Reflections on Genesis 33:18-20
Word to the wise: Don’t fall short on an order given to you by God.
I was recently shopping with my family when one of my kids petitioned for an electronic turntable for our computer, declaring it a “need.” I knew that the entertainment lifetime of this item would be (at best) a day, so I gave a rapid “no.” Despite protests, I stood my ground. I reminded my child of all the new and semi-new gadgets already at our home and, like a good father, emphasized the many reasons there were to be satisfied. My sweet child’s response? “I don’t have anything to be happy about!”
The response disturbed me, hinting at a deeper heart issue. As I spent time with the Lord, in the days following the event, it became blatantly obvious: My children and I are not that much different.
Children mimicking the sins of their parents is nothing new. In Genesis 31:13, God commanded Jacob to go to Bethel. Instead of immediately traveling to Bethel as God had commanded, however, Jacob bought land and made his home in the city of Succoth and then Shechem. There he erected an altar and called it El-Elohe-Israel (the God of Israel).
His land was fertile and his livestock grew plentiful. Jacob was a prosperous man, the husband of four wives and the father of twelve kids. On the surface, everything looked great. However, there was still one problem: He was disobeying God’s commandment.
Underneath the facade of prosperity and success, the truth typically isn’t nearly as rosy. From the outside, everything looked good, but the house of Jacob was full of moral decay. His choices had a direct effect on the lives of his children, who would struggle in sin that could be directly correlated to Jacob’s failings.
Thinking back to the story of my child and the toy, I saw that I model every action which I’m working so hard to correct out of them. My wife and my children are following my lead. Men, what happens in your homes can typically be traced back to you. When you see faults in your spouse or children, examine your own leadership and ask yourself some tough questions about your obedience, attitude and desires.
The good news is that hope is not lost, even in dire situations. By God’s grace, Jacob eventually returned to his proper walk with the Lord, finally goes to Bethel (Gen 35) and his family is used mightily for God’s purposes in future generations.