In Healing and Hope 1, we noted that God remembers Rachel. In this post:
2. God Remembers Rachel By Removing Her Reproach. God caused her to recall her past. What was Rachel’s past? It was a disliking past. The Bible says that “when Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister” (Genesis 30:1, NKJV). The verb, “envied,” is from the Heb. qana, “To excite to jealous anger” (BDB) in the Piel stem. The Hebrew here speaks of ongoing, continuing, intense, intentional jealousy. (Piel imperfect) Instead of rejoicing with her sister, Rachel envied her deeply. She couldn’t see beyond her envy. Her envy consumed her.
It was a despairing past. Rachel was a “desperate housewife.” She “said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I shall die!” (Genesis 30:1, ESV)! The verb, “die” (Hebrew, muwth) is a Qal participle, indicating unbroken continuity of dying. The Hebrew literally reads, “Give me sons, and if there is none, I dying.” What desperate words! Add to these words are her desperate, sinful acts. She was willing to give her maid servant to her husband, just to have a son. Two things cause her despair. One is envy. The other is shame. In ancient Near East culture, a barren wife is as good as a dead wife.
It was a doubting past. Her despair, dislike, and devious schemes of having a son actually reveal her lack of dependence in Jehovah. She has lost faith in God.
When Jehovah answered Rachel’s prayer for a son, He caused her to recall this painful past. But He did not stop there. He also healed her by removing the reproach of her childlessness. “She conceived and bore a son and said, ‘God has taken away my reproach’” (Genesis 30:23, ESV). The Hebrew word for “taken away” (v. 23) is a beautiful word, ‘acaph, “To gather, collect; and take away” in the Qal stem (BDB). “Reproach” is from cherpah, “scorn; condition of shame, disgrace” (BDB). For many long years, she suffered shame, scorn, and scandal for not giving her husband a child. In their culture, that was a very big, tormenting issue. The economic well-being and continuity of families lay in the number of sons and daughters. The childless wife is a discredit and a disgrace.
After every lunch fellowship in church, there will always be some plates and crumbs left on the tables. Some rice always fell on the floor. Somebody would then get a broom and sweep it all, collecting it in a garbage can. That is a good picture of what ‘acaph means. Rachel said, “God has gathered and collected my reproach, scorn, shame, and disgrace and threw it all away.” What a portrait of the grace of God!
What is your reproach today? What was your shame yesterday, which keeps coming back today? Years ago, somebody said to me, “This is what I am today because of my father.” I told him, “No. You don’t need to live like that today because of your dad. What you are today is because you decided to be so. It’s a choice.”
Your past does not define you! Because you grew up around harsh words and violent tempers does not mean that you have to act the same way! You can overcome your past by the power of God. Do not say, “Well, my father is violent-tempered and that’s how I am also.” No, it’s how you choose to be. It’s how you will let God remove your reproach! Do not say, “My family is negative, so am I. I can’t help it.” No, it’s how you will choose to let God remove that reproach. God will remove your reproach today if you will let Him! Christ will break the bondage of your past forever, if you will allow Him. He is the bondage-breaker! Let God remove the reproach of your past today. And He will bring you healing in the present!
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