Speak; then listen
The events of Genesis 34-35 seem pretty odd to us today – what relevance could a passage about Simeon and Levi tricking and killing a bunch of freshly circumcised locals have to do with our live: with school or parents or a tough day?
Well first of all – we’re not to copy them. The answer to an argument with the teacher is not to circumcise him (tempting as it might be…). Simeon and Levi murdered but nowhere does God tell them to – in fact Jacob tells them off (Gen 34:30). They were certainly right to feel outraged – their sister getting raped was terrible. But justice belongs to God not to them. The guy who wrote the psalm knows this and that’s why in psalm 10 he’s crying out to God to move against ‘the wicked man’ (ps 10:2).
We all face injustices in our lives today – people treating us unfairly and cruelly, mates, dates, parents and strangers. When that happens we’re not to get our swords out and take revenge – but nor are we to pretend it didn’t hurt and it doesn’t matter. Instead we can cry out to the God of justice for help. Jacob has learnt to trust God by this point and we can see the confidence he shows in him, “I will build an altar to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and who has been with me wherever I have gone…” (Gen 35:3).
The key point is God answered Jacob. And He answers us.
I know I’ve sometimes been in danger of not really listening to God’s response to my frustrations. That’s a bit like going to the doctor and telling him all our symptoms but leaving before we get his advice. In Jesus’ parable about the seeds God is pouring out his truth all the time (represented by the seeds), but we react in different ways – like the different types of soil. Sometimes we look for answers to our problems in other places like taking revenge. Sometimes, like the birds in the parable, people, pleasures or the Enemy distract us from God’s response. Sometimes, like shallow soil, we ‘hear’ the answers but don’t really take them to heart… ‘Yeah yeah, God loves me – heard that one before’. The aim is to be good soil, so once we’ve vented at him be genuinely open to hearing back.
What was the last thing you cried out in frustration to God about? Then did you stop to care about his answer?
Let’s speak our hearts. Then listen to His.