When Rachel saw that she wasn’t having any children for Jacob, she became jealous of her sister. She pleaded with Jacob, “Give me children, or I’ll die!”
Then Jacob became furious with Rachel. “Am I God?” he asked. “He’s the one who has kept you from having children!”
Then Rachel told him, “Take my maid, Bilhah, and sleep with her. She will bear children for me, and through her I can have a family, too.” So Rachel gave her servant, Bilhah, to Jacob as a wife, and he slept with her. Bilhah became pregnant and presented him with a son. Genesis 30:1-4 (NLT)
There is so much happening in this chapter I felt chaotic reading it this morning. There are four discontent main characters, all part of the same dysfunctional family system, all trying to force God’s hand and make things happen on their own:
- Rachel becomes jealous of Leah and parallel’s Jacob’s jealousy of Esau.
- When Rachel, then Leah, can’t have children on their own they take matters into their own hands repeat the mistake of Jacob’s grandmother and have him sleep with their maid servants.
- The sisters, catty and desperate to have more sons, grasp at superstition, eating mandrakes in hope it will make them pregnant
- While the baby-making contest continues between Jacobs wives and concubines, Jacob and Laban continue the family tradition of deception in the ordering of the family business:
- Laban deceptively takes the sheep he agreed to give Jacob and gives them to his sons instead
- Jacob answers deception with deception, using superstition to try to make more of the spotted sheet Laban had agreed to give him.
I get the sense that all of this jealousy, deception, superstition, desperation, and generational family sin makes for a dramatic amount of crazy in their everyday lives. It feels more than a little out of control, and I think that’s one of the points that I’m taking away from today’s chapter. When we desperately seek to take God’s will into our own hands and make things happen by our own ways and means, the results are often disastrous.
The other thing that I must acknowledge in all of this is that God continued to work His own will and purpose in and through Jacob, Leah and Rachel despite their own sinful deception and foolishness (So, I guess there’s hope for me!). As I journey through God’s Message I’m continually reminded that God’s divine purposes in this world are often carried out by unlikely and arguably unworthy individuals. There’s something unsettling and seemingly unfair about it, but it reminds me that I am not God. I do know see the big picture nor is my butt big enough to occupy His judgement seat.