There are a few phrases we’ve tried to ban from our family vocabulary, albeit unsuccessfully.
The first is the classic, “Are we there yet?” No. No, we are not. You will know we are there when the car stops and we get out of it.
The next is the always ineffective, “But he/she did it first!” Sorry, buddy. Doesn’t change the fact that you did it second.
The third phrase, and the one my little police-people seem to favor most, is the ubiquitous protest, “No fair!” That one was added to the list the day we, the explanation-weary grownups, realized, Hey! We’re in charge here! We don’t have to explain why only of you gets the last bowl of Lucky Charms! Or the coveted backseat. Or the first ride on the tractor.
But there’s a catch: sometimes my kids’ cries of injustice are quite valid. Sometimes they are simply misunderstanding. And yes, sometimes they are whiney for the sake of being whiney. Whatever the case, true fairness is more of a philosophical challenge than I’d like to tackle on a typical Monday morning, so a sleepy, “Shh, just eat your cereal,” will have to do. Like it or not, we’re the parents here. Control over these decisions is ours, even when no one at the breakfast table can make good sense of Mom and Dad’s choices.
Rebekah’s story is not about cereal or tractor rides, but it is one about control: true control (God’s sovereignty) and feigned control (our will).
We see God’s sovereignty early in Rebekah’s story when He chooses her as a wife for Isaac. What would make for a swoon-worthy, “love at first sight” encounter in a movie script, we know—from our perspective behind-the-scenes—is actually God’s provision. This legendary love story was God-ordained from the start! (Genesis 24:14-15)
When it comes to Rebekah’s sons, Jacob and Esau, the notion of sovereignty versus will is a trickier topic. This is no “last bowl of cereal” debate—this is serious business about the blessing of her boys and the election and protection of the Messiah’s lineage. And yet, Rebekah’s manipulation of her own story and theirs does not upset or threaten God’s sovereignty. Sin has very real consequences—consequences that grieve God’s heart even more than they grieve our own—but God’s plan remains unwavering and His goodness steadfast, even while His children exercise misjudgment, favoritism and blatant deceit. (Genesis 27)
God knew all the pieces of Rebekah’s story and purposed them for His plan and His glory long before they came to be.
God knew Rebekah was a sinner when He chose her to be Isaac’s wife. And yet, her act of kindness toward Abraham’s servant was not the reason she was chosen. God’s plan was the reason.
God knew Isaac would love Rebekah and devote his life to her. But her beauty was not the reason Isaac loved Rebekah when he first laid eyes upon her. God’s plan was the reason.
God knew Rebekah would try to manipulate her sons’ birthright and blessing. Her scheme was not the reason for the redirection of Isaac’s blessing from Esau to Jacob—God’s plan was the reason. And God’s plan is good.
Rebekah’s story is ultimately not about her or her sons; it is not about life’s fairness or her attempt to control it. Rebekah’s story, like ours, is about our gracious God. It is about a God who does things we cannot understand from our limited movie-theater-seat perspective. Yet He does them in the only way His nature allows—out of ultimate goodness and love.
The truth is, we are all Rebekahs, assuming control of circumstances that are not ours to control. We are all Esaus, wondering what we’ve done wrong when the “not fair” moments of life come our way. And, praise the Lord, we are all Jacobs, given the Father’s blessing when we’ve done nothing to deserve it.
Sisters, our plans do not save us! Our mad hunting skills and Bible-reading savvy do not merit the Father’s blessing. Certainly, our scheming and our sin, no matter how well intentioned, are not our hope. Our salvation only comes from the hand of our good and sovereign God—“not from works but from He who calls” (Romans 9:12 HCSB).
Let’s praise God together today for the amazing, unfair grace given to us by our good God through His Son—our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.