Monday, October 01, 2018

Rebekah and the consequences of doing God's things our way

[This is based upon my Bible reading for today]

The children struggled together within her, and she said, “If it is thus, why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of the Lord. And the Lord said to her,

“Two nations are in your womb,
and two peoples from within you shall be divided;
the one shall be stronger than the other,
the older shall serve the younger.”

(Gen. 25:23)

Isaac loved Esau because she ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob. (Gen. 25:28)

But Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, “Behold, my brother Esau is a hairy man, and I am a smooth man. Perhaps my father will feel me, and I shall seem to be mocking him and bring a curse upon myself and not a blessing.” His mother said to him, “Let your curse be on me, my son; only obey my voice, and go, bring them to me.” (Gen. 27:11-13)

The story of Isaac's favoritism and Rebekah's deception is a sad story about division within the covenant family of God. Isaac was given a prophecy from God at the birth of the twins Isaac and Esau, and if he had heeded God's Word he would have given God's blessings to Jacob when the time was right. However, Isaac favored Esau over his brother Jacob and in his favoritism he was willing to defy God and give Esau God's blessings instead. We note also in Genesis 26:34-35 that Esau had taken unbelieving women to be his wives, which were a source of sorrow to both Isaac and Rebekah. That action by Esau should in and of itself invalidated his claim to the blessings of God, if Isaac had actually paid attention. But in his spiritual blindness, Isaac overlooked all the many circumstances that disqualified Esau, and moved to pass God's blessings to Esau nonetheless.

In God's providence, Isaac's spiritual blindness was reflected in his near physical blindness. Rebekah stepped in to prevent the looming catastrophe of Isaac's folly and so preserve the covenant promises of God to His people. To do that, she schemed a devious plan to deceive Isaac such that Isaac would bless Jacob while thinking he was blessing Esau. We stop to note that what Rebekah desired was good— that Isaac blessed Jacob in accordance with the prophecy from God. But instead of asking God for intervention and/or remonstrating with Isaac, Rebekah came up with a pack of lies to execute the plan of God. Knowing the sins involved in the deception, Jacob feared for God's curses only to have Rebekah claimed the curses to fall upon her instead. Rebekah's deception succeeded! Jacob took the blessing and the covenant lineage was preserved. But it came about through a pack of lies! Does the means justify the ends? Well, God's redemptive plan is not thwarted, but should it have come about through sin, for indeed Rebekah's scheming is sin?!

We note that Rebekah called for the curse of God to fall upon her for her scheming, if any. The question we should ask then is: what subsequently happened to Rebekah? Here we note that the last scene where Rebekah was present is Genesis 27:46, and then we do not see her anymore. In Genesis 27:43-45, we see Rebekah stating that she will send for Jacob when Esau's temper has cooled, and we know that that obviously did not happen. Given that the next time Jacob met Esau was twenty years later (c.f. Gen. 31:38, 32:6), we can deduce that Rebekah must have passed away sometime within that twenty years. Rebekah passed away early in life, and from the time of her deception to her death she could not see her favorite son Jacob. Thus, we note that the curse of God did indeed fall upon Rebekah. For although she desired what was right, yet she went about it through sin. Taking on the curse of God on behalf of Jacob, her life was cut short earlier and she suffered maternal anguish in being separated from her favorite son. So God had indeed punished her for her sin, despite the fact that what she did put God's redemptive plan on the right track.

Thus, we see that the means does not justify the ends. Pragmatism as a ministry philosophy is spiritually bankrupt. To appeal to pragmatic reasons apart from Scripture and biblical exegesis is sin. While God might not cut short our lives or separate us from our loved ones until our deaths now, there are still consequences for sin, even if our sin practically advances the kingdom of God. God's things must be done in God's way, or not at all.


David said...

Thank you, that was good, especially your point about the means does not justify the ends! In his commentary on Genesis, Robert C. Harbach said this:"The consequences of your sin will be sure to overtake you. This truth underscores every line of this story. All four [Jacob, Rebekah, Jacob and Esau] in the drama found this out to their regret. To a certain degree they were never in this life entirely free from the consequences of their sins. "Walk in the light as He is in the light." O, if only these saints (and we) never had strayed from the walk, what griefs would have been eliminated from their (our) lives!" Comment sent by David N. Elmore

Daniel C said...

Hi David,

you're welcome, and thanks for sharing the excerpt from the commentary