Marriage

“Obedient to their own husbands”/Rebekah Pt. 4

I want to start out by saying that I’m not picking on Rebekah in these last few posts. In our introduction to her we considered her acts of faith and willing submission. I continue to stand amazed at her bravery in the face of what was a challenging agreement. She acted nobly, no doubt.

None the less, we must open our eyes to her mistakes and learn from them as well. We would be foolish to not do so.

In the Genesis 25-28 account of Isaac and Rebekah we find that Rebekah enters into purposed deception of her husband. She involves her favorite son in this deception by dressing him in goat skins and sending him in with stew — a pretense of Esau returning from the countryside with stew made from hunted game. It worked…seemingly. But let’s look at some of the immediate and long-term fruit of this deception.

Isaac, her husband, was visibly shaken when he discovered he’d been tricked out of giving the blessing to his first-born.

    “Then Isaac trembled greatly…” Gen. 27.33

Consider Isaac. He’s quite old in years. Esau is his first born son whom he loves dearly. He was eager to bless him, looking forward to that momentous occasion. Suddenly he finds that he has been robbed of this, a father’s great joy. Not only does this bring more damage to the unity they should be experiencing as man and wife, it grieves him; it breaks his father’s heart and belittles his manhood. It is crushing to him, resulting in emotional and physical shaking. She was not created for this but has willingly become a tool of Satan in this situation.

Some of us have done similar damage; some of us have harmed rather than helped, torn down instead of building, discouraged when we should have imparted words of faith and confidence. Is the damage too much? Is it beyond repair? Nothing is too difficult for God when we come to Him, repent, and obey. His grace and mercy is more than enough. We must simply humble ourselves before God and man. He gives grace to the humble. Building can start again, renewed trust can be gained in time. Do it now. It is not too late.

And what became of her beloved Jacob, her favorite son to whom she taught deception? What fruit was borne in his life? There is a scriptural principle: you reap what you sow. Jacob sowed deception and his life reaped deception bountifully.

His father-in-law deceived him, giving him Leah instead of Rachel. “And he said to Laban, ‘What is this you have done to me? Was it not for Rachel that I served you? Why then have you deceived me?'” Gen. 29.25

Later in Jacob’s life his sons deceive him and bring him great sorrow. They sell his son, Joseph, as a slave and tell him that Joseph was killed. It is a sorrowful story of contention and strife amongst siblings resulting in Jacob’s broken heart. Something about this story sounds vaguely familiar, like a rerun or something.

Jacob served Laban, his father-in-law for 20 years. He sorrowed needlessly over Joseph for 22 years before being reunited. “…few and evil have been the days of the years of my life…” Gen 47.9 Those were Jacob’s final words. A life marked by deception.

Let’s consider Esau, also caught in this web of deception woven by Rebekah. He became a man consumed with bitterness. “So Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father blessed him, and Esau said in his heart, ‘The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then I will kill my brother Jacob.'” Gen. 27.41 Sounds like a breach to me.

The breach went beyond his sibling relationship. He despised his parents as well. “Also Esau saw that the daughters of Canaan did not please his father Isaac. So Esau went to Ishmael and took Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, the sister of Nebajoth, to be his wife in addition to the wives he had.” Gen. 28.8,9 His goal was to inflict pain, to repay hurt for hurt, a vicious cycle that is never satisfied.

Rebekah herself was not exempt from suffering the consequence of her deception. There is no indication that her marriage with Isaac is ever fully restored to a place of unity. She does go on to make an appeal regarding Jacob marrying a daughter of the land of Canaan; Isaac responds by sending him back to her brother to find a wife. That’s a marked improvement, no doubt.

More painful than anything must have been her need to protect Jacob from his older brother, Esau. Rebekah sends Jacob away into exile to find safety; she never saw him again. Quite a price to pay, I would say.

Does the impact of deception and treachery end there? No, it is never that simple. Esau’s descendants, the Edomites, were enemies of Israel (Jacob) for generations. Scripture records their refusal to let Israel pass through their land (Numbers 20.14-21) and we find in I Kings 11.14-25 that Hadad, a royal Edomite, was Solomon’s great enemy. In the New Testament we discover the “clan of Herods” to have descended from Edom, including Herod the great (killed the infants at Jesus birth), Herod Antipas (took John the Baptist’s head), and Herod Agrippa (executed James and imprisoned Peter). Nice crowd.

Isaac’s spiritual blindness is no excuse for Rebekah’s sin and scheming. Two wrongs make… more wrong, more sin. She could have, and should have, broken the sin pattern. Someone needs to change — why not the wife?

Men failing to lead does not exempt us from our call to submission. When women take over, men are further weakened. Men need women who will support them so they can grow in strength and confidence. After all, theirs is no easy call, no “walk in the park”.

I leave you with a quote. Unfortunately, I don’t know where I got it from so it can not be properly credited. But it’s too good to pass up.

    “Rebellion is the fruit of misplaced confidence in self. Submission is the fruit of confidence in God.”

Get out your 3×5 cards and write it down. That’s one worth remembering in my book.

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