THE DIVISION of the kingdom of Israel is the focus of our Old Testament study this week. Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, gets some bad advice from his young friends, not just rejecting the request of the northern tribes for tax relief, but doing so with a rather crude euphemism.
That didn’t work out well. And it didn’t go well for the people of the new kingdoms of Israel or Judah. Jeroboam quickly led the northern kingdom into apostasy, setting up high places to worship golden calves at Bethel and Dan and appointing priests who were not from the tribe of Levi to offer sacrifices to these pagan idols.
OUR BIBLE study continues with Jacob’s return to Canaan, his reunion with Esau, and the slaughter of the men of Shechem following the rape of Dinah.
We also discuss the early revelation of the Godhead–the view that God comprises more than one personage, each of whom is identified as the presence of Yahweh. See Dr. Michael Heiser’s website on the Divine Council and especially his paper “Old Testament Godhead Language” (link opens PDF document).
HOW EASY it is to rationalize bad behavior by claiming it’s for a good cause! And how often have we seen sin in the Church covered up because it would supposedly hamper its ability to do good works in God’s name. This week, we see a classic example as Rebekah conspires with Jacob to deceive Isaac and confirm the blessing that God had promised to Jacob before his birth.
We also look at Esau, who only seemed to value his birthright when he realized it was attached to great wealth; Laban’s deception of the deceiver, Jacob; the pain and loneliness of Leah; and Jacob’s life-changing experience at Bethel.
“Jacob’s Ladder”, his dream of angels ascending and descending to and from heaven, has inspired many unbiblical pursuits. For example, many Dominionist teachers in the New Apostolic Reformation, a hypercharismatic form of Protestant Christianity, teach that we are to open portals through specific prayers and spiritual disciplines. While there may be specific portals to other dimensions, nowhere in scripture are we told that we should access or open them. In fact, God’s commands against consulting mediums or necromancers seem to be a pretty clear warning not to do so!
Let us be clear: Jesus made it clear that he is the only portal to heaven through which the faithful should pass, especially in John 1:51.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” (ESV)
We also discuss the stone Jacob set up at Bethel, which is (allegedly) the Stone of Scone, or the Stone of Destiny, a granite block on which the kings and queens of Scotland and England have been crowned since the early 5th century.