PATHS In Bible Chapters

Genesis 30
Theme: Wrestling With Carnality
Key Text: Verse 15


            The words of Rachel, “With great wrestlings have I wrestled” (30:8), summarize the entire chapter for us. The scene is somewhat like that of a high school or college wrestling tournament, with several matches going on at the same time, involving different athletes and various weight levels.  Although the strategy is different in each contest, the basic conflict and struggle is against human carnality. Of course, this is the story of the ages, isn’t it? “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would” (Gal. 5:17).


1. A Bone Of Contention
            Sometimes, two teams can become such bitter opponents, that they may manifest outbursts of anger and riotous behavior. Because of her own barrenness, and an intimidation that issued from this condition, Rachel created an explosive atmosphere. First, we read that she “envied her sister” (30:1). Then, she demanded Jacob to give her “children” (30:1), which not only suggests that she blamed him for her barrenness, but also intimates that she would not be satisfied with only one child. And, as you know, this didn’t help the home atmosphere, for Jacob’s “anger was kindled against Rachel” (30:2).


2. A Blast Of Competition
            What is a wrestling match without fierce competition? And, speak of intensity, this next match turned out to be a tag-team brawl! Instead of preferring or praising one another, Jacob’s two wives began to do what so many do - - compete with one another. Rachel and “Bilhah her handmaid” (30:4) teamed up against Leah and “Zilpah her maid” (30:9), in this evil event.  Certainly, God was working “all things . . . together for good” (Rom. 8:28), for each son that was born was another future tribal head of the twelve tribes of Israel. However, where there is strife and division, no one is the winner.


3. A Battle Of Covetousness
            In the grand finale, Jacob and Laban, both so self-determined they couldn’t agree on anything, squared off and went at it, head to head. After Jacob indicated his desire to return to his home “country” (30:25), which Laban rejected, of course (see 30:27), he agreed to take all the spotted animals, or the rejects, for his “hire” (30:32).  However, knowing all the tricks of the trade, he reverted back to his scheming old ways to overcome his adversary, and turned his losses into gains (see 30:35-43). Despite Jacob’s “fair show in the flesh” (Gal. 6:12), the Lord overruled, and Jacob would soon return to the promised land.


            When I was a boy, my parents bought me two small plastic figures, a Cowboy and an Indian. Whether I was playing in the house, or in the yard, there was a constant imaginary rivalry between them. I would entangle them and scrub them against one another, pretending that they were fighting and wrestling. I must confess, however, I was somewhat biased in my feelings, and the Cowboy would usually win. Similarly, there is an unseen battle going on between the flesh and the Spirit. And, it is only as we yield ourselves to the control of the Spirit that we know true victory over “the lust of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16).