January 23, 2007

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A Question of Accessibility Back in Nov., I got an insightful email from a congregant about a phrase we sang in a song during our weekend church services. The song was "Give Us Clean Hands" by Charlie Hall. See if you can find the phrase in question. Here are the lyrics: Give Us Clean Hands Charlie Hall Verse We bow our hearts we bend our knees Oh Spirit come make us humble We turn our eyes from evil things Oh Lord we cast down our idols Chorus Give us clean hands give us pure hearts Let us not lift our souls to another Give us clean hands give us pure hearts Let us not lift our souls to another And oh God let us be a generation that seeks That seeks Your face oh God of Jacob And oh God let us be a generation that seeks That seeks Your face oh God of Jacob ©2000 worshiptogether.com songs (Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing); sixsteps Music (Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing) What was the phrase in question? The answer is "God of Jacob." My friend wanted to know what that meant. Here is what I said to him: Great question! Quick history lesson: Jacob was the third Biblical patriarch. His father was Isaac, and his grandfather was Abraham. Jacob, together with Esau, was born to Isaac and Rebeccah after 20 years of marriage, at which time his father was 60 (Genesis 25:26), and Abraham was 160 years old. During Rebeccah’s pregnancy, "the children struggled together within her" (Genesis 25:22). Rebeccah questioned God about it and learned that she was going to give birth to two children. They would become the founders of two very different nations. Jacob would be the father of the nation that God would bless, Israel. The phrase “God of Jacob” is a type of technical phrase used as a general designation of the God of the patriarchs [as mentioned before: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob]. Some references speak of the “God of my [your, thy, his, their] father” without mention of a particular father, while other references include the name of a particular patriarch [i.e. God of Jacob]. So the Bible uses the formula to emphasize continuity between the God who is revealed to Moses and the God who guided the patriarchs. It is important to note that under the new covenant, in the New Testament, this formula is transformed to mark the continuity between historic Israel and Christianity [that’s us]. The God revealed in Jesus Christ is the same as the God revealed to the patriarchs. The promises made to Abraham established the concept of a people descended through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who would be in a special historical and spiritual relationship with God. So in the song, when we sing “God of Jacob” we are recognizing that we are from a long line of descendants that have a special historical and spiritual relationship with God. It’s pretty powerful! I hope that makes sense. Thanks for probing... Upon reflecting...

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