Wisdom Meets Passion


I have put off this review for far too long.  I received an electronic copy of Wisdom Meets Passion by Dan Miller and Jared Angaza some time ago in exchange for reviewing it, but I could not bring myself to write the review.  Why?  I really wanted to love it, but I did not!

I have been familiar with Dan Miller for several years, and heard him talking about his son Jared and the things he was doing. When I heard Dan talk about the book that they had written together, I was eager to read it.  I have a lot of respect for Dan’s wisdom, and was ready to hear about that wisdom meeting his son’s passion.  I did enjoy reading Dan’s part of the book, but I don’t think I learned anything new.

On the other hand, I found Jared’s “passion” to be unrealistic for most of us.  His portions of the book showed an unwillingness to do anything he did not want to do.  I felt like it came across as an immature life view. I realize that the whole idea of the book was to look at combining the wisdom of an older generation with the passion of youth, but it seemed to me that there was more of passion being used as an excuse than a willingness to learn wisdom.

I have to wonder if Jared’s life had been different if he would have been able to be successful just following his passion.  If he had been born into the typical American family that doesn’t have a lot of financial wisdom, had $50,000 worth of student loan debt, and a wife and 5 children, would he have been as easily able to follow his passion?

All in all, the idea of finding “work you love”, as Dan has long taught, is a worthy goal.  However, I would hesitate to give this book to a young person just starting out, because it might give them an unrealistic goal for life.  For most of us, there will always be things we have to do for which we have no passion.  For some of us, there will be more of that than for others.  If we can recognize and accept that fact, it can build us into stronger people in the long run.  🙂

You Smell Like Coffee!

“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.”  Acts 4:13

On my birthday, I wanted a chance to be able to get out of the house and do some planning, but we had a car in the shop and were sharing one vehicle. Since my husband works up the street from a Starbucks, I suggested I go in to work with him and sit at Starbucks for my “time out”. (I know, it was a hardship to HAVE to sit at Starbucks, but we do what we need to do, right? 😉 )

I went over to pick him up for lunch, and the first words out of his mouth when he greeted me were, “You’ve been drinking coffee!” Actually, I had finished my coffee well over an hour before that, and my drinking coffee is not an unusual thing that should have elicited such a response. I realized that what he was really reacting to was the that I carried the coffee aroma with me – I had been steeped in in for a few hours. As a matter of fact, the entire vehicle smelled of coffee – it was a very strong perfume!

Do I carry the aroma of Christ with me in the same way? Do I spend enough time steeped in time with the Lord that others can tell I have been with Him? Sadly, I think the answer is too often “no”. I hope that others can at least tell that I am a follower of the Lord, but is my life one that proclaims His love? Do I live my life in such a way that others are attracted to the Lord, or am I just another person traveling the same path as everyone else?

When Moses had been on the mountain talking with the Lord, he had no idea that there was anything different about him. However, when he descended from the mountain, his face shone so brightly that he had to cover his face with a veil in order for others to be able to talk to him. He had spent time with the Lord, and the countenance of the Lord shone forth from his face.

We might not have physical manifestations of spending time with the Lord, but it should show up in the way we live our lives. I know that if I am spending time intentional with the Lord, I am less likely to be impatient with my children. I am more likely to really listen to them. I am more respectful to my husband. And I am less likely to waste time on things that don’t really matter.

The problem is that there are too many times when I either let life push my time with the Lord aside, or it is something that I do just to check it off my list. Yes, it needs to be a scheduled priority, but it should also be something that I so look forward to that I don’t want anything else to come in the way. When I am able to keep that time as sacred, and really put my mind and heart into that time, then I will be “steeping” myself in His presence and His aroma will go with me through my day.

Mothers in the Bible – Jochebed

“By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s command.”  Hebrews 11:23

Jochebed was a slave.  She was one of the Hebrews whose forefathers had settled in Egypt centuries before when the Hebrew Joseph was the Prime Minister who had saved Egypt from famine.  Now, however, Egypt was ruled by a Pharoah who neither knew nor cared about Joseph.  Rather, he was threatened by these people who had multiplied to the point where he feared that they would take over his kingdom.

Determined not to allow the foreigners to become any stronger, Pharoah made the Hebrews slaves.  When they continued to thrive, he ordered the midwives to kill any male baby that was born to one of the Hebrews.  They, however, were God-fearing women who refused to kill the babies.  Pharoah then ordered his own people to throw any male Hebrew baby they found into the Nile river.

It was in this time that Jochebed and her husband Amram brought their third child into the world, their second son.  Somehow, they managed to hide the wee lad for three months, but the day came when they could no longer hide him.

Jochebed formed a little basket from bulrushes and covered it with pitch to make it waterproof.  She laid the little baby into the basket and placed the basket among the reeds in the river.  Then Jochebed went home, trusting her son to the Lord.

Miriam was the baby’s older sister.  She hid a ways off to watch over basket and see what would become of her little brother.   While she watched, the Pharoah’s daughter came to the river with her maids to bathe.  The princess noticed the basket, and sent a maid to get it for her.  When she opened the basket and saw the crying baby, she knew immediately that it was one of the Hebrew baby boys that her father had condemned to death, and she had compassion on the child.

Miriam saw her compassion, and dared to come closer to the princess, offering to find a Hebrew woman to nurse the child for the princess.  (What faith!  There is no mention of the princess having said anything about keeping the baby before Miriam made that offer!)

The princess accepted the offer, and Miriam ran to call her mother.   Jochebed hurried to the river, where the princess tasked her with caring for the baby, whom she named Moses (meaning drawn out, since he was drawn out of the Nile) for pay.  Imagine Jochebed’s joy as she returned home carrying her baby, now under the protection of the princess, back home!

Amram and Jochebed only had a few short years before Moses was weaned and “returned” to the princess at the palace.  It wasn’t nearly long enough, but they made sure to make those years count.  Even though Moses was still very young when he went to live in the palace and he began to be educated as an Egyptian prince, the teaching of his parents stuck.  “By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharoah’s daughter, choosing to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin.”  (Hebrews 11:24-25)

We don’t know how Jochebed taught her son during the short period that she had him in her care.  We don’t read any more of Jochebed’s life, and we don’t know how long she lived.  I think, though, that it is safe to assume that her prayers followed him when he was no longer under her influence.

Most of us have about 18-20 years with our children, give or take a few years.  Do we take advantage of the time we have to influence our children to the Lord?  Am I faithful to teach my children His ways?  May I learn from Jochebed to do a better job of using the time I am given!

I’m not adequate!

“Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying:

“’Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;
Before you were born I sanctified you;
I ordained you a prophet to the nations.’

“Then said I:
‘Ah, Lord God!
Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth.’

“But the Lord said to me:
‘Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’
For you shall go to all to whom I send you,
And whatever I command you, you shall speak.
Do not be afraid of their faces,
For I am with you to deliver you,’ says the Lord.

“Then the Lord put forth His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me:
‘Behold, I have put My words in your mouth.'”      Jeremiah 1:4-9

How often do I feel like Jeremiah – inadequate.  I remember feeling that I was too young.  That doesn’t seem to be such an issue any more.  😉  But the inadequacy continues.  I am too unorganized, too undisciplined, too unknown, too busy, too inconsistent, too weak, too exhausted, and even too old.

Wait just a minute!  Who is it that has called me?  Who has given me the work to do?  Is it not the same One who called Jeremiah?  Did He not know me even before I was born?  Did He not also set me apart for a specific purpose?

If the Lord has called me to do a job, He will give me the tools to do it.  He will give me the ability to become more organized, to discipline myself.  He will give me the rest and strength that I need, and put the needed words in my mouth.

My part is just to obey. Yes, OBEY.  It doesn’t matter whether or not I feel qualified.  It doesn’t matter if I am too tired, too lazy, too whiny, too…  If I obey, the Lord will faithfully provide me with the qualifications and the adequacy.

So why is it so hard to do my part when I know He is faithful to do His part?

Book Review: The Grace Effect


The Grace Effect, How the Power of One Life Can Reverse the Corruption of Unbelief by Larry Alex Taunton was not at all what I was expecting.  Frankly, I was expecting a somewhat dry theology book, but that is not the case at all!  This is a combination biography of a child’s adoption from the Ukraine, apologetics book, and engaging treatise on the power of grace all in one.

Far from struggling to get through the book, I was fascinated from beginning to end.  Taunton details the excitement, drama, and the frustration of endless, needless bureaucratic  delays (necessitating bribes or “gifts”) of his family’s adoption of 10 year-old Sasha.  Woven into the story are the astonishing (to those of us in the United States) facts of the every-man-for-himself mentality of the communist countries.  Taunton ties all of this together with a very compelling argument that the reason for the difference between these countries of atheist persuasions and a country founded on Christian principles is the Grace Effect.

This book would be good for high schoolers on up.  Although there are a lot of statistics given, and the book covers history, apologetics, and current events, it is not at all stuffy.  I found myself wanting to share several tidbits as I read.

My biggest complaint is that the book ended too soon.  After falling in love with this little girl and rooting for her as it seemed the Ukrainian adoption processes were designed for failure, I wasn’t ready to say “goodbye”!  I would have loved to have gotten more than just a few tidbits of how she adapted to life here in the United States, and would be happy to someday read a sequel to The Grace Effect.

Disclosure: I was provided with a free copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review, and the links above are affiliate links. If the links do not work in a feed reader, please visit the actual page.

Mothers in the Bible – Tamar

 “But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.”  Romans 5:20

Tamar is an interesting study.  We don’t know much about her, and what we do know doesn’t show her in a very good light.  However, she is one of the few women mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus!

Jacob and Leah’s 4th son, Judah,  married a Canaanite woman by the name of Shua.  Shua gave birth to 3 sons, Er, Onan, and Shelah.  Once Er was grown, Judah found a wife for him – Tamar.  Er, however, was a wicked man, and the Lord killed him.

Er did not yet have any children when he died, and it was the custom in those days that when a man died, his brother would marry the widow in order to produce an heir for the deceased man.  Therefore, Judah had Onan marry Tamar in order to produce an heir for Er.

Onan was also a wicked person, and did not take well to the thought of producing an heir that was not his own.   The Bible says that he made sure he did not by “emitting on the ground” rather than risk impregnating Tamar.  This greatly displeased the Lord, and He killed Onan, also.

Shelah was the next in line.  Apparently, he wasn’t fully grown to manhood, so Judah sent Tamar home to her father’s house to wait until Shelah was grown and could take her as a wife.  However, Judah was afraid that his youngest son would be the next to die if he married Tamar, so he did not follow through on his promise when Shelah was grown.

Judah’s wife, Shua died, and, after the period of mourning for her was over, he decided to go visit his friend who lived near Tamar’s family.  When Tamar heard that he was coming and realized that it wasn’t likely that she was going to be given to Shelah as a wife, she took the matter of producing an heir to her first husband into her own hands.  Tamar took off her widow’s garments and dressed herself as a prostitute, complete with a heavy veil so that her identity could not be known, and positioned herself along the route she knew Judah would travel.  Sure enough, Judah came by, assumed she was a prostitute and asked for her services, promising a young goat in payment.  Tamar wanted assurance of payment, however, and asked for a pledge, or security deposit.  She didn’t want just anything, but she wanted something that would positively identify the owner.  She asked for his signet ring and cord and his staff, something that has been compared to a modern-day person leaving their drivers’ license and credit card.  He apparently complied without hesitation.

Once Judah left, Tamar removed the prostitute’s veil and put on her widow’s garments, continuing her life of waiting in her father’s home.  When Judah’s friend came with the promised payment of the goat to exchange for the signet ring, cord, and staff, the prostitute was no where to be found.  He even asked the locals where she was and was told that there was no prostitute in that place.  Judah decided to be content with leaving his security deposit as payment, feeling he had done what he could to pay what he owed.

After 3 months, however, it was evident that Tamar was pregnant, and Judah was told about it.  Having no idea who the father was (and possibly thinking he could now get rid of the problem of having to give her to his youngest son), he was furious with his daughter-in-law and ordered that she be brought out and burned for her obvious adultery.  However, Tamar brought out the signet ring, cord, and staff that she had been given as a security deposit and asked Judah to identify them, saying that the owner of those items was the father of the child she carried.

Judah was stuck, and acknowledged that she had been more righteous than he had been, for she had been trying to raise up the rightful heir to her husband while he had neglected to follow through on his promise to have his youngest son produce that heir.

As it turned out, Tamar was actually carrying twins.  When she was giving birth, a hand was the presenting body part, and the midwife quickly tied a scarlet thread around the hand to identify the firstborn.  However, the child pulled his hand back, and his brother was born first.  The surprised midwife exclaimed that he had “breached” or broken through, so he was named Perez (meaning “breach” or “breakthrough”).  Afterwards, the baby with the scarlet thread was born and was named Zerah (meaning “scarlet”).

In spite of the very wrong way that Tamar went about doing the right thing, the Lord in His grace honored Tamar in a very significant way.  To start with, her great-great-great-great grandson married Rahab, the prostitute who sheltered the Israelite spies in Jericho, and together they had Boaz, who married Ruth the Moabitess.  When Ruth married Boaz, she was given the following blessing:  “May your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah, because of the offspring which the LORD will give you from this young woman.”  (Ruth 4:12)  (Stay tuned – we’ll cover Rahab and Ruth in the near future, Lord willing!)   Boaz and Ruth were great-grandparents to King David.

The most important descendant, though was Jesus, the Son of God, the Messiah of Israel, the Savior.  How wonderful it is to serve a God who is merciful enough to use us for His glory in spite of our shortcomings!


Mothers in the Bible – Rachel and Leah

“Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine
In the very heart of your house,
Your children like olive plants
All around your table.
 Behold, thus shall the man be blessed
Who fears the LORD. ”  Psalm 128:3-4

After Jacob deceived his father and stole Esau’s blessing, he fled from Esau’s wrath to his Uncle Laban’s house.  When he arrived in the area where his uncle lived, he saw shepherds tending sheep.  One of the shepherds was a beautiful young lady – a young lady who turned out to be his Uncle Laban’s daughter, Rachel.   Jacob fell in love with Rachel, so that when his uncle asked him after a few weeks what wages he would like for working for him, Jacob asked that he be allowed to marry Rachel in exchange for seven years’ work.

Seven years sounds like a long time to work and wait for someone you love, but Jacob loved Rachel so much that it seemed like only a few days to him.  Finally, the time had passed, and it was time for Jacob to receive his bride.

There was a problem, however.  Rachel had an older sister, Leah, who was still unmarried.  Leah apparently had poor eyesight and wasn’t as good a catch, and it seems that Laban was afraid he wouldn’t be able to find a husband for her.  The brides were heavily veiled, so Laban substituted Leah for Rachel in the wedding.  In the light of the next morning, Jacob realized he had been tricked into marrying the wrong sister!  When he went to Laban demanding an explanation, Laban told him that it was against the custom to marry off a younger sister before the elder.  Laban told Jacob to complete the 7 days of celebration with Leah, and then they would do another 7 day celebration so that Jacob could marry Rachel … in exchange for yet another seven years of work!

What could Jacob do?  He finished out the week with Leah and then married Rachel, but it was clear from the beginning that Rachel was the loved wife.  Talk about a situation ripe for sibling rivalry!

The Lord saw that Leah was unloved, and therefore He opened her womb and blessed her with children while Rachel was barren.  When Leah gave birth to her first son, she named him Reuben, meaning “see, a son”, hoping that a son would cause Jacob to love her.  It didn’t work.  Leah gave birth to another son that she named Simeon (which means “hearing”), saying that the Lord had given her another son because He had heard that she was unloved.  By the time her third son was born, Leah was beyond looking for love, and merely hoped that her husband would now become attached to her.  She named that son Levi, meaning “attached”.

Perhaps Leah finally came to accept the idea that she would never hold Jacob’s heart.  When her fourth son was born, she named him Judah, meaning “praise”, saying, “now I will praise the Lord.”

Rachel, meanwhile, was jealous.  She even went so far as to demand that Jacob give her children, causing him to angrily say to her, “Am I in the place of God, who has kept you from having children?”   As was the custom of the day (first seen with Sarah), Rachel then gave her maid, Bilhah, to Jacob as a wife so that she could claim Bilhah’s child.  When Bilhah gave birth to a son, Rachel named him Dan, meaning “judge”, saying, “God has judged my case and heard my voice and given me a son.”  Bilhah gave birth to a second son, and Rachel named him Naphtali, meaning “wrestling”.  In this she referred to the rivalry between herself and her sister as “great wrestlings”, and considered herself to have prevailed.

Leah had now stopped bearing children, and she couldn’t let Rachel catch up to her.  She gave her maid, Zilpah, to Jacob as a wife.  Zilpah also gave birth to two sons, and Leah named them Gad (meaning “a troop”) and Asher (meaning “happy”).

The rivalry wasn’t going away.  Leah’s oldest son, Reuben, went out during the wheat harvest and collected mandrakes for his mother.  Also known as “love apples”, mandrakes were considered a fertility herb.  Rachel was still longing for a child of her own, so she asked Leah to give her the mandrakes.  Leah responded, “Isn’t it enough that you have taken my husband?  Would you also take away my son’s mandrakes?”  Rachel bargained that Jacob would spend the night with Leah in exchange for the mandrakes.

Leah may not have kept the mandrakes, but she did conceive another son that night.  She named him Issachar, meaning “hire”, considering him to be her wages for given her maid to her husband.  She then gave birth to another son, and named him Zebulun, meaning “dwelling”.  She was hoping that since she had born her husband six sons, he would want to spend his time with her.  Finally, she gave birth to a daughter she named Dinah, which means “judgment”.

Between Leah, Bilhah, and Zilpah, Jacob now had ten sons.  Rachel was still longing for a child, and the Lord finally opened her womb and gave her a son.  Rejoicing that the Lord had taken away the reproach of barrenness and believing that she would now have more, she named her son Joseph, which means “He will add”.

During all this time, Jacob had continued to work for Laban.  He completed his 7 years of service for Rachel and went on to work another 6 years in exchange for some of the flocks he shepherded.  The Lord blessed him to the point where Jacob’s flocks outnumbered Laban’s, and Laban wasn’t looking very favorably on his son-in-law.  Even Leah and Rachel were noticing that their father didn’t seem to look lovingly on their family, and they readily went with Jacob when the Lord told him that it was time to return to his own home.

Jacob served the Lord, the One True God.  Laban, however, served idols.  Although it seems that Jacob had at least somewhat taught his family to serve the Lord, Rachel apparently still clung to some of the old ways.  When they left Laban’s house, she stole her father’s household idols.  Laban chased after the travelers, accusing them of the theft, but Rachel had hidden them underneath where she was sitting and Laban did not find them.  We don’t know whether or not Jacob ever knew that Rachel had stolen the idols, but we do know that sometime later, he called for everyone to give him the idols that they had with them, and buried them in preparation for worshipping the Lord.

The journey took quite some time, with stops for significant periods along the way.  Near the end, Rachel finally gave birth to a second son.  However, the labor was a hard one, and cost her her life.  As she was dying, she named her son Ben-Oni, meaning “son of my sorrow”.  Jacob changed his name to Benjamin, meaning “son of my right hand”.

Leah returned home with Jacob and lived for some years after that.  While Rachel was buried along the journey, a short distance from Bethlehem, Leah was buried in the family tomb that Abraham had purchased for Sarah.  When Jacob died, he asked to be buried in that tomb – where Abraham and Sarah, and Isaac and Rebekah had been buried, and where he had buried Leah.

Rachel and Leah, together with their maids, gave birth to the twelve sons who would become the heads of the twelve tribes of Israel.  (Jacob’s name was changed by the Lord to Israel.)  Rachel’s firstborn, Joseph, became the Prime Minister in Egypt and saved his family (and the Egyptians) from starvation during seven years of famine.  Through the line of Leah’s son Judah, the Savior would one day be born.

Happy New Year!

“It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.” Acts 1:7

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. ”  Jeremiah 29:11

I can hardly believe that 2011 is now history.  It is 2012.  How does the time fly by so quickly?

2011 was an interesting year for our family.  Thankfully, the poor health that I suffered in 2010 was improved, so I was able to be more active.  My oldest son finished his Eagle Scout requirements by his 18th birthday, and we enjoyed a very special Eagle Scout Court of Honor for him in May.  The week before his Court of Honor, our family enjoyed a week’s vacation with my parents in a historical location.  The week *after* the Court of Honor, I started a very busy season of selling as a HomeWorks by Precept consultant, working our state convention and holding several hotel displays of BJU Press Curriculum, Rosetta Stone, and Logos Science kits.

Two of my boys went to summer camp in the middle of my busyness, and came home having been exposed to whooping cough!  Of course, we didn’t know that, and just thought that the kids were coming down with normal colds.  On the day of my last hotel meeting, I was feeling very sorry that I was away from home when I had 8 sick children at home, and then I came down with the bug a few days later.  However, when the children who had gotten sick first were showing no sign of improvement after 3 weeks of being sick, I went online for answers.  Imagine my shock when I discovered that we all had whooping cough!  Although some of us had been fully vaccinated, including boosters, all 8 children and I came down with it.  Needless to say, our busyness evaporated, as we voluntarily quarantined ourselves!

By November, we were long past any contagion factor, although most of us still have residual coughing.  (A friend of mine who had also gone through whooping cough with her children told me that it was 6 YEARS before she no longer had residual coughing!)  My 87-year-old mother-in-law was remarrying after almost 3 years of widowhood, so our whole family got to make the trip to the west coast for her wedding!  (That was one special wedding!  2 87-year-olds, both of whom had been married to their first spouses for 64 years and then lost those spouses to death within 3 months of each other.  They had a combined 128 years of marriage between them!)  We had a wonderful time, spending Thanksgiving with my side of the family, attending the wedding, seeing old friends, and spending time with family on both sides.

So now we look forward to a brand new year.  Lord willing, we will have 2 more sons make Eagle Scout.  I look forward to an even busier selling season than last year, and we have lots of goals for all of us.  However, while we can make all kinds of goals and have all sorts of visions for the year, we cannot know what the future will hold.  Only the Lord knows what is in His plan for us, and I am thankful that I can trust Him completely to work things out for the best.  I am excited about seeing what the Lord has for our family this year!

How was your 2011?  What are you looking forward to in 2012?

Mothers in the Bible – Rebekah

“So they said,’We will call the young woman and ask her personally.’  Then they called Rebekah and said to her, ‘Will you go with this man?’ And she said, ‘I will go.'”  Genesis 24:57-58

 After Sarah died, Abraham called his most trusted servant to him and gave him the task of finding a wife for Isaac.  The servant was only to look among Abraham’s relatives, going back to the country of his birth to do so.  The servant was not to look among the Canaanites where Abraham lived, nor was he to take Isaac away from Canaan.  If no wife could be found among Abraham’s relatives that was willing to come back with him to Canaan, the servant would have been released from the job.

When the servant got to the city of Abraham’s birth, he saw that it was the time that the young ladies of the city were coming out to the well to draw water.  He prayed that the Lord would direct him to the right girl by having her come to the well and offer not only to give him a drink, but to draw water to give a drink to the 10 thirsty camels in his caravan.   That was a pretty tall order, but the servant had no sooner finished praying than a young lady came to the well and drew a pitcher of water.  The servant asked her for a drink from her pitcher.  When he had finished drinking, the young lady said, “I will draw water for your camels also, until they have finished drinking.”

Talk about a quick and complete answer to prayer!  The servant seemed certain enough that this was the right girl that he took out jewelry for her, but he still needed confirmation.  He asked her whose daughter she was, and whether or not there would be room in her father’s house for his caravan to stay.  The Lord had indeed led him, for the young lady was the granddaughter of Abraham’s brother.

The servant was warmly welcomed into the home, and he quickly made known his errand.  The young lady, whose name was Rebekah, was asked whether or not she was willing to go with the servant  when he started his return journey the next day, and she answered, “I will go”.  She was sent off with the blessing of her family, who said to her, “Our sister, may you become the mother of thousands of ten thousands; and may your descendants possess the gates of those who hate them.”

The entourage returned to Isaac, and Rebekah became his wife.  We read that Isaac loved her, and so was comforted after his mother’s death.

Although the Lord had promised Abraham that it would be through Isaac’s descendants that His covenant would be established, and in spite of the blessing given her by her family, Rebekah was barren.  Isaac pleaded with the Lord on behalf of his wife, and Rebekah finally conceived twins.  The twins fought even in her womb, and she was afraid that something was wrong.  The Lord told her that the struggling twins were the beginnings of two nations.  He also told her that, in contrast to the custom of the day, the older would serve the younger.

Twenty years after getting married, Rebekah gave birth to her twin boys.  The first came out red and hairy, and was named Esau (or hairy).  The second came out holding onto Esau’s heel, so they called him Jacob (or supplanter).  Esau grew up to be a skillful hunter who was happiest outdoors, while Jacob was mild-mannered and happier close to home, cooking among other things.  Unfortunately, Isaac and Rebekah each had their favorite, with Isaac preferring Esau and Rebekah preferring Jacob.  I’m sure that didn’t help matters when it came to sibling rivalry!

At some point after reaching manhood, Esau came in from the field so hungry that he was willing to trade the birthright that was rightfully his as the eldest for a mere meal of stew and bread that Jacob was cooking.  I don’t know whether or not Isaac and Rebekah were aware of this exchange, but it was the beginning of the fulfillment of the prophecy given to Rebekah.  Rather than trusting God to complete the prophecy however, Rebekah took matters into her own hands some years later.   At the age of 40, Esau married two wives from among the local people, and the Bible says that they were a grief of mind to Isaac and Rebekah.

As Isaac aged, he became blind, and it got to a point where he believed he was near death.  (It would actually be several more decades before he died.)  He told Esau to go hunting and prepare him his favorite meal, and he would give him the blessing customarily given to the eldest son.  Rebekah overheard the plans and decided that she would make sure Jacob got that blessing instead of Esau.  She devised an elaborate plan to deceive blind Isaac, even overcoming the differences in the twins.  Esau was hairy and smelled of the outdoors, while Jacob was smooth and did not smell like he spent as much time outdoors.  Rebekah used 2 goat kids to cook a meal like the one Esau was going to prepare, put Esau’s clothes onto Jacob and covered his hands and neck with the skin of the goat kids, and told him to go in to Isaac pretending to be Esau.  When Jacob protested that he would bring a curse on himself rather than a blessing if he were found out, Rebekah told him to obey her voice, and any curse would be on her.

The plan worked, and Isaac blessed Jacob.  Included in the blessing were these words:  “Let peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you.  Be master over your brethren, and let your mother’s sons bow down to you.  Cursed be everyone who curses you, and blessed be those who bless you!”

Of course, when Esau returned and discovered that his blessing had been taken, he was in a murderous rage, promising to kill him as soon as their father died.  To protect Jacob, Rebekah went to Isaac and complained about Esau’s wives, asking him to send Jacob to her brother to find a wife.  Isaac agreed, and sent Jacob away to his uncle’s house to find a wife.

Rebekah never saw Jacob again.  Jacob ended up staying with his uncle for 20 years, and Rebekah was no longer living when he returned.  (Isaac, however, lived quite a few more years after Jacob returned.)  Perhaps that was the curse she received for her scheme.  However, the Lord’s promise was indeed fulfilled in Jacob, whose name was later changed to Israel.