Well this morning I said I had set little time aside to do any Bible study recently. This afternoon I have done a small amount of Bible reading and have been reading about Jacob and his family. There is one family member who has stuck out significantly for me and he is Reuben.
This name has some family significance for me, being the name of my Godson which may be one of the reasons I picked up on him so much. But Reuben is an incredibly interesting character if you look closely at him. The eldest son of Jacob Reuben had responsibilities and rights above and over the other brothers. However in the Biblical texts Reuben never receives his birthright or blessing. Reuben's birthright is given to Joseph, the favourite, and other rights over the family are ceded to other brothers. Because of this the Kingship of Israel falls to the tribe of Judah and the priesthood to the tribe of Levi.
The reason for this is explained by the Bible as being due to an inappropriate relationship with Bilhah who was Rachel's maid and mother to Dan and Naphtali. In classic rabbinical law this is classed as incest and therefore Reuben was punished for it.
But it is not this that I really was interested in when reading about Reuben, it is his actions and behaviour during the sale of Joseph to the slave traders. It is Reuben who prevents the hot heads from having their way and murdering Joseph straight away and persuades them instead to throw him in the cistern to perish over time. This does not sound much better but the Bible however tells us that it was Reuben's plan to rescue Joseph and return him to their father later. For whatever reason Reuben was obviously not present when Joseph was sold as it is told that sometime later he returned to rescue Joseph and found him gone.
Now I am not sure how other people read this but the impression I get is that as an elder brother Reuben was not all that great. Not only does he fail to stand up for his younger brother he does not seem to have the respect of his siblings. The fact that they sold Joseph without him knowing, or that to "save" Joseph he had to plan a ruse suggests that he held little command as eldest.
The study Bible that I use suggests that Reuben lived tow different lives, his public life and a private life. It expands on the point by saying that Reuben was not able to stand by his convictions, he was not able to push for what he believed to be right. Christians have the tough position of having beliefs and convictions that at times are polar opposite it that of the rest of the world. We need to be able to stand up for our beliefs, we need to stand up for our convictions. It is not enough to just believe something to be true. If you truly believe it then you will stand up for it and make your voice heard even if it means putting yourself at risk.
This blog is supposed to be, as much as I can, my daily journey through life as a Christian. I hope it to be my thoughts and feelings on life but be as grounded in the Christian message as it can. My intention is not to create a daily readings or bible study guide but to look at my life in terms of a Christian trying to find and follow God's mission using his Life User's Manuel AKA the Bible.