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  • Writer's picturePastor Hans Fiene

Matins Devotion: March 12, 2024

Throughout his life, Jacob’s father Isaac most certainly told him the story of when his father Abraham led him up Mount Moriah. There Isaac was condemned to die, there he was watching his father raise the knife to spill the blood of his own son, but then God stopped him, and had Abraham slaughter the ram in his place. God himself provided the sacrifice and placed onto the head of the ram the weight Isaac could not bear. The lesson, of course, was that God didn’t want to see the blood of Abraham’s son. God only wanted to see the blood of His own Son. This was the promise that made Abraham who he was, that made Isaac who he was, and that made Jacob and his offspring who they were. And it’s ultimately this promise that lifts the fog of despair from Jacob’s eyes, that causes him to relent and let his sons take his beloved Benjamin down to Egypt to get more food and to retrieve Simeon, still bound in prison. 

In Genesis 42, Ruben tries with all his might to convince his father to let them take that youngest son with them. He tells his father “if I don’t bring him back safely, you can kill my two sons.” But Ruben is thinking like a Canaanite, like their evil and demonic neighbors who think that peace with God can be found by spilling the blood of their own sons. He thinks like someone who doesn’t believe that God Himself will provide the sacrifice. And so Jacob refuses. Why would his heart find comfort in slaughtering his grandsons? More loss, more bloodshed will not give him peace. That’s not who he is.

But then in our reading for today, Judah steps forward and offers the sacrifice that Jacob recognizes. He tells his father, “ I will be a pledge of his safety. From my hand you shall require him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him before you, then let me bear the blame forever.” He offers himself as the sacrifice. He offers to carry a debt he does not owe, to bear a punishment He has not earned. He takes away from Jacob the terror of being responsible for losing yet another son. And in all of this, he offers to be a reflection of the Messianic promise that Isaac saw atop Mount Sinai. Jacob recognizes this promise. He hears the Gospel, the sorrow is driven from his heart, and he lets Benjamin go.

If you can’t drive away the fog of despair that hangs over you, if you can’t see clearly through the mist of misery, there’s only one way out–hearing the promise that makes you what you are. So you won’t find peace in the Canaanite sacrifices. You won’t find peace by spilling the blood of others, by judging and tearing apart those around you. You will only find peace in the only blood that God wanted to see, the blood of Jesus Christ. So run to Him, run to where His word is preached, run to the places where the blood of the Ram caught in the thicket is given to you. Keep going to that word. Keep hearing it proclaimed. Keep trusting in the promise of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Judah. And one day, be it in this life or the next, the fog will clear, and peace will be yours forever.

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