Not every woman acts like a Disney princess. Some women act like the Joker from The Dark Knight; “they just want to watch the world burn.”
And if they aren’t watching the world burn, they are acting like a bat out of hell; cruel, manipulative, self serving and seeking the destruction of others at any cost.
For the regular Bible readers it doesn’t surprise us, but it can be confusing as to why there are stories about women like this recorded in a sacred religious text. But that doesn’t change the fact that they are there.
For example, Jezebel was an evil women. For a time, she was queen over Israel, long after the days of King David. Though she was queen, she was also a murderer and a thief. And it was not below her royal title to subdue and coerce the king into doing whatever it was she wanted.
Delilah, another woman of a less than positive reputation, has her story in the pages of the Bible. It isn’t known for sure, but totally possible that she was a prostitute. She would go on to seduce one of the last judges of Israel, a man by the name of Samson. Through lying and deceit, she single-handedly brought down God’s elect, when an army of Philistines could not.
And this is not the complete list of such women. There are more of these ladies with less than stellar track records to read about.
Another that quickly comes to mind is the mother of Esau and Jacob, a woman named Rebekah.
But as much as she is a terrible example of woman and motherhood, there is something that can be learned from her. There is a realization that could be gleaned from her story if we gave her another chance.
Through her story, we can see in Rebekah a dim reflection of Jesus. In her actions and attitudes, we can see a distorted image of Christ.
True, a distorted image or dim reflection are not ideal in any case, but looking at Rebekah and her story may help us to understand and flesh out a Jesus that can be difficult to understand at times.
When Isaac was old and his eyes were so weak that he could no longer see, he called for Esau his older son and said to him, “My son.”
“Here I am,” he answered.
Isaac said, “I am now an old man and don’t know the day of my death. Now then, get your equipment—your quiver and bow—and go out to the open country to hunt some wild game for me. Prepare me the kind of tasty food I like and bring it to me to eat, so that I may give you my blessing before I die.”
Now Rebekah was listening as Isaac spoke to his son Esau. When Esau left for the open country to hunt game and bring it back, Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “Look, I overheard your father say to your brother Esau, ‘Bring me some game and prepare me some tasty food to eat, so that I may give you my blessing in the presence of the Lord before I die.’ Now, my son, listen carefully and do what I tell you: Go out to the flock and bring me two choice young goats, so I can prepare some tasty food for your father, just the way he likes it. Then take it to your father to eat, so that he may give you his blessing before he dies.” – Genesis 27.1-10 NIV
For most readers of the text, this is a prime example of Rebekah and her being an evil woman. She is obviously doing something that is wrong.
She is planning to deceive her dying husband and rob her eldest son of his blessing, both of which are terrible things. The Ten Commandments haven’t even been given,and Rebekah is breaking them already. This is a bad woman that is doing bad things.
And how can this be an example, distorted and dim, of anything Christ like? Let me explain.
This is the story of a Parent that loved their child, adored their child. This Parent wanted nothing more than the best things, blessings you could say, to rain down from heaven on their child. This Parent wanted to see the active and divine Spirit move throughout the whole of their child’s life. And to pursue that end, the Parent decided they would do whatever it took to make it happen.
So, God, as the Parent of his children, humanity, did everything He could. God did whatever it took to see that His children were blessed. He did anything that was possible to see that his loved ones were able to receive a Spirit filled life.
Jesus said in the book of John,
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full (John 10:10).
While some translations say, “that you may have abundant life” the message is still clear. God sent his Son Jesus to the cross for us. Through that death, we can receive the blessing that was not ours. But now, because God did everything for us, we can know all nature of His goodness.
Rebekah manipulated and deceived to get her son the blessing, while she tried to move heaven and earth for one human child, God did so much more.
In an image that is not tainted, a picture that is not distorted by evil actions, God moved heaven and earth for all human people. God changed and rearranged everything through the course of human history to see that you and I and the rest of us could receive a blessing that was beyond our wildest imaginings.
That blessing, being the person of Jesus Christ, a personal and knowable God, through whom we have life, an abundant life, not only to be experienced after death, but now in this present life.
But as we all know, nothing this good is free. There is always a cost.
Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, “But my brother Esau is a hairy man while I have smooth skin. What if my father touches me? I would appear to be tricking him and would bring down a curse on myself rather than a blessing.”
His mother said to him, “My son, let the curse fall on me. Just do what I say; go and get them for me.” – Genesis 27.11-13
Rebekah knew that someone would pay if all her scheming and lying was found out. And she was adamant that it not be her favorite son Jacob.
She would pay for her son’s blessing, she would bear the curse so that he got to know the riches of God.
Although there is no mention that Rebekah was found out or had to bear the curse for her son, Jesus did bear the curse.
Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.
Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors. – Isaiah 53.4-5, 9-10, 12