Today's reading: Genesis 24:1-30:43
What's in today's reading: Isaac and his wives, Jacob and Esau
Sometimes I find reading the Bible to be kind of boring (GASP!!) Much of what we call The Old Testament is history. Sometimes personal history, as is the case with today's reading, sometimes national history (Chronicles, Judges...) But history can be very boring.
But if the Bible is the Word of God, then everything that is in there is there for a reason. There's something God wants us to know about the people and events that we read about.
And that's the case here. Isaac is the son of Abraham, and the father of Jacob. These three names are often said together. God is sometimes called "The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob."
But in our reading today, Isaac is a young man and is about to seek a wife. What lessons can we learn from his story?
The first part of our story is a love story. Abraham wants a wife for his son before he dies, so he sends out a servant to find one. The servant asks God for a sign and lo-and-behold, there's Rebekah. Some explaining to her parents and yadda-yadda-yadda she's brought to Isaac and becomes his wife.
Ok, so it's not a GREAT love story, but Isaac has a wife. The Bible tells us "Isaac was comforted after his mother's death".
Now imagine Isaac, now a young man, maybe late teens, early 20s. His parents are OLD. His playmates are the children of their servants but he doesn't have any real friends (they are servant children after all), the only people he's close to are his parents. And his mom dies. I imagine he was very depressed. And then he looks over at his father and sees that Abraham isn't doing so great either.
He really did need comforting.
Our story continues...
Abraham, after re-marrying and fathering more children (with his wife and concubines) dies. He had a good long life! Isaac and Rebekah are left to carry on our story...
And they have kids. Jacob and Esau. Twins. Twins that are as different as night and day. And to make matters worse, the parents play favorites.
The story includes a lot of things that seem odd to us, like the selling of a birthright for a bowl of soup. But you need to remember that this was THOUSANDS of years ago. Things were handled differently. Later we see that mom helps Jacob trick his dad into getting the greater blessing before Isaac died. What all this boils down to is that (even though they were twins) even though Esau was the oldest and entitled to inherit everything, Jacob was granted the rights of the firstborn and Esau was now entitled to nothing.
So guess what? Esau is mad. And he wants to kill Jacob. Rebekah, having had a hand in the deception, does the only thing a mother can do to protect her favorite son: sends him packing.
Our reading for today winds down as we find Jacob finding a woman he wants to marry (a cousin, no less), but then being tricked into marrying her older sister first before marrying the one he loves.
Wow. Talk about a weird family. This is about as messed up as messed up can get.
What are we to learn from all this?
Remember Abraham and God's promise to make him a great nation? Guess who the children of Jacob are? They are the patriarchs of the 12 tribes of Israel. (We'll be reading about them soon.) Those 12 kids will have big families and those big families will become a people numbering in the thousands upon thousands.
God keeps his promises.