Thursday, September 28, 2006

Mizpah: The Lord is Witness pt 1


Sometime back I began a series of reflections/meditations called "the Cleansing of the Bride." Its one of my 'almost a book' projects, or at least it would be if I put all the notes into one place.

Mizpah is one of the chapters. It is too big to give all at once so I will break it over several days.

This first part deals with its meaning.



You've seen the cute half-coin sets and pendants. They are usually sold as best-buddy sets or as romantic trinkets, with two halves of a heart or a stone or whatever. "God watch between us while we are apart." Sounds like a prayer for the well-being of your loved one. Sounds nice.

There's nothing wrong with that sentiment.

Nevertheless, that is not the story of Mizpah. That is not what the words meant. This part of Jacob's story must be one of the least taught lessons in the church today, but we would be wise to learn from it. Several of the concepts illustrated here are crucial to living well before God.

First. Please just read the story from scripture.


Genesis 31:5 And [Jacob] said to them, I see your father's countenance, that it is not towards me as before: but the God of my father hath been with me.
6 And ye know that with all my power I have served your father.
7 And your father hath deceived me, and changed my wages ten times: but God suffered him not to hurt me.
8 If he said thus, The speckled shall be thy wages; then all the cattle bore speckled: and if he said thus, The ring-streaked shall be thy hire; then all the cattle bore ring-streaked.
9 Thus God hath taken away the cattle of your father, and given them to me.
10 And it came to pass at the time that the cattle conceived, that I lifted up my eyes, and saw in a dream, and behold, the rams which leaped upon the cattle were ring-streaked, speckled, and grizzled.
11 And the angel of God spoke to me in a dream, saying, Jacob: And I said, Here am I.
12 And he said, Lift up now thy eyes and see, all the rams which leap upon the cattle are ring-streaked, speckled, and grizzled: for I have seen all that Laban doeth to thee.
Genesis 31:13 I am the God of Beth-el, where thou anointedst the pillar, and where thou vowedst to me a vow: now arise, depart from this land, and return to the land of thy kindred.
14 And Rachel and Leah answered, and said to him, Is there yet any portion or inheritance for us in our father's house?
15 Are we not counted by him strangers; for he hath sold us, and hath quite consumed also our money.
16 For all the riches which God hath taken from our father, that is ours, and our children's: now then whatever God hath said to thee, do.
17 Then Jacob arose, and set his sons and his wives upon camels;
18 And he carried away all his cattle, and all his goods which he had gained, the cattle of his getting, which he had gained in Padan-aram; to go to Isaac, his father, in the land of Canaan.
19 And Laban went to shear his sheep; and Rachel had stolen the images that were her father's.
Genesis 31:20 And Jacob stole away unawares to Laban the Syrian, in that he told him not that he was about to depart.
21 So he fled with all that he had; and he arose, and passed over the river, and set his face towards the mount Gilead.
22 And it was told Laban on the third day that Jacob had fled.
23 And he took his brethren with him, and pursued after him seven days' journey: and they overtook him in the mount Gilead.
24 And God came to Laban, the Syrian, in a dream by night, and said to him, Take heed that thou speak not to Jacob either good or bad.
25 Then Laban overtook Jacob. Now Jacob had pitched his tent in the mount: and Laban, with his brethren, pitched in the mount of Gilead.
26 And Laban said to Jacob, What hast thou done, that thou hast stolen away unawares to me, and carried away my daughters, as captives taken with the sword?
27 Why didst thou flee away secretly, and steal away from me, and didst not tell me, that I might have sent thee away with mirth, and with songs, with tabret, and with harp?
28 And hast not suffered me to kiss my sons, and my daughters? thou hast now done foolishly in so doing.
29 It is in the power of my hand to do you hurt: but the God of your father spoke to me yesternight, saying, Take thou heed that thou speak not to Jacob either good or bad.
30 And now, though thou wouldest needs be gone, because thou didst earnestly long after thy father's house; yet why hast thou stolen my gods?
31 And Jacob answered and said to Laban, Because I was afraid: for I said, It may be thou wouldest take thy daughters from me by force.
Genesis 31:32 With whomsoever thou findest thy gods, let him not live: before our brethren discern thou what is thine with me, and take it to thee: for Jacob knew not that Rachel had stolen them.
33 And Laban went into Jacob's tent, and into Leah's tent, and into the two maid-servants' tents; but he found them not. Then he went out of Leah's tent, and entered into Rachel's tent.
34 Now Rachel had taken the images, and put them in the camel's furniture, and sat upon them. And Laban searched all the tent, but found them not.
35 And she said to her father, Let it not displease my lord that I cannot rise up before thee; for the custom of women is upon me. And he searched, but found not the images.
36 And Jacob was wroth, and chid with Laban: and Jacob answered, and said to Laban, What is my trespass? what is my sin, that thou hast so eagerly pursued after me?
37 Whereas thou hast searched all my stuff, what hast thou found of all thy household-stuff? set it here before my brethren, and thy brethren, that they may judge betwixt us both.
Genesis 31:38 These twenty years have I been with thee: thy ewes and thy she-goats have not cast their young, and the rams of thy flock have I not eaten.
39 That which was torn by beasts, I brought not to thee; I bore the loss of it; of my hand didst thou require it, whether stolen by day, or stolen by night.
40 Thus I was; in the day the drouth consumed me, and the frost by night; and my sleep departed from my eyes.
41 Thus have I been twenty years in thy house: I served thee fourteen years for thy two daughters, and six years for thy cattle: and thou hast changed my wages ten times.
42 Except the God of my father, the God of Abraham, and the fear of Isaac had been with me, surely thou hadst now sent me away empty. God hath seen my affliction, and the labor of my hands, and rebuked thee yesternight.
Genesis 31:43 And Laban answered, and said to Jacob, These daughters are my daughters, and these children are my children, and these cattle are my cattle, and all that thou seest is mine; and what can I do this day to these my daughters, or to their children which they have borne?
44 Now therefore come thou, let us make a covenant, I and thou; and let it be for a witness between me and thee.
45 And Jacob took a stone, and set it up for a pillar.
46 And Jacob said to his brethren, Gather stones; and they took stones, and made a heap: and they ate there upon the heap.
47 And Laban called it Jegar-sahadutha: but Jacob called it Galeed:
48 And Laban said, This heap is a witness between me and thee this day. Therefore was the name of it called Galeed:
49 And Mizpah; for he said, The LORD watch between me and thee, when we are absent one from another. Webster 1833 ed

I'll put the first part of my reflections on it on the next blog.

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