Something I have been learning in my life is how there are little things from my past that may seem insignificant that come back later. These could be things I have done well or mistakes I made that have caused consequences. Sometimes, they are things that I never did yet they still have an affect on my life. Sometimes it is something where I was being foolish and I learned a lesson that helps me later. Whatever it is, our past does affect our future - positive or negative. When we are in Christ, we do have the wonderful work He does in us that takes both the good and the bad and makes it into something God can use. Today, the verses I am reading don't seem like there is a huge lesson in them, but I just want to point out how there are some events that have happened that may have been a factor in events that happen in Genesis 37. Please read Genesis 35:16-39.
The first thing we read is the death of Rachel, who is the beloved wife of Jacob. She dies while giving birth to Benjamin. Rachel named him Ben-omi as she died, which means son of my sorrow; however, Jacob called him Benjamin, which means son of my right hand. That is a very significant name because the right hand was a place of honor. So, Jacob bestowed an honor to Benjamin that probably belonged to his eldest son, Reuben. This was probably in honor of Rachel because he loved her so much, but it probably didn't sit well with all his sons.
The other thing that I noticed is the one verse mention of Reuben sleeping with his father's concubine and the fact that Jacob heard about it. We don't get any personal information about whether or not Reuben was in love with her or if it was an act of rebellion, so we cannot say what the motive is. However, what we can know is that this was a thing that would be interpreted as a great disrespect toward his father. It is seems that the writer wanted to make sure that it got mentioned because even though it wasn't given a lot of attention in the Bible, it was significant. I can't help but wonder if it played another part in Jacob's favoritism of Joseph that we will read about later in Genesis. Events such as Rachel's death and Reuben's failure to respect his father probably played a role in Jacob's clinging to Joseph.
But, we need to be careful that while our past can affect our future, it doesn't have to dictate our future. Our past doesn't have to determine poor choices because God determines our steps. We are told in Proverbs 16:9 (NLT), "We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps." God ultimately decides if He will allow us to follow our own folly or if He is going to change our direction. But what I can say for sure is that when we choose to follow God's direction (which is so much better than our own), our past whether good or bad will be used for God's work. God makes disasters turn into a thing of beauty and His glory shines through. All we need to do is give Him our past.
Do you allow the past to affect your decisions, or does God affect your decisions?
This post is linked with On Your Heart Tuesday and Soli Deo Gloria.