I wanted to start off our foray into families with an exploration of biblically imperfect families. You know the ones I’m talking about. Starting with the infamous: Sarai and Abram, turned Sarah and Abraham… to Esau & Jacob. Let’s not forget Mary and Joseph. Can you imagine not having a conjugal relationship, yet somehow your betrothed is pregnant? Especially in a time when God had not yet been revealed to act in that way. Especially in a time when Holy Spirit was not a concept. Joseph is like a Biblical MVP.
If I were doing the canon bible edit job, I would probably have never included these stories especially not in the raw form. I would’ve somehow sprinkled in the “ they all lived happily ever after” part. But that is not the truth. There was no happily ever after. They did not suddenly get it. They struggled. They faltered. They did not just make it work.
On Sarai & Abram
In the story of Sarai & Abram, Sarai , who became Sarah, had a major wound. Her wound was that she couldn’t give birth. Imagine, everyone all day is getting pregnant and popping out babies and you’re just there. Years are passing and nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. So you have a bright idea. Your servant can have a child for you… it’s sort of the same, right? Uh nope.
Sarah’s wound, her makeshift solution, and Abraham’s acquiescence to the plan would be the source of strife for generations to come.
This story is usually told as a cautionary tale of don’t come up with your own solution and trust God’s plan. Today I want to use it for a different reason. Honestly, Sarah asked Abraham to send them away, which is probably a kindness. There are numerous stories in the bible about just how easy it was to die back then. Sarah was just hurt and angry. She wasn’t murderous or suicidal. She didn’t jump to any conclusions. It was a bad situation of her own making and she really did her best to make due and then when she reached her limit she merely asked to send them away.
On Jacob & Esau
Jacob and Esau were brothers. The way inheritance worked back in the day was that only one person would get “the birthright”. This entitled them to be the head of the family or to get more of a share of the possessions etc. The story is kind of weird. It’s not like Jacob was jealous from birth and wanted to steal it. His mother was playing favorites from the beginning; so she, inadvertently, or not, caused the rift between them. A rift that only continued to grow til Jacob stole Esau’s birthright. However, the story doesn’t end there. This Biblically imperfect family story actually ends with a reconciliation… many many years later, of course.
God doesn’t leave things at a low note. If you’re struggling with family relationships, I want you to have hope that things can change.