"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . .


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Thursday, February 13, 2020

GENESIS – An Expositional Overview of the Beginning of God’s Revelation: Chapter THIRTY

Contributing commentaries by pastors Sonny Islas, Albert Lopez and James Fire
GENESIS 30 – BIGAMY, RIVALRY, TRICKERY AND SUPERSTITION; Sonny Islas - to watch the Facebook video of this teaching, click here.

INTRODUCTION: Another way to title this message is Sin, Sin, sin and Sin.
Before we read Genesis 30, I’d like to back track just a bit. In Genesis 29, we find that one of Jacob’s two wives named Leah was unloved, while Rachel was loved. Because of this sad situation, the LORD (who loved Leah and Rachel equally) opens Leah’s womb while keeping Rachel’s barren in order to comfort Leah. (We learn a lesson here: When those closest to use fail to love us, the LORD’s love never fails.)

Here’s a very interesting fact:

Leah the unloved wife gave birth to Levi and Judah. Moses and John the Baptist come from the Tribe of Levi. King David and The King of kings – Jesus the Messiah comes from the Tribe of Judah. So, Leah the unloved is the great grandmother of the God man!  
Rachel the preferred one, gives birth to Benjamin down the road, some more about him in chapter 35. King Saul and the greatest Apostle, in my estimation, the Apostle Paul comes from the tribe of Benjamin.

As I was studying this chapter, I thought to myself, Who needs soup operas and Jerry Springer when you have a Bible! If you thought the last 3 chapters were a mess due to deception, favoritism and malice, in chapter 30 it only gets worse. All this chaos is a reminder that God really has nothing better to work with but sinners who need His grace and mercy. Jacob was sent to Haran by Isaac and Rebekah to find one wife and he comes back with four wives. Poor Jacob.

One preacher put it this way, “God used the worst family to bring about the best blessing – Jesus!”

GENESIS 30:1-24 
 1 Now when Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister, and said to Jacob, "Give me children, or else I die!"  2 And Jacob's anger was aroused against Rachel, and he said, "Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?"  3 So she said, "Here is my maid Bilhah; go in to her, and she will bear a child on my knees, that I also may have children by her."  4 Then she gave him Bilhah her maid as wife, and Jacob went in to her.  5 And Bilhah conceived and bore Jacob a son.  6 Then Rachel said, "God has judged my case; and He has also heard my voice and given me a son." Therefore she called his name Dan.  7 And Rachel's maid Bilhah conceived again and bore Jacob a second son.  8 Then Rachel said, "With great wrestlings I have wrestled with my sister, and indeed I have prevailed." So she called his name Naphtali.  9 When Leah saw that she had stopped bearing, she took Zilpah her maid and gave her to Jacob as wife.  10 And Leah's maid Zilpah bore Jacob a son. 11 Then Leah said, "A troop comes!" So she called his name Gad.12 And Leah's maid Zilpah bore Jacob a second son. 13 Then Leah said, "I am happy, for the daughters will call me blessed." So she called his name Asher.

 14 Now Reuben went in the days of wheat harvest and found mandrakes in the field, and brought them to his mother Leah. Then Rachel said to Leah, "Please give me some of your son's mandrakes." 15 But she said to her, "Is it a small matter that you have taken away my husband? Would you take away my son's mandrakes also?" And Rachel said, "Therefore he will lie with you tonight for your son's mandrakes." 16 When Jacob came out of the field in the evening, Leah went out to meet him and said, "You must come in to me, for I have surely hired you with my son's mandrakes." And he lay with her that night. 17 And God listened to Leah, and she conceived and bore Jacob a fifth son.  18 Leah said, "God has given me my wages, because I have given my maid to my husband." So she called his name Issachar.  19 Then Leah conceived again and bore Jacob a sixth son.  20 And Leah said, "God has endowed me with a good endowment; now my husband will dwell with me, because I have borne him six sons." So she called his name Zebulun.  21 Afterward she bore a daughter, and called her name Dinah.  22 Then God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her and opened her womb.  23 And she conceived and bore a son, and said, "God has taken away my reproach."  24 So she called his name Joseph, and said, "The LORD shall add to me another son."

At this point Jacob was guilty of bigamy (which means that he married Rachel while being married to Leah due to Laban’s deception) and polygamy (multiple wives). God’s original plan for marriage is one man and one woman hence the creation of Adam and Eve – it wasn’t Adam, Eve and Jane. GEN 2:24 says, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife [not wives] and they shall become one flesh.”
Bigamy and polygamy are a sin. God wasn’t pleased with the multiplying of wives but because of their ignorance in His mercy, He overlooked these sinful actions because He would eventually deal with them at the cross. Don’t be surprised if incest, polygamy, pedophilia and other aberrant sexual perversions becomes lawful in the U.S just as same-sex marriage has.

ACTS 17:30
Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now [that Jesus has come and gone] commands all men everywhere to repent.

The Old Testament saints didn’t have the amount of light we have now.

This story is a clear picture of how bigamy and polygamy just doesn’t work. It brings about rivalry. It gives way to dis-function: Rachel begins to envy Leah (wife number one). “Rachel envied her sister” because Leah was enjoying ‘baby lumps’ while Rachel was flat bellied.

Instead of being happy for her sister, Rachel was now infected with the green-eyed monster – jealousy.

Listen to PROVERBS 14:30
A sound heart is life to the body, but envy is rottenness to the bones.

Have you ever seen a rotten apple? That’s what envy does to the soul. Envy gives birth to a rotten attitude, rotten gestures, rotten words, rotten facial expressions, rotten desires and rotten thoughts. Envy kills joy, relationships, admiration, happiness, peace and contentment. Rachel was rotting inside.

Rachel’s envy caused her to set impossible expectations on her husband. All because she wanted what Leah had. (By the way, we only envy those of the same status, field and interest, i.e. moms envy moms, artists envy artists, doctors envy doctors, preachers envy preachers, athletes envy athletes etc.)

She commanded Jacob by saying “Give me children or else I die!” to which Jacob replied, “I’m not God, woman!” (my version).
In marriage we have to be careful not to set impossible expectations on our spouse. There are some things that only God can do.

Rachel’s rot (envy) caused her to become angry with her husband. “Jacob’s anger was aroused against Rachel” (The women he loved dearly is now annoying and overbearing - the fruit of her envy and discontentment). Listen, a rotten attitude is contagious, and it will eventually infect those around us, even those closest to us. Like a rotten apple that touches other apples long enough.

And she said, Behold my maid Bilhah, go in unto her; and she shall bear upon my knees, that I may also have children by her

In verse 3 – Rachel with her desperate actions of rivalry basically says “If God won’t give me a baby and you won’t give be a baby I’ll get a baby my way! Now marry and sleep with my maidservant Bilhah! This makes wife number 3 for Jacob (bigamy/polygamy)!. Rachel skipped praying, skipped waiting and skipped trusting in the LORD.

And Rachel said, God hath judged me, and hath also heard my voice, and hath given me a son: therefore called she his name Dan

In verse 6 Rachel acts like God was on her side in her sin by saying “The LORD has judged my case!” because Bilhah had her child -Dan/judged.

And Rachel said, With great wrestlings have I wrestled with my sister, and I have prevailed: and she called his name Naphtali

In verse 8 Rachel is in full competition mode! The score is: 4 to 2! Leah, 4 babes and Rachel, 2 babes! This is better than the Chiefs and the 49ers Super Bowl! She says “I have wrestled (fought with, rivaled) with my sister and I have prevailed (won!) (Naphtali: my fight).” I don’t know about you, but this is getting a little weird and it’s just going to get weirder.

When Leah saw that she had left bearing, she took Zilpah her maid, and gave her Jacob to wife

In verse 9 Leah is bothered by the scoreboard! She doesn’t like 4 to 2 – now she wants more points.  So, she makes Jocab marry her maid Zilpah – wife number 4. In verse 13 Leah says, “I am happy (baby Asher), for the daughters will call me blessed.” She was more happy about the score and the praise of women than her new baby now! The score is now 2 to 6! Leah is winning the baby having battle.

Here is where the story takes a twist by incorporating superstition: Irrational belief or non-sense. Leah just wanted Jacob and Rachel just wanted children and now the mess is only getting messier. Leah and Rachel are going at it like stray wild alley cats. And Jacob seems to just be the dummy being tossed every which way in my humble opinion (when we get to heaven, don’t tell him that I said that!).

14 And Reuben went in the days of wheat harvest, and found mandrakes in the field, and brought them unto his mother Leah. Then Rachel said to Leah, Give me, I pray thee, of thy son's mandrakes

In verse 14 Ruben is about 5 years old, finds mandrakes (aka “love apples”) a kind of root that they believed had baby producing power in them.
So, Rachel begs Leah for her son’s mandrakes and Leah brings up the past (verse 15) “Oh you stole my husband now you want my magic fruits?!” And Rachel the clever one makes a crazy deal with Leah by saying “I’ll let Jacob lie (have sex) with you for your son’s mandrakes.”

This points to Jacob no longer being intimate with Leah due to Rachel’s domineering ways.

16 And Jacob came out of the field in the evening, and Leah went out to meet him, and said, Thou must come in unto me; for surely I have hired thee with my son's mandrakes. And he lay with her that night

 In verse 16 Leah looks for Jacob and says “guess what?! Your coming with me tonight – I paid with magical baby making fruit!” Isn’t this just insane?!!! – I didn’t even know what to do with this story!

The mandrake’s baby power was pure super superstition. It would be no different than to tell a woman that if she ate a pineapple that she would get pregnant.

17 And God hearkened unto Leah, and she conceived, and bare Jacob the fifth son
In verse 17 – we find that Leah prays to God for a baby and God answers (the best thing these women have done so far). Another boy – Issachar. Now the score is now 7 to 2 – Leah is leading. (20, 21) Then Leah had Zebulun and Dinah (9 kids total).

22 And God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened to her, and opened her womb
In verse 22 Rachel finally gets it and prays to the LORD for a baby and God heard her prayer and opened her womb and she herself gave birth to Joseph. 
He will soon play a vital role in the family.

GENESIS 30:25-43 
 25 And it came to pass, when Rachel had borne Joseph, that Jacob said to Laban, "Send me away, that I may go to my own place and to my country. 26 "Give me my wives and my children for whom I have served you, and let me go; for you know my service which I have done for you." 27 And Laban said to him, "Please stay, if I have found favor in your eyes, for I have learned by experience that the LORD has blessed me for your sake." 28 Then he said, "Name me your wages, and I will give it." 29 So Jacob said to him, "You know how I have served you and how your livestock has been with me. 30 "For what you had before I came was little, and it has increased to a great amount; the LORD has blessed you since my coming. And now, when shall I also provide for my own house?" 31 So he said, "What shall I give you?" And Jacob said, "You shall not give me anything. If you will do this thing for me, I will again feed and keep your flocks: 32 "Let me pass through all your flock today, removing from there all the speckled and spotted sheep, and all the brown ones among the lambs, and the spotted and speckled among the goats; and these shall be my wages. 33 "So my righteousness will answer for me in time to come, when the subject of my wages comes before you: every one that is not speckled and spotted among the goats, and brown among the lambs, will be considered stolen, if it is with me."

 34 And Laban said, "Oh, that it were according to your word!" 35 So he removed that day the male goats that were speckled and spotted, all the female goats that were speckled and spotted, every one that had some white in it, and all the brown ones among the lambs, and gave them into the hand of his sons. 36 Then he put three days' journey between himself and Jacob, and Jacob fed the rest of Laban's flocks. 37 Now Jacob took for himself rods of green poplar and of the almond and chestnut trees, peeled white strips in them, and exposed the white which was in the rods. 38 And the rods which he had peeled, he set before the flocks in the gutters, in the watering troughs where the flocks came to drink, so that they should conceive when they came to drink. 39 So the flocks conceived before the rods, and the flocks brought forth streaked, speckled, and spotted. 40 Then Jacob separated the lambs, and made the flocks face toward the streaked and all the brown in the flock of Laban; but he put his own flocks by themselves and did not put them with Laban's flock. 41 And it came to pass, whenever the stronger livestock conceived, that Jacob placed the rods before the eyes of the livestock in the gutters, that they might conceive among the rods. 42 But when the flocks were feeble, he did not put them in; so the feebler were Laban's and the stronger Jacob's. 43 Thus the man became exceedingly prosperous, and had large flocks, female and male servants, and camels and donkeys.

Jacob to Laban - “send me away” Something I’ve learned in ministry is when someone wants to leave for whatever reason, maybe they feel led to go to another church – the best thing to do is to let them go. If you try and keep them around, things could get worse. Laban should have just let Jacob go. But because he didn’t Jacob used Laban’s sheep to breed good sheep for himself and bad sheep for Laban.

27 And Laban said unto him, I pray thee, if I have found favour in thine eyes, tarry: for I have learned by experience that the Lord hath blessed me for thy sake

In verse 27 we find that Laban wants Jacob around for selfish reasons. Laban somehow figured it out – “I’m blessed because of Jacob!” I better keep Him close! Jacob = God’s favor = more stuff for me!

There are many Laban’s in many churches today – People who go to church not for God but for any benefits they can get from the church. It could be food, friendships, for financial help, for uplifting music, a joyful atmosphere, a good time etc. But like Laban, they’re not interested in Jacob’s God just God’s physical blessings.

By the way, the LORD may bless our workplace, a business, our bank, our school just because we go there. Though not always.

Jacob makes a deal with Laban saying, “I’ll stay and work some more if you would give me the spotted and speckled goats and lambs from your flock.”  Laban says deal! That same day Laban does it again! Trickery! Laban takes out all the spotted and speckled goats and lambs and puts them far away this way Jacob stays longer and has to wait for the sheep top breed and give birth to spotted and speckled goats and lambs. So sad.

This is where more superstition kicks in. Jacob is just as crazy as Leah and Rachel with their magical fruit/mandrakes.

Jacob believed that if he made white lines on sticks and put them in the water tanks the sheep and goats drink from that they would give birth to striped and spotted animals.
This would be like telling a pregnant woman that if ate enough hot Cheetos that her baby would be born with red hair.

And the flocks conceived before the rods, and brought forth cattle ringstraked, speckled, and spotted

When you read verse 39 it seems as though Jacob’s weird plan worked but it didn’t it was God who made sure that the goats and sheep would be born with dots and spots for Jacob’s sake. God uses our stupidity – it’s all He has to work with at times.

God blessed Him because God promised to bless Him. 

May God Almighty bless you, make you fruitful and multiply you”
  referring to people and livestock/animals

It was God who blessed Rachel with a baby not the mandrakes and it was God who blessed Jacob with spotted goats not the striped sticks in water.
So much to learn from this chapter!

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