I shared this sermon to the precious souls of GGCF-East Capitol last Jan. 4, the first Sunday of 2009. May the Lord bless you as you read this message.
(Before the message, I asked everyone to write down one painful experience, some unconfessed sin, or shameful thing in their past that continues to bother them today. I then asked them to crumple their pieces of paper and throw it all inside a tin can that was being passed around. I asked somebody to bring it at the back and burn it. In full view of everyone, he burned all the papers inside the can.)
When we visited Bacolod City recently, I had coffee with my good friend and brother in Christ, John Navarro. He brought his 3 year old son named, “Timothy Joseph.” “Why did you call his name, Joseph?” I asked. “Well,” he said, “isn’t it that Rachel bore her first son, Joseph, 14 years after she married Jacob?” “That’s right,” I replied. “Timothy Joseph was born 14 years after our firstborn,” he said. “That’s why we called him, ‘Joseph,’ which means, ‘The LORD adds.’” Then I said, “Yes, that’s the literal meaning of Joseph. But when I studied the circumstances of Joseph’s birth, I discovered that there’s more to the name than its literal meaning.”
When Rachel gave him the name, “Joseph,” the conditions of her life give a deeper meaning to it. The context of Genesis 30 tells us so. Before Jehovah gave her a son, she had a shameful history of past wrongs and sinful behavior.
God’s Word for today is that despite your sinful past, God sovereignly heals your past and gives you hope for the future. That is the point of the burning ceremony we had a while ago. It is not enough to forget your past. You need God to heal it. It is not enough to be optimistic. We need God to give us a living hope for the future. That’s what happened to Rachel in our text today.
We see 3 ways how God healed Rachel and gave her hope.
1. God Remembers Rachel. “Then God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her and opened her womb” (Genesis 30:22, NKJV). God remembers Rachel by giving her a son. The verb, “remembered” is from the Hebrew, zakar, “to mark (so as to be recognized)” (Strong) in the Qal stem. God remembers Rachel by marking her out in His divine counsel. It also means, “imprint” (Analytical Concordance to the Bible, s. v. “remember” by Robert Young). God imprinted Rachel in His mind. What a way to be remembered by God!
The second verb, “listened,” is from the Hebrew, shama, “to hear intelligently (of attention)” (Strong). God did not only mark her out in His mind. God also gave His full attention to her. He listened to her. This implies that Rachel prayed long and hard. After resorting to all the carnal solutions in order to have a baby, she prayed to God. You see, she wanted to share in the blessings of Abraham, by producing children for Jacob. She knew the promises of God to Abraham. She believed that he will be a father of many descendants, the father of a great nation. She wanted to become a part of this great heritage.
But there was one big problem. She was barren. So she resorted to surrogate solutions. She contracted her maid, Bilhah, to become a surrogate mother for her child. She gave her husband, Jacob, to her, intending to have a son through her (See Genesis 30:1-4). Ugly story there, but that was one of Rachel’s carnal answers to her problem of infertility.
After she ran out of solutions, she called on Jehovah and Jehovah answered her prayers. In His own perfect time, God opened her womb and gave her a son. Husbands and wives, when you run out of solutions, let me tell you where to go. Go on your knees. Call on the living Lord! The distance between your problem and God’s solution is the distance between your knees and the floor. Throw yourself upon the mercy and grace of God. And He will prove Himself mighty in your life!
Note that God answered Rachel’s prayers 14 years after she married Jacob. This tells us that God works according to His perfect timeline, not ours. Our response is to keep on praying and waiting on God, and not resort to our sinful solutions. For if we do the latter, we only add to our woes and troubles. The best time is God’s time. He’s never late, never early. He’s always on time!
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