Genesis 30: The Divine Life
The birth of a child is always life-giving. No matter what world you live in or what culture you are part of. The new birth brings about celebrations.
When my two children were born, it was like a new world of possibilities opened up for me. I did not think they would anything in particular for me, but my love and care got a focus that I never realized I could. Until they were born, it was all about caring for the world which did not have a face. The face of the world, until they were born, did not have features. Neither did the focus of my love had a smell, a feeling and an emotion other than the emotions they went through when someone died or when someone got married.
But the birth of my children made everyone’s emotions tangible, real, present and beautiful. It was not others’ emotions and experiences were not beautiful before, but being able to claim without fear the feelings of my own babies made everything else in the world much more real and much more beautiful.
I never realized that is what children do. I did not even believe the birth of a child has such an impact on the lives of people.
It is in this context I realized the power of Genesis chapter 30. When you read this chapter, it is a royal mess. In my mind, because I am still limited by my judgments and prejudices, I don’t see much of spiritual focus when Leah, Rachael, Zilpah, Bilhah, the two servant girls, and Jacob shared their beds with each other. All for what? Simply because they wanted to have children. The whole drama that unfolds here is because they were jealous, fearful and upset with each other.
When we look further we find two poor girls, Zilpah and Bilhah, were just products to be used for this end goal. Was it that simple? Was it just sex and children their motivation? When I reflect more, I have to reflect on it in the context of other children who were conceived through these kinds of situations in the Bible.
The very beginning of the Bible starts with Adam and Eve having their first two children in Cain and Abel. Adam made love, not just sex, to bring about a divine life. It is with the help of the Lord new life is brought about. It is not because we can simply procreate but when God is involved there is new life regardless of goodness or holiness of those involved. It is God who brings about the new birth and new life. When God does that, regardless of who we are, God celebrates it.
After the death of Abel at the hands of Cain, his brother, God blessed Eve and Adam with Seth, another son. His birth inspired the people to call upon the name of the Lord as a daily practice. New life to the new spiritual rhythm of prayer.
Everyone knows the story of Abraham and Sarah. In her old age, she gives birth to a child in Isaac. Isaac made the promise of God come alive. But not just that, it also made the stars of the universe countable. Until Issac was born, the sons of Abraham were more numerous than the stars in heaven. But after he was born, you could start counting the start with him as one. Children make the world tangible.
We have Leah and Rachael fighting with each other to have children. They together with their servant girls give thirteen children to Jacob, including one girl, Dinah. Every time a child was born, God forgot all that happened in bringing about that child. The new started new again. Every time a child was born, the probability of God becoming man increased. God’s promise of redemption was closer and real.
When Rachael got upset with Jacob for not having children, Jacob got angry with her asking, “am I in the place of God?” Affirming it is the Lord who gives children.
One day after a long period of distance from each other, Esau and Jacob met. When they met, Jacob was afraid of Esau, because he remembered how he treated his older brother and stole the birthright and the blessings from him. But Esau was completed lost in the wonder of Jacob’s family and children he forgot all about his anger, unforgiveness, and vengeance. Jacob declares “they are the children God has graciously given your servant.”
I am reminded how parents forget all their disappointments and anger towards their own children the moment they see the face of their grandchildren. The innocent face of a child gives hope and future for all who are wanting to see the face of God.
The probability of God coming down to our world increased with the birth of every child. When Ruth became the mother of Obed, who was the father of two great men, Jesse and David.
Thus the coming of Jesus, the son of God, is now no more a probability, but a certainty.
“Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him.” Psalm 127:3
Now we can settle why Leah and Rachael had been in a fight. Knowingly or unknowingly we are all frantic to see the face of God in a child, which explains for the birth of about two hundred and fifty children every minute. That’s about five hundred people along with their grandparents are actively waiting for life. We are constantly seeking divine life.
Leah and Rachael along with Jacob and the servants were in search of the face of God among them. They were looking for tangible God, not an abstract one. God only became real to them, just as much as to us, when new life emerged. Until new life emerges there is no God.
New life is the absolute attribute of God.