we could not boast in our hope of being glorified with God, but would continually be worried about whether we would even be with God in eternity (v. 2b)
- If we were justified by works we would automatically interpret our sufferings as God’s punishment, but being justified by faith we can be sure that our sufferings are for our greater good (vv. 3-4).
- If we were justified by our works we would question God’s love towards us, wondering if we had done enough to deserve it; but being justified by grace, God’s love floods our hearts through the Spirit (v. 5).
Christ died for us while we were weak and unable to help ourselves (v. 6), while we were “still sinners” and hadn’t change one iota (vv. 7-9), and even while we were His enemies (v. 10) actively standing against Him.
The last portion of Romans 5 details what we are “in Adam” and “in Christ.” Here is a helpful chart
We might think it unfair that we are classed with Adam in sin and death, but no one argues that it is unfair to be classed with Christ in righteousness and life. This linkage to Jesus Christ is the foundation for our sanctification.