By Nick Batzig
For Day 4 of our 2019 Wrapped plan, we asked our Social Media Manager to uncover the community’s most shared reading of 2019. This reading comes from our summer study, Men and Women in the Word: Old Testament and tells the story of Rachel, Jacob’s wife, and her struggle to bear children for him.
Men and Women in the Word: Old Testament Day 12 | Rachel
Scripture Reading: Genesis 30:1-24, Genesis 35:16-20, Psalm 98:1-3, Hebrews 4:16
It doesn’t take many possessions for our hearts to become possessed by greed. We don’t need much in the way of knowledge, talents, or gifts to convince ourselves that we are more blessed than others. It seems we are prone to competition, ready and willing to assign ourselves a value based on how well we stack up next to other people. This is so clear in Rachel’s disposition toward her sister, Leah. Both women, sisters bound to the same husband, lived in a constant state of competition with the other, each trying desperately to bear Jacob’s offspring.
In the race to bear children, Leah was clearly winning, having already delivered several sons for Jacob. Rachel, on the other hand, was unable to conceive. She said to Jacob, “Give me sons, or I will die” (Genesis 30:1). Like we are all prone to do, Rachel trusted in human strength for what God alone could give. That’s why Jacob could honestly reply, “Am I in God’s place, who has withheld offspring from you?” (v.2). Rachel’s complaint revealed the true condition of her heart.
Instead of crying out to God to give her children, Rachel turned to her husband. Then, she gave her maid, Bilhah, to her husband, hoping she would be able to bear children in her place. After Bilhah bore Jacob a second son, Rachel confessed, “God has vindicated me; yes, he has heard me and given me a son” (v.6). Later, when Bilhah bore Jacob another child, Rachel declared, “In my wrestlings with God, I have wrestled with my sister and won” (v.8). These may sound like cries of triumph, shouts of praise to God, but some have seen them as declarations of ongoing pride. Theologian John Calvin wrote, “In Rachel the pride of the human mind is depicted… But they who are puffed up with pride have also the habit of malignantly depreciating those gifts which the Lord has bestowed on others, in comparison with their own smaller gifts.”
Though most of us would insist that we would never say such things, we’re all prone to trust in our own strength and plans rather than in the God of promise. When our chief desires are for success, status, satisfaction, or superiority, or anything other than God Himself, we can be tempted to boast in every small, weak, and inferior advancement we make in life. Genesis 30:22 tells us that God remembered Rachel, and he opened up her womb. The days of berating her husband for children and offering him her servant were then over. God brought her something better than she could work out on her own, not because of anything good Rachel had done, but because of who God is.
Left to ourselves, we so often settle for the lesser things in life when God offers so much more. He offers Himself to us through the Son of Jacob, Jesus Christ. May we turn to Him, to the place where all our striving ceases and every longing is fulfilled.
Written by Nick Batzig