Cost of Curiosity

Genesis 34:1-12

1Now Dinah, the daughter Leah had borne to Jacob, went out to visit the women of the land. 2When Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, the ruler of that area, saw her, he took her and raped her. 3His heart was drawn to Dinah daughter of Jacob; he loved the young woman and spoke tenderly to her. 4And Shechem said to his father Hamor, “Get me this girl as my wife.”

5When Jacob heard that his daughter Dinah had been defiled, his sons were in the fields with his livestock; so he did nothing about it until they came home.

6Then Shechem’s father Hamor went out to talk with Jacob.  7Meanwhile, Jacob’s sons had come in from the fields as soon as they heard what had happened. They were shocked and furious, because Shechem had done an outrageous thing in Israel by sleeping with Jacob’s daughter—a thing that should not be done.

8But Hamor said to them, “My son Shechem has his heart set on your daughter. Please give her to him as his wife. 9Intermarry with us; give us your daughters and take our daughters for yourselves. 10You can settle among us; the land is open to you. Live in it, trade in it, and acquire property in it.” 11Then Shechem said to Dinah’s father and brothers, “Let me find favor in your eyes, and I will give you whatever you ask. 12Make the price for the bride and the gift I am to bring as great as you like, and I’ll pay whatever you ask me. Only give me the young woman as my wife.”

Suicide by Selfie?

You may have heard of the phrase “Suicide by Selfie.” There’s no shortage of news about “selfie” accidents. Every now and then, we find tragic news posted online. Many accidents happened while taking “selfie” on dangerous grounds. Yet, such horrible tragedies cannot scare curious travelers who wish to capture memorable moments at distinctive tourist’s spots anywhere around the globe.

Few weeks ago, a 14-year-old California girl died after what appears to be an accidental fall at the Horseshoe Bend Overlook in Arizona. Just a few hours after she was reported missing, the Arizona air rescue unit had retrieved the girl’s body about 700 feet below the overlook. Officials believe the fall was accidental but the incident remains under investigation.

It could be accidental or someone pushed her, nobody can restore the girl’s life. There are terrible decisions made in a split second out of curiosity which may change a smooth flow of life permanently. Have you ignored warnings because of curiosity or just plain ignorance? One may know it’s risky but still take chances anyway. The “cost of curiosity” is not warranted, so to speak.

The “cost of curiosity” can be interpreted as reason that the story of Dinah, the daughter of Jacob with Leah was inserted in the narratives. This transition story is important deviation of focus from Jacob to the life story of his children.

Seemingly, Dinah innocently visited the city when Shechem seized her.

1. Seize

1Now Dinah, the daughter Leah had borne to Jacob, went out to visit the women of the land. 2When Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, the ruler of that area, saw her, he took her and raped her. 3His heart was drawn to Dinah daughter of Jacob; he loved the young woman and spoke tenderly to her. 4And Shechem said to his father Hamor, “Get me this girl as my wife.”

Dinah may have been much more attractive than Canaanite women. She may have been very beautiful like her grandmother Rebekah. Shechem was so attracted to Dinah so that he seized her by force, took her home and violated her.

God has fulfilled His promise for Jacob to return safely in Canaan. Yet, this sickening event happened to Jacob’s daughter. Why? Actually, complicated events happened to Jacob’s children were included in the succeeding episode.

So, why was such unpleasant story of Dinah included in the Bible?

Good or bad stories included in the Bible were selected as object lessons about God’s love and justice. God’s love can be overflowing but He won’t let us become spoiled brat or undisciplined children. God’s love is tough yet caring.

It says in Hebrews 12:5-6, 5Do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, 6because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.

This instruction of the Lord is not unpopular among Christians. Yet, it is not also seriously observed by most believers. It’s sad to admit that only few genuine Christians practice their faith by taking God’s commands seriously and sincerely.

Many of us may consider personal problem to be the worst among others. As believers, if you think that your problem is the worst, you indirectly claim that you are facing the greatest challenge of your life. What does that imply? You are implying that God is shaping you into the greatest person you can be. Really?

You hear people say, “I feel great!” Why? One can only be considered as great after overcoming great challenges, right? It says in 1 Corinthians 10:13, 13No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

Dinah daughter of Jacob was tempted by her curiosity of how Canaanite women may look like. She knew much about eastern people but she had not observed women from Canaan closely. Were they similar to her? How do women in the city of Shechem dress, talk or act? What were their privileges, hobbies, work or even sport? How did they relate to men, others women or foreigners?

If you enjoy exploring or travelling to other cities, you may understand more about the curiosity Dinah may have sensed. Did she go to the city alone? Did she ask her father Jacob about Canaanite behavior? Did Jacob know it when Dinah went to the city? Did she leave home without informing her family?

Such important information was not mentioned which opens an individual’s interpretation. As good father, we can interpret that Jacob warned his daughter not to go to the city alone. Jacob’s sons proceeded to pasture their livestock. And, Dinah may have been bored of doing nothing or just plain curious, that’s all!

There’s no boring moment for anyone who actively practice faith in Christ.

Have you heard of the Hierarchy of Needs, yet?

Abraham H. Maslow presented his idea about Hierarchy of Needs.

Others put it as a pyramid with five levels of needs. This is a motivational theory in psychology which argues that while people aim to meet basic needs, they seek to meet successively higher needs in the form of a pyramid.

  1. Physiological – includes air, food, water, sex, sleep, or physical needs
  2. Safety – includes security of environment, employment, health, property
  3. Belongingness – includes love, friendship, intimacy, family, etc.
  4. Esteem – includes confidence, self-esteem, achievement, respect, etc.
  5. Self-actualization – includes morality, creativity, problem solving, etc.

This idea seems to be true in real life. We seek things based on our needs.

It is conceptualized as pyramid because there are more people who have not overcome or solved the problem of Physiological or basic necessities. Whereas, the top most need is a longing for people, especially, in developed countries.

Dinah had no problem about food, shelter. It appeared that she was the only daughter which may suggest that her brothers treated her fairly well. There were no immediate threats to their safety, and they have servants. Dinah had nothing to worry about her life. She just sensed some sort of curiosity like many tourists who want to explore everything beyond their comfort zone.

There’s a tendency to relax when one is comfortable and have abundance.

Comfort and abundance may not readily prepare a person to be alert or mindful. If you want to have pleasant excursion, plan and be careful. Many tourists wish to have memorable adventure but were caught shock because of carelessness.

2. Shock

          5When Jacob heard that his daughter Dinah had been defiled, his sons were in the fields with his livestock; so he did nothing about it until they came home.

Jacob may have been shocked that he did nothing. Or, he may have silently asked God why such terrible things happened to his only daughter. There were no recorded words of Jacob. If Dinah was your daughter, what would you feel? What would you think or do? Would you blame your daughter or servants?

6Then Shechem’s father Hamor went out to talk with Jacob.  7Meanwhile, Jacob’s sons had come in from the fields as soon as they heard what had happened. They were shocked and furious, because Shechem had done an outrageous thing in Israel by sleeping with Jacob’s daughter—a thing that should not be done.

It appears like Shechem was a spoiled brat. Hamor was the ruler, and yet, when his son told him to take Dinah as his wife, he went to Jacob and explained that despite of his outrageous offense, Shechem wanted Dinah to be his wife.

The sons of Jacob had no idea about immorality, abuse of power, or things that could be acceptable to Canaanite people. They were shocked. They did not expect that their beautiful sister, a lovely foreigner was not given due respect.

In the east where they were raised, they treated strangers kindly. They treated Abraham’s servant politely when went to find a wife for Isaac (who turned out to be Rebekah). When Jacob came to the same group of people, he was also welcomed warmly. So, Jacob’s children may expect similar treatment. But, they were shocked that Shechem violated their sister, even claimed to be in loved.

Airline Advisory

Have you heard about the advisory to alert passenger going to the Philippines?

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued an advisory directing airlines going to the Philippines to alert their passengers on the deficiency of security measures at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Manila, Philippines. The DHS said, “Manila does not maintain and carry out effective security consistent with the security standards established by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).”

Such advisory has attracted and polarized opinions and observations. The goal may have been beneficial for those who take its message seriously. Should you wait for an advisory before taking precautionary measure when travelling?

It is very advisable to be careful when traveling to familiar or unfamiliar places.

Why did God allow Dinah to be molested? Did God use such tragedy to warn Jacob of the changes of lifestyle in Canaan? Jacob had been away for 20 years, and there could be active immigration in Canaan that affected the culture and practices of the Canaanites. God may have also tested Jacob if he will still trust God even in the midst of shocking encounters of his children.

It teaches in Psalm 146:9, 9The Lord watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.

God showed His love and care when Jacob was in a foreign country. But why did God allow such tragic experience of Jacob’s children? Faith in God includes testing of faith. Such reality cannot be ignored. No human, believer or unbeliever is exempted from trouble or problem.

As we plan for betterment in life, we should not settle with mediocre. There will still be discouragement even when one becomes successful. We should not compromise our faith just to get what we want. When situation does not agree with our expectations, our trust in the Lord becomes even more apparent.

Hamor the father of Shechem may have been trying to save his reputation as ruler. His son Shechem molested Dinah and wanted to make thing right between them and Jacob. Hamor could have easily observed that Jacob had many livestock which he perceived to be favorable for him and his people. So he negotiated with Jacob and his sons so that they may settle among them.

3. Settle

8But Hamor said to them, “My son Shechem has his heart set on your daughter. Please give her to him as his wife. 9Intermarry with us; give us your daughters and take our daughters for yourselves. 10You can settle among us; the land is open to you. Live in it, trade in it, and acquire property in it.”

When Jacob decided to settle near the city of Hamor, he paid the price for the land they occupied. Jacob bought the plot of ground he pitched his tent.

He paid the sons of Hamor with a good price, and Hamor could easily have known that Jacob was a great costumer or buyer. Hamor may have thought that he can make more money if he can sell more lands to Jacob.

11Then Shechem said to Dinah’s father and brothers, “Let me find favor in your eyes, and I will give you whatever you ask. 12Make the price for the bride and the gift I am to bring as great as you like, and I’ll pay whatever you ask me. Only give me the young woman as my wife.”

Shechem promised anything just get the approval of Jacob and his sons for him to marry Dinah. It implies that Shechem was very much attracted to Dinah. Perhaps, Dinah had fallen in love with Shechem, although it’s not known. Dinah may have been attracted to live in the palace of Shechem instead of tent.

What Hamor and Shechem did may have been the practice in Canaan. When a man violates a woman, it may have been better for the man to marry the woman if he really likes her to save the dignity of the woman. But such case is not always true to Dinah’s brothers. Jacob was still in shock that he can’t decide.

Not everyone feel comfortable reading what happen to Dinah. Yet, God selected great stories and not so great stories that He wanted to be included in the Bible. Dinah’s tragic story is a reality not isolated to her but also a recurring event throughout all generations, and Jacob was not excluded from tragic events.

We preach that Jacob represents believers in God. So, it means that even believers will face tragic situation that may shock us. Should terrible experiences in life discourage us to stop believing the Lord? No!

It is by faith in Christ that we believe and trust God. It is by God’s grace that we believe in Christ. It is not by human effort. It is God’s work. God loved us first that’s why we can love Christ. And, Christ won’t stop loving us.

Apostle preached in Romans 8:35-39, 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

When we preach what God has promised in the Scripture, many would argue or dismiss, “Yeah! It’s easier said than done!” Their observation is right! Yet, we should not dismiss just like that and do nothing. Instead, we’ve got to be humble to admit that we need the Lord to help us trust Him and His words.

Christians are citizens of heaven. To become citizens of heaven has similarity to immigration from a poor country to a great nation like Canada.

Immigration

Not a few new immigrants felt discouraged upon arrival in Canada. Their expectation was to have good paying job but even finding for a job is difficult. The Canadian government requires at least $10,000.00 pocket money for the principal applicant and $2,000.00 for each member of the family. Why? To make sure that the immigrant has something to spend while looking for a job.

But still there were immigrants who come here without much knowledge about life in Canada. But for those who endure and become citizens of Canada, they have better understanding that life anywhere around the globe, not just in Canada, needs wisdom and resilience to survive.

Countless of believers have testified about their wonderful experiences of God’s love and care. And yet, there are many new believers who were confused about Christian lifestyle. So, instead of giving in to confusion, we’ve got to ask the Lord to help us realize and experience His love and care in practical ways.

You may be currently facing a very difficult concern. Can you believe that God brought you in your current challenging situation for a purpose?

When God allowed the Israelites to be removed from Israel, it was the worst situation that took away their pride. Why? Before exile, the Israelites were proud to have a magnificent temple and palace. To be in Jerusalem is incomparable to other places. There’s no place like home, so they say!

Even now, people cannot stop visiting Jerusalem even with a threat of war.

Yet in their difficult situation when they were exiled, the Lord told them in Jeremiah 29:7, 7Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.

God may not exclusively say to pray only about material wealth. He may also implied to pray for the betterment of your situation, surrounding, community and not just do nothing or be consigned to grief and despair. Remember the story of Joseph? He was sold as a slave to Egypt, but Joseph benefited from it.

This is also a challenge I wish to remind each one of us as we face New Year. Instead of grumbling about our government or employers, pray regularly for peace and prosperity of our city. Pray for more investors to come and invest here. Pray for the elected officials to make laws favorable to us. Pray for police officers to implement the laws accordingly, and we’ll see how God bless us abundantly.

Pray also for our church leaders that God would reveal to us His plan for our church, and how we may advance His kingdom in our community. Despite of many difficulties, remember that great challenges brings out the greatness in us.

May God be glorified in our life, now and forever more.

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