Saturday, 11 January 2014

(12) January 12: Genesis 29-30 and Matthew 10v1-23

Ask God to open your mind, heart and will to understand, delight in and obey what you read.

To discover:­­
As you read note the different ways God seems to rectify injustice.

To ponder:
The space given to these events reflects the importance of the family. The heads of the twelve tribes of Israel are born. Yet as the deceiver is deceived (v25), God seems to be righting wrongs.
            The search for a wife echoes the search for a wife for Isaac. However, Jacob doesn’t display the godly prayerfulness that Abraham’s servant did. Nor are things as smooth. God leads him to his relatives. But whereas Jacob wants Rachel, he must first marry Leah. With irony, the one who swindled a place above his older brother is conned into first marrying the older sister before the younger. And again, the one who bought his birthright with a stew finds his wives bartering for him with mandrakes!
            The practice of having children for one wife by marrying her servant was a common cultural practice (remember Hagar). But because a culture may consider something acceptable, it doesn’t make it so. God tolerates polygamy in the Old Testament. He doesn’t condone it. In Genesis 2v24 we see his intent was for men to have one wife. And polygamy is almost always portrayed as ending in family strife. Here we see favouritism from the husband, and envy, rivalry and boasting between Leah and Rachel. Reflecting God’s concern for justice, he blesses the unloved sister with the many children, only “remembering” Rebecca when the scales between the two sisters seem a little more in balance. Something of Christ’s own concern for the outcast is revealed here.
            We hear again and again that each son is from God. He is building the nation he promised Abraham. And he is providing for that nation-family too. The competition between Jacob and Laban over the flocks seems bizarre. Both seek to swindle the other: Laban by removing the speckled animals he promised as wages to Jacob; Jacob by breeding more from the strongest. Throughout God oversees it in a way that brings the blessing he pledged (30v27, 30, 43).

Praying it home:
Praise God that he is concerned for the unloved and lifts up the lowly. Pray for harmony in your marriage or those of your wider family. Pray also that the church would uphold what God deems right, and not define right and wrong by the conventions of our culture.

Thinking further:
We do not see polygamy in our culture. But what we might call serial monogamy would seem to be the norm. By having to marry the servants Jacob was at least forced to be responsible for them - committing to care and provide for them and any children that were born. We are right to object to polygamy. But the challenge is to be as serious in how we view today’s practice of having multiple sexual relationships, causing immense hurt to those rejected along the way, and often leaving children with an absent parent.

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