Rachel – The Loved

Rachel-The Loved is a spin-off of Leah The Overlooked.  Rachel is a type of grace, she did nothing to get the love of Jacob.  Since Rachel had her faults it needs to be mentioned that to be a “type and shadow” every characteristic and action does not have to be perfect.  Leah and Rachel are many of the pairs of people that are used to teach us lessons in the Bible.  (Examples – Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau, David and Jonathan, Paul and Peter.  The pair does not need to be in conflict but their actions teach us something.)   

Rachel is a picture of grace because she did nothing to inspire Jacob’s love for her.  Rachel means ewe or female sheep (#7354 Strong’s).  Like David, her grandson, she was probably taking care of the sheep because she was the youngest.  Genesis 29:17 (NIV) says she was “lovely in form and beautiful” but I can imagine her as a tough and harden individual.  Taking care of sheep was not easy work. 

As a “mother of Israel” she bore Jacob Joseph (Ephraim and Manasseh) and Benjamin.  Benjamin was the last child born to Jacob and was the “other tribe” that stayed with Jerusalem when the kingdom split under Rehoboam. (Judah and Levi are the tribes who stayed.)

Rachel had her share of struggles and problems, but she was loved.  I can imagine Jacob’s anger when Laban’s household gods came out of the camel’s saddle as they went to Bethel (Genesis 35).  In spite of her issues Jacob still loved her, that is grace.  

Leah – All that is said about her was that she was older and had “delicate or weak eyes”.  I have heard many negative things said about Leah over the years.  Considering that she had seven children by Jacob I cannot imagine that she was ugly or some of the other things I have heard.  Leah according to Strong’s (#3812) means “to be or make weary”.  I read this as speaking to her life and the pain she endured from Rachel, Jacob, and her father.  Laban used his daughters to snare Jacob and then used up everything that came from the bridal cost – fourteen years of work.  She also had to watch her first three sons not receive a blessing from their father – Ruben committed adultery and Levi and Simeon slaughtered the men of Shechem bring trouble to Jacob/Israel.

It would be very easy to cast Leah as “natural Israel” and all of the weariness they have endured over the millennia.  I just don’t think it is that easy!  Leah is still a “mother of Israel” and the grandmother of Jesus.  So, my type is going to be edgier than that – she is a picture of those who are working for their place at the feast and not those who understand and walk in grace.  That can cover the people who sit in Christian churches every week and still struggle with their walk with Jesus. Compare this to Rachel you enjoyed the love of Jacob even when she did some pretty outrageous things.

Laban’s Daughters – These two girls are probably behind the command in Leviticus 18:18 not to marry your wife’s sister.  Siblings will disagree, unfortunately, it may be very heated.  In reading Genesis 29 through 31 it is obvious these ladies have issues.  I will not attempt to excuse them but please do not discount the example they were raised by – Laban.  But you got to love the Bible, it does not pull punches.  Problems and praises can be on the same page.  Sometimes you wish more was written as that would help frame the issues better.  On somethings, they are not so, just study (thoroughly) and don’t take things out of context.  

The last post in this series (hopefully) will be on the family that produces the players from Abram to the Exodus.  It is important to remember that even though Leah was chosen and placed with Jacob, and Rachel was loved by him both played a part in the Father’s plan.

What If

This “What If” post started as a reflection on the Tree of Knowledge series and in particular The Tree They Could Eat post.  However, as Christmas 2020 and Epiphany 2021 has come and gone my “what if” post started to look and feel different – it does help if you wait on God.  So, please read on as I either ramble or expound (readers’ choice) on the topic of – What If. 

Tree of Life – The “what if” here will require some imagination. What if Adam and Eve had eaten from the Tree of Life first?  Would the great religious term “original sin” have been draped on our necks? Following this thought would there have been a need for religion at all?

Proverbs 3:18 connects the tree of life with wisdom.  What Adam and Eve got was knowledge, not wisdom and we have seen how that worked out.  Would the serpent be able to temp them at that point?  Adam had imparted what he knew to Eve, how the “don’t touch” phrase got added is open to debate. That add-in became the first religious, not righteous, statement ever made – humanity has been adding their thoughts to God’s words and not doing His will ever since.

Besides living forever could the Tree of Life impart wisdom?  We can see that at the end of all things the “overcomers” in Heaven will be able to eat from the Tree and be healed forever.  Would Adam and Eve be able to ignore the temptation of the serpent and stuff a fig in his mouth thus changing history?  Well, that did not happen so let’s go to God’s Plan B.

Christmas – I am going to ramble first so please bear with me.  Because Adam and Eve ate the fruit we get to sing about figgy pudding at Christmas time.  On the bright side, we don’t have designer fig-leaf and accessory lines to deal with.  The Christmas Carol and most modern rom-com Christmas movies are really “what if” stories.  (Spoiler alert- Amazon Prime actually listed one older version of the Christmas Carol as a horror movie.)  Time-changing ghosts or angels, bumps on the head, or unusual “portals” allow people to change their lives and fulfill a “what if” in their lives.  Lost loves, missed chances, or bad attitudes and behaviors are some of the “ifs” that will get changed.  Okay, now I will expound some.

Jesus and the Christmas story had to happen because the fruit looked good.  Eve had no context to know if it would taste good or give her any advance mental abilities (Gen.2:6).  Well, the knowledge part could have come from the name of the tree (God said that) and a crafty, lying snake.  The “good for food” part is still very much up for debate in my mind because not all good-looking fruit tastes nice.

Israel’s history up to the time of Jesus showed God’s mercy, compassion, and love for His people and His willingness to give second chances.  Before you distort the “God is love” fact, please remember the fall of Jerusalem, the exile of the Northern Kingdom, and the horror stories that caused “judges” to have to arise and set things up for a “what if” story.  God did allow judgments to fall on the People because they followed their concepts of “good and evil” and not those of the Father.  Jesus’ life starting with His first coming (Christmas) and going to His crucifixion and ascension is the fulfillment of the types and shadows of the Old Testament.  Jesus’ life, teachings, and ministry speak of the history and feast of Israel.  They should shift our thinking back to the Father’s Kingdom and what it would have been like if Adam and Eve had eaten from a different Tree.

I believe Psalm 8:5-8 gives us a glimpse of our true position here on earth and why Satan tempted Eve and Adam.  Mankind had a place of his own, a job, authority, and (verse 9) was to praise God.  Satan wanted all of it, especially the praise.

The Gospel – The story of Jesus had to happen because Adam and Eve choose the wrong “if”. The Good News is a “what if” story in action- what can happen if I believe and follow Jesus.  The main problem here is that you have to choose Jesus as your Lord. (Adam and Eve choose a different lord.) 

I so wanted to somehow make faith into a “what if”, it is not!  Hebrews 11:1 ended that thought – Faith is being sure of what we hope (NIV).  This could easily go to a “big wheel” argument (it just keeps going in circles).  Stepping out into something new may be a “what if”.  Missing the perfect way can allow God to do a “what if”, so things surrounding faith may be or turn into “what ifs”. 

Ramblings – In the secular movie Letters to Juliet the protagonist “What-if” shows up early in the movie- hidden and screaming in silence but trying to catch its voice.  You don’t really see its full influence until the end, starting with the marriage feast.  The antagonist “Win-win” really steers the early direction of the film starting with the trip to Italy.  Win-win is a perfect hero for one character but leaves one gasping and grasping.  As the film ends, you know that Win-win lost but What-if’s final status looks good but hidden in the haze of a beautiful setting sun.  (If you watch the movie know it has some questionable themes.)   

Win-win has snuck into churches and is in a constant battle with What-if.  For 2000 years Win-win has taken Kingdom terminology, thoughts, and actions and have misused them.  Win-wins have twisted all sorts of Kingdom ways into paths that do not have JESUS AS LORD.  I have asked people if they are Christian.  The answer was not yes or no but what denomination they belonged to.  Some people might say they are saved, but they cannot tell you from what.  While other pew-sitters are sure that the Epistles are the wives of the Apostles (lol).  

Final Thought – You will have what-ifs when you are following the Holy Spirit as He leads you to Jesus.  Some will and some won’t be what you expect.  Grace, however, is our game changer.  Jesus is in the forgiving and second-chance business.  Mercy is new every morning, but you have to take it.  I am sure that the Father has a Plan A and a Plan B for you and all will work your “what if’s” together for your good. 

Was David a Priest?

Yes, David was a priest in the order or “in the way” of Melchizedek.  No, he was not a priest after the order of Aaron or anything to do with the Tabernacle or Ark.  David had a heart for God so he did many good works.  Near the end of his life (1 Chronicles 22 -26), David made plans for the Temple and helped to organize the Levites and Priest.  At times in his life, David did things that might border on priestly rights and duties and we will look at all (or many) of these.  This topic cannot be discussed without Psalm 110 being brought into the conversation, so it will be.

I will start with the NO answer.  David could not work in the Tabernacle or with the Ark simply because he was not a son of Aaron or Levi. (Levities 8 + 9) David did do some questionable things that could be mistaken as priestly duties and rights.  But even these actions need to be viewed in the light of some other leaders.

  1. King Saul – 1 Samuel 13 is the story of Saul offering a sacrifice.  Verse 9 has Saul ordering “someone” to bring the offering to him.  The context of the story makes it sound like he did the cutting and sprinkling of the blood.  Verse 13 has Samuel telling Saul his kingdom and lineage will not last.  (Saul’s line could have ruled “for all time”.)  He actually “lost the kingdom” in 1 Samuel 15.
  2. Jeroboam – 1 Kings 11,12, and 13.  11:6 explains that Solomon had not followed God or His commands and that the nation of Israel would be divided.  Jeroboam also had a promise of a lasting kingdom if he did right (vs. 39).  12:31 (NIV) Jeroboam built shrines on high places and appointed priests from all sorts of people, even though they were not Levites.  13:33 +34 repeats his disobedience and the outcomes.
  3. King Uzziah – 2 Chronicles 26: 18,19,21.  Uzziah was a grandson of David who actually had done well until he gave into his pride.  He went into the Temple and was offering incense.  The real Priest confronted him.  He broke out with leprosy and lived separately until he died.

Please set these examples and all of the other “kings” of Israel next to Deuteronomy 17: 14-20.  These verses were the Lord’s rules for the kings who would reign over His people.  Verse 18 states that he is to make a copy (his own) of the Law and read it every day.  If David had done this it is a good bet that Solomon did not, because he broke the rules in verses 14 -17 very well.  In Jeremiah, King Josiah held a Passover because the Book of the Law was found during a Temple cleaning and he had never seen or read it before. Makes you wonder what the priest was working from?

If my three examples were judged for making sacrifices, burning incense, and allowing non-Levitical priests.  It would stand to reason if David had done these types of things he also would have been held guilty.  He had his problems but acting as a Priest in the order of Aaron was not one of them.

WELL HE DID –

  1. Eat the Bread of Presence (1 Samuel 21:1-9).  Yes, this was after he lied and deceived Ahimelech the priest, and thought about killing Doeg. I will give this one up as God’s grace and mercy and not David’s right behavior. A point of interest here is that Ahimelech’s questions to David were about legal purity and not a family origin.
  2. Wear a linen ephod. 2 Samuel 6: 12 – 23 and 1 Chronicles 15:27 has David along with the Levites wearing linen ephods as they moved the Ark of God to Jerusalem.  An ephod is a piece of clothing.  Yes, ephods are frequently associated with “priest”.  In the case of the tribe of Dan stealing one and the “house priest” it belonged to, it may seem that the robe was also worshiped.  Even if David was trying to “blend” in at the start of the parade by the end he may have taken off the ephod and was dancing around in his underwear.  A priest of the order of Aaron could not have done that, but one from the order of Melchizedek could have.  Sorry, David wearing an ephod, to me, is more like everyone trying to dress like the pastor.
  3. Move the Ark to Jerusalem.  This is David acting more like Melchizedek than Aaron.  The Tabernacle of Moses was still in use in Gibeon (2 Chronicle 1:3).  This Tabernacle of David or Tent of David has more to do with him wanting the blessing of God than him doing priestly functions.  The Tabernacle of David is a type of how to worship by grace away from the rules of the Law. 1 Chronicles 16:1-7 has David putting the priest and Levites in charge of a 24-hour praise session around the Ark.  Verse 37 – 40 has the priestly families split into two groups and doing duty in two locations – Jerusalem and Gibeon.  
  4. Build his own altar.  In 1 Chronicles 21: 18 – 30 and 2 Samuel 24: 18 – 25 David was ordered to build an altar by the prophet Gad.  He had to do this to stop a plague that his actions had started (counting the people).  This altar became the area where the Temple of Solomon was built.  David had people with him so I will suggest that he did not build the altar or kill the animals, which had to be done by a priest.
  5. Arranged the priest and Levities into divisions.  He also ordered that provisions be made and collected to build the Temple, that the leaders of the people were to help Solomon, and he changed the duties of the Levites because they were not going to be carrying the Ark and the Tabernacle around (1 Chronicles 22+ 23).  Chapter 24: 3 states that the heads of the priestly families were there with him.  He was not making these decisions by or for himself, but as a king who wanted Jehovah served and glorified.
  6. Write Psalm 110.    Some scholars will state a slightly different view on that – did he write it, was it written in his style, or was it written about him?  To me, because it is so prophetic, David wrote it and I just don’t feel he is the object of the conversation.  Matthew 22:43-45, Mark 12:36+37, Luke 20:42-44, and Acts 2:25 + 34 deal with verse one and the question of how David can call his son Lord and Messiah.  If you rewrite verse one as it should be, it would say – “Jehovah says to my Adonay”. Adonay has several meanings – God, ruler, husband, or someone in authority, that is an earthly authority.  (Check the lettering to see the difference in the word Lord.)   I am not sure that David would have talked about himself as a priest in the order of Melchizedek (vs 4), that is very boastful. If he did he would have had all of his clothes on!

Yes, David was a priest but of the order of Melchizedek.  Melchizedek is an interesting character, he is mentioned in three books of the Christian Bible but volumes have been said about him.  He is first mentioned in Genesis 14:18 as the “priest of God Most High” who shares a meal with and then blesses Abraham and is given an offering.  Psalm 110 adds to Melchizedek’s persona by bringing in the concept of eternal priesthood and adding the word “order”.  The Hebrew word dibrah (#1700 Strong’s) left me confused so I went to several translations for clarity.  The KJV and NIV use the word “order” while others use “like” or “in the same way”.  The Book of Hebrews (Chapter 7 discusses Melchizedek’s history) really adds to Melchizedek’s resume when he and Jesus are compared to each other. (More will be written later as this ballooned out of this study in ways I did not expect.). But back to the question of was David a priest.  Hebrew 7:12 states that a change of the priesthood and a change of the Law must go hand-in-hand, and verse 14 dispels David as a priest under the Law of Moses because he was of the tribe of Judah. So, David was a priest but not in the order of Aaron because the Law did not change and he was from the wrong tribe.

It took a while to piece together the thoughts on righteous kingship and priest. Moses gave me an example of that type of leadership.  There is no doubt of Moses’ calling and his authority but the plagues and other miracles were before the Law was given. Moses’s work before Aaron and his sons were selected, should show that he was working as Melchizedek did, a “king/priest of righteousness”.   Exodus 19:6 (which is before the giving of the Law) says all of Israel was to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. The episode with the golden calf changed what could have happened.  When God gave the Law the priesthood was given to Aaron.  The priesthood of “all of Israel” in the “order of Melchizedek” went to the family of Aaron, not the entire nation.  David would very fit in the order of Melchizedek because he was the king of Jerusalem and righteous, having a heart for God.

This thought is found again in Revelation 1:6 – we are kings (kingdom) and priests unto God.  Different translations use kings or kingdoms but it is in line with Exodus 19:6. I have seen several of these “plan A/plan B” or “what if” things recently.  God had a big plan but stubborn hearts temporally changed the first plan to a second plan.  God’s plan A is not dead but on hold until we accept God’s plan, which is what Jesus gave us at the cross.

So, the bold things David did, he did as a king/priest in the “order” of Melchizedek.  Some of his actions would not have fit under the Law of Moses and the priesthood of Aaron. 

Imagine – Sweet Publishing/FreeBibleimages.org

Christmas Connection’s 2020

My wife found these two verses as we were looking into a place called Migdal Eder.  This Christmas connection adds support to the story we know and love.

Migdal Eder is a new place and term for us.  We heard about it in connection with the sheep and shepherds around Bethlehem.  In my post (Jeremiah – A Christmas Connection) we talked about Jeremiah 31:15 because of Rachel and her death and mourning.  Both of these things are part of the history of Bethlehem.  Migdal Eder was a tower that was used to guard the sheep that were used for the Temple.  This tower/cave/birthing pen/stable might have been where Jesus was born.  The reference in the Bible is Micah 4:8 and uses the term watchtower and stronghold and in 5:2 we have Bethlehem added as the location. There are many opinions and much uncertainty about Migdal Eder but I feel it has a place in the Story.   

During the study we saw Job 38:7 – “the morning stars sang together and all of the angels shouted for joy” (NIV).  This is part of the Lord’s answer to Job.  It also would fit very well into the Genesis narrative of the story of creation.  It describes the angel’s songfest for the shepherds on the first Christmas.  So, how does a creation idea work into Christmas?  Jesus’ arrival marked a new beginning for mankind and especially Israel. The Bible is the story of the children of God and our history.  First, with natural Israel and then with spiritual Israel.  The two stories need to be told together to get to all that the Lord God wants to show us.

Over the years, we have heard many facts and traditions about the swaddling clothes or strips of cloth that Mary put on Jesus and that the shepherds were to be looking for.  These two things are tied to Migdal Eder.    

They could have been at THAT stable for the lambs for the Temple.  There seems to be a few facts about the wrapping up of Temple lambs in strips of cloth from the worn-out priest robes.  Some people reference tour guides in Israel as their source of information and others quote an eighteenth-century book about a third-century oral tradition. Do your own study – the idea is nice but very few solid facts about wrapping up baby lambs.

Ezekiel 16:4 does talk about the practice of child care after birth.  The child was washed in water, rubbed with salt, and wrapped in strips of cloth.  This verse and story of how God treated Jerusalem can also be used as part of the Exodus story as the washing might be the trip through the Red Sea after they were delivered from Egypt. The rubbing with salt may be the forty years of wandering and the wrapping up could be the protection God gave Joshua and David.

These verses are good additions to my other Christmas Connection verses.

 

Leah the Overlooked

Leah is one Bible character that just seems to be overlooked or ignored.  I am writing this during the Christmas season which is part of the reason this is bugging me.  I do have a habit of disagreeing with popular preaching and she will be added to my growing list. (Lo Debar was not a dump, Mephibosheth was not pathetic, and Jesse was not cruel to David. Leah was the good faithful FIRST wife of Jacob who probably had “pretty eyes”.)  This Christmas season I have heard Rachel mentioned several times and Leah mentioned only once, and that was only because she was unloved.  So, please bear with me as I try to show you why Leah should be treated better!

Jacob – I know that he got the short end of the deal with Laban, but did he really have room to complain about deceptive practices!  He was not the poster child of fair-trade practices.  (By the way, Jacob was OLD when he took a liking to Rachel.)  It is also very plain that he did not ignore Leah, she had seven children (six boys and a girl).  All of Leah’s family came before the name change to Israel.  Yes, it still amazes me that from that point on he was called by both names.  That change has many foreshadows.

Rachel – She must have been good looking but her personality really did match Jacob’s – she was a thief (her father’s idols), a con artist (Ruben’s gourds), and a liar (faking her period before her father).  Leah is only mentioned in the Books of Genesis and Ruth (she was placed after Rachel), while Rachel is mentioned more times and made it into Jeremiah and Matthew.  She was the “loved one” but I still have a hard time seeing that she was the “better one”.  Because of her “loved” status people have heaped accolades on her but I shutter when they try to compare her to Ruth and Mary.  (Which by the way, Mary was a descendent of Leah and Jacob through Judah.)  Also, the fact that she was not taken to the family burial cave is a little perplexing.  It would seem that Jacob was grieving and set up a pillar over her grave, but he did not take the time to honor her with a trip to the only property the family owned at the time. I know she may have stunk by the time they made it there but he did not even try. 

Leah – Her exact role in Laban’s con of Jacob is never made clear, except that she went along with it and that Jacob could not tell the girls apart in the dark (okay, he was probably drunk).

At first, it bothered me that Leah was not mentioned more than she was in the Bible.  That was until I remembered that the genealogies in Matthew and Luke were really her family trees.  Boaz, Jesse, David, and Jesus are all her grandchildren, as were the majority of Jerusalem. 

It is probable that Leah took care of baby Benjamin and Joseph after the death of Rachel and that she was the “mother” in Joseph’s dream.  How long she lived and when she died is not told to us, only that she was buried in the cave with the rest of the family. 

Leah’s Sons – Please do not point to the behavior of the children as an indicator of how good the parents were.  If you read carefully the best one was Joseph and he may have had a pride problem before the trip to Egypt.  Leah’s children in order of their birth are Ruben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, and Dinah.  See the graphic in Marching Order.  

It is apparent that “true wives” versus servant girls and first-born and rights of the firstborn come in God’s planning in the Exodus story and occupying the Land.  Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun are in the prominent position of first in the Exodus march and face east in the camp around the Tabernacle.  Rachel’s family of Ephraim, Manasseh, and Benjamin set out third and are on the west side of the Tabernacle.  This is not bad, but they are not in the lead.

After the kingdom was split into two parts the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, and Levi (Aaron) are the ones that inhabit Jerusalem and protect the Temple.

A Thought – Like many things Leah and Rachel are types and shadows of things to come.  Leah the overlooked, the first wife of Jacob should/does represent present-day Judaism.  That would make Rachel a shadow of Christianity.  Okay, I am not sure how comfortable I am with that idea but God bless Leah the Overlooked and her part in the Family of God. 

Special pic is from the Ultimate Bible Collection – Leah_w_Rachel_67-63