© 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
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.
4B31(b) God rebuked the unbelief of Abraham and Sarah and excluded Ishmael from His Covenant
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 had brought rebuke and judgment, but in grace had also fulfilled His amazing promise to Abraham and Sarah.
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 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.
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.
4B31(e) Esau lost his eldest son’s “birthright” inheritance
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.
4B31(g) God brought troubles upon Jacob for his refusal to love and honour his wife Leah
Leah had some awareness of this spiritual basis for her pregnancies Gen 29:32b,33b,35b, 30:17-18,20. 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.
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.
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.
4B31(j)(ii) Jacob himself often suffered deeply because of his discriminating between his sons
# Jacob was inconsolably grief-stricken when told that Joseph had been killed by a wild animal Gen 37:34-35
# 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!