Family life looked so promising in the early chapters of Genesis. There was one man, one woman, and a glorious duty given them by God. They were to enjoy one another’s company, bear children, and fill the earth with millions of perfectly holy worshipers of God. According to God’s good design, there would be no guilt in sexual intimacy. Additionally, there would be no labor in delivery, for children would come forth forth from the womb without any discomfort. Marriage would be blissful, for all husbands would perfectly love their wives, and all wives would eagerly honor and help their man. Parents would serve their own children, and their children would eagerly submit to their leadership and guidance. Later, when the time was right, children would leave their parents and start their own tribe of faithful worshipers. According to God’s design, family relationships would be devoid of disappointment, despair, divisiveness, debauchery, discipline or divorce. Paradise was designed to be a neighborhood filled with families glorifying God and enjoying him together. Such was family life as intended by God. However, Satan entered the Garden, and the first couple rebelled. Under Adam’s patriarchal leadership, everything good became tainted with sin. All good relationships were cursed, including those in the family.
Perhaps there was no greater illustration of a sin-cursed family than Lot. Under his leadership, his wife’s heart turned towards Sodom, his daughters were given to ungodly men, and ultimately he became the father of his own grandchildren. The Apostle Peter called him righteous, but that was surely a gracious commentary. Lot did find forgiveness due to the sacrificial work of Christ. Lot did glorify God in some regards. However, Lot and his family were not the models one wished to follow.
Jacob was another saint with a most troubling family life. His tale began with a troubled relationship with his birth family. Isaac preferred Esau, Jacob was a momma’s boy, and they were forced to part ways following his deceptive plot with his mother. All was not good in the household in which he matured. He left home to continue his discipleship under his uncle. This man proved to be a materialistic manipulator who worshiped other gods. It appears that Jacob left the home of a sinful Isaac to be further tutored by a pagan idolatrous Laban. Soon, Jacob followed in the polygamist footsteps of his grandfather. He married two sisters, and they found themselves at each other’s throat. One was despairing because she lacked children. The other was despairing because she lacked love. As they competed for Jacob’s respect and adoration, both wives encouraged him to sleep with their handmaids. In the Garden, God gave Adam one bride. In the New Testament, a godly elder and deacon was a one-woman man. Jacob was foolish and sinful in joining himself to more than one woman. Hell hath no fury like a scorned woman, and he had a couple of them. As the years multiplied, Jacob’s sons followed in their dad’s footsteps. He was not a one-woman man, and neither were his sons. Reuben entered the bed of his stepmother. Judah had relations with a roadside prostitute, and Tamar, his daughter-in-law, was the one willing to sinfully sell herself. In Judah’s family, there was also parental dysfunction. Jacob dishonored his father by scheming behind his back and lying to his face. In like manner, Simeon and Levi, contrary to their father’s wishes, became vindictive and murdered many innocent men in the towns of Hamor and Shechem. Later, almost all of Jacob’s sons would join together in a plot to deceive him and harm Joseph.
Jacob was a son of the covenant. Jacob was a God-fearer. Jacob was one who followed the faith of Abraham. Jacob was one trusting in the merits of a coming sacrificial lamb. Despite his religious practices and covenant community, Jacob was one whose family was plagued with sinful dysfunction, and he was not odd. Consider the legacy of covenantal believers who endured marital, parental and sibling dysfunction. Sin affected the relationship between:
- Adam and his wife, Eve.
- Adam and his children Cain and Abel.
- Noah and his son, Ham.
- Job and his wife who encouraged him to curse God and die.
- Isaac and Ishmael.
- Lot and his wife.
- Lot and his daughters.
- Isaac and Jacob.
- Isaac and Rebekah.
- Jacob and Esau.
- Esau and his parents.
- Jacob and Laban.
- Jacob and Leah.
- Jacob and his sons.
- Joseph and his brothers.
- Aaron and his two sons.
- Achan and his entire family.
- Samson and his women, including Delilah.
- Eli and his two sons.
- Saul and Jonathan.
- David and his sons, Absalom and Amnon
- Solomon and his wives.
- Hosea and Gomer.
- Esther and her husband.
Without a doubt, other examples of covenantal family chaos could be mentioned. There are some glorious exceptions such as Abraham and Isaac, Samuel and his parents, and Ruth and Boaz. However, when one reviews the biographical accounts given in Scripture, one is hard-pressed to find an unscarred family. Somewhere along the way, a spouse is adulterous, abusive, or rebellious. In every family, a child or grandchild is led astray by their lusts, and the consequences are horrific.
So other than being scared or depressed, what should the believer take home from this devotional?
1. Grace is greater than all your sins. Despite gross sin, grace is found. Abraham becomes the father of the faith. Isaac remains the chosen one. Jacob has a son named Joseph who runs from sin; his other son Judah repents and is the great descendent of Christ. Despite great iniquity, God’s plan carries on and his wretched people are granted undeserved salvation. Israel is the house of ill repute, and from her loins proceeds her Savior. Therefore, as sinful and dysfunctional as your family situation may be, do not despair, but run to Christ. Jesus can save your soul, your spouse’s soul, your children’s souls, even your grandchildren’s souls. He can also restore the broken family and set them up for great future success. All is bad, but all is not hopeless. Run to Christ and his church for help.
2. Grace and religion do not grant one freedom from the consequences of sin. Therefore, hate Satan. Flee lust. Despise small compromises. Do not think for a moment that your true religion gives you a license to lust, flirt, rebel, abuse, be lazy or disobey God’s precepts. Realize that whatever a man sows, that shall he reap. You must make choices and live differently today in order to rejoice tomorrow. To have a different family, one must follow Christ as Savior and Lord. So be scared of sin and walk in the Holy Spirit. Meditate on his Word and lead your family to do so as well, for if you do not “focus on the family” and “do family” differently, you will soon find your name alongside Lot and Jacob in the sad list presented above.