Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Through the Whole Bible: Genesis 29

Genesis 29 (link) demonstrates what happens when someone who has lived with treachery and deceit meets someone cut from the same cloth. It’s the story of what happens when Jacob meets Laban and the people caught in the middle.

Most of you that are regular Bible readers are familiar with the overall sweep of the story: Jacob is working for his relative, Laban, and the question of compensation comes up. Jacob agrees that he’ll work seven years with his labor providing the bride-price to marry Laban’s daughter, Rachel.

Then, Laban tricks Jacob into marrying his older daughter, Leah, first. Then, Jacob marries Rachel and commits to seven more years of labor. This is not the best side of anyone to be seen: Jacob dashes into polygamy so that he can have the wife he wants, Laban treats both of his daughters poorly.

This is bad. The story finishes up with Jacob treating his wives poorly: his preference for Rachel is felt by Leah while Rachel suffers from seeing Leah constantly provide offspring for Jacob. Why do I say suffers? Not just from the barrenness, but think about this: how is Leah bearing all of these children? A certain amount of Jacob’s energy and devotion is going to Leah, though he professes to prefer Rachel.

What do we take from this?

1. There will always be someone more clever, more deceptive than you are. No matter how much you try to be sneaky, you can find someone to out-sneaky you. It’s no way to live, being dishonest and treacherous all the way through.

2. There will be someone who tricks you in life. As much as you might try to be aware, be careful, be wary, there will be times that you are tricked or betrayed. Why? Because people are sinful and that comes out.

3. You have to find a way to respond to being betrayed and tricked. What will you do? As best you can, you should keep your integrity. Even in the face of deep deception, be honest and keep your integrity. Jacob could have kidnapped Rachel and hit the road, but instead he honors his own word. Though there is some criticism to be passed to Jacob, he comes off the better man here. Be the better person. Every time, no matter how tired of it we may get.

4. Be more honourable. This bears restating: every time. Be the more righteous person, be the one with more integrity. It does not always end up for your best temporal benefit, but do it anyway. Do not live life as if your earthly life is all that will be.

5. This needs fairly constant reminding: do not mistreat your wife. I would argue that not having “wives” is a good part of this. Part of Jacob’s issue at the end of the chapter is a divided household: one wife he loves, one wife he has to take care of. One of them is providing him with heirs, the other is not. End result: home is more than just a little bit of a mess.

Married folks: you can only have one spouse. Most of you are not inclined toward a formal polygamy, but many of us are inclined toward a divided heart. We love our spouse, but we also love football. We can’t keep both loves happy, so 14 Saturdays a year, we set one aside. You see the issue? Be married to only one love.

Unmarried folks: if you choose to marry, pick one love and be certain that your one love only loves you. Don’t get into a divided situation. Ever.

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