Today’s Reading: Genesis 30-36
God confirmed his promise again to Jacob at Bethel – that He would bless Jacob with many descendants and give the land he once gave to Abraham and Isaac to Jacob and his descendants. Oh how wonderful it is that God sees our need to be reminded of His promises, to be made aware of His presence.
Jacob set up a stone pillar to mark the place where God had spoken to him. Then he poured wine over it as an offering to God and anointed the pillar with olive oil. And Jacob named the place Bethel (which means “house of God”), because God had spoken to him there. – Genesis 35:14-15
After having this incredible spiritual experience, Jacob left Bethel and moved his family on toward Ephrath. His beloved Rachel was pregnant for the second time and she went into labor. Her pains were intense and the delivery was very hard. Finally she gave birth to a son and with her final breath named him Benoni, “son of my sorrow”, but Jacob called him Benjamin, “son of my right hand”.
Rachel was the love of Jacob’s life. He first met Rachel when he arrived in Paddan-Aram. She was bringing her father’s flocks to the well and Jacob moved the stone from the mouth of the well and watered his uncle’s flocks for her (Laban was Rebekah’s brother). Within a month, Jacob was asking to take her as his wife. He loved her so much that he was willing to work seven years in exchange for his bride. When his uncle deceived him and instead gave him her older sister, Leah, Jacob agreed to another seven years of labor in order to marry Rachel.
Now loving Rachel did not mean that marriage came easy. When she was unable to have children and her sister Leah had already given birth to four sons, Rachel became very jealous and pleaded with Jacob to give her children. Jacob reacted in anger and asked, “Am I God?” he asked. “He’s the one who has kept you from having children!” – Genesis 30:2
Now Rachel had a choice. She could draw close to God and trust Him with the desires of her heart, or she could let jealousy and pride guide her actions. Rachel chose the latter. Instead of WAITING FOR GOD’S PLAN IN GOD’S TIME, Rachel began to manipulate her circumstances to get what she wanted. She gave her servant, Bilhah, to Jacob as a wife. Bilhah gave Jacob two sons and Rachel declared, “I have struggled hard with my sister, and I’m winning!” (Gen.30:8)
Apparently two can play at this competitive game because Leah gave her servant to Jacob and added 2 points to her score. Then the sisters began to barter for mandrakes, which were believed to aid in procreation. Again, Rachel was using manipulation and control to get what she wanted instead of going to the Giver of all good gifts. Oh how I wish I could not relate to Rachel here! I wish I never had the tendency to panic and take things into my own hands instead of trusting in God for every provision!
Leah gave birth to two more sons and a daughter but Rachel remained barren. God eventually remembered Rachel in spite of her bitter heart and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. “God has removed my disgrace,” she said. And she named him Joseph, for she said, “May the Lord add yet another son to my family.” – Genesis 30:24
Even in the first moments of holding her newborn son, a gift from God, Rachel is already displeased and desiring more from God. Instead of clinging to the God who had answered her prayer and provided her with a son, Rachel stole the household idols from her father, choosing to worship false gods instead of the one true God.
GOD’S WILL, GOD’S WAY, in GOD’S TIME – a lesson Rachel never seemed to learn. She gave birth to a second son but was not given the opportunity to raise him. In her struggle to always get more from God, Rachel lost all she had and Jacob lost his first love – Rachel.
Jacob has just renewed his covenant relationship with God at Bethel and now he is burying his sweetheart. Jacob built another stone pillar, this time over Rachel’s grave (35:20). He gathered his large family together and continued on. Jacob could have chosen anger and bitterness at the loss of his wife right after recommitting his life to God, but he chose to accept GOD’S WILL, GOD’S WAY, in GOD’S TIME.
At times I find myself with this expectation that God should answer my prayers because I have served Him well, almost as if I deserve His blessings. When I hear of someone who died in a car accident or that another believer has been diagnosed with cancer, I find myself asking God why He has allowed pain to come into the lives of those who love Him. I know it is wrong and I reject that kind of thinking, but sadly I often identify expectations in my heart that need disposed of. Almost daily I have to let go of my sinful accusations and let God do things HIS WAY in HIS TIME. When I ask God WHY, I hear Him once again reply, “Trust me.” I am so glad I committed these verses to memory:
But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.
They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water.
Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought.
Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit. – Jeremiah 17:7-8
It’s all yours, Lord. Everything I want to manipulate and control – every situation, every unknown, every relationship, every heartache – it’s all yours. Thank you for the blessings you so generously pour out into my life each day. I praise you for all you allow in my life – good and bad. TEACH ME THROUGH EVERY STRUGGLE and strengthen my faith in you. I love you so much, El Shaddai – God Almighty! Amen.