“And the Lord said unto her (Rebekah), ‘Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.’”
Genesis 25: 23, King James Version
“Who’s Your Favorite Child”
A Family Divided
“The mind of Christ is to be learned in the family. Strength of character may be acquired at work, but beauty of character is learned at home.”
Are there family divisions in your world that have brought strife into your personal life?
How have the divisions affected relationships?
“It is better to build strong children than to try to repair adults.”
“A child should be loved for who he (she) is, not what he (she) does.”
I think probably every person in this world, at one time or another, has wondered, if they had brothers or sisters, how they rated in the eyes of their parents in comparison with their siblings.
I’ll never forget when my sister found out her second baby was to be a girl. Before Bethanie was born she said, “You know I love Aimee so much, how will I love another girl as much as Aimee (her first child)! Guess what? My sister had no problem loving both girls with massive amounts of unconditional love.
One day when my two nieces, Aimee and Bethanie were little, I took them downtown. They looked at me with such serious little faces and said, “Effie, which one of us do you love the most?” Honestly, at that moment I needed the wisdom of Solomon for I was caught totally off guard. Well, I really liked my answer. I told Aimee she was my favorite oldest niece and I told Bethanie she was my favorite youngest niece. Thankfully, that seemed to satisfy them.
“Favoritism!” What a word! How divided families have been throughout history when one child has been favored over another or when one parent chooses to heap their approval on one child and not another.
In our text for today, from Genesis 25:23, we find that even before Rebekah’s children, her twin boys were born, God had a message for her. Now let’s get this clear – God did not say one of these boys was His favorite. What He did say was that unlike tradition, which held that the firstborn would be the ruler, the second twin would be the stronger, the more powerful, the ruler. God knew something about these two boys and He chose to share this insight with Rebekah. Please note: God didn’t say, “Rebekah, I’m giving you permission to favor one son over the other.” What He did give Rebekah was perspective. God often does this with all of us. Maybe not exactly in the way He communicated with Rebekah, but often through prayer; the advice of Godly people; or His word, the Bible. God helps us have a bigger or broader or more comprehensive perspective on our lives.
God wanted, I believe, for Rebekah, as a mother, to have a heavenly view of the boys she was raising. God’s prophecy concerning Rebekah’s twin boys was not given to confuse or discourage her, instead it was given to provide her with understanding as she raised her boys. For isn’t this what parents need more than anything else – heaven’s view as they guide little feet and mold tender hearts.
But what occurred in this family is sadly a foretaste of what happens in many families. The Bible says in Genesis 25: 27, (K.J.V.) –“And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents.” Obviously, these two boys were different. Esau sounds to me like a mountain man. A hunter. An outdoorsman. A rough and tumble kind of guy. And while I never met Esau, nor did you, I just bet his personality matched his physical lifestyle. Maybe he was a little rough. Not the tender heart that appeals to a woman.
Then there was Jacob. A plain man who stayed close to home. I can imagine Jacob was Rebekah’s right hand boy. If something needed to be done around the house, Jacob was there. He was the kind helper; the tender child who wasn’t afraid to show love for his mother.
But here’s where the situation fell apart, for the Bible tells us, “And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison; but Rebekah loved Jacob” (Genesis 25:28 K.J.V.). I want to go back to the quote that began our daily devotional: “A child should be loved for who he (she) is, not what he (she) does.” Isaac loved Esau for what he did or in this case, what Esau provided for Isaac, venison. I believe it was the same for Rebekah. These parents loved their children not for who they were but how they met the individual needs of the parent. Unfortunately, the parents favoritism of one child over another drove a wedge between the brothers as will be demonstrated in our upcoming studies.
Many years ago, after my sister and I had finished college, we hadn’t been around each other for several years. Sher had her friends, I had mine. She had her interests, I had mine. And to be blunt, we didn’t get along with each other at all. We picked at each other. We complained about each other’s friends. And it would have been very easy for our parents to take sides. Instead, one day, my mom somehow got us into the car and drove to a beautiful park. She began to weep as she spoke to us. She told us how she hoped we would be each other’s best friend. She encouraged us to see beauty in each other’s differences. To enjoy each other’s uniqueness rather than pick it apart. We didn’t solve all our differences overnight, but over the years we have formed a bond that “no one” could break. We still aren’t the same. We have different personality traits. But instead of letting our differences divide us, we find that when we come together, we are more whole. Recently, I was asked to do a small one-day seminar near my home on how God heals our broken hearts. Guess who was leading the music? My talented sister.
I can’t sing at all – but Sher can and I knew her beautiful music would bring wholeness to the day.
The mystery writer, Agatha Christie, in her autobiography wrote that, “One of the luckiest things that can happen to you in life is, I think, to have a happy childhood.” I couldn’t agree more but I want to offer this observation. With God as the center of a family, none of us has to rely on something as capricious as “luck.”
I greatly admire the writings and ministry of Jill Briscoe and I love these words she penned: “If only God would lean out of heaven and tell me (my children) are going to make it, I could relax. But God doesn’t do that. He tells us to be the parents He has called us to be in His strength and promises to do His part. Driven to prayer (after discovering that manipulation didn’t work), I began to realize I was only truly positive and confident when I’d been flat on my face before the Lord.”
A house divided can be united by a Father in heaven who loves all His children! No favorites in His universe for He loves us all the same.
“Every word and deed of a parent is a fiber woven into the character of a child, which ultimately determines how that child fits into the fabric of society.”
“O God, we pray for our family life,
that we all may grow together
in awareness of your love,
that our lives together may reflect
your brightness and your goodness.”
Worship in an Indian Context
Dorothy Valcarcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.