Welcome to Thursday and another hot one forecast, so be careful everyone.
Our Bible passage today is Genesis Chapter 29 verses 31 through to Chapter 30 verse 24.
I said yesterday that the Bible writers under the guidance of the Spirit sometimes tell the story of God’s people, warts and all, without always specifically saying something is wrong, for example polygamy. They leave the readers to make up their own mind.
Well it seems to me that this rather repetitive passage shouts out to us why polygamy is wrong, when we are left with 1 man with 4 wives and 12 children so far, 11 sons and 1 daughter. The amount of jealousy and envy that is floating around is off the scale, the 2 maidservants are “used” seemingly without a choice as surrogates, interestingly on the orders of the wives rather than the husband. No wonder the family continues to be messed up in the next generation as well – (if you remember the story of Joseph).
2 things which have struck me which I hadn’t really noticed before.
Firstly, the sadness/poignancy of some of the children’s names, for example verse 8, ‘I have had a great struggle with my sister, and I have won. So she named him Naphtali (which means my struggle)’. And perhaps most disheartening of all that when Rachel finally becomes pregnant herself and gives birth to Joseph, the hero of the next generation, verse 24 reads, ‘She named him Joseph (which means may he add), and said, May the Lord add to me another son’, ie she is STILL not satisfied, and wants another.
Secondly, and this might be a warning to us, how both wives, Rachel in v.6 and Leah in v.18, suggest that God has vindicated/rewarded them when they have got their own way, even though they haven’t walked in His ways/purposes. That is a dangerous thing to do by celebrating sinful behaviour and invoking God’s blessing because it has turned out okay from your point of view.
However, having said all that, in the wonder and mercy of the Lord, His plan for a people and for the salvation of the whole world, moves a step forward. The Lord can work through our mess and sin as well as our obedience. The 11 sons plus the yet to be born Benjamin will form the 12 tribes of Israel, which will be the structure for God’s people for many years to come, and a pattern that is repeated in the New Testament with the 12 disciples/apostles chosen by Jesus, who are the foundation of God’s new people, the church. (And they were often a messed up bunch too!!)
In our prayers, we remember again some of our oversea connections, Fidel & Christine and the children in Kenya, Hannah usually in Tunisia but actually back home with her parents in Derbyshire, Saw Myint (our Crosslinks student) in Myanmar, and Frank & Val in Nazareth.
Also we continue to pray for Champa’s sister and wider family in Kolkata.
As I’ve said before, I am conscious that however hard things are here, they could be many times worse in the countries these folks represent.