Faulty Family

Genesis 35:16-29

16Then they moved on from Bethel. While they were still some distance from Ephrath, Rachel began to give birth and had great difficulty. 17And as she was having great difficulty in childbirth, the midwife said to her, “Don’t despair, for you have another son.” 18As she breathed her last—for she was dying—she named her son Ben-Oni. But his father named him Benjamin. 19So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem). 20Over her tomb Jacob set up a pillar, and to this day that pillar marks Rachel’s tomb.

21Israel moved on again and pitched his tent beyond Migdal Eder. 22While Israel was living in that region, Reuben went in and slept with his father’s concubine Bilhah, and Israel heard of it. Jacob had twelve sons: 23The sons of Leah: Reuben the firstborn of Jacob, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar and Zebulun. 24The sons of Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin. 25The sons of Rachel’s servant Bilhah: Dan and Naphtali. 26The sons of Leah’s servant Zilpah: Gad and Asher. These were the sons of Jacob, who were born to him in Paddan Aram.

27Jacob came home to his father Isaac in Mamre, near Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron), where Abraham and Isaac had stayed. 28Isaac lived a hundred and eighty years. 29Then he breathed his last and died and was gathered to his people, old and full of years. And his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.

God’s Grace

What inspired you to join other believers to worship God in this Sanctuary?

Together we assemble in this sanctuary to express our worship, praise and gratitude to God for the life He gave us, physical and spiritual life. With the joy of eternal salvation prevailing in our hearts, we spend time together to glorify God.

Congregational worship practically exhibits God’s grace at work in our life. We come together not just because of the similarity of belief we have in Christ but because God has called us to accomplish His purposes in our life.

It says in 1 Thessalonians 4:7-8, 7For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. 8Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.

When we accepted Christ as Lord and Savior, we received the Spirit of Christ, and He lives in us. If God’s Spirit is actively at work in our life, we would realize that it’s beneficial to obey God’s command. In disobedience to God, we ignore Christ as Lord but give in to the pressure of sin so that sin lords over us.

Why can we not stop sinning if Christ is our Lord?

Christ has warned of His 2nd coming in Matthew 10:21-23, 21Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 22You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 23When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. Truly I tell you, you will not finish going through the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

These signs that Christ had warned are becoming a reality in our generation. His 2nd advent is being expedited and accelerated. Make sure that you are prepared because anytime soon, Christ comes to bring us into heaven.

Most if not all of us, we value family relationship because we care. As much as we desire to have perfection in our family, we have imperfect, flawed and faulty family. Christian or non-Christian, no one in this wicked world can ever have perfect family. Perfection can only found in God and His perfect heaven.

The family of Jacob is a biblical example that believers of God have no control of events surrounding family members, sibling, sons or spouse.

1. Spouse

16Then they moved on from Bethel. While they were still some distance from Ephrath, Rachel began to give birth and had great difficulty. 17And as she was having great difficulty in childbirth, the midwife said to her, “Don’t despair, for you have another son.” 18As she breathed her last—for she was dying—she named her son Ben-Oni. But his father named him Benjamin. 19So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem). 20Over her tomb Jacob set up a pillar, and to this day that pillar marks Rachel’s tomb.

It was not mentioned how long Jacob stayed in Bethel. It could be months or years. Perhaps, they moved on from Bethel because they needed to find a greener pasture for their flocks and herds. Bethel is mountainous and maybe, more people had come to live nearby and pasture land has become scarce.

On a mountainous terrain, traveling while pregnant is not comfortable. Yet, Jacob decided to move out of Bethel while Rachel was pregnant. Jacob may have hoped that Rachel will give birth in Hebron where his father Isaac lived. Maybe, Isaac may have requested Jacob to bring his family there. Isaac may have desire to fellowship with his grandchildren during his last days.

When Rachel died and buried in Bethlehem, it was part of God’s plan. Rachel was most beloved wife of Jacob, and Bethlehem became a historic place where Christ was born. Christ’s birth in Bethlehem was unforgettable event. In Bethlehem, King Herod ordered the killing of children after Jesus was born.

It says in Matthew 2:16-18, 16When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. 17Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: 18“A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.”

Rachel had difficulty giving birth to Ben-Oni renamed Benjamin in Bethlehem, and it served as symbolical expression in Jeremiah’s prophecy of the massacre ordered by King Herod. What can we learn from such event?

Rachel’s difficulty of giving birth in Bethlehem was recorded as reference to God’s message of future event. When God allows our beloved spouse to experience challenges or difficulties in life, God might be implying what He would like us to know about particular events that may happen in the near future.

Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah but the Lord let Rachel died first. He wanted Jacob to pay attention to His message. It can possibly happen to us.

We have personal standards of ethics, principles or virtues. We often assume that we do what’s best for us but fail to hear God’s message for us.

When we don’t pay attention to the Lord, He would use anything just to make His message to be clearly heard, even if it makes us hurt or suffer.

The Hebrew name “Ben-Oni” means “son of my sorrow.” Rachel named her son “Ben-Oni” because of the severe labor she had giving birth. The Hebrew name “Benjamin” means “Son of my right hand.” Benjamin was the only child of Jacob born in Canaan. Why did Jacob name his son Benjamin?

Among Hebrews, the term “right hand” signifies authority and prominence. This is why Apostle Paul mentioned that he came from the tribe of Benjamin when he explained that he had all the rights to be confident of his nature.

He said in Philippians 3:4-5, 4If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee 6 as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless. 7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.

 Jacob had favored Rachel because she was very beautiful and lovely in figure, and he loved her more than Leah and his concubines. God may have let Rachel die for Jacob to spend more time and attention with his other sons.

When Jacob named his youngest son Benjamin, it reflected that he favored his sons with Rachel more than his sons with the other women. Jacob wanted Benjamin to have authority and prominence among his sons.

2 Sons

21Israel moved on again and pitched his tent beyond Migdal Eder. 22While Israel was living in that region, Reuben went in and slept with his father’s concubine Bilhah, and Israel heard of it. Jacob had twelve sons: 23The sons of Leah: Reuben the firstborn of Jacob, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar and Zebulun. 24The sons of Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin. 25The sons of Rachel’s servant Bilhah: Dan and Naphtali. 26The sons of Leah’s servant Zilpah: Gad and Asher. These were the sons of Jacob, who were born to him in Paddan Aram.

The inappropriate behavior of Reuben revealed disrespect toward his father. He may have felt bad that his mother was less loved so that he cannot respect his father. Such undesirable event illustrates that even a believer like Jacob can have faulty family or mischievous children.

Originally, Jacob did not plan to marry Leah. Jacob desired Rachel to be his wife but turns of events forced him to marry Leah. The Lord didn’t encourage polygamy, yet He chose Jacob trapped in a polygamous culture with faulty family to be the ancestor of His chosen nation.

So, even with faulty family, God sees essentiality for His purposes. He can use limitations and events we cannot control to accomplish His plans. Even so, it benefits us to obey God. Be aware that God knows everything we do. Whatever we do will affect us, our reputation. Our actions have eternal consequences.

What Reuben did had been recorded, and billions of people read it. He may have been very sorry of his action afterward. And, God made sure Reuben’s behavior to be recorded as object lesson that our actions are not disregarded.

John wrote what he saw of the future in Revelation 20:12, 12And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.

Sometime, we like to explore or experiment on bad behavior. Remember that anything we do is recorded by the Lord. Many believers choose their friends carefully because they are aware that friends can influence them. Apostle Paul warned us to be aware that not all friends can be good influence to us.

He said in 1 Corinthians 15:33-34, 33Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” 34Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God—I say this to your shame.

Jacob’s display of favoritism may have influenced the sons of Leah to do things that may confuse Jacob. Remember when Simeon and Levi massacred the people of Shechem? Reuben, Simeon and Levi were older sons of Jacob with Leah. Jacob’s behavior could have influenced the attitudes of his sons.

For sure we cannot control the mindset of our children. If parent do their part as good examples to children, whatever decision children make, parent should not be blamed for undesirable consequences of their decision.

Good Believers

The Bible has recorded believers of God who had children who were bad.

Noah was the most righteous man in his generation but his son Ham didn’t respect him. Abraham was called “the father of faithful believers” but his son Ishmael did not like Isaac. Isaac had twin sons Jacob and Esau who were not fair to each other previously before they reunited many years later.

Jacob had faulty family. Judah, the priest Eli, Prophet Samuel, King David, and Job had wicked sons. Does it mean that believers will always have faulty family? Are there prominent biblical characters who were good parents?

Joshua. Israel served the Lord faithfully when he was their leader. And, he challenged the Israelites in Joshua 24:14-15, 14“Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

It concluded in Joshua 24:31, 31Israel served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had experienced everything the Lord had done for Israel.

Did Joshua have respectful family? Probably! Yet, there’s no nation named after Joshua. No “Joshuaites!” But, Jacob who had faulty family was given the privilege to have the nation of Israel named after him. God named Jacob Israel.

The life of Jacob may encourage us to keep trusting the Lord that despite of our imperfection. He chose us to be included in His heavenly family.

It says in Hebrew 12:4-6, 4In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, 6because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”

Truly, like Jacob, we have our shares of faultiness, defects, imperfection, and limitations. Yet by faith in Christ, we become God’s children. We become perfect in God’s eyes when we ask His forgiveness, and He won’t remember our sins anymore. We can only experience such perfection to be true in our life when we let the Spirit of Christ takes over our life, mindset, actions and lifestyle.

Wait! Does God records our actions but don’t remember our sins?

How could that be? When we sincerely repent of our sins, we turn away from wicked ways. That’s a practical sign that God has forgotten and erased our sins from His records. There’s intentional and accidental wickedness.

When we repent but intentionally and frequently repeat the same wicked thing, where’s the sincerity of repentance? Intentional or premeditated offense is permission for sin to manipulate us, and rejection of Christ as Lord. Does it show that we received God’s forgiveness if we frequently do the same wickedness?

With forgiveness we received from God, we become ambassadors of reconciliation—we reconcile non-believers to Christ. God would surely love it and reward it when we reconcile or bring more people to Him. If there’s enthusiasm to reconcile others to God, it practically shows that we received God’s forgiveness.

When Jacob returned to Mamre, he reconciled with his father and brother. Isaac was described to have ‘full of years’ because the siblings reconciled.

3. Sibling

27Jacob came home to his father Isaac in Mamre, near Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron), where Abraham and Isaac had stayed. 28Isaac lived a hundred and eighty years. 29Then he breathed his last and died and was gathered to his people, old and full of years. And his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.

Jacob hesitated to go back to Mamre because he deceived his father just to get Isaac’s blessing intended for Esau. Jacob may have been informed that his parents Isaac and Rebekah were growing weak so that he decided to go back to Hebron. His brother Esau came also to help him bury Isaac’s remains.

Isaac saw his sons reconciled, and he lived a life ‘full of years.’ The term ‘full of years’ is interpreted to have similarity to the abundant life that Christ has promised  in John 10:10, 10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

Christ contrasted the purpose of coming to a thief who steal, kill and destroy. What is the opposite of steal? Give! How about kill? Give life! And how about destroy? Build! Christ came to build the life of believers.

When Christ offered life to its fullness, He offers to give and build the life of the person who believes in Him. It takes faith to believe that.

Death is the destiny to practically prove that our life without Christ is deteriorating. The description of Isaac’s life to be ‘full of years’ is similar to the kind of satisfied life that Christ offers to all who believe in Him.

Isaac set a good example of how to have a lifestyle as believer of God. His sons Jacob and Esau have contrasting life that painted the life of believers and non-believers, respectively. There’s little description of Esau’s life and activities. Jacob’s life and activities were given more recognition exhibited in the Scripture.

What does that imply?

Jacob was the kind of believer of God who had a faulty family. He had no very pleasant business transactions but he keep trusting and obeying each time he heard instruction from the Lord. Jacob had children who were respectful and not so respectful to him, yet God favored him over Esau.

As Christian parents, we desire to raise children in a godly manner and you may have full of years as bonus. But how?

ABCDE

Parents can be creative in giving names. A 5-year old little girl named “Abcde” pronounced “ab-si-dee” was mocked by an airline gate agent, then posted a picture of the small child’s boarding pass on social media.

One father observed his little child praying the Alphabet. He asked, “Why do you pray the alphabet?” The child answered, “I don’t know the word to say but God knows. He can arrange the alphabets to understand my prayer.”

Have you any experienced of how children grow in their faith and how they express their relationship with Christ? Do you teach children how to pray?

Isaac died and had ‘full of years’ knowing that his sons believed in God. Satisfied life includes joy of knowing our family and children are saved.

It says in Ephesians 6:4, 4Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

Jacob had a faulty family but it did not stop him from believing God.

Pray that you will be an example of believer that your children may follow. We are imperfect but by God’s grace we become perfect.

By God’s grace, we can also teach children to come to believe in Christ.

><(((‘> … ><(((‘> tmec\2019 <‘)))>< … <‘)))><

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.