A few years back I wrote a post about a controversial photo that had been shared in the midst of the Syrian Refugee crisis. It was a photo that broke many of our hearts, especially as mothers. But it brought to my mind the fact that every day as mothers we have to make difficult decisions for the good of our family. Whether that is what we all eat, what school to send the kids to, where to live. Our instinct as mothers is always to protect and strive for the best for our family.
It is in this light that I have tried to view this week’s meditation verse and the surrounding story. From a complete outside perspective what Rebekah does seems completely against what we know about God – she lies, she deceives, she seems to hate one of her own sons. All of these things surely are not what God would want? But the deeper we dig, the more we will see of the reasons why Rebekah does this and why it could possibly be within God’s plan.
“His mother said to him, “My son, let the curse fall on me. Just do what I say; go and get them for me.” Genesis 27:13
a hanging prophesy
Back in Genesis 25:23 we read this curious prophesy that was spoken over Rebekah’s children in the womb. A prophesy like that is one that is unlikely to be forgotten. As I stepped into Rebekah’s shoes this week I remembered the weight of this hanging around me. With her children now grown up and her husband getting progressively older, her thoughts turn to the future of her family. Who would protect and care for her when she became a widow? Who would carry on the family line and get the inheritance?
In Genesis 26:34-35 we see that there are a few problems with Esau and the wives that he has chosen for himself. They are foreign women who would probably not follow God and would introduce Esau to other gods. What would that mean for the family line and Rebekah’s future? Probably not the best. And so in kicks her mother’s instinct to protect and survive. What could she do to change what seemed to be unstoppable – Esau was the eldest and so deserved the inheritance in that culture. Her only means of survival was to think fast and do something slightly crazy….
sometimes the best means hurting someone ELSE
We read on to chapter 27 and see this story of trickery unfold, where Rebekah convinces Jacob to pretend to be his brother by making himself hairy and going to his elderly father to receive his blessing. This is all done whilst Esau is out hunting, unaware of what is going on. Now I am fairly sure Rebekah is not stupid. She must have fully understood the consequence of pitting one brother against another. This was going to hurt Esau when he came home and bring about fighting. But as mothers we are always taking the long game. What Rebekah saw in the future with Jacob as the heir was worth far more than a few years of bickering. What Rebekah saw in the future if Esau was the heir was so terrifying it had to be avoided. In the same way that we discipline our children so that they learn to avoid danger, Rebekah did what was necessary to protect her family, even if that meant hurting one or both of her sons initially.
We may not think that this plan of trickery was a godly way to act. But God also had to act in severe and crazy ways (some may say!) to save his own family – us. God had to make a tough choice to hurt his one and only son, but in doing so He looked to the long game of what it would accomplish – no more death and separation from his beloved children.
SOMETIMEs THE BEST Means sacrificing yourself
The one thing that has struck me this week about Rebekah was that she was not shying away from the consequences to herself. She knew this plan sounded crazy and had big potential consequences, but she was willing to take the curse upon herself to ensure the best for her family. With Mothering Sunday last week, we have all been reminded that mum’s often sacrifice a lot of themselves to see the best outcome for their children. Rebekah did not hatch this plan thinking it would just be a bit of fun to mess with her elderly husband. No, she was willing to go through with it to see Jacob blessed and thriving, even if that meant she had to live under a curse. How many of us would be willing to do the same for our children?
Jesus too took on this attitude, when he willingly went to the cross for our sins, to bring us back to God. I am so glad he did. And I am so glad that Rebekah did what she had to do to keep her family line going in a godly way, as otherwise we wouldn’t have had Jesus, who was born of Jacob’s line (read Matthew 1:1-16 for the full genealogy!).
next week – new series!!
This week brings us to the end of our four weeks on Rebekah (hasn’t that gone quickly!!) and me and Naomi thought we deserved a bit of break from the women in the Old Testament. So for the next five weeks we will be looking at some Heroines of the New Testament, those ladies who get a mention from the early church that I am sure we can all get lots of inspiration from. First in the line up is Dorcas (aka Tabitha) and we will be meditating on this verse:
“In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (in Greek her name is Dorcas); she was always doing good and helping the poor.” Acts 9:36
Naomi will be leading the discussion over in our Facebook group so do join us there! You can also sign up to get the summary posts and meditation verse direct into your inbox below: