Through the Word, Love, Rivalry and Mandrakes

Genesis 30:1-24

The race between Leah and Rachel for children has intensified. Envying her sister, Rachel said to Jacob, “Give me children, or else I die!” If Rachel sounds dramatic she must have been at her wits end, as Jacob already has four sons by Leah – Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah.

Finally deciding to use her maid as a surrogate, Rachel said, “Here is my maid Bilhah; go in to her, and she will bear a child on my knees, that I also may have children by her.”

Bilhah conceived and bore Jacob a son who Rachel named Dan.

Dan means “judge” as Rachel said, “God has judged my case; and He has also heard my voice and given me a son.

Bilhah conceived again and bore Jacob a second son who Rachel named Naphtali.

Naphtali means “my wrestling” as Rachel said, “With great wrestlings I have wrestled with my sister, and indeed I have prevailed.”

Not to be outdone, when Leah saw that she’d stopped bearing, she took Zilpah her maid and gave her to Jacob as wife.  And Leah’s maid Zilpah bore Jacob a son Leah named Gad.

Gad means “troop” as Leah said, “A troop comes!”

And Leah’s maid Zilpah bore Jacob a second son who Leah named Asher.

Asher means “happy” as Leah said, “I am happy, for the daughters will call me blessed.”

Rachel hired Jacob to Leah for mandrakes, and there’s more about that later. After that Leah conceived and had a fifth son who she named Issachar.

Isaachar means “wages” as Leah said “God has given me my wages, because I have given my maid to my husband.”

Then Leah conceived again and bore Jacob a sixth son who she named Zebulun.

Zebulun means “dwelling” as Leah said, “God has endowed me with a good endowment; now my husband will dwell with me, because I have borne him six sons.”  

Afterward Leah bore a daughter, and called her name Dinah meaning judgement.

Rachel

“Then God remembered Rachel.” I don’t think he ever forgot her. There’s a proverb that says,

There are three things that are never satisfied, Four never say, “Enough!”:
Sheol,
The barren womb,
The earth that is not satisfied with water—
And the fire never says, “Enough!”

Proverbs 30:15-16

Finally conceiving, Rachel bore a son who she named Joseph.
Joseph means “He will add” as Rachel said, “God has taken away my reproach. The Lord shall add to me another son.”

I wonder if the mandrakes Rachel wanted so badly worked? Lets see.

Mandrakes

In the days of the wheat harvest, Reuben found mandrakes in the field, and brought them to his mother Leah. Genesis 30:14-16

Reuben may have given the mandrakes to his mother for their scent, as the scent of their flowers is mentioned in the Song of Songs, 7:13.

This is a strange plant, it has no stem and the roots can resemble human figures.

Perhaps the mandrake roots were used in their culture and belief system for fertility.

Rachel said to Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.”

But Leah said to her, “Is it a small matter that you have taken away my husband? Would you take away my son’s mandrakes also?”

It was Rachel’s turn to have Jacob so she hired him out to Leah for the mandrakes.

When Jacob came out of the field in the evening, Leah went out to meet him and said, “You must come in to me, for I have surely hired you with my son’s mandrakes.” And he lay with her that night. Genesis 30:16

This was before Leah birthed Isaachar, her fifth son. Leah had two more children, Zebulun and Dinah before Rachel finally conceived Joseph.

“The Lord will add to me another son,” Rachel declared prophetically after Joseph was born. her faith now in the Lord rather than the mandrakes.

What’s in a name?

The names of the sons spell out a message, one that is not assembled yet. The message is explained in my book “The End, the Wayfarer’s Guide to the Apocalypse” and it’s a gold nugget.

Meanwhile, not mentioned in the book are the names of the four mothers of Israel;

The name Leah means to be weary or grieved.

The name Rachel means Ewe, but not any old sheep.

Still, it must be noted that sheep and such are mentioned very often in the Bible — Israel was an agricultural society, after all — yet our word occurs only four times. This suggests that it doesn’t simply refer to any old ewe but rather a special kind or one in a rare fix. What fix that might be is unknown, but it this rare word that is so famously used in Isaiah 53:7: “Like a sheep — רחל (rahel) — that is silent before its shearers, so did he not open his mouth”.

Abarim Publications

The name Bilhah means trouble, calamity. Her name turned out to be true after Reuben slept with her, we’ll get to that in Genesis 35:22 and 49:4.

The name Zilpah means a drop.

Leah and Dinah

In the naming of her last child Dinah, meaning “judgement,” we can see the hope Leah had die. I think Leah represents all the unloved who have lost hope.

God and Jezreel

But after judgement comes a new day; a day where the earth is no longer cursed and people who have not been loved will be firmly planted in a place where they belong.

“In that day I will respond,” declares the Lord—
“I will respond to the skies, and they will respond to the earth;
 and the earth will respond to the grain, the new wine and the olive oil,
    and they will respond to *Jezreel.
I will plant her for myself in the land;
    I will show my love to the one I called ‘Not my loved one.”

Hosea 2:21-23

*Jezreel means “God plants.”

LOVE

It brings to mind the song “What the world needs now” by Dionne Warwick.

What the world needs now is love sweet love,
It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of,
What the world needs now is love sweet love,
No not just for some but for everyone.

Seeking 1 out of 99 readers

God plays an active and unapologetic role in my book.  He appears as ‘The King’ in various roles.  Sometimes he refers to Himself as the Shepherd.  Why?  Well, we are all like sheep who have gone astray. 

Sheep can get into a lot of trouble.  Growing up on a New Zealand sheep farm I’ve rescued them from creeks, mud, and barbed wire.

I loved finding the lost lambs, and so does Jesus.  Here’s me back from the lambing beat, with a lamb in my arms, about a hundred years ago …

Lambing Beat Aug 197452

Ever heard the parable of the lost sheep?

Jesus told the Pharisees and teachers of the law this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’

I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. Luke 15:3-7

My book will appeal to those who understand the wilderness.  The reader I am looking for may not know the Bible, or God – but will love redemptive romance and a great good versus evil story.  I’m not writing for 99 people – I’m writing for one.  Come into the pages of my book.  The path will begin in a field.  Follow the butterfly.

book_by_fantasyart0102-dabdbjlSource of image: Deviant Art, Book by FantasyArt0102

Feeling insignificant?

sea-of-facesDo you feel small and insignificant to God? Just a face in the crowd? Lost in the big picture?

Go to this site, place your computer’s cursor in the mass of people and double-click a  couple of times. Scary sharp!!  Not so easy to hide in a crowd anymore.

http://www.gigapixel.com/image/gigapan-canucks-g7.html

This was from an email sent to me by my Aunt.  The picture was taken with a 70,000 x 30,000-pixel camera  (2100 Mega  Pixels.)  These cameras are not sold to the public and are being  installed in strategic locations. The camera can identify a face among a multitude of people.

If the camera technology we’ve now got can pick you out of a crowd, how much more can God?

Did you know God saw you and wrote about you before you were even conceived?  It’s there in Psalm 139, and it says that God’s thoughts outnumber the grains of sand.

I’ll leave you with one of my favourite songs by Kutless, Sea of Faces.  Enjoy, and remember that as far as God’s concerned, you’re to die for.

“I see the city lights all around me
Everyone’s obscure
Ten million people each with their problems
Why should anyone care
And in Your eyes I can see
I am not just a man, vastly lost in this world
Lost in a Sea of Faces
Your body’s the bread, Your blood is the wine
Because you traded Your life for mine
Sometimes my life it feels so trivial
Immersed in the greatness of space
Yet somehow you still find the time for me
It’s then You show me Your love
And In Your eyes I can see
And in Your arms I will be
I am not just a man, vastly lost in this world
Lost in a Sea of Faces
Your body’s the bread, Your blood is the wine
Because you traded Your life for mine
If only my one heart
Was all you’d gain from all it cost
Well I know you would have still been a man
With a reason
To willingly offer your life
I am not just a man, vastly lost in this world
Lost in a Sea of Faces
Your body’s the bread, Your blood is the wine
Because you traded Your life for mine
Just one in a million faces” – Kutless

The road few find

Kaukatea Valley Rd 1978 resized
The road I grew up on was a difficult road that few bothered to travel without good reason. Our nearest neighbours were a mile away, so we could be as noisy as we liked. 

‘Mount Zion,’ the sheep station at the end of our road straddled two valleys – ours and Longacre, and part of it bordered our farm. Mount Zion could be accessed from a paper road which connected with our road – but you had to know where it was.  I used to ride there to get horses shod.

I learned to drive on that road and it was difficult, handling a motorbike on the gravel.

Poplars that had grown from fence battens the original farmers used lined the road. Number eight wire was used with the fence battens.  There were lots of interesting places along the road – even a cave, which is included in the video clip below.

This is the actual road, filmed by a motorcyclist.

So that’s my narrow road in the natural.  There’s another road, and another Zion.  Named as “the King’s holy mountain and the place where God dwells with man,” Mount Zion is referenced in the Bible at least 52 times.

The Bible points to the narrow road which leads to Zion.  Jesus said on the mountain, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”  Matthew 7:13-14

In my thirties I wandered off, got lost and found myself on the wrong road.  I couldn’t find a lot of help when I wanted to get off that road.  After two unsuccessful attempts at counseling I gave up and turned to the pages of the Bible, because one of the King’s names is “Wonderful Counselor.”

This is his promise; “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.”  Psalm 32:8

I had to get some help from somewhere.  So I went to the King for counseling.  It was the best thing I ever did.

In New Zealand we’ve had to be resourceful because of the difficulty sourcing stuff, being at the ends of the earth as we are.  We are known to “fix things with number eight wire.”  Using inventive number eight wire mentality, and thinking outside the box, I built a world I could go into and hear from the King, who counseled me on the way I should go.  I wrote down His words in my story.

As for the setting, God knew I’d write it into a book later on in life.  My book is a paper road that leads to Zion.  It’s for those who want a good, unconventional read from a traveler, a stranger, a sojourner on the road not well-traveled.  I promise you that you’ll never read another story like it.

Click on the Amazon link at the top right-hand side of the page to purchase the book.

Kaukatea Valley

Kaukatea Valley Road


The fading flower …

Shortly after my last post where I asked “Who wants to live forever?” my mother passed away.  For most of her life she grappled with the highs and lows of bipolar disease.  She’s free of her demons at last. 

My memories of her when she was bipolar aren’t good, but in between times she had a happy, sunny nature.  And that’s how I want to remember her.

I’ve made a youtube video of the powerpoint I prepared for the funeral, showing scenes from her life, which I and my family feature in.

It’s here if you want to see it.  The music is “Who am I?” by Casting Crowns.

It brings to mind the scripture that God has compassion on us mortals – who are here today and gone tomorrow, just like the grass and flowers.  That’s why Jesus wept at the grief of Lazarus’s sisters.

As a father has compassion on his children
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.
The life of mortals is like grass,
they flourish like a flower of the field;
the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.
But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children’s children—with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.
The Lord has established his throne in heaven,
and his kingdom rules over all.” 

Psalm 103:13-19

I wasn’t sure of how things were with my mother and God.  He gave me a story to tell her on the last occasion she had a serious heart attack, which I wrote here.

superscript_seven_u2077_icon_256x256God gave us a sign that she’d gone to be with him.  Seven is the number of rest, and she’d entered his rest, dying at 7pm on the 7th day of the 7th month, aged 77.

He explains about that rest in Hebrews 4;

There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest.

Hebrews 4:9

I recommend reading the whole passage from Hebrews 4:1-11.

SeriousFaith_ImagesREST

Hebrews 4:1-10 The Promise of Rest

So now I know what can go on my mother’s headstone; “At rest.”  Two simple words that say so much.

Who wants to live forever?

Here’s an interesting post from another blog which gives three ways to avoid life’s greatest certainty, death.
Click on the picture on the right and it will take you there.

I don’t think it’s wise to rely on the Tech giants solutions (especially after reading about Microsoft’s latest mishap with ‘Tay,’ their embarrassing AI chatbot.)

No one wants to die, because we were made for eternity.  It’s been set in our hearts.

In Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NIV) we read “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

But forget about Eternime, where you go virtual, or Cryogenics where you have your head frozen.

Only one man came guaranteeing us immortality.  Jesus said Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death.”  John 8:51 (NKJ)

So if you want to live forever, believe in the Lord and the one who sent Him (God).  Keeping His word means reading it and storing it up in the heart, where eternity has been set.

I’ve read and stored His word by weaving it into a story, but do whatever works best for you.

Finally, we can’t cheat death here – but we can get a rough idea of how long we’ll live.  Just take this test.  Apparently I’ll make it to 91!

http://media.nmfn.com/tnetwork/lifespan

psalm90_12

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.      Psalm 90:12

Having ears to hear

When Jesus wanted to communicate truth, he used stories and said it was “for those who had ears.”  How many of us are deaf to God because of unbelief?  It shuts us down because we can’t believe God would want to have a real conversation with us.  And when we do, we don’t always hear in the same manner – or we doubt what we’re hearing.  We’ll trot out our objections with “Yes, but …”

We have to test the spirits.  Because Lucifer can pretend to be an angel of light.  He is completely deceptive.  Don’t go near him.

My spiritual hearing wasn’t that great.  That’s why I constructed my story, so I could keep a record of the things that God told me and check it against the Bible.  God became the main character in “The Kingdom” through me doing that!

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAMy husband hears God’s voice differently from me and wants to hear from him better.  He’s a bit goofy at times, as you can see with these ‘ears.’

We spend our day solving technical problems on computers and computer networks.  He has to think on his feet.  Sometimes he arrives at an answer so quickly I go “How did you get that?

He doesn’t know whether his decision speed is from his thought processes or God’s voice.

Early one morning he was thinking about the day ahead. “God, the other day I asked you about my decision speed getting in the way.  Is it my thought processes, or is it you?  I never heard an answer.  So what is it?” he asked.

John 3″ was the instantaneous reply.  In John 3, Jesus was explaining to a religious ruler what people have to do to see the Kingdom of God.  The verses that spoke the most to my husband were 3:8 and 3:29.

“8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

The same month I watched kite surfers on the beach at the end of my street, as they were borne along by invisible wind currents.  It was on a hot Sunday afternoon a couple of weeks ago.  I didn’t even notice the breeze but they were finding it offshore.  It was a beautiful sight to see them glide across the water.

So it is with us when we are born of the Spirit and are able to hear God, the Holy Spirit’s voice.  When we realise we can hear him, we can actually hear God, it brings joy – and hope.  Our morale and spirits soar.

If we hope in the LORD we will renew our strength. We will soar on wings like eagles; we will run and not grow weary, we will walk and not be faint. 
That’s a promise from Isaiah 40:31.

Wind

Snells Beach, Feb 2016. This is my picture which you are free to use.

The master’s voice

The other verse that spoke to my husband, verse 29, was where John the Baptist, the cousin of Jesus exalts the King.  John is comparing himself as the best man at Christ’s wedding.  29″ The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete.”

I can’t find a picture for that – but look at the joy this dog is showing to hear his master’s voice.  It sums it up for me.

My first book review

The Bookworm, Carl Spitzweg

The Bookworm, Carl Spitzweg

Try and imagine bookshelves lined with millions of books – and my book is just one of them.  And the bookshelves keep growing.  My book has gone from one in a million to probably one in two million by now!

I’ve probably got the worst person possible in charge of book promotion – me.  Marketing was my worst subject when I was doing the Dip of Business, unfortunately.  But I did learn about the five ‘P’s of marketing; People, Price, Placement, Product and Promotion.

It’s a struggle.  Who do I tell about the book?  Christians obviously, but I hope to get it to the New Age market.  I know they would love the King in my book if they read about Him.  As for the product – the book is in a genre all by itself.  I struggle to even describe it’s genre.  I said it’s a cross between a memoir and a fantasy novel, but my first book reviewer said it’s actually an Epic Journal. My book is unique; one in a million – and not just because of it’s place in Amazon. For placement, I’ve gone to where the readers are.

In order for me to promote the book, I need praise.  I mean, I can praise it – but I’m the author!  Today I got some much needed praise.  I joined Goodreads, and I’ve received my first book review from Valicity Garris, author of Cross Academy.

It was brilliant, five star review.  It’s helped me to keep going with my efforts to get the book out to the wider world.  So it’s made my day.  Come and read my first review, and celebrate with me.

Here’s the review:
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1523617863?book_show_action=false

Good Godwit

Bar-tailedGodwitIt’s spring here in the southern hemisphere.  September heralds the arrival of the Godwit.  These small birds have flown all the way from Siberia to New Zealand – non-stop.  That’s 11,700 kilometres (around 7000 miles).  They’re the bird world’s long distance champions.  

The name Godwit originates in Old English with god meaning good, and wit coming from wihte, meaning creature.  God is good, and so is his creation.  Here the Godwits are at the beach where I live, having a well deserved rest behind the Heron.

Godwits Terns Gulls and Heron resting Snells Beach 2013

Godwits Terns Gulls and Heron resting at Snells Beach, NZ

I walk, run and pray along this beach in the early mornings before work, doing about 5kms per day.  When I first started in January, I got tired very quickly, and I started losing weight.  I’ve lost 8kgs so far.  When I see these guys just in from Siberia, I realise I don’t know what tired is!  They teach me a lesson about endurance.

Do you get tired, do you get weary?  I want to give you a word of encouragement;
Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
Isaiah 40:28-3

The race of faith

Patient-EnduranceHold fast to what you have, and run.  Run your race of faith, holding on to that which has been given to you.  All I know is we need to run our race, shake off the sin that so easily entangles, and keep the faith.

tiredBut we need to know what we’re running for.  I hate that scene in Forres Gump where Forres is running, and people have been inspired to join him – but he’s running for no reason and then stops, with no explanation!  That’s no good.

Enjoy this quick video.  It’s an ad but it says it all. Can God speak through a wordly ad?  I think so.  Instead of a starters gun, there’s a shofar.  Rosh Hashanah is when the shofar (ram’s horn) or trumpet is sounded.  For Israel, the Days of awe which have just ended are a call for repentance.  Just as the shofar called the Jewish nation to turn their attention to the Lord and ready themselves for the Day of Atonement, so will the “trump of God” call us to heaven and warn the world of coming judgement.

It’s interesting that strange sounds like trumpet blasts have been emanating from the skies since 2011.  Is God trying to get our attention?

We are in the “times of the signs”, as Chuck Misler calls it.

“When I return, will I find faith?” Jesus asked, after telling the parable about the persistent widow who never gave up on her petitions.  (Luke 18)  Let’s just fix our eyes on him, the author and finisher of our salvation, and let’s run the race of faith.  And remember the Godwits.

The Need for Self-Discipline

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air.  No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”  1 Corinthians 9:24-27

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”  Hebrews 12:1-2