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Posts Tagged ‘Sibling’

Scripture: (Gen 29:17 NKJV)  Leah’s eyes were delicate, but Rachel was beautiful of form and appearance.

Observation: The words that describe Leah have been debated for many years by many commentators.  Some believe that Leah had soft blue eyes, which were considered a blemish.  In The New Manners and Customs of the Bible it says that, “The tender eyes of Leah, as so translated in the KJV, were actually eyes that were visually weak or lacked luster—dull and unimpressive eyes. This was considered to be a great defect among those who admired sparkling eyes that were lively and flashing. That Leah’s eyes were compared to Rachel’s beauty obviously meant there was no beauty in them and that Leah herself was probably plain in face and form compared to her sister.”  The SDA Bible Commentary explains that, “The Hebrew word rak, here translated “tender” by the KJV, has usually been understood to mean “weak” or “dull.” Ever since the LXX employed this translation most commentators and translators have followed it. The word rak also means “delicate,” “gentle,” “soft,” and “flattering,” and may perhaps mean that her eyes looked the precise opposite of what most commentators have thought. However, the fact that Jacob was not attracted to Leah would indicate more of a contrast between the two sisters than this latter suggestion implies. Perhaps Leah’s eyes, and her personality as well, lacked the brilliance and lustrous warmth the Oriental admires. The RSV renders the word as “weak.”
The verse gives us a contrast between the two sisters which may explain why Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah.  He had met and fallen in love with Rachel first, he had been tricked by Laban to take Leah – which might have caused Jacob to despised her even more.  We know there were constant disputes over their marital rights between Leah and Rachel, and later, with the addition of their two maidservants, and the birth of all thirteen children, tensions rose even higher.
In The Story of Redemption, Ellen White makes some interesting comments about this situation: “Jacob was not happy in his marriage relation, although his wives were sisters. He formed the marriage contract with Laban for his daughter Rachel, whom he loved. After he had served seven years for Rachel, Laban deceived him and gave him Leah. When Jacob realized the deception that had been practiced upon him, and that Leah had acted her part in deceiving him, he could not love Leah. Laban wished to retain the faithful services of Jacob a greater length of time, therefore deceived him by giving him Leah, instead of Rachel. Jacob reproved Laban for thus trifling with his affections, in giving him Leah, whom he had not loved. Laban entreated Jacob not to put away Leah, for this was considered a great disgrace, not only to the wife, but to the whole family.  Jacob was placed in a most trying position, but he decided to still retain Leah, and also marry her sister. Leah was loved in a much less degree than Rachel. {SR 89-90}

Application: Leah desired the love of her husband.  This is obvious as she names her sons:(Gen 29:32-35 NKJV)
Reuben: “The LORD has surely looked on my affliction. Now therefore, my husband will love me.”
Simeon: “Because the LORD has heard that I am unloved, He has therefore given me this son also.”
Levi: “Now this time my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.”
Judah: “Now I will praise the LORD.”

While we read that Jacob loved Rachel, we never read that She loved him.  That is not to say that she didn’t, but her bitterness spilled over into her marriage as she demands of Jacob, (Gen 30:1-25 NKJV)  “Give me children, or else I die!” Finally she decides to give Jacob her maid, and again, the names of Bilhah’s children reflect Rachel’s bitterness, particularly toward her sister:

Dan: “God has judged my case; and He has also heard my voice and given me a son.”
Naphtali: “With great wrestlings I have wrestled with my sister, and indeed I have prevailed.”

Zilpah, Leah’s maid, now enters in this marital battle, and bears Jacob two more sons, but then Leah also bears Jacob a couple more sons:

Issachar: “God has given me my wages, because I have given my maid to my husband.”
Zebulun: “God has endowed me with a good endowment; now my husband will dwell with me, because I have borne him six sons.”

It must be a very heavy burden to be unloved by their spouse.  And yet Leah did not leave or divorce Jacob.  Their children enjoyed the stable home, living with their father and mother.  It was a large, blended family, but they were able to live with their biological parents.  Children of divorce suffer in many different aspects of their lives – financially, emotionally, educationally, etc.  Once we have brought children into this world, we must do everything we can to provide them with a loving home, with their biological parents to protect them, to provide for them, to help them and encourage them.  Pray that you may be loved by your spouse, but most importantly, display love for your spouse; we are responsible for our feelings and actions, not for those of the other person.

Prayer: Father of love, help us to show our spouse how much we love them, and when negative thoughts and feeling creep up upon us, help us to defeat them and grow in us Your love for our spouse.  Bless us, our marriage and our home, that we may provide our children a good, warm, stable home, one where them may feel safe knowing their parents won’t abandon them.  Help us to show them through our example that in spite of conflict, we can remain together and keep our commitment to one another and to You to live together until death do us part.  And may this example break the cycle of divorce that permeates so many families today.

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Scripture: (1 Sam 16:11-12 NIV)  So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?” “There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered, “but he is tending the sheep.” Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.” {12} So he sent and had him brought in. He was ruddy, with a fine appearance and handsome features. Then the LORD said, “Rise and anoint him; he is the one.”

Observation: After God rejected Saul, or better, after Saul rejected God, Samuel was instructed to anoint the next king of Israel.  God directed Samuel to the home of Jesse who made six of his seven children parade in front of the prophet who chose none of them.  After inquiring as to whether there were any other children, he was told about the youngest one, tending the flocks in the field at the moment.  When the youngest son, David, came in, immediately Samuel identified him as the successor to Saul, and the second king of Israel.

Application: The youngest child in a family can take a lot from his/her older siblings.  In many cases, by the time the hand-me-downs they’ve been worn by so many older siblings that they look pitiful, and the toys, books, and furniture are not in the best of shape either.  They have to compete with older siblings for everything from school, to sports, and even for their parent’s attention, and for their entire life they be seen as the “baby” of the family.
At the same time, since they seem unable to compete with their older siblings in other areas because they are taller, faster, more knowledgeable, they excel in other areas, among them, in the area of laughter – from an early age they learn that when they act in certain ways they draw attention to themselves, and they love being the center of attention.  This leads them to clown around, tell funny stories, and do all they can to make others laugh and thus be the life of every party.  No wonder so many actors and comedians are the last-born of the family.
Paul wrote to young pastor Timothy: “Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” (1 Tim 4:12 NKJV) For those of us who have some of the characteristics of the last-born and enjoy humor and laughter, we can identify with David who was a singer (entertainer?), and with the fact that his older siblings did not take him seriously (see 1 Samuel 17:28).  But God doesn’t see younger children or the last-born child as unnecessary, unskilled, or unimportant.  In fact, with God’s guidance, and the natural gift of laughter, a younger person can do great things – just look at king David!

Prayer: Father, may our conduct be such that others may respect who we are and what we do and thus be able to help others come to You.

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Scripture: (Judg 9:4-6 NKJV)  So they gave him seventy shekels of silver from the temple of Baal-Berith, with which Abimelech hired worthless and reckless men; and they followed him. {5} Then he went to his father’s house at Ophrah and killed his brothers, the seventy sons of Jerubbaal, on one stone. But Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left, because he hid himself. {6} And all the men of Shechem gathered together, all of Beth Millo, and they went and made Abimelech king beside the terebinth tree at the pillar that was in Shechem.

Observation: In previous chapters we learned of the Gideon and how he tested God with a fleece, how he destroyed Baals altar, and how he defeated the Midianites.  But not all of Gideon’s experiences were positive.  Toward the end of the last chapter we read he built an ephod in his town of Ophrah and people came there to worship and prostituted themselves and became a snare to Gideon’s family.  Gideon had many wives so he also had many children, seventy of them.  Abimelech emerged as the leader among Gideon’s children and did it by winning the support of the people of Shechem who paid him to become their king after which he killed all but one of his seventy brothers.

Application: Stories like this make me cringe to thin of how one person could deal with his brothers in that  cruel way, and all for the sake of power and money.  And yet, I personally know of two families where a brother has dealt in similar ways (except for killing them) with his siblings by robbing them of what rightly belongs to his siblings, by taking advantage of them, and by enriching himself at their expense.  When it comes to money, some people will do anything they have to even if that means taking it from their own family members.  What is the point of selling your soul for money while your siblings or those closest to you suffer?  If the funds God gives us are not used to help others, then our selfishness will destroy something that is much more important and worth a lot more and that is our family relationships.

Prayer: Father, help us to never place material things over our family or any other person.

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Scripture: (Gen 21:9-11 NKJV)  And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, scoffing. {10} Therefore she said to Abraham, “Cast out this bondwoman and her son; for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, namely with Isaac.” {11} And the matter was very displeasing in Abraham’s sight because of his son.

Observation: In Genesis 16 we read about the problems between Sarai and her servant Hagar after the latter became pregnant by Abram and eventually gave birth to their son Ishmael.  Hagar fled, but God told her to go back.  Year later, after the birth of Isaac, the problems evidently continued and when both Ishmael and Issac were older they had problems, maybe childhood sibling rivalry, which made Sarah upset enough to insist that Ishmael and Hagar should be thrown out of the house.  While God had promise Abraham and Sarah they would have their own son, Issac, even while Sarah skirted God’s promised and pushed Abraham to have a son with Hagar, God still blessed Ishmael as a son of Abraham’s.  But the problems resulting from this decisions were felt not only during the childhood years of Ishmael and Issac, but for many years to come between their descendants for generations to come and even to this day.

Application: In the story of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar, and their sons Ishmael and Issac, we can see illustrated several dynamics that can be problematic to healthy family relationships and which come when we don’t follow God’s established plan for us.
1. Sibling Rivalry.  While every family where there is more than one child will experience a certain amount of sibling rivalry, this problem can be much more pronounced in blended families and in families where adultery and divorce occurs.  Stories abound after the death of a father and his two or three families fight among themselves for the possessions, money, and whatever belonged to the father and which everyone claims should now belong to them.
2. Blended Families.  While some blended families enjoy a certain degree of normality, many experience great turmoil, internally and outside.  The picture of the “Brady Bunch”, where peace, joy, love, and harmony reign most of the time, is mostly an illusion created for entertainment purposes rather than the tense reality many blended families experience on a daily basis.
3. Birth Order.  Everyone is affected in a positive or negative way by their families and by the chronological order in which they were born.  Once that order is established and then disrupted by the blending of families, it creates a chaotic situation in the families and in the lives of each child as they may be “unseated” from their birth order and must adapt to their new birth position or challenge the one who usurped it.
Whenever we violate God’s plan for our life and our marriage, we bring on ourselves painful and lasting consequences for us, our spouse, our children, our families, and beyond.

Prayer: Our Loving Father, thank you for our families.  Please help us to protect the unity and integrity of our marriage and family so that none of may ever experience downfalls and their painful consequences.  Keep us together and in love for a lifetime.

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