“Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”” Genesis 32:28 NIV
It’s so funny to me that I use to hate Genesis. I mean dreaded it. “He lived to be 908 years old? WHAT?! This is fiction!” Slam the Bible shut and refuse to try again. Cracks me up thinking how little I knew. But now, Genesis is one of my favorite books of the Bible! It makes my heart sing in so many ways. And of course, you can’t talk about Genesis without bringing up Jacob, now called Isreal.
However, my focus isn’t on the Scripture above. It’s actually on Genesis 34. Jacob’s sons' retaliation to the brutal assault on their sister.
“Three days later, while all of them were still in pain, two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, took their swords and attacked the unsuspecting city, killing every male. They put Hamor and his son Shechem to the sword and took Dinah from Shechem’s house and left. The sons of Jacob came upon the dead bodies and looted the city where their sister had been defiled. They seized their flocks and herds and donkeys and everything else of theirs in the city and out in the fields. They carried off all their wealth and all their women and children, taking as plunder everything in the houses. Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have brought trouble on me by making me obnoxious to the Canaanites and Perizzites, the people living in this land. We are few in number, and if they join forces against me and attack me, I and my household will be destroyed.” But they replied, “Should he have treated our sister like a prostitute?”” Genesis 34:25-31 NIV
As my local pastor, Pastor Joy, states in our Bible Project reading plan, “Sin begets sin, anger begets anger.” She continues how Jacob’s former sin and deceit has now become his son’s behavior. Our children are watching our every move. I couldn’t agree more.
And I am not going to lie. This chapter was hard for me because the part of me that’s been sexually abused is like: “Yeah, that’s right! Get them, big brothers! Stick up for your sister!”
However, I was quickly corrected by the Holy Spirit when I read this back in January.
Genesis 34 is a prime example of when we try and take “justice” into our own hands. When we ate from the tree of good and evil we set ourselves up for failure because we were not created to fully understand this knowledge. God never wanted us to carry such a burden. But the sin was done and here we are thinking we are entitled to make such judgment calls. Sad really. Because all this does is lead to more sin.
We do not know the heart of others like God does. We do not know the true nature of people’s being, but God does. God is the only one righteous and knowledgeable to judge the acts of good and evil. We are called to trust Him and only HIM in delivering “justice” among ourselves.
And God does not do this to be mean, He does this to protect us from enacting more sin upon ourselves. God is always protecting us from partaking in sin. He never wants us to be consumed with sin because of other's behavior. He wants us to rise above it. Stand firm in His Image and His Image alone. He calls us to be righteous and disciples of truth. Not to be like Jacob and his son’s, a father’s sin becoming his children. From the very beginning, we are called to love God and love people. Enemies included.
Take it from the good words of the Apostle Paul:
“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things, there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking, and envying each other.” - Galatians 5:13-26 NIV
“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” - 2 Corinthians 5:20-21 NIV
Again, this all is still very hard for me. I am a human of sinful nature. However, to be like Christ with a gentle and lowly heart, I do need to constantly remind myself of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. If only we would all gently guide each other to mimic the heart of Jesus.
“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” -Matthew 11:29 ESV