Is there a balm of Gilead?
Today I read of a true story that happened between two men, who were friends, family members and part of the community. They had just gone through a long drawn out struggle over property boundaries, land ownership, disgruntled relationships, spousal problems, money disagreements and control issues. Truth is, this story could easily be in our own current events happening in major news headline around the globe, which seems to be worsening daily.
My devotion takes me to Genesis chapter 30 and 31. It is the point in the story of Jacob and Laban, when God speaks to Jacob in a dream and tells Jacob to return to the land of his father Isaac. In the middle of a very difficult struggle with Laban over independence for his family and possessions, headstrong Jacob decides to leave and not tell Laban. Both men are stubborn and clever but God is not without understanding and fair-mindedness. Nor, is God afar off, as we read in Gen. 31:21-25, where God warned Laban in a dream not to harm Jacob when he found him. In angry pursuit of Jacob, he catches up at Mt. Gilead (modern day Jordan). Here Laban rebukes Jacob for taking not only his family away but stealing his household idols. The insult was too great for Jacob (traditionally household gods were acceptable as proof of the designation as principle heir).
After a thorough search through Jacobs tents, no gods or idols were found. But Rachel had lied to her father and Jacob, by pretending she could not get up due to having her period (she was sitting on the idols). He did not know that his wife, Rachel had actually stolen the idols and hid them in her tent due to her own deep insecurities.
Jacob was furious at Laban and accused him of a long list of offenses over the past 20 years of being in his employment. Laban remembered his dream and the warning of the Lord not to harm Jacob. So, Laban and Jacob entered into a covenant by building a monument with stones and calling it Mizpah or the watchtower.
These words were carved into the stones…”The Lord watch between me and thee, when we are absent one from another” [Vs.31:49] This set a boundary between the two men, that promised neither would cross it to injure one another. What it really meant was armistice, separation, menace and warning. The pillar of Mizpah means “Do not cross this line, or you will be killed!” A covenant breaker would need the divine protection of God, because the other has the right to shoot. The relation between Laban and Jacob was defined in this covenant.
Jacob went on into Canaan and later received a new name by God who called him Israel. Laban went back to Nuzi (North Mesopotamia) where he lived and died of old age. Both men honored the covenant they made to God.
There is a balm in Gilead,
that heals and brings peace unto the world.
He speaks in dreams and visions
and gives us his deep wisdom~
our God can reach the heart,
there is no distance between Him and mankind. ~Zoey.