Lessons from Rebekah: The Cost Of Dishonoring Your Spouse

? Happily Ever After

The love story of Isaac and Rebekah had the beautiful beginning of an arranged marriage. Abraham sent his servant to his father’s people to find a wife for Rebekah. There were instructions, and the servant followed them to the letter.  Rebekah met this stranger at the well and responded to his query in such a way that he knew at once she was the woman for the son of his servant. Rebekah was willing to go with this strange servant to another part of the country and meet her unknown bridegroom instead of waiting for ten days to have time for saying farewell to her family and kindred.  You can read the account by clicking here.

Scripture says that Isaac loved Rebekah deeply. He had lost his mother, and his wife was a comfort to him. It seems there was not dishonor between the two in those first years. Twenty years later, they were still waiting to have a child. Isaac prayed, and God opened the womb of Rebekah. They received a double blessing: twin sons.

Not So Happily . . .

There was a problem, though. The sons were as different as night and day. Even in the womb, they tangled. Rebekah was given the prophecy that there were two different nations in her womb, and the elder would serve the younger. It’s too bad she thought it was her job to make sure that happened (as if Jehovah needed any help from her).

Esau, the first born, was hairy and red-headed; he loved hunting and all things masculine. He was favored by his father. Jacob, prophesied before birth to continue the bloodline of the Messiah, was  not hairy and not red-haired; he was favored by his mother because he enjoyed being at home among the tents, gardening and cooking. He became a favorite of Rebekah. We don’t have to surmise this; it’s right there in scripture.

  • Letting your children get in the way of your relationship with your spouse is a dishonor to your spouse.
  • Catering to a child who is more like you and loving the one like your spouse less is a dishonor to your spouse and to your child.
  • Pitting your child against your spouse is wrong. That’s what Rebekah did. Look at what that dishonor cost them!

A Birthright for Lentils

The day Esau came in from hunting declaring he was about to starve, he asked for the stew Jacob was making. He got it – after selling his birthright to Jacob for the bowl of stew. Scripture says he despised his birthright.

When they were grown men, Esau married pagan women, which caused problems in the family. Life was more difficult for Rebekah now; perhaps she even resented her eldest son for the grief he caused her. Jacob remained unmarried and no doubt continued to be of great help to his parents.

The day came when Isaac thought he would die soon. He sent Esau to hunt some game with instructions to fix it just the way Isaac liked it. After eating the meal together, Isaac was going to give Esau the blessing. You have to understand that the one who got the blessing and the birthright was the one who inherited a double portion at the death of the father. He was also then promoted to be the head of the clan.

‘Only problem was, Esau had sold that birthright to Jacob. It is apparent that Rebekah knew about this, and she set out to make sure this would not happen.  Do you find yourself wondering what Esau was thinking when he went to hunt that wild game for his father? Did he forget that he had sold the birthright?!

Deceit – and After

I’ve often wondered how God would have worked this out so that Jacob got the birthright instead of Esau, since this was His plan. This I know: Jehovah did not need any help  from Rebekah; He would have managed this fine on His own.

  •  Trying to steer our spouse is disrespectful and dishonoring, both to him and to God. God doesn’t need any help from us in moving our husbands where He wants them to be.
  • Trying to steer our spouse is not only a dishonor to him, it’s a dishonor to God. Payday will come.

The story line continues in the next chapters of Genesis. While Esau is out hunting, Rebekah turns into a conniving woman. She sends Jacob out to bring in two young kids because she is going to help Jacob get that birthright! By the time the kid-stew is complete, she had put goat hair on Jacob’s arms and shoulders (so Isaac will think it is Jacob should he feel his skin) and outfitted him in Esau’s clothes so he will smell like the oldest son.

  • Finagling things so our child will get what we want him to have or get what he wants is harmful, especially when it is done in defiance to the wishes of our spouse. This is exactly what Rebekah did to Isaac. 
  • Going against one’s spouse teaches our children to be dishonoring to him as well. When we model defiance, chances are we will reap it later in our children.

Isaac questions Jacob two times, and both times Jacob lies right to his father’s face, declaring that he is Esau. He also credits God with helping him “find” the meat so quickly when in actuality, Jacob just went out to the goat herd to get what he needed. Don’t think Rebekah wasn’t standing there listening the entire time.

  •  Lying to our spouse (or to anyone) is wrong.  It is especially wrong to encourage our children to be disrespectful to their parent by encouraging them to be deceitful. By encouraging Jacob to lie, Rebekah was being disrespectful to her husband. Her attitude and action was a dishonor to her spouse.

Isaac finally believed Jacob, and gave him the blessing. By the time Esau came back from his hunt, it was too late. Esau begged his father for a blessing, and he gave one; but it wasn’t the blessing the first born should have been given. As Jehovah had told Rebekah when the boys wrestled in her womb, the elder would serve the younger.

  • Even when we think we know what God wants or intends, it is not in our place to manipulate things so that it happens. God doesn’t need our help (and neither does our spouse) if there is something that God says will happen. Trying to move ahead of God’s way of doing things or of His timing is disrespectful, not only to our husbands, but to Jehovah God as well.

Murder He Wrote

Esau, the now-disfavored firstborn, becomes so angry he plots to kill Jacob after his father’s death and the time of mourning for Isaac is past. Rebekah hears of his plans and decides to send Jacob away in a run for his life. Does she come clean and tell Isaac?  Oh no, she comes up with another lie. She says to her dying husband, “I’m so sick of these Hittite women around here. I’d rather die than have Jacob marry one of them. Can we send him away to my brother and have him find a wife there?” What happens to Jacob matters more to Rebekah than being honest and forthright with her spouse. She continues the cover up because her son matters more than her own husband. Isaac agrees, and Jacob flees. He never sees his mother again, for she dies before his return.

  • Giving a different reason than the truth is disrespectful and dishonoring to our spouse. Telling one lie makes us have to cover up with more lies. Our relationship with a child should never supersede the relationship with our spouse. Even when we don’t agree with our spouse, that relationship must be paramount over any other, including the relationship with our children. By choosing a child (or children) over our spouse, we are dishonoring our spouse.

Fairy tale Reality

I’ve often wondered what happened to Isaac and Rebekah that caused their relationship to disintegrate into lies and deceit.  What started out as a storybook romance didn’t end that way. Isaac was no more the perfect husband than she was the perfect wife. There’s a reason Rebekah didn’t mind lying and being deceitful, but we can’t blame Isaac because she was still responsible for the choices she made.

When we are tempted to only tell part of the truth, to hide the bills from our shopping spree, to twist facts to our favor, or to embellish our woes, it’s time to take note and think about Isaac and Rebekah. Begin by making a deliberate decision to honor and respect your spouse.

Let God work on his idiosyncrasies and exert your energy, instead, on becoming a woman of honor and respect. You will be blessed, I know.

dishonor

 

 

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