Posted by: Esther | October 21, 2007

Facing the World

After Jacob made peace with Esau, he camped before the city of Shechem (Genesis 33:18). He bought a piece of land from Hamor, the ruler. As you read through Genesis chapter 34, you will see that this city was a carnal and evil place, not a place you want to be facing, especially while raising a family.

The City as the World

1 John 2:15-17 states “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and {also} its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.”

Shechem (the city and person) displays these very aspects of the world: The lust of the eyes – Genesis 34:2-3 “And when Shechem, the son of Hamor, the prince of the land, saw her, he took her and lay with her by force. And he was deeply attracted to Dinah, the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the girl and spoke tenderly to her.” The lust of the flesh – The people in the city were convinced that if they were circumcised, they would gain wealth from Jacob (Genesis 34:22-23). The boastful pride of life – Shechem rapes Dinah and then has the audacity to ask for her hand in marriage. Hamor offers Jacob all of his land to live and trade in, as if to boast that his wealth is worth Dinah’s soul.

 

In the World

The very first verse of Genesis chapter 34 is a picture of what we as parents all anticipate and worry about: “Now Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Jacob, went out to visit the daughters of the land.” What will happen when we let them go? Will they get hurt in the big, bad world?

Every parents nightmare happens to Dinah in that city, the world, when she visits the daughters of the land. She is raped and violated (Genesis 34:2). Notice that when her father, Jacob, heard about it, he did not react right away, but waited to tell his sons when they came in with the livestock (v.5). I wonder what was going through his mind. Maybe he knew how his sons would react; after all, he was facing the world. Can we expect anything less, when we let our children watch violence and rebellion on t.v. and then act surprised when they get into a fight with the school bully; or worse yet, become the school bully. I am sure he knew retaliation was inevitable.

As the story continues, the brothers find out. Hamor and his son Shechem ask Jacob’s family to intermarry with his. Jacob’s sons trick Shechem into agreeing to circumcise the men in the city and on the third day, while the men are still in pain from the circumcision, they massacre the males and loot the city. And so the story goes… as an example of what not to do.

The Proper Response

What the brothers of Dinah should have done is almost unheard of in our society today. So many people reading this story will quickly say that Shechem got what he deserves. The brothers response is very comfortable to our flesh, but God holds us to a higher standard.

Matthew 5:44-45: “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on {the} evil and {the} good, and sends rain on {the} righteous and {the} unrighteous.

Romans 12:20: “BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD.”

Luke 6:35: “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil {men.} “

Proverbs 20:22 ” Do not say, “I will repay evil”; Wait for the LORD, and He will save you.”

So many of us want to get in the way of God’s wrath on the wicked. If we would just realize that He will do a much better job at avenging us than we could ever think of doing, we may be able to take comfort in waiting for the Lord to react. Remember what He did to Nabal (1Samuel 25:38). As we wait for Him however, we must love our enemies, pray for them, and feed them. It will take a greater love than my own to be able to love someone who raped my daughter. But then I am reminded that according to Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:20-26, I am already guilty of their murder at the very thought of what I would really want to do to him. So I am as guilty as he is. God sees us both the same, either covered by the blood of His Son or condemned as a sinner. Either way, neither of us deserve this gift. And where He sees His Son’s blood, He is also seeing the work of His Holy Spirit giving us the power to do his will. Romans 8:5 states, “For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.” So how we react, depends on whether we are in the flesh or in the Spirit.

Are We Facing the World?

A question I would rather avoid…wouldn’t you? But I know the answer. As I let my copy cat, four year old watch “School of Rock” because of the music, knowing that it really teaches rebellion, I know the answer is yes. With all of the t.v and video games these days, why are we surprised when our children rebel. I don’t love the world, rather hate it, as I do money, but I dangerously face it, as Jacob did. So all I really have to do is turn my tent around. Then eventually I will move further away. Impossible and foreign to my flesh, but through the Spirit all things are possible.

 

 

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