Thursday, June 22, 2017

Block 72: Zebulun

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“...pardon everyone who sets his heart to seek God.”  2 Chronicles 30:19
From the moment he was born, Zebulun’s mother, Leah, knew he was a gift, destined for greatness.  As Jacob’s tenth son (sixth born of Leah), Zebulun was one of six tribes chosen to stand on Mt. Ebal and pronounce curses, promising God NOT to participate in certain behaviors, such as casting idols or withholding justice and others.  In fact, Zebulun was zealous in his pronouncements, listing twelve behaviors he would refrain from and would encourage his tribe to avoid the same. Yet when Zebulun entered the Promised Land, he didn’t live up to God’s expectations for him.  God had commanded Zebulun to drive out the inhabitants of the land, and Zebulun fell short.  Instead of driving out the Canaanites, he forced them into slave labor.  God had given Zebulun a clear command, and Zebulun disobeyed this command.  Maybe in Zebulun’s mind, he thought he was doing enough.  Many times, we are just like Zebulun when we do not obey God’s commands explicitly, but rather act in a manner that is “good enough.”  Sometimes it is just not convenient for us to follow God’s wishes all the time.  Lucky for us, and lucky for Zebulun, God has an unlimited capacity to love and forgive. In Zebulun’s case, God’s love for him never ceased and He pulled Zebulun back into communion with Him. On Jacob’s deathbed, Zebulun was given the land of Galilee, where he returned to God and followed his commands. His tribe fought many battles and played an important role  in critical victories in Israel’s history.  Later, Isaiah promised that the land of Zebulun would be honored.  And indeed, it was.  We know that Joseph and Mary were from Nazareth, in the land of Galilee, and that Jesus began his teaching along the shores of Galilee. Zebulun’s tribe became seafaring merchants and provided financial stability to the land.
So our lesson from Zebulun is a gloriously liberating one.  God is always present when we return to Him.  Regardless of all of the times that we turned away from God, regardless of all of our sins and transgressions, if we return to God with our whole heart, He will forgive us and use us to do His work.  Our only role in life is to fulfill God’s purpose for us.

I chose Ocean Waves to represent Zebulun, whose tribe was mainly comprised of seafaring merchants. 


Block 71: Issachar

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 “...knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Proverbs 9:10
On his deathbed, Jacob described his ninth son (fifth by Leah) as a donkey.  Most men would be embarrassed by this description, but Issachar was proud of the comparison.  In the Bible, the donkey was considered a special animal, often distinguished for their ability to work hard under extreme conditions.  Note that donkeys were present in many of the greatest events of the Bible:  Abraham’s near-sacrifice of Isaiah,  Joseph’s brothers’ pilgrimage to request food, Moses’s trip back to Egypt to set the Israelites free, Joseph and Mary’s trip to Bethlehem, and most importantly, Jesus’s final ride into Jerusalem.  Like the donkeys, Issachar and his tribe were known for their quiet, consistent willingness to work hard and carry a heavy burden.  Just as the donkey carried the son of God on his back, Issachar and his sons chose to carry the word of God.  They studied the word, protected it and understood it.  They kept track of the sun and moon cycles and announced God’s appointed times.
Issachar’s tribe were described in 1 Chronicles as men who “understood the times and knew what to do”  (1 Chronicles 12:32). They understood that God wanted worshippers who would be true, faithful and passionate.  They understood that God wanted a king who would follow His command, and not take matters into his own hands.  Issachar’s tribe demonstrated amazing political insight.  They switched their allegiance from King Saul to David, helped him rise to the throne, then served in his Army.  Like a donkey, the tribe of Issachar persevered on the rough road and quietly carried the burden of following God’s will.
Today, God is asking us to be like the sons of Issachar.  He asks us everyday to be true worshippers and follow God’s will rather than do our own thing.  Like the sons of Issachar, we should rely on the word of God, study the Bible, in an effort to understand the times and make decisions about how we and our family should live and worship in these times.  Let us start with this simple prayer: Lord, help us to understand the times and know what to do.

I created a tent block to represent Issachar, whose tribes lived in tents and studied the scriptures in their tents.