"My heart I give Thee, Lord, eagerly and earnestly." - John Calvin
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Genesis 31:1-3, Evil in This Life Drives Our Hearts to the Blessedness of Eternity
"Now Jacob heard that the sons of Laban were saying, 'Jacob has taken all that was our father’s, and from what was our father’s he has gained all this wealth.' And Jacob saw that Laban did not regard him with favor as before. Then the Lord said to Jacob, 'Return to the land of your fathers and to your kindred, and I will be with you.'"
Perhaps you recall the context of these events: Isaac had sent Jacob back to Padan-Aram, to Laban, Rebekah's brother, to find a wife among her kindred, as was the custom of that time. Falling in love with Rachel, Laban's daughter, Jacob agrees to work for Laban for seven years as bride-price for her hand in marriage. However, Laban treacherously slipped Rachel's older sister Leah under the wedding veil. Jacob then agrees to work an additional seven years to gain Rachel. He thus works a total of fourteen years for his two wives (joined later by their two hand-maidens).
In the passage quoted here, Rachel's brothers are jealous of the prosperity that Jacob had received from Jehovah his God, while their own father diminished, thus dissipating their inheritance. They turn their resentment against Jacob, and he is inspired to return home.
As I read that this morning, in spite of having read it many times before, I was struck both by the presence of God's electing hand, and the pattern it represents for the life of most, if not all, believers. God had a covenantal plan for Jacob, the heir of the promise, to return to the Promised Land and invest himself there. While He certainly could have simply ordered the move, He instead creates circumstances under which Jacob and his family are happy to do as He intends.
We often hear the question of how a good God can allow evil in the world. While this passage doesn't cover that exhaustively, I think it certainly gives a partial answer. Our citizenship is not in this world (Philippians 3:20); it is in the spiritual kingdom of God. For most of us, the experiential aspect of that is in the world to come. So God makes this world bitter and contemptible, so that we long to be with Jesus. For some people, minor difficulties are sufficient; for others, it may take a larger nudge, such as a horrible disease.
Remember Jacob, and do not allow yourself to focus on the bitterness of this world. Rather, turn your eyes to Jesus, and the time to come when we will no longer know suffering, but only joy (Revelation 21:4).
My name is Chris Cole. I have lived in the Charlotte, NC, area for over thirty years, and have been an active Presbyterian during most of that time. I love the Westminster Confession of Faith as a beautiful expression of my own personal beliefs.
You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I prefer the English Standard Version of the Bible, and all quotations are from the ESV, unless otherwise stated.
I have a number of reviews of Reformed books on Amazon. There is a link to them in the Reformed links below.
"Seeing [that] the Lord of lords, the Lord Jesus, is so ready (never was there king so ready to hear a subject as Jesus is), [even] if thou wert the vilest body that goes, a thief, a harlot, etc., yet if thou wilt say this, 'Lord, remember on me, and give me a part of thy kingdom'; - if thou prayest to him from a penitent heart, with confidence and assurance, I promise unto thee, heaven and earth shall go [fall] together ere thou wantest [lack] thine asking. Seeing [that] our Lord Jesus is so liberal [free-giving], then seek more than enough, more than a kingdom, and thou shalt get more. The only cause why we want [lack] is in us: we have no hearts to seek it." - Rev. Robert Rollock, Scottish Presbyterian minister, about 1590, in a commentary on Luke 23:42-43