January 10, 2010

Gen 30-31: Born of Envy

Posted in Human Nature tagged , , , at 5:57 pm by Steve

“The envious die not once, but as oft as the envied win applause.” ~Baltasar Gracian

Envy – grieving over the joy and happiness afforded to others

The opening competition between Leah and Rachel is amazing and yet so true to life. Both trying to outdo each other and win the love of Jacob at the expense of the other. Jacob is frustrated with their competition and must feel like a pawn in this battle. Can love flourish in this environment? At one point Rachel even says “I have had a great struggle with my sister, and I have won.” [v7] What has she really won? Alienated from those in her own family, Leah and Rachel have given birth to a family at war with itself. What a fitting image of humanity’s struggle with itself, slowly devouring each other in a struggle that never ends.

It strange to think that the 12 tribes of Israel, the great patriarchs of the nation, were conceived through this human competition and humiliating display of one-upmanship. The final son to be born, Joseph, will ultimately become of the savior of the family and reflection of the coming of Christ. Joseph’s dependence on God and moral integrity finally breaks the cycle for his family. What does his name suggest about what God is offering these envious women, and ultimately humanity?  [Joseph – “God has taken away my disgrace.” Jesus– “full of grace and truth” John 1:14]

Laban and Jacob are also in competition and remind us that the competitive spirit is not limited to just females. Laban recognized Jacob’s prosperity and ascribes it to Jacob’s God, but never seems to inquire more about God’s character for himself. Laban says “I have learned by divination that the LORD has blessed me because of you.” [30:27] But still Laban keeps to the family gods and searches for them among Jacob’s possessions – because they are LOST. What’s really funny is that their gods cannot be found because Rachel is sitting on them?

Have you ever been kept from the Spirit of God because of someone’s actions or attitudes?

what keeps these people in competition? As family, why do they find it so hard to break the cycle of competition and backstabbing?

Have you ever wanted the spiritual depth of others seem to have in abundance but ignore the spiritual disciplines they practice?

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