Going Home Again – 3

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Scripture Text – Genesis 35-36

Being a victorious Christian doesn’t mean escaping the difficulties of life and enjoying only carefree days. Rather, it means walking with God by faith, knowing that He is with us, and trusting Him to help us for our good and His glory no matter what difficulties He permits to come our way. The maturing Christian doesn’t pray, “How can I get out of this?” but “What can I get out of this?”

Let’s continue with the new things that came into Jacob’s life.

A New Son

Please read Genesis 35:16-20 for the background to this section.

Now we move from the voice of God to a baby’s cry and a mother’s last words.

Birth. When Jacob’s beloved Rachel learned that she was pregnant, it must have given both of them great joy. She had borne Jacob only one son, Joseph (meaning “adding”); and in naming him, she had expressed her desire for another son (Genesis 30:22–24). God answered her prayers and gave her a boy. Jacob now had twelve sons, the founders of the twelve tribes of Israel.

Death. Rachel had said to Jacob, “Give me children, or else I die!” – Genesis 30:1. Now she would bear that second son, but in so doing would lay down her own life for the life of the child. We shouldn’t interpret her death as a judgment from God either because of her rash statement or because she stole her father’s idols. We need to remember the words of Jesus many years later when He said, “For He [God] makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” – Matthew 5:45.  Life is a mosaic of lights and shadows, joys and sorrows; and the same baby that brought Rachel and her husband joy also brought tears.

Faith. Ben-oni” means “son of my sorrow” or “son of my trouble,” not a very favorable name for a man to carry through life, reminding him that his birth had helped cause his mother’s death. Sorrow would overshadow his every birthday. But Jacob was always ready to rename something, so he called his new son Benjamin,” which means “son of my right hand,” that is, a son to be honored. The first king of Israel came from the tribe of Benjamin (1 Samuel 9) and the Apostle Paul was also a Benjamite (Philippians 3:5).

Love. More than twenty years before, Jacob had set up a pillar at Bethel to commemorate his meeting with God. Now he set up a pillar to memorialize his beloved wife Rachel. It was located “on the way to Ephrath,” another name for Bethlehem. (“Ephrath” means “fruitful,” and “Bethlehem” means “house of bread”). Tradition places Rachel’s tomb about a mile north of Bethlehem, on the road to Jerusalem, but Jeremiah said it was near Ramah, five miles north of Jerusalem (Jeremiah 31:15).

Were it not for the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, the town would be remembered primarily for the death of Rachel. Because He came, we have “tidings of great joy” (Luke 2:10), instead of tears of sorrow. Matthew connected Jeremiah’s reference to Rachel with Herod’s murder of the innocent children in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:18). The birth of Jesus brought joy (“Benjamin”) and also sorrow (“Ben-oni”).

To Be Continued

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Adapted and modified excerpts from Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Authentic, “Be” Commentary Series.
Unless otherwise noted, Scripture taken from the New King James Version®, NKJV © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.

About Roland Ledoux

Pastor of Oasis Bible Ministry, an outreach ministry of teaching, encouragement and intercessory prayer from the Holy Bible, the written Word of God and author of the ministry website, For The Love of God. He lives in Delta, Colorado with his beautiful wife of 50+ years and a beautiful yellow lab whom they affectionately call Bella.
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