Today’s reading in Genesis is a contest between Jacob’s two wives, Leah and Rachel. Rachel is apparently jealous of Leah’s ability to produce children for Jacob. But rather than praying about it she decides to take matters into her own hands, which is never a good thing for us to do. She gives her maid to Jacob so that he can have her (Rachel’s) children through the maid. This is similar to the way Sarah handled her barrenness.
Rachel’s maid has two sons by Jacob and we see Rachel’s reaction in Genesis 30:7-8. Rachel struggled with her sister. Rachel’s focus was on her older sister. It was not where it should have been – on God. It is certainly natural to have sibling rivalry and its common for a younger sibling to compete with an older one. But in the end we have to take our insecurities to God and not try to compensate for them on our own.
If we read through this entire story we don’t see anyone ever pray. God is not present in the story – because He is not present in these people’s lives. Back in Genesis 25:21 Isaac prayed for his barren wife, Rebekah. But his son Jacob does no such thing. We continue to see the spiritual deterioration of this family.
After all these children are born we see that Jacob still has not become very wealthy. It appears that God has not blessed him the way He did his fathers. That is probably because Jacob didn’t have a strong relationship with God as we have seen. All he has is 2 wives and 11 children (Genesis 30:26, 30). While Jacob has not become wealthy, his father-in-law has. But it was Jacob who made Laban wealthy (Genesis 30:27).
Jacob comes up with a plan to obtain his own animals from the offspring of Laban’s. His scheme is scientifically impossible yet it works. We’ll see why later. Jacob ends up with many animals and that only angers Laban and his sons (Genesis 31:1-2) and Laban continues to cheat Jacob numerous times (verse 7).
By Genesis 31:13 Jacob is ready to leave and so are Leah and Rachel. Interesting how this is the only time they seem to agree on anything, both knowing that their father will not deal with them honestly either (Genesis 31:14).
In Matthew 10 Jesus gives His disciples the same power He had and sends them out to heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons, and cure those with leprosy. It certainly would have been very cool to be one of Jesus’ disciples and use these powers, don’t you think?
On a personal note, my favorite verse in all the Bible is the 2nd half of Matthew 10:8 “Freely you received, freely give”. I love to give money and gifts to other people. It is a gift that God has given me (Romans 12:8) and I couldn’t be more happy that I am wired this way.
The disciples were to trust that God would provide for them along the way. I think Jesus told them to do this for their sake – to increase their own faith – but also as a witness to the people the disciples would meet.
In Matthew 8:17-18 Jesus foretells the way believers will be treated in the future. After Jesus ascended into heaven after rising from the dead the disciples were persecuted. Even to this day Christians are persecuted in many countries. I once met a man from the middle east (I think he was from Iran) who converted to Christianity from Islam. He was whipped for his beliefs. He showed me the whip marks on his back. Even in the United States, which was founded on religious tolerance, we see that tolerance eroding over the past several decades. And I think it is picking up steam. The name of Jesus is offensive to so many in our country. The politically correct thing to do is not mention His name. But His name is the only way to heaven and people must be told that. What they do with that information is up to them. But just as Jesus sent out the disciples in this passage to spread the word of God, so too must believers today continue to let people know how much God loves them and that He wants to spend eternity with them. Jesus is the only way to make that happen!
Interesting correlation in Psalms 12:1 today: “the godly are fast disappearing!”. If that was true thousands of years ago when this Psalm was written how much more true is it today. The spiritual deterioration in the United States (where I live) is rapid and concerning. In this Psalm we see that people are flaunting sin, not aware or not caring that there is a God who will come to the aid of the oppressed. How true is the last line of this Psalm “… and evil is praised throughout the land”. Does this sound like the US? Abortion, pornography, homosexuality, greed, selfishness, etc are all values in our country now.
Finally in Proverbs we get more wise teaching about wisdom. Finding wisdom leads to blessing. Wisdom is more valuable than all the money on earth. But we can’t “find” wisdom unless we are looking for it. Notice that we have to be the initiators. We aren’t going to get wise by wishful thinking. It takes action.