Friday, 6 December 2013
Reading the Bible 36 Genesis 42: 26-36 – A Father’s Love
The brothers have returned from Egypt with the food they sought. However, Joseph has held Simeon in Egypt as surety for the brothers return with Benjamin. Here we have the question of fatherly love. What will Jacob do when faced with the possibility of losing the one remaining son of his true love Rachel and the supposed certainty of never seeing another son – the second born of the unloved Leah? There is no question in Jacob’s mind. He vows that Benjamin will never go to Egypt for if he lost Benjamin it would “bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to Sheol”; he would die from sorrow.
As a subplot to this inquiry into fatherly love, we have the declaration by Ruben that if he allows Benjamin to return with them and Benjamin does not come back, Jacob may kill Ruben’s two sons. This amazing declaration by Ruben seems an incredible disregard for his own progeny and his own future as his sons were indeed his future in that time. Perhaps he hoped that if the worst happens Jacob would never carry out the sentence and kill his own grandchildren. However, it does illustrate the question about where a father’s loyalty and love resides. Ruben held his duty to his father and to his brother Simeon ahead of the lives of his own sons. Jacob certainly held his love for Benjamin above the life of his son Simeon.
This leaves us with the question about how we love our children. Can it be equal? We say of course it has to be. However, some children are easier to love than others. Modern parenting says that we should treat all our children equally but most, if not every parent of more than one child, knows that this is often not possible. Some children, as with people in general are easier than others to like and love. As children we have probably agreed at some point with the eternal cry of Tommy Smothers, ‘mom always liked you best’. We believe that God loves all His children equally but secretly we hope that He likes/loves us more than the difficult neighbour we have trouble liking much less loving. That is the challenge of both being a parent and a Christian – to do what seems at times to be impossible – to love one another and ourselves as Jesus loves us. We are told that with God all things are possible but thank God we can be forgiven our shortcomings and our sins.