Beckett: Pastor’s Thoughts – God Loves what is Hated (Genesis 29:31-30:21)

Read Genesis 29:31-30:21, then return here.

Once again, the distinction between prescription and description needs to be made in this historical narrative. Thus, maintaining this distinction, let the reader understand that this text is not a prescription for polygamy but God dealing graciously with a sinful situation. Jacob, to his own shame, takes two wives. This sinful act is made evident when Leah ends up being the hated wife. So, God deals graciously with this sinful situation and gives the hated Leah 6 sons and a daughter. Meanwhile, the loved and favoured Rachel is barren, and it’s not until later that He blesses Rachel, who gives birth to Joseph, despite her harshness toward Leah because the Lord is just that gracious and merciful.

Perhaps Leah can represent Israel in some sense, and God’s compassion and love for her represents His love for Israel. Much later, in Deuteronomy 7:7-8, God says, “It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set His love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the LORD loves you and is keeping the oath that He swore to your fathers…”

God loved Leah because she was hated; she was a minority. In the same way, God loved Israel because they were few— a minority. And how does the rest of the world relate to the minority? They hate the few.

In our own country’s tragic history, this has implications for how minorities were treated both during and after slavery. But I don’t want to dwell on that. What about the few in our midst today? Who are they? Consider your own congregation and the community you live in. Who are the minority in your immediate vicinity? Who are the people that are hated in your community? It doesn’t have to be skin colour. It could be a minority of age groups, or addicts, homeless people, etc. Do you even know who the hated minority are in your midst? How are they treated? How do you treat them? Are their needs being met? Is the grace of God in Christ Jesus for the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation made known to them?

One thing to remember is that Christ’s church will always be the hated minority. There are programmes that promise you church growth to help your church become “healthy” at the cost of sacrificing faithfulness to God and His Word. Then, ironically, the so-called “large, healthy church” becomes spiritually unhealthy and theologically inept because they sacrifice faithfulness for relevance.

In the world’s eyes, the church will always be irrelevant, no matter how many smoke machines and lasers you have on your TED talk stage—I mean chancel area—or how hip and “contemporary” your worship music is. God’s Law and Gospel are always relevant despite the world’s negative reaction to His Word. Indeed, their negativity toward God’s Word goes to show just how relevant it is. Are there large churches that remain faithful to God and His Word? Yes, but compared to the rest of the world, they are still very small because the church is a minority in the world. The world still hates them—indeed because they are faithful to God’s Word.

Yet remember, God loves the hated few. Whether ethnic or social minority, or the church herself, God loves you. Not because of your righteousness or your faithfulness or how popular you might be, but because it is who He is. God took what was few and hated (Israel) and made them into a great nation. The church has this promise too; for while we are few and hated on this side of the eschaton, we will become an incalculable multitude in the age to come (Revelation 7:9).

Theology Terms Used

  • Description: the mere description of events that are happening in a historical narrative.
  • Eschaton: literally, “last day.” When someone says “on this side of the eschaton,” we are referring to the time before Christ’s return.
  • Prescription: when God prescribes, or commands, something to be done or not be done.

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