Posted by: arieliondotcom | January 10, 2013

Monumental Living

It’s important to acknowledge and memorialize special occasions in our lives. We do this in all kinds of ways. Souvenirs we buy, certificates we hang, photos we put on our walls in our homes and on Facebook, “checking in” with various software and marking the territory we have covered. We may even do it with names as they did in Jacob’s time, changing our own in marriage or naming of children.

In our reading today Jacob is reminded who he is and what he is supposed to be about. And he is called by GOD to go back to where he had been and experience a fresh encounter with GOD. He is reminded to take the name GOD had given him there, Israel, as they literally meet again at the House of GOD. The fact that GOD refers to Himself as “the GOD Who appeared to you when you fled from Esau” is significant. It infers that Jacob isn’t that same person any longer, that he is forgetting the lessons he learned there. And it implies that GOD is preparing Jacob/Israel for more struggles.

Jacob, now a man of great wealth and position, not only rededicates himself to GOD and for the first time publicly credits GOD for blessing him. But Jacob also demands that all those who serve him also purify themselves of idolatry. Jacob/Israel then makes another monument at Bethel and is named Israel again, a fresh start.

Throughout the rest of this chapter and the next familiar people close to both Israel and Esau are buried by monuments or named, their names being often used as monuments to mark territories and tribes. All the while we’re reminded how important monuments are, as anyone who has picked out a tombstone for a loved one realizes. In a way, every monument is a tombstone, every name a grave marker, showing that there was a new start, but that life will ultimately have an ending.

Isaac, father of Jacob who’d sent Jacob away when Esau wanted to kill Jacob for cheating him out of his inheritance, died. It was running from Esau that took Jacob to Bethel the first time and try to reconcile with Esau afterward. But they ended up at odds again. Somehow, now, with the death of Isaac and Rebekah, and after Jacob’s second trip to Bethel, they are reunited at Isaac’s burial. Monumental moments have effect.

When I was a brand new Christian I’d go to the top of a stone amphitheater and have quiet times praying, reading the Bible, and reading The Chronicles of Narnia and learning about the Gospel through childlike eyes though I was in college. Part of that amphitheatre remains in my heart wherever I go. And I hope I share the thrilling freshness of that encounter everywhere, with everyone, as with you, now.

What monuments are you making, leaving, and revisiting in your life? What markers are you erecting in the memories of others? GOD expects us to have lives of monumental proportions. Perhaps not in stone, but in the effect we’ve had in His Name in other lives and the world.

Genesis 36-37

Fossil of a crustacean in stone from Claremore Oklahoma

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