Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Block 70: Benjamin

Click HERE: Go to Stitchintree.com to download the draft pattern for this block.

“...but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
The name Benjamin means “son of my right hand.”  Benjamin was originally named Ben-oni (means son of my sorrow) by his mother, Rachel.  He was re-named by his father, Jacob, when his mother died in childbirth (bearing Benjamin).  Benjamin was Jacob’s twelfth son and thirteenth child.  Recall that Jacob’s son, Joseph, had been sold into slavery by his brothers, but Jacob thought that Joseph had been killed by an animal.  Actually, Joseph had ended up as second in command to the Egyptian Pharaoh. 
During a period of extreme drought and famine, Jacob sent the ten older brothers to Egypt to buy grain.  He did not send Benjamin because he feared something might bad might happen to him.  When the brothers arrived in Egypt, they did not recognize Joseph, but Joseph recognized them.  Joseph tested the brothers to see if they would abandon Benjamin.  The brothers passed the test, and Joseph was pleased that they were willing to risk their lives for their brother.  The family was reunited.
On his father’s deathbed, Benjamin received the last of Jacob’s blessings.  Jacob described Benjamin as a ravenous wolf, devouring and dividing its prey.  In truth, Benjamin’s tribe was the smallest tribe, and was known for their mighty warriors and excellent swordsmen.  Four great Bible characters descended from Benjamin’s tribe:  King Saul, Judge Ehud, apostle Paul, and prophet Jeremiah.  Like Joseph, Benjamin was obedient to his father and was later described by the apostle Paul as the greatest missionary ever.
On outward appearances, Benjamin was the baby of the family and had the smallest tribe, yet later, he was described as the greatest missionary ever.  Benjamin teaches us that we should never judge a book by its cover.  God does see what is on the outside, he knows what is on the inside. 

I chose Baby’s Bunting to represent Benjamin because he was the youngest brother of Jacob’s twelve sons, the baby of the family.

Block 69: Judah

Click HERE: Go to Stitchintree.com to download the draft pattern for this block.

“The Lord works out everything to its proper end… “Proverbs 16:4
Judah was the fourth son of Jacob by his first wife Leah.  He grew up with his brothers living a simple life, tending sheep and cattle.  Like his brothers, Judah was insanely jealous of his half-brother, Joseph (their father’s favorite).  When the brothers conspired to kill Joseph, the oldest brother, Reuben stopped them.  They decided to throw Joseph into a pit instead, leaving his fate to God.  When Reuben was away, Judah came up with a great idea.  He convinced the brothers to sell Joseph into slavery, cover Joseph’s coat with animal blood, and convince Jacob that Joseph had been killed by an animal.
Judah had saved Joseph’s life.  But his great idea hardly made up for his previous misdeeds.  His troubles had only begun.  He married a Canaanite woman and had three sons.  He chose a wife (Tamar) for his first son.  But this son was so evil that God allowed him to be killed before they produced an heir.  So Judah gave Tamar to his second son and asked him to produce an heir for his dead brother.  The second son refused, so God allowed him to be killed also.  Judah intended to give Tamar to his youngest son when he came of age, but during the interim, Tamar tricked Judah into sleeping with her.  She became pregnant and delivered twins.  The firstborn, Perez, became the ancestor to King David and the kings of Judah.  Most importantly, Jesus Christ could also trace his lineage to Jacob through Perez.
Why would God reward Judah for his atrocious behavior?  Well, He didn’t really.   God was actually fulfilling the promise that he had made to Abraham.  From Judah we learn that God’s will WILL be done, despite man’s sinful nature (remember, the descendants were taken captive by the Babylonians and had 70 years to “cleanse”).  So if God’s will be done despite our sinful nature, why should we restrict ourselves to obeying God’s commands?  Because he said so!  In John 14:15,  God says “If you love me, keep my commands.”  In faith, we know that God’s commands are for our own good.  Life works better when we follow God’s commands.

I chose Blacks & Whites (typically a 2-color block)  to represent Judah because his story reminds us that we tend to see actions as Blacks & Whites (good and bad), while God sees beyond the Blacks & Whites to the rainbow of colors within. 

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Block 68: Naphtali

Click HERE: Go to Stitchintree.com to download the draft pattern for this block.

“...whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” Matthew 23:12
Brothers Dan and Naphtali were two sides of a coin.  Both were sons of Jacob and Bilhah (Rachel’s handmaiden).  While Dan turned away from the faith of his father, Naphtali quietly and humbly followed his father’s faith.
Naphtali was chosen as one of six tribes to stand on Mount Ebal and pronounce curses, promising God they would refrain from the behaviors.  The curses are detailed in Deuteronomy 27: 15-26.  For example,  Naphtali cursed the man who killed his neighbor secretly (Deuteronomy 27: 24).  When Jacob gave his final blessings, he granted Naphtali land in the northern region of Israel, near the Sea of Galilee.  Of the twelve tribes,  Naphtali was given the most beautiful and most fertile parcel of land.
Little else is known of Naphtali.  Ultimately, his tribe was divided into four clans (led by Naphtali’s four sons). Naphtali was a righteous and godly leader of his tribe, and in return, he was granted God’s favor.  Together with his four sons, Naphtali’s tribe  saw victory over the Canaanites.  The followed Gideon into battle to chase the Midianites from the Jezreel Valley, and provided troops and guards when David became king.  Naptali’s humble leadership resulted in the greatest honor:  his land of Galilee was home to all of the disciples, except Judas.  And in the ultimate example of how God exalts the humble, Jesus was born in Nazareth and chose to begin his ministry along the Sea of Galilee.  
Naphtali understood that “man can receive nothing unless is it has been given to him from heaven” John 3:27.  This is such an important lesson for us:  all of our abilities, gifts and opportunities are given to us by God — to be used for His purpose and His glory!

I chose Glorified Nine Patch to represent Napthali.  A nine patch is a humble block, just as Naphtali was a humble tribe leader.  And just as this block is glorified, Naphtali was exalted for his steadfast faith.

Block 67: Dan

 “You shall worship the lord your God, and serve him only.” Matthew 4:10
Rachel was Jacob’s first chosen, second-married and most favored wife.  (Recall that he wanted to marry Rachel and was tricked into marrying Leah, her homelier older sister.)  Rachel desperately wanted to give Jacob a son, but was unable to get pregnant.  Her sister, Leah, had already given Jacob four sons.  Rachel was desperate.  She gave her handmaiden, Bilhah to her husband as a surrogate.  Dan was the first of two sons born to Bilhah.  The name Dan means “judgment.”  Rachel gave Dan this name because she believed that God had given her Dan to appease the injustice of being barren.  In his final blessing, Jacob said that Dan  would be a judge to his people.
But Dan turned out to be a huge disappointment.  Dan hated his brother, Joseph, and devised a plan to trick Jacob into thinking that Joseph was dead.  Later, Dan did not help in the war with the Canaanites, He failed to conquer the land that was originally given to him, and his tribe moved further north, to the northernmost border of Israel — far away from Jerusalem.  Being distant from the temple, Dan allowed his tribe to worship false idols — he even built golden calves to aid them in their idolatry.  Later, the prophet, Amos, denounced Dan and predicted that the pagan worshippers would fall and never rise again.  Ultimately, the tribe of Dan was not listed as one of the tribes who were promised the “seal of God” in Revelation 7:1-8.  Dan and his tribe were deemed “unworthy.”  It was believed by some that the antichrist would come from the tribe of Dan (see Jeremiah).
Dan’s leadership supporting man-made religion became his legacy, and to this day, there are many man-made religions convinced that their worship will lead to God.  We must simply remember Jesus’ words,  “’I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except by Me.’” John 14:6

I chose the Gold Brick block to represent Dan, who turned from the faith of his father and built two golden calf statues for his tribe to worship.