Today's Manna

January 22, 2017
Sinful Baggage
by Scotty McCurdy
Scripture Reading: Genesis 31

After 20 years of loyal servitude to Laban, the time had come for Jacob, now a wealthy man, and his large (dysfunctional) family to return to Isaac. Their leaving is straightforward, but what warrants discussion is not what they left, but what they took.

In verse 19 we find that just prior to their fleeing from an angry and jealous Laban, Rachel stole the “household idols that were her father’s.” Why do this? After two decades of being around Jacob (13 years as his wife), Rachel had seen firsthand how the one true God was with Jacob and had blessed him incredibly. God had proven abundantly for 20 years that He was not only omnipotent, but also good and faithful, and willing to bless.

Rachel cannot blame a bad example from Jacob for this thievery, as we are never told of Jacob mingling the worship of the God of his fathers with the paganism of Laban. This is seen clearly in his careful wording in verse 53 (the “God of Nahor, the God of their father” being false gods, see Josh. 24:2).

So, why steal them? Rachel’s reasoning is less important than the lesson we learn, as one thing is clear: it can be tremendously difficult to fully cast away all idols when following the Lord. Some things about the pagan lifestyle are easy to leave behind, being clearly repulsive to God by their very nature. But others, the “harmless” ones we enjoy, the ones that are easy to grab and easy to hide, those we tend to take with us. Rachel’s problem wasn’t one of misunderstanding, but one of bringing the old life into the new land.

We tend to have certain idols that we like to keep around, like Rachel did. We often are willing to come up with clever ways of concealing their presence, like Rachel did. Like Rachel, ours is not an issue of misunderstanding, but an issue of obedience.

While the task seems daunting, we must learn from Rachel and flee the idols of the past and destroy any we’ve brought with us. This may mean temporary embarrassment or discipline, but it’s worth it to be in God’s will. As Rachel shows, we bring trouble upon ourselves when we attempt to follow God while at the same time clinging to hidden idols. We must forsake them all and serve God alone, no matter the cost.

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