Thursday, November 5, 2015

Rebekah - don't play favorites

Ready for the fireworks I promised? (Grin)

Isaac gave the blessing to Jacob; it was the same one that he received, and now he is passing it on. But you know, it already belonged to Jacob. God had said that -- He had already blessed Jacob. God is not accepting this deception, don't take that away from our study. Jacob shouldn't have gotten the blessing in this way; God would have gotten it for him, but he (and Rebekah) couldn't wait.

Just after Jacob had received the blessing from Isaac, Esau returned from his successful hunt -- he had cooked the meat just the way that Isaac loved it. To say that Isaac was surprised is an understatement:
 After Isaac finished blessing him, and Jacob had scarcely left his father’s presence, his brother Esau came in from hunting.  He too prepared some tasty food and brought it to his father. Then he said to him, “My father, please sit up and eat some of my game, so that you may give me your blessing.”
His father Isaac asked him, “Who are you?”“I am your son,” he answered, “your firstborn, Esau.” Isaac trembled violently and said, “Who was it, then, that hunted game and brought it to me? I ate it just before you came and I blessed him—and indeed he will be blessed!” When Esau heard his father’s words, he burst out with a loud and bitter cry and said to his father, “Bless me—me too, my father!” But he said, “Your brother came deceitfully and took your blessing.”
 Esau said, “Isn’t he rightly named Jacob? This is the second time he has taken advantage of me: He took my birthright, and now he’s taken my blessing!” Then he asked, “Haven’t you reserved any blessing for me?”  Isaac answered Esau, “I have made him lord over you and have made all his relatives his servants, and I have sustained him with grain and new wine. So what can I possibly do for you, my son?” Esau said to his father, “Do you have only one blessing, my father? Bless me too, my father!” Then Esau wept aloud.  His father Isaac answered him, "Your dwelling will be away from the earth's richness, away from the dew of heaven above. You will live by the sword and you will serve your brother. But when you grow restless, you will throw his yoke from off your neck."
 (v 30-40)
Did you notice that Esau took no responsibility for the bargain that he made with Jacob some time earlier? "He took advantage of me!" "He took my birthright!"  Those sound like the excuses of someone who has lain awake at night, regretting a poor decision, to be sure.

This caused Esau to plan for his revenge:

Esau held a grudge against Jacob because of the blessing his father had given him. He said to himself, “The days of mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob.” When Rebekah was told what her older son Esau had said, she sent for her younger son Jacob and said to him, “Your brother Esau is planning to avenge himself by killing you. Now then, my son, do what I say: Flee at once to my brother Laban in Harran. Stay with him for a while until your brother’s fury subsides.  When your brother is no longer angry with you and forgets what you did to him, I’ll send word for you to come back from there. Why should I lose both of you in one day?”  Then Rebekah said to Isaac, “I’m disgusted with living because of these Hittite women. If Jacob takes a wife from among the women of this land, from Hittite women like these, my life will not be worth living.” 
(Those are verses 41-46 of the chapter.)
Anybody know what it's like to have conflict in the family? Yep. It ain't fun. But this was a conflict of Rebekah's (and Isaac's) own making. In order to protect one son from the other, she sent Jacob back to her own family, many miles away. She used the excuse of not wanting Jacob to take a wife from the Hittites, as Esau had done.
She thought it would be only a little while. It actually was many, many years -- in fact, she never saw Jacob again, or her grandkids. That was a heavy price to pay. If only she had trusted the Lord to fulfill His promise; instead, she tried to take control of her future, and what a mess she made, taking it into her own hands, instead of leaving it in God's hands.

Some lessons to be learned from Rebekah's second chapter . . . of course, there is the obvious one: don't play favorites when it comes to your children. Nowadays, it is very common to see this, especially in homes that are on the verge of breaking up; conflict between mom and dad often results in conflict among the kids. One of the worst things we can do is favor one child over the other, or have one parent take the side of one child, and another take the side of a second child. Nothing but heartache here.  Of course, in divorced families, there is a lot of game-playing. There often seems to be a popularity contest between the parents. The best possible thing we can do is try to keep families together, and then try to keep our Lord in the forefront of our homes.

Another lesson from Rebekah's second chapter is this: there are no shortcuts to achieving our life goals. God will make His promises come through, and He doesn't need our maneuvering to make it happen. He is faithful, and He will do as He says. If only Rebekah had remembered that.

The lesson that Jacob will learn all too well is that he is not as clever as he thought. He is going to rue the day that he impulsively followed his mom's instructions. He is going to go back and live with Uncle Laban, and he is going to put Jacob through the wringer. Jacob thought he was clever, but he is going to find out that for cleverness, he needs to learn at the feet of Laban -- he is a master at scheming and manipulating people. Jacob will discover that he is just an amateur, and he will cry out to God in desperation at Laban's tricks.

We can bring years of regret and grief on ourselves when we try to rush ahead of God. Let's covenant with our families to live in love and unity, with no favoritism. Let's work to resolve conflicts in our families before they reach crisis levels. Let's teach our children and grandchildren that we are willing to wait upon the Lord for His promises to be fulfilled.


Marla's Crafts said...

You know I hear that all the time with my two boys. I favor one over the other. I hope I treat them the same but there is different circumstances. It started when they were young. With only being two years apart I would make my oldest son wait until my youngest son was old enough before I would let my oldest son do something he wanted. It came back on me when he turned ten and we faught a lot until he left for university. I thought it would be easier and keep piece if they did things together. It didn't and made a hard relationship with my oldest son. I heard it alot as they were oldest about playing favorites. I am very proud of both of my boys and we have a very good relationship but if i had to do it again I know I would have done it differently. Life's lessons.

Austin Towers said...

The story of Rebekah is an object lesson in not running ahead of God or trying to manipulate him! I have got a lot out of this study. Thank you, Jacque xx