Year 2 Day 257
Read - Genesis 30v1-23
Message - Scott Woodburn
Perhaps you grew up having memorised the names of the twelve sons of Jacob? Can you still remember them? Here’s a wee refresher from the oldest to the youngest. Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph and Benjamin. From these famous sons there came the twelve tribes of Israel. Eventually the promised land would be divided up among eleven of these tribes with the tribe of Levi receiving no land but instead having the privilege of serving the Lord as priests.
But do you remember how these tribes started out? We’ve already seen the disciplining of Jacob as he is deceived by his uncle Laban. Jacob the trickster fell to his uncle’s trick. Jacob was forced into marrying Leah and he grew to despise her. Leah longed for her husband’s love which never seemed to come. Jacob served his uncle for a further seven years before also marrying Rachel. He loved Rachel but Rachel didn’t fall pregnant causing much anguish, bitterness and jealousy. The family is a mess and their troubled relationships are seen in the origins of the tribes.
To Leah is born Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun and a daughter called Dinah. To Rachel’s servant Bilhah is born Dan and Naphtali. To Leah’s servant Zilpah is born Gad and Asher. To Rachel is born Joseph and Benjamin. Can you imagine Christmas dinner with such a mixed bunch? How about arranging the seats for a family wedding?
The whole story is really quite sad. Our hearts go out to Leah who wonders if the birth of her son will cause her husband to love her. The absence of a child causes Rachel to envy her sister (v1a) and to wish death upon herself (v1b). Jacob is infuriated at Rachel as a result of her attitude (v2). Later Leah trades some mandrakes (roots from a plant believed to help fertility) with Rachel for a night alone with Jacob (v16). Ladies can you imagine have to barter with another woman just so you can spend the night in your husband’s bed? Can you imagine sitting looking at your mandrakes when you know your husband is with your sister?
Chaos. Utterly tragic chaos. And yet…God brings blessing in the midst of chaos. As we marvel at the inter-family bickering we shouldn’t miss the sovereign provision of twelve sons - God was building His people and keeping His Word. Did Jacob deserve such blessing? It would be hard to make a case for him. His underhanded ways have blown up in his face. God’s love was clear and yet Jacob still resorted to dubious methods to get one over on his brother.
Families are rarely perfect and I’m certain as you consider your own clan you probably have some stories to tell. You didn’t respect your father. You don’t speak to your brother. You love your sister but don’t approve of her choices. You sacrificed everything for your children but now you rarely see them. It would be easy to fall into bitterness and envy and strife but I would urge you to flee from such a path.
Our God is not stopped by family chaos or the darkness of the world. He fulfilled His promises in Jacob’s life despite the family politics and sinful decisions. He remains the God who spoke into the darkness and created the light. He brings order out of chaos. In response, walk rightly before Him. “The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” (Romans 13v12-14)
Q23 What offices doth Christ execute as our Redeemer? Christ, as our Redeemer, executeth the offices of a prophet, of a priest, and of a king, both in his estate of humiliation and exaltation.