Week Four Devotion: (Download PFD)
As we continue our reading in Genesis 30 we see the kind of familial dysfunction that could become a script for daytime TV dramas. On the run from his homicidal brother, Jacob finds his way to his uncle Laban and upon arriving Jacob meets Laban’s daughter Rachel and falls in love. Then after a brief family reunion, Jacob makes it known that he wants to marry Rachel and is willing to work as a shepherd for 7 years in order to earn her hand.
7 years goes by and Jacob comes to claim his prize but there is a twist in the story. Laban throws a party to celebrate the wedding and then late that night when the new husband is waiting in the tent for his wife to join him, Laban sends in Leah his other daughter and Jacob doesn’t realize what has happened until the next morning.
How could a family member pull such a trick? Jacob is furious at his uncle’s treachery, which is a bit ironic considering that Jacob himself was on the run because he had done something equally as treacherous to his own brother Esau and his father Isaac. Think about the irony of Jacob’s anger in how this went down.
Anyway, by the end of chapter 29 Jacob is married to both Leah and Rachel but he still has to work for another 7 years to pay for it. But the drama in this family is far from over.
Something to discuss…
Perhaps you’ve noticed that there is a pattern to the family drama we see in Genesis and it goes back to the curses that God announced in chapter 3. God promised that as a result of Adam and Eve’s sin:
Gen 3:15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring…
Quite literally, God promised that opposition would persist between the offspring of the woman, which represents those on the side of trusting God, and the offspring of the serpent, which represents those on the side of the snake in the garden. We see this curse playing out in four examples through the book of Genesis.
There is competition between Cain and Abel, that leads to murder. There is hostility between Ishmael and Isaac that leads to abuse and abandonment. There is opposition between Esau and Jacob, which has led to Jacob running for his life. There is also resentment and abuse that takes place between the Sons of Israel and their brother Joseph. In other words, God has kept his promise to put enmity between the offspring of the woman and the offspring of the serpent.
But there is something striking about this theme (the war of the seeds) and it has to do with what it reveals about God’s plan of redemption. In each case, the brother on whom God’s favor rests is not morally superior to the other. In every case both brothers are sinful.
Abel offered a sacrifice to God because he knew that he was a sinner in need of pardon. Isaac was well aware that he was a sinner in God’s eyes and this lesson was etched in his heart as he lay atop the wood as the potential sacrifice for sin. On two separate occasions, Jacob stole from his brother the two most valuable things he possessed, his birthright and his blessing.
Both parties are sinful, but God’s purpose of salvation stands not on the basis of man’s merit it stands upon the basis of God’s mercy alone. The enmity between the men continues even to this day and the only solution, the only means of true peace is found in the final Seed who came to crush the serpent's head. Jesus is the one who came to free us from this enmity and redeem us from the sin that plagues us all.
Something to meditate upon…
In our reading this week we will meet Joseph in chapter 37. He is the youngest of Jacob’s 12 sons and he is also his father’s favorite. He was shown special treatment when Jacob gave him a colorful coat that was admired and envied by the rest of the family. But Joseph also had a gift. He was a dreamer and God had given him the ability to interpret dreams.
One-night Joseph has a dream where he saw that he would grow to be the ruler over his father, mother and all of his 11 older brothers and for some reason Joseph was sure that all of his family would be excited to hear about this dream. He was wrong. His brothers considered killing him because of his dream but in the end, they settle on selling him into slavery. And from this point forward Joseph’s life is pretty terrible.
Here is the question that I want you to meditate on, “Where was God as Joseph was being mistreated?” You’ve probably heard questions like this before. People who’ve been through difficult trials often want to know where was God when they needed Him most. Let’s be honest and say that it is a tough question to answer and most often we don’t understand why God allowed the trial until long after it has past.
But in Joseph’s case, there is a clue and it has to do with the city of Dothan where he found his brothers. Years later, the prophet Elisha and his servant found themselves in the city of Dothan and they too are surrounded by enemies. The servant was afraid and Elisha prays that God would open his eyes and allow him to see.
2 Kings 6:17 So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
Sometimes we don’t see God at work but this passage reminds us that He is present, working all things together for our good and the good of His people.
Something to pray about…
I think the temptation is for us to get angry when hard times come our way. Our tendency is to be frustrated when it doesn’t appear that God is working in our lives. But rather than allowing our trials to discourage us or lead us to anger I want to encourage you to let them lead you to prayer.
Pray for God’s comfort when the world is rough. Pray for God’s peace when life is filled with fear and chaos. Pray for God to give you a glimpse of how He is working in your life. Pray for God to use you for His glory and for the good of His people even when people are meaning to do you harm.
Next week we will be reading Genesis 48 thru Exodus 18 where we continue to see God keeping his promise to bless the family of Abraham and to redeem them from the wickedness that crept into our hearts in the Garden.