The Destroyer of All Darkness
“Here and there in the Bible we come upon chapters that report such disgraceful deeds that it is difficult to know how to comment or preach on them. The thirty-fourth chapter of Genesis is such a chapter, for it tells of the rape of Jacob’s daughter Dinah by Shechem – son of Hamor, the king of Shechem – and of a bloody revenge on the city of Shechem by Jacob’s sons.”
‘What are we to do with such a chapter?’ asks, Boice. He then notes that in his study of the commentaries on Genesis not a few writers simply pass over the incident. A. W. Pink is one. He wrote that he was leaving his readers to turn to it for themselves. Another notable preacher, Alexander Maclaren also skips over it in his Expositions of Holy Scripture. Most interesting, though, is H. C. Leupold. Leupold provides some commentary. But when he gets to the end of these comments, in the section of the work entitled ‘Homiletical [preaching] Suggestions, he writes, ‘As a whole it is an invaluable sidelight on the lives of the patriarchs. It is rightly evaluated by the more mature mind and could be treated to advantage before a men’s Bible class. But we cannot venture to offer homiletical [preaching] suggestions for its treatment’ (italics Boice’s).
Boice rightly declares: “The chapter does indeed give ‘an invaluable sidelight on the lives of the patriarchs.’ But it does more than this. It gives lessons and warning on how to live and how not to live our lives.”
Moreover, there is this too.
“Whenever the Bible contains material that reflects so badly not merely upon the sins of humanity in general but also upon the particular wickedness in the hearts and lives of God’s people, this is evidence of the divine and not merely the human origin of the Scriptures. Nowhere in the Bible does the corruption of the progenitors of the Jewish people show forth stronger than in this chapter. Yet in spite of the fact that Genesis is Israel’s first great religious book – which the Jews rightly love and prize – this chapter is still here, with all its evil and ugliness. How could this chapter get included in Genesis if Genesis were merely a human composition? Human writers would have suppressed these events, just as commentators sometimes seem compelled to suppress them today. The only way these events could have come to be included is that the ultimate author of this book (and of all canonical books) is God, who speaks the truth regardless of how it reflects on people.” (James M. Boice, An Expositional Commentary. Genesis Vol 2: A New Beginning, Genesis 12-36, p.829.)
As we study this chapter we find the words of 2 Timothy 3:16-17 to be true: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
But in order to appreciate the One who comes to destroy all darkness (Christ the Redeemer), we desperately need Advent. In her book, A Circle of Quiet, Madeleine L’Engle suggests that “the minute we begin to think we have all the answers, we forget the questions.” I’m fully aware that the world needs the infant King, but do I genuinely believe I need Him? I know the Savior came to reconcile God with the world, but do I truly realize that I am of the world? That my sin has separated me from God just as equally as the sins of the perpetrators of this societal abuse that I so lament (and that I find in Genesis 34)?
I sometimes find that it’s way too easy to answer these questions, and on one level, it’s incredibly obvious to me that I need Him. But what is the extent of my conviction? What is the depth of my dependence?
‘Advent is the season for us to marinate in these questions. To pray for the discipline to wait for the answers,’ notes one writer. But she states:
“Quite frankly, I am reluctant to contemplate this. Because to truly enter this space of doubt, I have to confront a heart so depraved and a love so encompassing. Both terrify me. The former because I have to acknowledge the darkness of my soul, and that my dirty wretchedness alone was enough to crucify God Himself. The latter because I have to accept a God so omnipresent and sovereign that He can become tiny enough to confine Himself inside my comprehension of an innocent baby.”
And that’s what I think is so important about the season. “The uniqueness of Advent is that it really forces us more than any other season… to look deeply into what is wrong in the world, and why the best-laid plans don’t work out the way we meant them to, and why our greatest hopes are so often confounded, and why things happen the way they do, and why sometimes it is so difficult to see where God is acting.”
This Lord’s Day is the first Sunday of Advent and we are looking at The Destroyer of All Darkness. The darkness in this passage reminds us of the poet, W.H. Auden, who wrote, “Nothing that is possible can save us/ We who must die demand a miracle.”
I hope you can join us this Lord’s Day as we relish the beginning of the season of Advent. Bring someone along with you this week to face the darkness around us only to have our hearts lifted in hope to Christ.
Even so, come Lord Jesus,
Remember that we will eat together on Sunday December 5, immediately following our morning service. Don’t forget to sign up below.
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