Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Rachel and the Quest for Fairness

Photo Courtesy of Artem Kovalev

“Then Jacob said to Laban, ‘Give me my wife, for my days are fulfilled, that I may go in to her.’ And Laban gathered together all the men of the place and made a feast. Now it came to pass in the evening, that he took Leah his daughter and brought her to Jacob; and he went in to her. And Laban gave his maid Zilpah to his daughter Leah as a maid. So it came to pass in the morning, that behold, it was Leah. And he said to Laban, ‘What is this you have done to me? Was it not for Rachel that I served you? Why then have you deceived me?’ ~Genesis 29:21-25

“Life isn’t fair”. Chances are, you heard a parent or grandparent say that to you more than once when you whined about something they had decided being “unfair”. Or, perhaps you are a parent, and you regularly tell your children the very same thing. 

While we know that life isn’t fair, I think sometimes we have the belief that its unfairness solely stems from us living in a fallen world and that therefore it is just the curse that makes life appear to be unfair. Surely God isn’t given to any kind of what appears to be unfairness. 

But is that biblically accurate? Is God completely fair? Does the Bible teach that? 

We know that God is just, but that is not necessarily the same thing as being fair. Is it “fair” when a couple who desperately wants to care for a precious baby of their own can’t get pregnant, while a couple who is on drugs and living a hard life gets pregnant easily with a child they don’t even want? Is it “fair” when a God-honoring, Great-Commission-living person passes away in their twenties, while a vile murderer or rapist live until a ripe old age? I would venture to say that none of this appears to be fair, right? And while we are not to simply rely on our feelings to determine truth and, in this case, whether or not God is fair in all His ways, I do believe there in an important Scriptural point to be made here, and it is this:

The Gospel itself reveals that God does not always do what is “fair”. And that is good news for us!

If God were “fair” as we humans define fairness, we would be doomed. Think about it for a moment - what is “fair” about a holy God choosing to give His Son as a sacrifice for fallen, sinful man? What is “fair” about the words of Isaiah 53? Verse 5 says, “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.” There isn’t anything “fair” about that! But praise God there isn’t, right?

Here’s the thing, though - just because God’s not being completely “fair” all the time in His treatment of us is actually a good thing, the unfairness of life itself usually doesn’t feel like a good thing. The unfairness of this life doesn’t usually give us the feelings of being loved and treasured like the truth of the gospel does. Instead, it commonly makes us feel as if God has fallen asleep at the wheel, and the world has turned upside down. It usually evokes feelings of anger, frustration, and hurt.

Rachel was no stranger to these feelings. 

Apparently crazy deception ran in the family, because just as Rebekah and Jacob banded together to deceive Isaac, so, too, Rebekah’s brother, Laban, deceived Jacob. Jacob had met and quickly fallen in love with Rachel, Laban’s beautiful daughter. He agreed to work for Laban for seven years in exchange for being allowed to marry her. 

At the end of the seven years and on what was to be Jacob’s wedding night with Rachel, Laban deceives Jacob and gives his daughter, Leah, to Jacob instead. And so begins another years-long season of family drama in Jacob’s life.

This deception by their father, Laban, pits Leah and Rachel against each other and leads to their becoming fierce competitors. For a long time, Leah was heartbroken, for Jacob seemed to only love Rachel and not her. Meanwhile, Rachel, too, was heartbroken, for she had to share the man she loved with her sister. Not only that, but Leah was repeatedly getting pregnant and giving birth to sons, while Rachel initially remained infertile for many years. Even once Rachel began to be able to have children, the joy was not terribly long-lasting, as she ended up dying in childbirth with one of her children.

Rachel had clearly been treated unfairly by her father and his scheme, and the result was much heartache for everyone involved in this bizarre love-triangle. Human-induced unfairness hurts, it does damage, and sometimes it destroys lives forever. This is precisely why we mustn’t rely on the idol of fairness to bring us joy, fulfillment, and contentment. We must instead look to Christ.

This week, shift your focus off of the unfair circumstances of your life right now and onto the good news of the gospel of Christ. Let go of the distractions and instead rest in the glorious good news of the gospel for you. Rejoice that, as we saw last week, God’s plan is undoubtedly better than ours - even when it seems unfair, even when this fallen world seems to be messing everything up. God is still good,  He is still faithful, He is still kind, He is still sovereign, and He is still to be trusted. Store that truth down deep in your heart today and everyday.

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