Jacob is headed back to the land of his fathers. God has instructed him in this. There is only one small problem, actually it is bigger than small. Esau, his twin brother, the reason he fled in the first place is living nearby. In Chapter 31, it is evident that Jacob's scheming ways have not completely left him, and in this case that's a good thing. He divides everything with him into two groups, that way if Esau chooses to exercise revenge, some of his descendants and belongings will survive and carry on the family name. My immediate reaction upon reading this was, "I wonder how the groups were divided?" Did he put Rachel, Leah and their sons into one group, and then Bilhah and Zilpah and their sons in another? Maybe he put Rachel, his beloved, and her handmaid in the group with him and then Leah and her handmaid in the second group. See what a mess this might create?
Then, here in Chapter 32, he divides them further as Esau approaches and this is what struck me.
1And Jacob lifted up his eyes, and looked, and, behold, Esau came, and with him four hundred men. And he divided the children unto Leah, and unto Rachel, and unto the two handmaids.
2And he put the handmaids and their children foremost, and Leah and her children after, and Rachel and Joseph hindermost.
|Taken from Treasures of the Bible (Genesis)|
By Henry Davenport Northrop, D.D.
International Publishing Company, 1894
Probably in every family, every child has moments when he believes his parent loves one sibling more than another. But, in many cases this is just a suspicion that can never be proven. I wish Jacob's sons could say the same. Though God uses all that Joseph endures for good, and he becomes one of the foremost examples of living for God in difficult circumstances, might God have still accomplished that example had Jacob been a better parent? Might God have been able to spare Jacob years of believing his son had died and the grief that accompanies it? I can't answer that, but I know that God uses our weaknesses to work His purpose. But I don't think that means He wants us to stay deliberately weak. When we see areas in our life that we should improve, we ought to improve it. I believe God calls us to that. In Jacob's case, it may be a matter of seeing the weakness at all.