The Baby Race
The Space Race was between the United States and the Soviet Union. It began with the Cold War, but quickly focused on space exploration. The Soviet Union struck first by launching Sputnik, the world’s first artificial satellite and the first man-made object to be placed into the Earth’s orbit, on October 4, 1957. In 1958, the United States launched its own satellite, Explorer I. In 1959, the Soviets launched the space probe, Luna 2 that hit the moon. April 1961 had the Soviet Union taking another giant leap in space travel; by sending Yuri Gagarin into orbit around the earth, (he was the first person to accomplish that). Alan Shepard was the first American in space (though not in orbit), which happened on May 5, 1961. In February of 1962, John Glenn became the first American to orbit Earth. The lunar landing program began at the end of 1962, but did not see success until July 20, 1969 when Neil Armstrong was the first person to walk on the moon.
By landing on the moon, the United States, in effect, “won” the space race.
This is not actually a competition in our family, but it is mentioned from time-to-time
Our middle son, is only an uncle once
Our oldest son, is an uncle twice
But, our youngest son is an uncle three times
Some people may try to make this a competition
I am an uncle twice
My brother is an uncle three times
My sister is an aunt five times
How about in your family?
Are there any healthy competitions going on?
Who is “winning”?
How about at work or in your friend group?
Last week we saw that Rachel’s maidservant Bilhah had two sons. Rachel named the second son, Naphtali, which meant “struggle.” Rachel then claimed victory in the struggle with her sister, Leah. What we will see today is that the baby race has not stopped. In fact, it seems to be heating up. Leah follows her sister’s example without consulting God. Human schemes seem to be playing a larger role in the narrative than God. Perhaps Rachel, Leah, and Jacob should have been involving God instead of relying on themselves and their maidservants. We will learn today that . . .
BIG IDEA – Involving God in our plans is important.
GOD (Genesis 30:9-13)
Leah’s plight (v. 9a)
Leah saw that she stopped having children
Perhaps she understood a little bit about how Rachel felt at not being able to conceive children, but probably not
Instead of being content with four sons at this point, Leah continues the baby race by following her sister, Rachel’s, example
She wanted to make sure she had a commanding lead in this “contest”
Leah’s plan (vv. 9b-13)
Jacob’s fourth wife
Leah should have involved God in her plans
Leah took her maidservant, Zilpah, and gave her to Jacob as his fourth wife
Two important principles we see here
PRINCIPLE #1 – Just because something is socially acceptable does not make it wise or right.
It was mentioned last week that in the ancient Near East it was not uncommon for a woman, struggling with infertility, to offer her maidservant to her husband, so that the children born to the maidservant would be considered the children of the husband and wife
Jacob is silent when Rachel and now Leah offer their maidservants to him as wives
He does not object
He certainly could have refused to give in to the socially acceptable practice and trusted God for His timing and plan
However, he doesn’t
How about us?
Is there something we are participating in or believing as followers of Christ, because they are socially acceptable in our culture?
You would be surprised how many Christians accept things that God’s Word say are wrong, just because the court system in our country has ruled that it is acceptable and/or right
Abortion, same sex marriage, use of marijuana, etc.
Are there things we have embraced as followers of Christ, because other people, including Christians, are doing them?
Abuse of alcohol
Use of marijuana, either illegally or with a doctor’s card
Having sex before marriage
Living together before marriage
Foul language and coarse joking
Looking at pornography
We can refuse to participate in, believe, and embrace what we know God says is wrong
We can choose, instead, to pursue holiness, righteousness, and purity
We can choose to wait on God’s timing and His plan for us
#1 – My Next Step Today Is To: Refuse to give in to what is socially acceptable and pursue holiness, righteousness, and purity instead.
Involving God in our plans is important.
This is so important, because others are watching what we are doing and determining what they should do as a result
PRINCIPLE #2 – Our actions/example may lead others astray.
This is what happened with Rachel and Leah
Leah saw what Rachel did in reaction to her infertility
So, Leah did the same thing when faced with not having any more children – she followed her sister’s example
When we participate in, believe, and embrace what our culture says is socially acceptable, we run the risk of leading other people astray
This happens with social issues, but it can also happen with spiritual issues
It happens all the time when someone takes just one verse from the Bible and uses it out of context to justify what they believe
Others try to make God in their own image, so they can continue to do what they want without feeling guilty
Still others try to reinterpret Scripture to have it say something that it does not say, so they can feel better about themselves or believe that God is accepting of their belief and/or actions
#2 – My Next Step Today Is To: Evaluate my actions to make sure they are in alignment with God’s Word, so that I am not leading anyone astray.
Rachel should have evaluated her actions to see what kind of impact they would have
Rachel, Leah, and Jacob should have refused to embrace what was socially acceptable in their culture and trusted God to fulfill His plan for them
Involving God in our plans is important.
Instead, Leah followed Rachel’s example and gave Zilpah to Jacob, which resulted in two additional sons for Leah
Zilpah’s first son had Leah feeling fortunate, which is why she exclaimed, “What good fortune!”
Leah named him Gad, which can mean “good fortune” or “a troop”
“Does she attribute the birth to Fortune/Luck, not God? She is not represented as in prayer or praise, unlike the case of her own children (29:31-35; 30:14-20).” [Waltke, Genesis: A Commentary, 412]
“Elsewhere in the Middle East, Gad is the name of a deity who brings good luck, but in the First Testament it is simply a term for luck (except in Isa. 65:11).” [Goldingay, Baker Commentary on the Old Testament, Pentateuch, Genesis, 474]
It is fascinating that Leah names her first four sons in a way that recognizes that the Lord saw her, heard her, and blessed her
With Gad it seems to be different – it is almost as though she is embracing the pagan beliefs of the nations around her
It is not definite that this is what she is doing, because the text does not really tell us that
Leah now has five sons, but it does not stop there
Zilpah bore Jacob a second son
Leah is really happy to have six sons
In fact she believes that the women in her community will call her happy
Asher’s name means “women will call me happy”
Waltke says, “Essentially, Leah is saying, ‘I am to be envied.’” [Waltke, 412]
“That Leah refers to the ‘women’ (‘daughters’) indicates the community setting in which the prestige of children accrued for a woman. The women of Bethlehem present just such a benediction for Naomi at the birth of Obed (Ruth 4:14-15).” [Mathews, The New American Commentary, Volume 1B, Genesis 11:27-50:26, 485-86]
Ruth 4:14-15, The women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.”
Leah’s naming of Asher brings to mind Mary’s song of praise in Luke 1:46-55
Luke 1:48b, From now on all generations will call me blessed
“The major difference between the two is that Leah speaks of the ‘women’ (LXX A ‘all the women,’ pásai hai gynaíkes), while Mary speaks of ‘all generations’ (pásai hai geneaí).” [Hamilton, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, The Book of Genesis, Chapter 18-50, 273]
Leah is talking about the women who are in her immediate community, while Mary is talking about women throughout history
Have you involved God in your plans?
Do you need to refuse to give in to what is socially acceptable and pursue holiness, righteousness, and purity?
Are there some actions that you need to evaluate to make sure they are in alignment with God’s Word, so that you do not lead other people astray?
Are there spiritual issues that we need to evaluate as a body of believers to ensure that they align with God’s Word, so we are not leading others astray?
“In the late eighties and early nineties, there were several hundred studies about happiness published each year; by 2014, there were over 10,000 per year. It was an exciting shift for psychology, one that the public immediately responded to. Major media outlets clamored to cover the new research. Soon, entrepreneurs began monetizing it, founding start-ups and programming apps to help ordinary people implement the field's findings. They were followed by a deluge of celebrities, personal coaches, and motivational speakers, all eager to share the gospel of happiness. According to Psychology Today, in 2000, the number of books published about happiness was a modest fifty. In 2008, that number had skyrocketed to 4,000. Of course, people have always been interested in the pursuit of happiness, but all that attention has made an impact: since the mid-2000s, the interest in happiness, as measured by Google searches, has tripled. ‘The shortcut to anything you want in your life,’ writes author Rhonda Byrne in her bestselling 2006 book The Secret, ‘is to BE and FEEL happy now!’
And yet, there is a major problem with the happiness frenzy: it has failed to deliver on its promise. Though the happiness industry continues to grow, as a society, we're more miserable than ever. Indeed, social scientists have uncovered a sad irony—chasing happiness actually makes people unhappy.”
Source: Emily Esfahani Smith, The Power Of Meaning (Crown, 2017), pages 9-10.