I am not a perfect mother. I love my children and I even dare say I am a good mother, but I have made mistakes. Thankfully, God – in His mercy and power – continues to use my meager sacrifice of parenting to work His purposes in my children.
Rebekah, the wife of the patriarch Isaac, is one such mother in the Bible. Imperfect? Oh yes. Used by God to work His perfect purposes? Most definitely. Yet so often we dwell on her mistakes as a mother and fail to note the good and positive aspects of her life. I don’t like it when that happens to me, so today I thought we’d give Rebekah another look!
We first meet Rebekah in Genesis 24 when Abraham sends his servant back to his homeland to find a wife for his son Isaac. Rebekah’s appearance at the town well and her kind service to the servant were direct answers to the servant’s prayer for divine intervention. (See Genesis 24:1-27.) Abraham’s servant had no doubt that Rebekah was the young woman God had picked out for Isaac.
Here, in our first meeting with Rebekah, her actions reveal her character and her faith. First, she showed kindness and hospitality to a stranger. Then she expressed a deep faith in Abraham’s God through her willingness to leave everything she knew to become the wife of a man she had never met (Gen 24:58). God blessed Rebekah’s trust and obedience with the deep love of her husband. (See Gen 24:67.)
Later, pregnant with Jacob and Esau, Rebekah worried when the two babies started a civil war in utero. Her first reaction was to pray. And God answered! His response to Rebekah included some information that was outside the cultural norm – the older brother would serve the younger one. (See Gen 25: 22-23.)
Unfortunately, both Isaac and Rebekah played favorites with their twin sons (Gen 25:28). One boy for Isaac. The other boy for Rebekah. That old sin nature reared its ugly head. And parenting is one of its favorite spots to show up. Unfortunately, favoritism continued to plague Rebekah and she pushed Jacob into tricking Isaac into giving him Esau’s blessing. Perhaps she rationalized her actions by recalling God’s words to her when she was pregnant. “The older will serve the younger.”
The rest of the Jacob and Esau story clearly shows that God’s purposes were fulfilled in these two brothers. Jacob fathered the twelve tribes of Israel. Esau’s descendants became a great nation that God used in Israel’s history. All this part of God’s wonderful, incomprehensible plan.
All of us, even mothers, are susceptible to sin. Rebekah was no exception. You and I are no exceptions. Even mothers much more godly than Rebekah will show favoritism, give bad advice, make wrong decisions, act out of selfishness, or lose our temper. But God in His sovereignty will not be surprised when we fall. Our sin cannot derail His purposes for our children. He will continue to work through us – even as He continues to work on us!
Have you made parenting mistakes? Do you wonder how God will ever work things out for your children? Will you express your trust in His mercy and power today?