October 05, 2020

Running Away

Genesis 27:41-28:5

Rebekah . . . said . . . “Now then, my son, do what I say: Flee at once to my brother Laban in Harran.”

—  Genesis 27:42-43

Jacob’s deception got him his father’s blessing. But it also damaged the relationships he had with the people around him. Today’s reading drives home the tragedy of Jacob’s deception. Jacob’s brother, Esau, now plans to kill him ­after their father has died.

Again Rebekah steps in to advise her younger son. “Run!” she says, in effect; “go to live with my brother’s family far away.” She even offers a rationale to Isaac: there are no potential marriage partners here (see also Genesis 26:34-35). This is an attempt to make it sound like she is concerned about maintaining the family’s faith in God, but Rebekah is using this as an excuse to avoid dealing with the deadly breakdown in her sons’ relationship.

It is important, of course, to have a marriage founded on a shared love for God. And we don’t know what violence Esau might have done if Jacob had stayed. But even legitimate concerns should not become an excuse to run from the effects of our own sins. We all have a tendency to devise “cover stories” to keep up appearances and make ourselves look better than we are.

Thankfully, God’s Spirit can work in us even when we try to run away. God pursued Jacob, and he will pursue us until his redeeming work in us is complete. Thanks be to God!

Faithful God, we confess our preference to run away rather than to admit our own deceitfulness and sin. Pursue us, Lord. Change us to become like Jesus, we pray, by the Spirit’s power. Amen.

About the author — Joel Vande Werken

Joel Vande Werken has been a pastor since 2007, serving churches in Sussex, New Jersey, and in Whitinsville, Massachusetts. He and his wife, Brandie, have five young children.

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