I get more than my fair share of e-mails. Whether it's readers of this web log, or readers of our website, many different people, with many different needs contact me on a daily basis. For the past few months I have been noticing a trend, that of parents asking for prayer for their children. I even had a friend call me and ask if I thought it wise for him to send a seed offering to a televangelist, writing his wayward son's name on the check, because the man had promised the child would come to God if this was done. Some parents, driven by love, go to extremes in the hopes of seeing their children saved, but very few are willing to let God do what He must in order for this to come to pass. In a roundabout way this present post, and the next couple posts will deal with the issues of parental love, destiny, God's intervention, and the means God will often use to open the eyes of those He desires to reach.
For many, time would pass at a crawl in the vast Mesopotamian fields, the repetition of tending to sheep growing painfully monotonous. For a young man in love however, even seven years would seem like but a few days. The visions of what would be, the dreams of their wedding day and the life he would have with his beloved kept Jacob in good spirits. Every day that passed, each time the sun scorched his back, each night he huddled in the cold meant he was one day closer to being with his one true love. They had met by a well, and it was love at first sight.
Jacob loved Rachel, of this there was no doubt, for few men in existence today would labor seven years as a sheepherder simply to have a woman’s hand in marriage. Love like everything else in this modern age has become an instant experience, and if it doesn’t happen within the first few minutes, if instant gratification is not promised and delivered one grows weary, and goes about searching for a new love, another love. If one is not willing to sacrifice, it is not true love, but merely an illusion.
Even having had seven years to prepare, to think about his wedding day, to plan it down to the last finite detail, when the day finally arrived it caught Jacob unprepared. To Jacob’s surprise Laban his soon to be father in law seemed in the best of moods having invited all the men of the place and making a feast, sparing no expense in the process. The finest foods were prepared, and in the shadow of tents adorned with expensive rugs, following the traditions of old, there was music and celebration. The wine flowed liberally, the best Laban could find from the merchants in Damascus, all served in new clay vessels. No expense was spared.
Jacob continued to be amazed, even awestruck by the attention he was receiving from Laban, overwhelmed by his charity, being offered the choicest morsels of lamb, and encouraged to empty his wine jug, only to be refilled again. No matter how much Jacob drank, the wine never seemed to run out, so much so that by sundown as he made his way to the marriage tent, he realized he was unsure of his footing. Ever so careful, Jacob made it to the tent and now waited for his bride to be brought in, as was the tradition of the time.
With the complicity of the moon, which hid itself behind a cloud, and an obedient servant who had been instructed before hand by Laban to somehow douse the only lamp in the tent, Jacob’s bride was successfully substituted. Only in the morning, when it was too late, does Jacob realize that the woman brought to his tent had not been his beloved Rachel, but Leah her older sister.
Even though some things may have seemed strange to him the previous night, Jacob could never have imagined his father in law’s cunning plot. Jacob lacked the lucidity and discernment to see the situation for what it was just as seven years prior, Isaac lacked the vision and lucidity of spirit to detect the substitution of his firstborn son, as he came to receive his blessing. As so often happens, Isaac’s deceiver, became Laban’s deceived.
One act of deception sets off a chain reaction of lies and deceit in this family, which perpetuates itself along many generations. It becomes a legacy of sorts. First, Jacob catches Esau between a rock and a hard place, and takes away his birthright; then Rebecca puts together a plan by which Esau would be robbed of the blessing that was rightly his; Laban deceives Jacob; the sons of Jacob plot against Joseph and lie to their father; Rachel steals her father’s idols; the sons of Jacob lay a trap for the citizens of Shechem that leads to their demise, and so on.
A fraud planned in the heart of man, then perpetrated by his hands, is like a long-range boomerang that never misses its target. The one who throws it, the one who perpetuates it, will inevitably be struck down by it. Even if they would intuitively know that the reckoning for their deeds is coming, they could not avoid it, for they do not know the time, place and circumstance in which their just reward will be visited upon them.
Seven more years went by wherein Jacob labored, for in his heart he still loved Rachel. Seven more years of subservience, and obedience, under the man who had deceived him, but at long last, he has what his heart so longed for, he is wed, and Rachel becomes his wife. Even so, God establishes an odd balance in this family of three, for the wife Jacob loves is barren and could bear him no children, and the one he merely tolerates bears him sons. For years and years, Jacob and Rachel live the frustration of not having children, in a culture that looks down upon, and even despises women who are unfruitful and can bear no offspring.
As Jacob begins to grow old, in the twilight of his life, God shows favor toward Rachel, and is merciful with her, granting her the desire of her heart, a son. Encouraged by this, late as her child rearing was, she names her firstborn son Joseph; a name that personifies her prayer for God to grant her yet another son.
Jacob feels young again. With Joseph’s arrival, it seems as though he has been rejuvenated. He is happier now, in his twilight years than he was in his youth. So great is his joy, that he lavishes his son with not only all of his attention, but everything else his heart could desire. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that Joseph is now the favored son. If there had been any doubt, it was dispelled in totality upon the day Jacob presented his son Joseph with a tunic made of many colors. It was an extravagant gift for the son of a shepherd, but Joseph wore it proudly. Just as he has favored one wife above another, now it seemed Jacob favored one son above all others.
What was once a mild irritation soon becomes a seething hatred for their younger brother. It only made matters worse that his brothers could not speak peaceably with Joseph, and as of late he had started having dreams which he shared with the family.
Let us however not judge old Jacob too harshly for the favor that he has shown toward Joseph, for in hindsight it would seem it is only a foreshadowing of the favor God would soon show this young man, adding to his handsome features, and the charm of a pleasing personality, a prophetic gift. By the same token, the Bible bears out that a father’s favor is not at all a sure investment for his son’s future, unable to protect or shelter him from the unforeseen hardships of life, and that God has His own plan, a plan of which Jacob is blissfully unaware.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.