Monday, January 23, 2012

You Are Not Forgotten

Again showing the commonness of barrenness, we have yet another example: Rachel.

Genesis 29:31
Now the LORD saw that Leah was unloved, and He opened her womb, but Rachel was barren.

Let's back up in the story first. Remember my last post about Rebekah, Isaac's wife, who was barren but ended up eventually having twins, Jacob and Esau? Well, to make a long story short, Jacob, the younger twin, ended up receiving God's promise of blessing from Isaac through trickery, and Esau got ticked off about that, so Rebekah sent Jacob away to flee for his life.

Jacob, while traveling back to his mother's hometown, sees God in a dream-vision. God tells Jacob how he will be blessed, but I specifically want to point out how God tells Jacob that his descendants will be as vast as the dust of the earth (great in number).

So when Jacob reaches his mom's hometown, he meets Rachel and loves her and asks her father for her hand in marriage, but her father says Jacob must first work for him for 7 years. So he does. But her father tricks Jacob and gives Jacob his older daughter, Leah, as his wife (which Jacob did not find out until the morning after their consummation). Jacob confronted the father and demanded Rachel's hand in marriage. Her father made Jacob wait one week, gave Rachel to Jacob as his wife, but made Jacob remain another 7 years in return. So after one week, Jacob took Rachel as his wife, and loved Rachel more than Leah.

So that is the context for Genesis 29:31 above. The story continues with Jacob getting lucky...a lot! Leah conceived and bore 4 sons. In Genesis 30:1 we learn that Rachel became jealous of Leah, and did a big no-no - she blamed her husband for her infertility. Furthermore in verses 3-4 she takes the matter into her own hands (maybe I should also call these posts the "commonly controlling") and gives Jacob her maid to sleep with in hopes of getting children through the maid.

Side note - I can't believe this was considered "ok" in her (and Sarah's) mind back then! Of course you or I would not practice this today, but think of it another way -- these women were so upset about their barrenness and lack of producing children, that they give their husbands another woman to sleep with. In our present day, this could be equated with "I'd do anything to have a child" - and how many of us have taken steps in this direction? Have you ever tried something, without concern of what your husband thinks, if it meant you might be closer to conceiving? For me, I would do this with initiating intimate moments - I was initiating purely out of desire for a child, not out of desire for my husband. I also would insist on "sperm-friendly" lubricant even thought it doesn' well. I basically had the attitude of commanding a dog, "You, sit! Stay! Produce!" Not a great example of a loving wife...Thankfully the Lord convicted me of this attitude.

Back to the story, after Rachel gave Jacob her maid to sleep with, the maid conceived and bore two sons. Then, in Genesis 30:9, Leah got jealous of Rachel and gave Jacob HER maid to sleep with (because Leah had stopped bearing). Talk about sisterly quarrels! So Leah's maid conceived and bore two sons. Are you having trouble keeping count yet? I am! (8 sons so far)

Then Leah conceived and bore two more sons, and one daughter (10 sons, 1 daughter in total). Finally in verse 22, "Then God remembered Rachel, and God gave heed to her and opened her womb." So Rachel conceived and bore one son. (And just before her death, she bore one more son).

Honestly, this last verse scares me a little because of the wording "God remembered Rachel"...does that imply that He forgot about her before she conceived? It certainly feels that way for me sometimes.

But that is not the truth. God has not forgotten about you or me. There are many examples of this truth in Scripture, so I encourage you to dwell on these verses and take them to heart, especially when tempted to think that you are forgotten. Stay hopeful my friends!
  • Joshua 1:5, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."
  • Psalms 73:26, "My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."
  • Psalms 94:19, "When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul."
  • Jesus tells us in Matthew 28:20 "I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
  • John 3:16, God loves you so much that He gave up HIS son for you! "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life."
  • Romans 5:1-5, "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us."
  • Romans 15:13, "Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
  • Philippians 4:4-7, "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
  • James 4:8, "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you."
  • 1 Peter 5:6-7, "Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you."

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