I make a huge distinction between the descriptive and the prescriptive truth; that is, what is recorded to have happened vs. what should have happened. Further, I have no problem pointing out other possible outcomes than the ones that did happen in Scripture based on what is presented in Scripture. This is one of those psots. So, fair warning, I have issues with how certain players in accounts of Scripture behaved.
This post is not meant or designed to make you feel regret at all, dear reader. As a matter of fact, my pastor’s heart is to take care of those who do have those regrets and to help them move through and process so they can enter into the next season and redeem what can be redeemed of the past so that the L-rd can cause something beautiful to emerge even out of the most heinous of wreckages.
Please bear in mind that, as you read, this may cause some pangs of regret, which is an immediate signal for you to throw yourself into the L-rd’s fatherly embrace so that He can work with you to transition from that which is horrid to that which is a marker of His grace and glory.
With those in mind, let’s jump in.
What Might Have Happened
I am currently steeped in a project on the names of G-d, and while I was ruminating and flipping through the Torah, the idea smacked me in the face.
“Could Joseph have been designed for the land of Bethel?”
Let me clarify.
In Genesis 35, we are met with an account where the L-rd told Jacob to go and “dwell” in Bethel. Not sojourn. Not conduct a single worship service. Not a temporary tent-pitching and then leave to a greater thing. Dwell.
That word there for “dwell” means “put down roots”. Now, we understand that Jacob did not, because Bethel was mountainous and not full of pasture for his flocks, and we also understand that Jacob could have helped his financial position by changing his streams of income, from ranching to some other trade, but he chose not to.
Bethel was meant to be a permanent, major season in his life, and he up and left after a very short season.
We also understand that, as soon as he left Bethel, where G-d told him to put down roots, his life spiraled downward, beginning with the premature death of his beloved Rachel.
But, what had originally triggered Jacob’s restlessness to move into his next season, and leave Padan Aram was the birth of Joseph. And it is possible that this restlessness came from the L-rd, who gave this Redemptive Gift of Giver understanding of seasons and timing. Further, the L-rd understood that the dreaming Ruler/Judge/Deliverer that Rachel had birthed needed to be grown on land that would be receptive to and foster the visionary in him.
But what Jacob ended up doing in the house of Laban was taking up ranching for an extra six years, which built his wealth, but at what cost?
Further, we also see that, when delay has been tied up with the House of Nahor, the House of Abraham felt discomfort, something which was hardwired into the as a family from before Genesis 12. Beth-Abraham was designed to keep their interactions short and sweet with Beth-Nahor, while the Beth-Nahor had a desire to prolong those contacts. For example, follow along with me in the following process:
Then Laban and Bethuel answered and said, “The matter comes from the L-RD; so we cannot speak to you bad or good. “Behold, Rebekah is before you, take her and go, and let her be the wife of your master’s son, as the L-RD has spoken.” And it came about when Abraham’s servant heard their words, that he bowed himself to the ground before the L-RD. And the servant brought out articles of silver and articles of gold, and garments, and gave them to Rebekah; he also gave precious things to her brother and to her mother. Then he and the men who were with him ate and drank and spent the night. When they arose in the morning, he said, “Send me away to my master.”Gen. 24:50–54 NASB
Abraham’s servant went ot the house of Nahor, to the family of Bethuel, found Rebekah, and obtained permission to leave with her, all of which is really good news, right?
But her brother and her mother said, “Let the girl stay with us a few days, say ten; afterward she may go.”Gen. 24:55 NASB
And….well, let me put it this way. Sometimes we have those relatives or friends that want to hang onto something long after G-d’s season of grace for those friendships, dealings, or partnerships has expired, and some of us are more adept at moving on from those dealings than others.
In every one of these accounts where Abraham’s family, after leaving Aram-Naharaim and his father’s house, has to return, there is this leeching or smothering feeling in the interactions. This above account, after they said that Rebekah could go, shows a dysfunctional or cultural predilection for renegotiating what was promised earlier.
And Abraham’s servant is not having any of it. Ew, ten days? Fish and visitors smell in three.
And he said to them, “Do not delay me, since the LORD has prospered my way. Send me away that I may go to my master.”Gen. 24:56 NASB
Laban earlier, seeing the camels from Canaan, said, “come in, O blessed of the L-rd” which is Labanese for “Imma get some of this loot”.
The Account With Jacob and Laban
Then G-d remembered Rachel, and G-d gave heed to her and opened her womb. So she conceived and bore a son and said, “G-d has taken away my reproach.” And she named him Joseph, saying, “May the L-RD give me another son.”
Now it came about when Rachel had borne Joseph, that Jacob said to Laban, “Send me away, that I may go to my own place and to my own country. “Give me my wives and my children for whom I have served you, and let me depart; for you yourself know my service which I have rendered you.”Gen. 30:22–26 NASB
Jacob knew. He was supposed to leave. His spirit or his gut told him.
But Laban said to him, “If now it pleases you, stay with me; I have divined that the L-RD has blessed me on your account.”Gen. 30:27 NASB
And Laban said, please stay. Which turned into another six year stay. Forget 10 days. Six more years with leechy, codependent relatives who learned by their clowns that they have been blessed because of you.
And what was the content of those six years. Sure, the L-rd multiplied Jacob’s wealth and families, but under a nasty, unnecessary, continually predatory work situation, where his wives lost any inheritance they had, and so the only thing that could cone from this bad timing on Jacob’s part, would be a complete burning of bridges. G-d said enough of the dysfunction, we are so done here. No Laban, not everything we see is yours.
Laban: “Everything you see here is mine”.
Jospeh was a Ruler. Rulers are designed as catalysts for the explosion of sustainable systems.
And my theory was that Joseph was supposed to be raised on the land of Bethel, as a dreamer, and be coached on that land and in that environment that fostered his father having that massive dream that came from the L-rd.
But because Jacob had so much dysfunction, and Laban also had that problem, they kind of joined up in this slimy, Giver/Giver or Giver/Exhorter codependent relationship. Laban was most likely a Giver or Exhorter by Redemptive Gift. For those who are confused about thiw terminology, go here.
And Jacob knew it. He knew it was wrong, something constantly felt off, and that gut feeling was confirmed when he awoke the morning after he and Laban made the deal for employment and the flocks that were once teeming with speckeld, striped, and spotted livestock were now devoid of those things.
And so he set to work at his Giver conniving. And this peeling reeds and mating flocks and assessing weaknesses nonsense, which was not G-d’s aerial view for this son of His, commenced. Jacob was supposed to fly (see his dream about the stairway into the heavens), and he was choosing to fight a ground war against someone who was his relational match in everyway.
Jospeh’s birth triggered what could have been a really neat season where he was fathered by the L-rd in his gifts, but instead the rest of the account is characterized by a series of unfortunate events that were, at least in part, a series of hiccupping, dieseling responses of bad, lagging timing while waiting for something better or a way to renegotiate. If there is anything Givers have to deliver themselves from and resist when they are raised in dysfunction, it is the trap of reproducing their dysfunctional family relationships in new interactions.
Hello? Are we getting the lesson here? Everything was pumped and primed for Jacob to have an explosive amount of dominion in the region, and yet, he settled for 5th best or worse. Baby boy is a dreamer, son of his love.
And the MOMENT he got his butt in gear and moved toward his birthright in Bethel, THE TERROR FROM THE L-RD FELL UPON THE ENEMIES IN THE SURROUNDING REGION (Genesis 35:5).
“God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there. Make an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.” So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods that are among you and purify yourselves and change your garments. Then let us arise and go up to Bethel, so that I may make there an altar to the God who answers me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.” So they gave to Jacob all the foreign gods that they had, and the rings that were in their ears. Jacob hid them under the terebinth tree that was near Shechem.
And as they journeyed, a TERROR FROM G-D fell upon the cities that were around them, so that they did not pursue the sons of Jacob. And Jacob came to Luz (that is, Bethel), which is in the land of Canaan, he and all the people who were with him, and there he built an altar and called the place El-bethel, because there God had revealed himself to him when he fled from his brother.”Gen. 35:1–7 ESV
And what followed this account was the dreams of Joseph. What if Jacob and Joseph, who were both made to dream, were assigned to a land designed for encouter with the L-rd through dreams? What if Jacob had dealt with his dysfunction through being fathered by the L-rd and turned a corner where he decided he waas going to start walking by faith? Further, what if the family hit one or more roadblocks where they were not hearing from the L-rd through the usual routes? They could have said, “Jacob and Joseph, take a nap”. And BOOM, a dream and the counsel of the L-rd follow, because they are dwelling in the place where a gate of heaven was.
And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”Gen. 28:17 ESV
I mean, come on, gang. We read these figures of speech and pass right by them thinking them not understandable, and the King is ready to help us understand that gates of heaven are literal things with meaning and usefulness beyond metaphors.
How long have we been satisfied with natural explanations for spiritual problems? And how long have we tolerated harrassing or mistreating those who offer solutions or responses that do not fit our naturally-apprehended faculties?
How long has our internal dialogue been:
I have to suffer and strive and claw my way to an answer and no one is going to help me and I am going to push a flat-tired wheelbarrow full of rocks up the hill.
when all the while, G-d has been trying to get us to dream and receive a fully-formed, robust, complex solution to our equally complex problem?
What problems are you solving without the option of your dreams, follower of Yeshua? How long have your gone without the full-orbed compliments of resources that the Divine Council have available for you?
What opportunities have you missed because you were not on the rightpiece of land? What does the L-rd have for you that you are refusing to take because you do not have access to the land you were supposed to be on?
Just some thoughts….