©  Jeff Stacey   |   Last updated:  4 November 2016

4B31.  God responded to them:
God brought rebukes and troubles upon them, even excluding Esau and Ishmael from His chosen people, yet in grace He was also merciful to them and others

Cycle 4

4B31(a)    God brought trouble upon Pharaoh and a stern rebuke to Abraham

The Egyptians did notice Sarah’s beauty and told the Pharaoh, who took her into his palace to be his wife! Gen 12:14-15,19a.  The Pharaoh then showed favour to Abraham Gen 12:16.  But it meant that Abraham had allowed Sarah to be exposed to sexual relations with the Pharaoh.  It was possible that she could bear a child fathered by a man other than Abraham!

The Pharaoh and his household suffered serious diseases as God’s judgment for having done this Gen 12:17.  Then the Pharaoh found out that Abraham had lied to him by saying that Sarah was his sister and not his wife Gen 12:18-19a.  Surprisingly the Pharaoh did not execute or punish Abraham!  Yet he did sternly rebuke Abraham and expel him from Egypt Gen 12:19b-20.  It is assumed that God in mercy then ceased His judgment on Pharaoh and his household.

God had brought judgment upon Abraham and Sarah too for their deception and lack of faith in Him.  But He also showed mercy to them by allowing them to escape back to Canaan with great wealth Gen 12:16b,  13:1-2.

Continue to Cycle 5 [4B24(a)(ii.iii)]

Cycle 10

4B31(b)    God rebuked the unbelief of Abraham and Sarah and excluded Ishmael from His Covenant

God remonstrated with Abraham and Sarah about their unbelief, then repeated His promise for a final fifth time Gen 18:13-14.  He also rebuked Sarah for lying Gen 18:15b.

God had now explicitly stated how He was going to fulfil His promise of a son and heir for Abraham miraculously.  God had once again assured them that His promises would be fulfilled, although with some negative consequences due to their unbelief.

God then excluded Ishmael and his descendants from His Covenant.  It would only apply to God’s chosen descendant of Abraham, the promised “miracle baby” Isaac and his descendants Gen 17:19b,20,21a.

At God’s promised time Sarah did bear a son to Abraham! Gen 21:1-2.  God in extraordinary grace even named him Isaac, which meant “laughter”! Gen 17:19a.

God had brought rebuke and judgment, but in grace had also fulfilled His amazing promise to Abraham and Sarah.

Continue to Cycle 11 [4B24(a)(iii.iv)]

Cycle 11

4B31(c)    God intervened by protecting Sarah and showing mercy to Abimelech, who sternly rebuked Abraham

God appeared to Abimelech and told him that he was condemned to death for having taken a married woman for himself! Gen 20:3.  But God allowed Abimelech to protest Gen 20:4-5.  Then God accepted his claim of innocence and revealed that He had prevented Abimelech from even touching Sarah Gen 20:6.  With a stern warning God mercifully showed him what to do to escape His judgment Gen 20:7.

Abimelech promptly acted on what God had said Gen 20:8.  Yet he first interrogated and sternly rebuked Abraham and demanded an explanation Gen 20:9-10.

Abimelech then returned Sarah to Abraham and also gave gifts to them as compensation Gen 20:14,15-16.  Abraham prayed for Abimelech and God fulfilled His promise not to destroy him and his people Gen 20:17-18.

God had brought rebuke for Abraham and Sarah, but in grace had also honored Abraham’s prayer and spared Abimelech from judgment.

Continue to Cycle 12 [4B24(a)(iii.v)]

Cycle 13

4B31(d)    God in grace apparently prompted Abimelech to correct the situation immediately

Abimelech reacted with indignation, fearing the consequences of guilt if Rebekah had been sexually involved with one of his men Gen 26:10.  So he immediately put Isaac and Rebekah under his protection Gen 26:11.  

Apparently God had made Abimelech aware of His impending judgment.  This might have derived from his knowledge of the prior case of Abraham and Sarah.  God had given the previous king a fearsome warning of the consequences of that situation Gen 20:3-7 but spared him when he promptly rectified it Gen 20:8-18.

Continue to Cycle 14 [4B24(a)(iv.ii)]

Cycle 15

4B31(e)  Esau lost his eldest son’s “birthright” inheritance

No immediate response by God is recorded, but Esau did later lose both his “birthright” inheritance and Covenantal blessing as the eldest son of Isaac Gen 27:36,37.

Continue to Cycle 16 [4B24(a)(v.ii)]

Cycle 17

4B31(f)    God excluded Esau from being a chosen descendant of Abraham

Isaac had pronounced a prophetic description of Esau’s future life Gen 27:39-40.  His life was to be characterized by exclusion from God’s blessing.

Esau eventually settled in the hill country of Seir away from Jacob and Canaan, as Isaac had prophesied Gen 36:6,7-8.  This also implied that God had excluded Esau from his birthright to inherit the Covenantal promises.

Continue to Cycle 18 [4B24(a)(vi.i)]

Cycle 21

4B31(g)    God brought troubles upon Jacob for his refusal to love and honour his wife Leah

God’s response to Jacob’s discrimination between his two wives was stark.  It directly reflected this discrimination Gen 29:31,  30:17.

Leah had some awareness of this spiritual basis for her pregnancies Gen 29:32b,33b,35b30:17-18,20.  She acknowledged it when naming all her sons except the third.  But Rachel blamed Jacob for her barrenness Gen 30:1.  Then he also angrily acknowledged that this was a spiritual matter! Gen 30:2.

Leah bore six sons and a daughter to Jacob and the two maidservant-concubines bore him two sons each.  It was only then that God enabled Rachel to give birth Gen 30:22-23a.  She too then acknowledged the spiritual basis for this Gen 30:23b-24.

Finally Rachel died when giving birth to her second son Benjamin Gen 35:16-20.  So Jacob tragically was deprived of his loved and favored wife relatively soon.

God had brought severe and painful judgments upon Jacob in this serious matter of not honoring, loving and treating Leah properly as his wife, although blessing him with many children.

Continue to Cycle 22 [4B24(a)(vii.iii)]

Cycle 26

4B31(h)    God commanded Jacob to go to Bethel

After the slaughter of the Shechemites God simply commanded Jacob to move on to Bethel and build an altar to Him and settle there Gen 35:1.  God also reminded him that this was where He had first appeared to Jacob when he was setting out for Harran to escape Esau.

Continue to Cycle 27 [4B24(a)(ix.ii)]

Cycle 28

4B31(j)    God brought much distress to Jacob’s family and to Jacob himself, because of his unequal valuing of his wives and children

God was only sometimes directly mentioned as the cause of troubles amongst Jacob’s family.  Yet these problems all implied God’s judgment upon Jacob’s discriminatory attitudes, as follows.

4B31(j)(i)    There was much conflict and trouble amongst Jacob’s sons

Jacob’s ten older sons, as well as Joseph, did evil things and were troubled by fears and guilty self-condemnations, as follows:-

# To avenge the rape of Dinah, Jacob’s sons Simeon and Levi slaughtered all of the Shechemite men and then all the older brothers plundered Shechem and carried off their women and children Gen 34:25-29

# Reuben had incestuous sexual intercourse with his father’s concubine Bilhah Gen 35:22a

# Judah married a Canaanite woman.  Their first two sons Er and Onan did evil and were put to death by God Gen 38:7-10.

# Judah then told Tamar, the widow of his son Er, to wait until his third son Shelah grew up and could father a child by her on behalf of his deceased brother Gen 38:11.  But Judah did not keep this promise Gen 38:14b,26a.  Tamar then posed as a shrine prostitute Gen 38:13-14a,15,19 tricked Judah into having sexual intercourse with her and became pregnant Gen 38:16-18.  Later she exposed Judah’s actions and he confessed his guilt in not honoring his promise to give her to Shelah Gen 38:20-26.

# Joseph became a precocious, self-important teenager because of Jacob’s favoritism.  His attitude was that, like his father, he could openly devalue his ten older half-brothers Gen 37:2b.  He was so sure of himself that he tactlessly told his brothers and father about his dreams that indicated they would some day bow down to him Gen 37:6-7,9.

# This provoked Joseph’s brothers to jealousy and hatred of him Gen 37:4,5b,8,11a.  So they sold him into slavery in Egypt after almost killing him Gen 37:18-19,23-24,27-28,31-32,36.

4B31(j)(ii)  Jacob himself often suffered deeply because of his discriminating between his sons

# Jacob rebuked Simeon and Levi for slaughtering the Shechemites and feared reprisal attacks from neighbouring peoples Gen 34:30,  49:5-7

# Jacob heard about Reuben’s incest.  Because of it he later prophesied judgment upon Reuben, his eldest son, to the detriment of Jacob’s own honour and power Gen 35:2249:3-4

# Jacob was inconsolably grief-stricken when told that Joseph had been killed by a wild animal Gen 37:34-35

# Jacob was afraid and then overcome with despair and grief at the prospect of sending Benjamin to Egypt Gen 42:4,36,38,  43:13-14.

# At age 130 when questioned by Pharaoh, Jacob described miserably his own long life (under God’s Covenantal promises!)  Gen 47:9

# Finally, just before his death, Jacob prophetically gave his twelve sons their “appropriate” parting blessings Gen 49:28.  But he had to declare trouble and violence for seven of them including Benjamin! Gen 49:1-7,14-17,19,27.  This probably was what caused him to cry out in the midst of these pronouncements “I look for your deliverance, O LORD”! Gen 49:18.  He prophesied generally favorable outcomes for three others, Zebulun, Asher and Naphtali Gen 49:13,20-21.  Only Judah (surprisingly!) and Joseph received truly positive prophetic blessings for their future Gen 49:8-12,22-26 along with Joseph’s two young sons Gen 48:15-16,19-20.

These many deeply negative and painful outcomes were indications of God’s judgment upon Jacob’s lack of any heart-commitment to Him in these family matters.  So Jacob became the patriarch of a seriously dysfunctional family!

Continue to Cycle 29 [4B24(a)(x.i)]