The chapters for this day illustrate an important point regarding Biblical history. While we often come to stories in the Bible expecting clear moral tales that have good guys and bad guys and easy lessons – most often that is not what we find. If salvation was a matter of human effort than we would benefit from a series of “morality plays” that show us how to be good people. But salvation is by grace, and the real world is messy. Sin affects all people and our human experience “East of Eden” is often sad, brutal and complicated. So it is with the story often titled, “the Defiling of Dinah.” It is all pretty terrible. Jacob’s daughter was raped by a neighboring tribal group and her brothers exact a gruesome revenge. All of this leaves Jacob and his family in a vulnerable place. Jacob responds by committing himself more deeply to God by removing all of the remaining idols from among his people (Gen 35:34). As the story progresses we see God at work to protect his people and keep his covenant promise that he would fight for them (Gen 35:5). And yet, we know from the story of Dinah that he does not protect us from all harm. And while the return to Bethel offers a reminder of God’s commitment to Jacob and his people, the story continues with a tragic note (Rebecca dies in childbirth), and an ominous note (the lineage of the Edommites is traced, reminding us of Israel’s enduring enemy.) This story is not really about the strength, power, or virtue of the leading characters, but rather it is about God’s faithfulness and his power to keep his end of the covenant agreement. In the midst of sorrow, we see God’s powerful presence working toward a long term redemption.
Reflect: Life is full of sorrows and there are often no easy answers to resolve the mysterious and painful presence of evil in the world. But the living God has revealed himself through Jesus Christ, a human being who was “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” What sorrows can you hold before the understanding knowledge of Jesus?
Connect: The prophet Isaiah showed that the Messiah would enter into our suffering.
Isaiah 53:3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
This blog is part of the ministry of City Reformed Presbyterian Church. Unless otherwise noted, the entries are written by Matt Koerber. This is part of a project that our church is doing as we read through the narrative sections of Scripture between early January and Easter 2020. New entries will be scheduled to drop automatically at 5:00 am on the scheduled day.