Isaac and Rebekah send their son Jacob to Haran – that he would not marry any of the daughters of Canaan. The Bible clearly forbids believers to marry non-believers (2 Corinthians 6:14) for their non-believing spouse has the powerful potential to turn their heart away from the Lord (that’s what happened to Solomon, 1 Kings 11:4).
Isaac realizes the blessing truly has fallen to Jacob so he blesses him volitionally (Genesis 28:3-4).
In a futile attempt to please his parents, Esau takes as wife a daughter of Ishmael his half brother, but when someone functions in the flesh, they make all the wrong moves.
The LORD appeared to Jacob in a dream revealing the “connection” and intervention between heaven and earth. The LORD confirmed to Jacob the Abrahamic covenant of land and descendants, and how through him, “…all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” This of course is a prophecy of Jesus Christ.
In response, Jacob built an altar, he didn’t want to forget this dream. He renamed the city Bethel, which means “House of God,” and in Jacob-like-fashion He made a deal with God, promising to give the LORD a tithe of his possessions if God would be with him, keep him, and provide for him so that he would one day return to his father’s house.
Jacob arrives in the land, 500 miles away from home, asking for his uncle Laban. The men know Laban and point out the fact that his daughter, Rachel, was approaching as they spoke. For Jacob it was “love at first sight.” Initially I thought it was wrong that he kissed her on their first date (Genesis 29:11) but then I noticed that his uncle kissed Jacob when he saw him (Genesis 29:13), so I gave Jacob the benefit of the doubt (but I still wonder).
The formation of this family (keep in mind Jacob eventually becomes Israel) is flooded with grace.
Every husband should be inspired by Genesis 29:20 but I wonder if Jacob’s love at this point was eros (erotic) and not agape (divinely unconditional, true love).
Genesis 29:20 (NKJV) “So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed only a few days to him because of the love he had for her.”
Jacob got a strong dose of his own medicine, when his uncle Laban deceived him by getting him drunk and slipping in the older sister, Leah, as wife (Genesis 29:25). Imagine that! But no worries Laban has a plan, just serve another seven years and I’ll give you my younger daughter also. More than likely Jacob didn’t have to wait until the seven years were over to receive Rachel, but he DID work the full term for his second wife.
Why did Jacob love Rachel so much? Genesis 29:17 informs us that Rachel was beautiful and had a nice figure. I doubt that those are ever ingredients or factors of true love. Love is something rooted in the lover, not in the object of love, and how awful it is when a husband does not love his wife – such was the case for Jacob towards Leah – the Bible says in:
Genesis 29:31 (NKJV) “…the LORD saw that Leah was unloved…”
What a heavy indictment of a husband!
It’s heartbreaking to see the way Leah hoped that with the birth of each child her husband would love her. Thankfully, by her fourth child she lifted her eyes to heaven rather than looking to her husband (Judah’s name means “praise”) and she was able to praise the LORD.
Another day in the Ministry of the Messiah. He healed a woman with a twelve year flow of blood, He raised a 12-year-old from the dead, he healed two blind men, he cast out a demon, and I’m sure there was much, much more. It’s no wonder we read in:
Matthew 9:33b (NKJV) “And the multitudes marveled, saying, ‘It was never seen like this in Israel!’”
They should have known this was the Messiah!
In reading this section we clearly see the power of Christ, but we also see the factor of faith. The woman, the father, the blind men all had at least a mustard seed of faith (if not more) and Jesus honored that. Notice His teachings on faith:
Matthew 9:22 (NKJV) “But Jesus turned around, and when He saw her He said, “Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And the woman was made well from that hour.
Matthew 9:28b (NKJV) “And Jesus said to them, ‘Do you believe that I am able to do this?’ They said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord.’”
Matthew 9:29 (NKJV) “Then He touched their eyes, saying, ‘According to your faith let it be to you.’”
In Matthew 9:35 we have the three-fold ministry of Jesus articulated in order, teaching, preaching, and healing.
Jesus looked out at the people and was moved with compassion. They were weary and scattered like sheep having no shepherd (how does a sheep survive without a shepherd?). In response, He asked his disciples to pray for more laborers – something still needed today – people who truly make themselves available, and are willing to work for God sacrificially.
Don’t fly away like a bird – pray and trust the Lord. He’s testing us and working in our lives…but oh the fate of the non-believer! (Psalm 11:6)
As the righteous go through tough times, God is testing us. He’s purifying us. Even using the the violently unrepentant wicked for His purposes. But one day the non-believer will stand before God and be cast into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:11-15).
Psalm 11:6 (NKJV) “Upon the wicked He will rain coals; fire and brimstone and a burning wind shall be the portion of their cup.”
Proverbs 3:11-12 (NKJV) “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor detest His correction; 12 For whom the Lord loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights.“
I need to remember as God’s child that the challenges and chastening for the church is an act of love. I need to ask myself, in the chastening what needs to change – in me?
Sometimes we think backwards – if God loved us, we wouldn’t be experiencing this excruciating pain. Christian friend, He loves you, He proved it beyond a shadow of a doubt when He died for you on Calvary.
There’s purpose for the pain.
(do not despise – reject, refuse; think little of)
(do not detest – abhor, grieve, be sickened by; wearied by; hate this)
Chastening = Instruction. Rebuke = Correction.
Hebrews 12:5, “And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: ‘My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him.’”
I’m not a prophet and I don’t know all there is to know, but I have a hunch that at least a part of what our planet is experiencing in these days of Covid is the chastening of God.
So the big question is, “Are there any good and Godly changes on our part?”
Revelation 9:20-21, “But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk. And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.”
Let’s return to God, let’s repent of our sins…from the heart.
“The heart is the first thing that wanders away from God, and it is also the first thing that returns to God.” – Jerry Bridges
G. Campbell Morgan, “We cry too often to be delivered from the correction, instead of the sin that lies behind it. We are anxious to escape from the things that cause us pain rather than from the things that cause God pain.”
Warren Wiersbe, “No matter how much the experience hurts us, it will never harm us, because God always disciplines in love (Deuteronomy 8:2-5).”
Even though it hurts, I’m glad that God doesn’t leave me to myself, He disciplines me, and deals with me validating my legitimacy as a son, and even proving His love. (see also Hebrews 12:5-11)
If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.