Sometimes it is actually nice to read the Bible as a story – taking multiple chapters at once – rather than verse by verse. I noticed three things by taking that approach today.
1. Jacob’s flair for deception was passed on to his sons. Jacob “struggled with God and with man” and overcame his penchant for deception, especially after spending all those years working for Laban – another master deceiver in his own right. Jacob’s sons, however, learned deception from their father, as evidenced by the story of Dinah and the men of Shechem. We might want to rejoice in the “justice” of the massacre, but in reality, Jacob realized the negative impacts of his sons’ actions. It is important to remember that our children mimic not only the good but also the bad in our lives.
2. Because of Jacob’s lifestyle of deception, his relationships within his family were filled with conflict – a reminder that healthy relationships are built on mutual respect and trust. There is never a place for deception.
3. As Jesus was sending out the disciples in Matthew 10, he warned them about the kinds of struggles they would face. Then, in Matthew 11, we find the story of John the Baptist – facing those very struggles Jesus described in Matthew 10. Jesus’ warnings to the 12 disciples as they set out to evangelize their world were real then … and they are real now. We need to remember to pray for those who are struggling around the world for the sake of the Gospel.