Thursday, March 8, 2012

Old Testament Rabbit Trails

Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak....Then he said, "Let me go, for the dawn is breaking." But he said, "I will not let you go unless you bless me." Genesis 32:24 and 26
Perched on her loft bed, Kara read those words aloud to me before bedtime. After all of the kisses, I closed my door and opened again to Genesis. "Won't let go unless you bless me" became my prayer, even as I acknowledged how very blessed I am. Then I saw the foot note: Hosea 12:4 (and I've added verse 6).
Yes, he wrestled with the angel and prevailed; he wept and sought his favor. He found Him at Bethel and there He spoke with us, even the LORD, the God of hosts, the LORD is His name....wait for your God continually.
Though I had known, I did not know, that God repeated these words in Hosea. There is no easy seeking after God. There is wrestling and weeping. There is continual waiting for God.

Rejoicing in Hosea I continued forward. I read to chapter 14. After twice reading "take words with you," and "I will love you freely," and "from Me comes your fruit" I thought I ought to memorize the chapter. Those are the overly ambitious thoughts of late night Bible reading that may never be seen in sunbeams on my memory cards. Hosea 14:5-6 says:
I will be like the dew to Israel; He will blossom like the lily, and he will take root like the cedars of Lebanon. His shoots will sprout, and his beauty will be like the olive tree and his fragrance like the cedars of Lebanon.
 At first I thought this could apply to me, "blossoming like a lily" having a certain appeal. (I know, first it applies to Israel!) Then I thought, what about Christ? Is it Him, the Shoot and Root of Isaiah 53? And next I was praying to "live in His shadow," from verse 8. (No commentary used. Please refer to your own for a Biblical reading of these verses. But just for a moment...humor me, follow the trail.)

Finally, I picked up the Bible reading plan and opened to Exodus 15. Israel had escaped from Egypt. They had crossed the Red Sea. They sang and danced and rejoiced before the Lord. Then they set out and three days later had not found water. Parched, they arrived at Marah and found the waters bitter. The people grumbled. Moses prayed.
Then he cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a tree; and he threw it into the waters, and the waters became sweet.
A tree tossed in bitter waters made them sweet. God has shown us a tree, which when applied to a bitter heart makes it sweet. In a flash, the Cross came to mind, made of wood, once a tree. Then I thought of Hosea. Not the Cross, the Man on the Cross. The Lord Jesus Christ, He is also the tree. Jesus Christ, applied to my bitter heart makes it sweet. Easy: purge out anger, hatred, ugly thoughts, and ungratefulness and pray in Jesus. The prayer takes a second. Hard: purging and praying. In my experience this is not without weeping, wrestling, and continual waiting. Maybe...maybe I walk away with a limp, like Jacob long ago.

The Israelites traveled from Marah and came to Elim "where there were twelve springs of water and seventy date palms." Won't let go until You bless me. Give favor, Lord, and lead me, limping, to Elim. Twelve springs of water, all sweet like Christ, and seventy date palms.

1 comment:

  1. We read something in class that remind me of these "rabbit trails." It seems like the early church fathers enjoyed doing this too.

    We read St. Aphrahat on Jacob's dream and the "gate of Heaven" reminded him of Jesus who is the gate or way to Heaven; Jacob didn't know but he was seeing a shadow of the coming Christ.

    Then he notices that the ladder is bridging the gulf between Heaven and Earth. A ladder, made out of wood, a symbol of the cross.

    I thought of your story when we read that. It is fun to see how Scripture fits together with itself.