The Place of God: Envy and Anger

The other side of Rachel. In the section previous we saw some of the character of Rachel. She was a shepherdess which meant that she had to have been a strong young woman. We also saw that she honored her father in her response to meeting Jacob. But God does not candy coat these people and we are not asked to try to explain away what is happening. And so, we find here another side to this woman. Rachel is not a perfect person and has many issues. Back in chapter 29, we saw the beginning of Jacob’s marriage to his two wives and the birth of his first four sons. Leah had one son after another while Rachel did not conceive. Barrenness is not usual in this family. Remember that Rebekah and Sarah before her both were barren for many years. But both were eventually able to have children. They both felt the cultural reproach of not having children. As we look at Rachel’s response to her initial infertility, we don’t have this sense that she is concerned about what other people think of her. Verse 1 says that she envied her sister. She is the beautiful sister. The strong sister. The sister whom Jacob loved. She should be the one having children, not Leah. The green-eyed monster of jealousy and envy has reared its ugly head. Her motivation for having children is not so that she could be the mother of the next chosen son or to be a part of God’s promise to Abraham that his descendants would be more than the sand on the seashore. Her desire is not because she wants to be a good mother. No, her motivation to have kids is because she envied her sister. And who does she turn to remedy this problem? God? No, she turns to Jacob. “Give me children, or I shall die!” She obviously has a flair for the dramatic. If Jacob doesn’t give her a child then she’ll just drop dead. Is this your response to troubles in your life? You turn to other people first to try to get things solved? Do you seek a remedy from your spouse? Do think that your children can give you fulfillment? Or maybe you think the government can help you out? Listen to what happens next. Jacob’s response. Jacob, hearing the cry of Rachel, gets angry. Sin will often kindle anger in the hearts of those around us. Jacob says, “Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?” What is he saying? Am I in the place of God? Am I God that can cause you to conceive or not? I’m not God. This isn’t my doing and I can’t make you have children. Why are you talking to me? Talk to God. Turn back to Genesis 29:31. What does it say? “When the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren.” What we find here is that Jacob is right in his anger. It wasn’t his fault that Rachel wasn’t able to conceive in the first four years of their marriage. God had withheld children from her. But this fact went over Rachel’s head and thus set off a wrestling match between the sisters.

Mightier Than We: Blessing and Envy

a. God Blesses 12-13. Despite a famine raging all around, God blesses Isaac. Isaac sowed and reaped in the same year a hundredfold. Remember that all that Abraham had gone to Isaac. Isaac started rich but then he goes to uber-rich. We must be careful to think rightly here. Isaac’s wealth is a blessing, not a curse. Often people fall into two camps when it comes to money. Either they’re in the prosperity gospel camp that says that you should seek earthly wealth because God wants you to have lots of money or they fall to the other side and they think it is holier to have little and despise those that have money. Neither of these positions is biblical. The warnings of the Bible are to not serve money but to use the money to serve. Which is it harder for to enter into the kingdom of heaven a rich or a poor person? What does Jesus say? Who can be saved? “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” b. The Philistines Envy 14-17. At the end of this section, we find Isaac blessed and the Philistines in envy. As Proverbs 14:30 says, “envy makes the bones rot,” and so they could not tolerate the presence of Isaac anymore. This envy along with some probable fear leads the people to say to Isaac, “Go away from us, for you are much mightier than we.” This echoes the Egyptians during the time of Moses, as they saw the blessing of God upon the Israelites and they said, “Behold the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us.” When God pours out his temporal and spiritual blessings upon his people, the world takes notice, and it drives them crazy. Isaac listens to the people and instead of stirring up trouble, he maintains the peace by moving to the Valley of Gerar and lives there.

The Everlasting Covenant: The Sign

Part 4 of 5. “For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” Mark 7:21-23