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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Like Father Like Sons

I've been reading from the book of Genesis about Jacob, son of Isaac and Rebekah. For those of you who have never heard of these people, Isaac was Abraham's promised son,who was born to him when he was a hundred years old and his wife Sarah was ninety. Isaac and Rebekah had twin sons, Jacob and Esau. Jacob tricked Esau into giving up his birthright, then later, on Rebekah's urging, tricked his father into blessing him instead of Esau, the firstborn.

Fast forward a few years and Jacob is now married with children. He has twelve sons who will become the twelve tribes of Israel. However, all those sons, except Joseph, the father's favorite, turned out to be tricksters as well. Look at their track record. A young man named Shechem fell in love with their sister Dinah and slept with her. The young man went to his father and told him he wanted to marry Dinah. But when Jacob's sons heard about it, they were furious. Instead of confronting the young man about what he had done, they agreed to the marriage, but on one condition: Shechem and all the men of his city must first be circumcised. The men agreed, and when they were weak and in pain from the circumcision, two of Jacob's sons went and killed all the men. When Jacob heard what they had done, he was afraid for his life, because he thought surely the Canaanites would kill them.

Following that, Reuben, his oldest son, slept with Bilhah, his father's concubine. All the Bible says about that is that Jacob heard of it. Jacob's sons again brought grief to their father when they sold their younger brother, Joseph, whom their father loved, to some slave traders. They took the coat that Jacob had made for Joseph, dipped it in blood and told their father that a wild beast must have killed the boy. Jacob pledged to mourn for Joseph until he died. And even though they witnessed their father's grief, they never confessed what they had done until years later.

As parents we must be careful how we live our lives, because our children learn by example, and our wrong deeds can come back to haunt us. God blessed Jacob exceedingly, changing his name to Israel and promising to make his descendants like the sand of the sea, but that didn't stop him from suffering grief at the hands of his children. (Read Genesis 34, 35 and 37).

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