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September 18 | Genesis 29:1-2, 22-26


 

DAILY READING

 

REFLECTION


How Did This Get in the Bible?

by Pr. Dave Mann


The Bible contains the good, the bad, and the ugly. There are not only examples of people walking in the way of the Lord but also accounts of wayward and broken people. Today’s passage is among the latter.


Jacob, the trickster, had defrauded his older brother and blind father of the family birthright. To save his life, Jacob must flee to the distant home of his uncle Laban. (See Genesis 26-27.) Then, we see Jacob gets his just desserts when Laban defrauds the defrauder. Laban instructs Leah, the firstborn, not Rachel the promised younger sister, to be fully veiled during the wedding ceremony. In the darkness of night, Jacob consummates the marriage with the older sister. It is only in the morning light that Jacob sees he has been duped!


I am glad that God saw fit to include such unflattering accounts in the Bible. You may think it odd that someone is encouraged by negative stories such as these. But think about it. If you or I wanted to start a new religion based on our own wisdom, as many have tried to do over the millennia, wouldn’t we want to paint a rosy picture of the early founders of the religion? But we do not find such glowing portrayals of the biblical patriarchs, kings, prophets, and disciples. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the great patriarchs of the people of Israel, are shown to be people riddled by foibles, failings, and flaws. King Saul, David, and Solomon, though chosen to rule God’s people, made many unwise and ungodly choices. The prophet Jonah ran the opposite way from his calling, and even after he arrived, he grumbled about God’s mercy. Jesus’ disciples are often portrayed as clueless followers, though Jesus had been very clear about the nature of his mission on earth.


So, the inclusion of negative portrayals of leaders of the faith community strengthens the credibility of the Bible. One reason such stories are included in the Bible is they really happened. They are true!


Another reason that the Holy Spirit inspired the writers to recount these stories in Holy Scripture is that they serve as an encouragement to us. Every family has its own “soap opera moments.” As I read about Jacob and his almost unbelievable family challenges, I find myself saying, “If God chose to connect with the dysfunctional families of the Old and New Testaments, he can certainly draw near to me and my family, warts and all." We are included in the family of God not by having it all together but by grace.


PRAYER

Heavenly Father, I thank you that you know me better than I know myself. You know my history. Nothing is hidden from you. There is no masking before you. Even in my more presentable moments, you see the duplicity of my heart. Thank you for welcoming me on the basis of grace, not merit, in Jesus’ name, Amen.



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