Thursday, December 31, 2009

Abraham's prayer for Abimelech

This is after the three men appeared to Abraham and told him that Sarah would have a baby.

Gen 20:1 And Abraham journeyed from thence toward the south country, and dwelled between Kadesh and Shur, and sojourned in Gerar.

There Abraham said that Sarah was his sister (again!), so the people in Gerar took her. It is interesting to know that Abraham told the same lie for the second time regarding Sarah after the LORD and two angels visited Abraham and told him that Sarah will have a baby. Then God visited the king in his dream and told him not to touch Sarah. (Then it is clear that Isaac was not from this king.)

Then Abraham prayed for him.

Then what happened?

"God healed Abimelech, his wife and his slave girls so they could have children again".

To me, it looks like what God just did was to show Abraham that God was able to close and open the womb. I wonder what Abraham thought of this! He was getting too old, yet God confirmed that Sarah was the one to have the baby. Then he lied, putting Sarah in danger underAbimelech. Yet it is clear in the scripture that Sarah was untouched. Then God told Abimelech that Abraham could pray for him. When Abraham prayed, Abimelech's wife and his household could have babies!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Happy are those who finds the meanings of the scriptures

Azazel is the Hebrew word for a scapegoat. Some translations make me think that it is the name of a place, including my Japanese Bible.

Negev is an example of confusion. Negev is a name of an area and it means south.  In some translations it is translated as 'south' and it is confusing.  Negev was where Abraham went from Egypt, which means he went up towards north, but if your Bible says south, then, it doesn't make sense and that causes people to say "See, the Bible doesn't make sense."

The word "lots" in "casting lots" is pebbles. This changes the picture we have in our own heads as we read the Bible, too. I would think of sticks or something. In Japan, we "draw" instead of "cast."

When you know the original meanings, it helps to understand the Bible more clearly, and different translations won't threaten you and makes you happy that the God of the Bible is still active and alive. I am happy.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Naaman's story

Naaman's story

I have always admired the young girl's courage to tell Naaman about the prophet in Samaria. She had been captured and taken to the foreign country, working as a maid. Her situation didn't look good, but she had faith, and that faith caused her to say “I wish my master would go to see the prophet in Samaria. He would heal him of his leprosy.” Would I still I have passionate enough faith to tell someone that God can heal him/her if my situation doesn't look good? It is a good question!

God sometimes uses foolish-looking things to deal with us. Are we willing to look unimportant? I pray that I would not be too proud...

I see that God also performs miracles quietly. In Japan I heard a lot of people apologize for not having a dramatic and significant story before they gave their testimonies. I think they are the miracles to believe and follow like that. God loves you!

Demonstration of Christian love

My son loves the LORD and His words. He went to a church meeting one night (one of the churches he visits sometimes) and came back, looking solemn. O, oh..what happened? I started to be worried because even in the Christian world, people hurt people, and a lot of ugly things happen. I waited over night, then I asked him how the church was. He said the message was okay. Then I tried to tell him that it may not have been for him (trying to be an encouraging mom) and so on. BUT my wonderful God is already present in is life. God loves him more than I do. My son is experiencing and understanding much more than I can imagine. He said that he was blown away by the overwhelming love and support the church showed to the young speaker who gave a message that night. It is so precious. He is experiencing God's love. The look he had was not a disappointed look, but was a deeply-touched-by-God look.

I have friends in pentecostal church, Methodist church, non-denomination church, and so on. I still tend to judge by the names of the church, but I am quickly ashamed by my thoughts. Praise God. Who am I to judge if I don't know who they are? (even if I know who they are??)

Then I came across this tonight. I was touched by his statement. Here is Mr. Bill Johnson!

God is breaking down the walls among us.

Friday, December 18, 2009

And he went out (VaYetze)

Reading portion...Genesis 28:10-32:3

God of Jacob
In this portion Jacob went out to his mom's brother's place. Then God appeared him as 'God of Abraham and God of Isaac'.

I joined a woman's Bible study group even though they had already started several weeks before I joined. The day I joined, they were studying this passage about Jacob. Then for the first time I saw how God of Abraham and God of Isaac became God of Jacob also.

After God appeared to him, Jacob said this in Genesis 28:20-22(NIV):
Then Jacob made a vow, saying, "If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father's house, then the LORD will be my God and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God's house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth."
Jacob got to his uncle's house, met Rachel, married Leah, then Rachel, and he had children. After working for his uncle for 20 years, he left his father-in-law's house. Then God appeared to him again in Genesis 35 (NIV):
1 Then God said to Jacob, "Go up to Bethel and settle there, and build an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you were fleeing from your brother Esau." 2 So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, "Get rid of the foreign gods you have with you, and purify yourselves and change your clothes. 3 Then come, let us go up to Bethel, where I will build an altar to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and who has been with wherever I have gone."
I see that God indeed answered Jacob's first prayer (Gen. 28) and now God has become Jacob's God!

This reminded me of a story I heard on the radio many years ago. A student at a seminary always prayed for other people, being a good seminary student, but never prayed for herself. A personal/social problem happened and she did not know how to handle it. Then a professor told her that it is okay to ask God for guidance for her personal problems. The student was amazed that the professor would say something like that...but then she decided to pray for herself. In the meantime, the professor and his wife prayed earnestly for her because the professor really wanted this girl to experience God in her daily life. And God answered all of their prayers in a very personal way that no one expected. Then she became a changed woman. Her face was glowing because she now experienced how much God cared for her. God became her personal God. God will be everyone's personal God because He is willing!

God of Abraham and Isaac is now God of Jacob also. Jacob experienced God in his personal life. God is his God now.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Hanukkah candy dish

I love this dish. The color and design and everything is perfect. It is a candy dish for Hanukkah.

I remember you, Devorah. If you ever see this blog, leave a comment!! Years ago when I first started to be attracted by the Jewish culture and the Old Testament, I was listening to a message on a tape. She challenged the audience to love a Jewish person. I prayed that God will send me a Jewish person that I can love because I didn't know anyone. Then, out of nowhere I met a Messianic Jewish lady, Devorah. I gave her one of my favorite CDs, Old and New, for a Christmas present that year and she gave this dish to me. We didn't know we had gifts for each other. After awhile she moved away and we didn't continue contacting each other. I hope she is doing well.

I haven't looked into the Jewish festivals all these years because I am trying to understand how they started first. Then, of course it will take a long time... But when God wants to show it to me more in detail, I think the right timing will come. In the meantime, I keep studying the scriptures.

This year my daughter saw a Hanukkah cat bed at Target and we bought it because our cat doesn't have a bed. I will have to post a picture sometime.

Generations (Toldot)

The meaning of the names
Esau was named "hairy"because he was hairy. Jacob was named "heel holder" because he was holding on to Esau's heel when he came out of the womb. I read in a Messianic commentary that Jacob doesn't mean 'deceiver'. When I think of it, when we discuss Jacob's story in a bible study without consulting the original meaning and by simply comparing the different translations, our opinions are usually based on the image of Jacob as a deceiver. All my Christian life I was taught that Jacob meant deceiver. Did 'holding on to a brother's heel' automatically mean 'deceiving'? If not, when did people add the meaning of 'deceiver' to Jacob's original meaning? I just wonder.

My husband and I named our children with hopes that their lives will be blessed, that their names will somehow be true in their lives - like 'Christ's light shining', which is the meaning of our daughter's name. Don't we choose our baby's names because we want them to be blessed and we are thinking more of their future rather than right now? We were thinking toward the babies' future when we named them. But! Now that I think of it, my name was given because of the time of the day I was born - in English, that would be 'dawn'. My aunt wanted me to be hopeful --- because more light comes at the dawn. Well, at least mine is not like Moses (sorry!) who was name "drawn out of water" because he was drawn out of water. Benjamin was at first named Ben-oni which means son of suffering because Rachel was suffering when he was born. She named him first then later Jacob changed his name to Benjamin. We usually don't choose the names for our babies because we were thirsty or we were in pain. But the Old Testament people seem to do that.

the image of Jacob

We tend to form a certain image of a person according to their nickname even before we get to know him/her. My image of Jacob has changed since I started reading this passage from the Jewish point of view, with the Hebrew dictionary, and both Jewish and Messianic commentaries. If I don't think of him as a deceiver from the very beginning, then I start to see things differently in the Bible. Esau sold his birth right, knowing what he was doing. The Bible says so, too. He despised it and sold it to Jacob.
In Genesis 25:27 we read that Jacob was a plain man (KJV), a kind man (NLT), a quiet man (NIV), etc... Compared to Esau, the verse makes us have an image of Jacob as a weak person. But behold the meaning of the original word! (from the Blue Letter Bible) 

1) perfect, complete

a) complete, perfect

1) one who lacks nothing in physical strength, beauty, etc

b) sound, wholesome

1) an ordinary, quiet sort of person

c) complete, morally innocent, having integrity

1) one who is morally and ethically pure

other notes

This could be just me, but doesn't it look like it is a family trend to favor one child over another? Both Abraham and Isaac (and Jacob, later) favored one son over the other. Abraham seems like he liked Ishmael a lot because he was reluctant to listen to Sarah, so God had to tell him to listen to her, and Isaac loved Esau more. Then later Jacob favored Joseph and it was obvious, and that caused a problem.

uncle Laban

I did not know that Abraham was from the Syrian family. Some other translations I saw said "the Aramean." Some people who use certain translations wouldn't know what I am talking about (I didn't know, either) because certain translations omitted that part (Syrian or Aramean).

a little bit of Hebrew lesson...

On the way to his uncle's house, at a place called Luz (it means 'almond tree'), God visited him in his dream. Jacob called the place Bethel. Beth means house and -el means, the house of God.

After the dream,
Jacob said that this place is like the gateway to heaven.
Later Jesus said that he is the gateway. I wonder if the Jewish people were reading Toldot during that week when Jesus said this. Now, that would have been a true life application from the Bible!