GOD’s GOOD PURPOSES
Lord, I want to hear Your Word to me. Let Your love possess me, and constrain me to obedience.
Read GENESIS 35:16–29
16 Then they moved on from Bethel. While they were still some distance from Ephrath, Rachel began to give birth and had great difficulty. 17 And as she was having great difficulty in childbirth, the midwife said to her, “Don’t despair, for you have another son.” 18 As she breathed her last—for she was dying—she named her son Ben-Oni. But his father named him Benjamin.
19 So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem). 20 Over her tomb Jacob set up a pillar, and to this day that pillar marks Rachel’s tomb.
21 Israel moved on again and pitched his tent beyond Migdal Eder. 22 While Israel was living in that region, Reuben went in and slept with his father’s concubine Bilhah, and Israel heard of it.
Jacob had twelve sons:
23 The sons of Leah:
Reuben the firstborn of Jacob,
Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar and Zebulun.
24 The sons of Rachel:
Joseph and Benjamin.
25 The sons of Rachel’s servant Bilhah:
Dan and Naphtali.
26 The sons of Leah’s servant Zilpah:
Gad and Asher.
These were the sons of Jacob, who were born to him in Paddan Aram.
27 Jacob came home to his father Isaac in Mamre, near Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron), where Abraham and Isaac had stayed. 28 Isaac lived a hundred and eighty years. 29 Then he breathed his last and died and was gathered to his people, old and full of years. And his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Rom 8:28). What a relief to know!
Rachel died, tragically, giving birth to Benjamin on their way home to Isaac. She was always Jacob’s favorite wife: years later, he recalled (Gen. 48:7) the desolation he felt at her death. Sadly, Jacob’s family life remained turbulent. Genesis 34 graphically describes Simeon’s and Levi’s violence and fall from favor. Now Reuben decided to challenge his father. Arrogantly, he claimed his
rights as the firstborn to inherit his father’s concubine by sleeping with Bilhah. Although knowing about it, Jacob apparently took no action at the time. Instead, waiting until the end of his life when giving his final blessings he punished Reuben (Gen. 49:3,4) by depriving him of the legal status as the firstborn son. That’s a long time to be angry with one’s son!
The next brother in line was Judah, Leah’s son. With the older brothers no longer eligible, the lines of Judah and Joseph developed throughout much of the rest of the Old Testament. In Jacob’s deathbed blessing, Judah was to be the one before whom his brothers would bow (Gen. 49:8). Hundreds of years later, his descendant, David, was Israel’s king, and eventually Jesus the Messiah was of his family line.
Though the divine intention was to reach out in blessing to all the families of the earth (12:3), the vehicle of blessing was always relatively small and insignificant. In Jacob’s story we see how God wove his intentions for individuals and all humanity through the lives of an unreliable man and his dysfunctional family. The chapter’s ending underscores this truth, when we see God’s promise to Jacob (Gen. 28:15; of protection and getting him home again to his father) completely fulfilled. God is relentless in his pursuit of our salvation.
Draw a timeline highlighting significant events in your life and journey with God. Identify recurring themes, blessings to be thankful for and anything needing further action.
Father God, You make the crooked places straight in my life. You have the last word, and I go forward into today with renewed confidence and trust.
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