The whole 36th chapter names the descendants of Esau. He took a turn from Jacob. Esau married wives from the inhabitants of the land and mixed with many foreign gods. (Lower case “g” intended). These aren’t “children of the promise,” but later as we see kings rise up against Israel, we will be able to trace some back to here.
I think it’s significant that three times in this chapter it says, “Esau was Edom.” (vs. 1,8,and 19). Later when we encounter the Edomites, we’ll remember where they came from.
I’m sure that all of us have Joseph on our favorites list. He is the epitome of someone who has a dream or prophecy from God, and has to wait a long time for its fulfillment.
There are lots of teachings which incorporate Joseph’s life. I think that one of the major ones is that God gave Joseph the dreams at the beginning – before he was to go through horrific trials.
I’m sure that there will be many times when those dreams keep Joseph hopeful – and on track, as his life takes such a down turn. When we leave him, he has been sold into slavery to Potiphar, the captain of Pharoah’s guard. That’s hardly what he saw in his dream, is it?
Jesus has an interesting way of dealing with people. He is tough on the leaders, but very gentle on the others. We begin to see this in chapter 12.
The religious leadersof the day are arrogant and full of pride. They see their leadership roles as ones of prestige, and they expect people to hold them in high esteem because of their position.
At the same time, they are not deserving of that esteem, because they are hard task masters for the people. They hold rigidly to what they believe to be the “Law of Moses” and use that Law to intimidate and abuse their constituents.
Jesus, on the other hand, introduces them to the long-forgotten concept, “I desire mercy and not sacrifice.”
When the law is held higher than God’s people, skewed thinking always follows. When the disciples eat some grain from the field on Sunday, the Sabbath law, and not their need, is what the Pharisees think about. When Jesus heals on the Sabbath, the same happens.
Can you imagine that these leaders, instead of rejoicing over a precious man’s withered hand being healed are concerned about it being done on the Sabbath? I’m sure that in our time, such attitudes prevail from time to time.
To understand the dilemma Jesus faces here, we need to understand what the Law is all about. The Law was created for man, and not vice versa. What do I mean? When men have no standards at all, anything goes. “If it feels good, do it.”
Under that attitude, people are always hurt. When selfishness prevails, there is murder, rape, incest, abuse, stealing, you name it. It’s all there.
The Law of God was introduced to lead people to know that they needed to honor only the One true God, and that they needed to treat others well. Love God and love others.
When the spirit of the law is there, there’s clarity. When the letter of the law is there, there’s hardness and harm.
When people truly worship God, they know that He wants others healed and whole. These people rejoice with a man whose hand is healed – whenever it is.
That’s why Jesus continually says, “I desire mercy (or compassion) and not sacrifice.”(Hosea 6:6)