Genesis 30-32…Rachel’s envy results in a tangled web of sin; then Jacob flees from Laban, prepares to meet Esau, and wrestles with God.
Rachel envied her sister. Envy is despising the good of another, which is hateful to God, and hurtful to our neighbors and ourselves. It also shows that we don’t trust God’s provision for our own lives. Envy leads Rachel to disobey God, and her selfishness and unbelief lead others to sin. Our culture tells us to take what we want in order to ensure our happiness. As we see in Genesis 30, this approach creates a mess, and the temporary happiness wears off very quickly for Rachel. Most importantly, she had offended God, and this is crucial for us to grasp. Repentance from sin does not mean sorrow over the circumstances created by the sin. Repentance includes a recognition that we’ve offended the holy God of the universe, and involves turning away from that sin to Him.
Disagreement over money leads Jacob to move away from Laban’s family in Genesis 31. The foolish consider money and possessions to be their own, and greed can often destroy families. Our over-valuing worldly wealth is an error which is the root of greed and envy. The bible tells us that our money and possessions belong to God, though. Haggai 2:8 says, “All silver and gold belong to me, says the Lord God.” This truth does not fit with the popular, prosperity gospel, which claims that accumulation of wealth demonstrates our faith. This is false, destructive, and does not align with scripture, nor does it consider for one second the life of Christ.
In Genesis 32, Jacob wrestles with God. Nothing requires more unceasing exertion than wrestling. This is an image in scripture for prayer as well (Colossians 4:12). It is an emblem of the true spirit of faith and prayer. Jacob kept his ground, though the struggle was long. This length of the struggle did not shake his faith, nor silence his prayer. If we are to grow spiritually, we need to wrestle in prayer in this way. Praying takes effort, and is a spiritual discipline everyone Christian should want.