Life-Study of Genesisby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
After remaining in Bethel for quite a long time, Jacob journeyed on from there (35:16). Apparently, this journey away from Bethel was not a positive move. But Jacob's leaving Bethel does not mean that he left the house of God; it means that he was going on in his spiritual experience. Although he had come to Bethel, had stayed there, and had done certain things there, he still had to go on.
We have seen that Genesis is a book of seeds and pictures. We need to understand the significance of all these seeds and pictures. The picture of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is a portrait of our spiritual life. The experience of these three men is a picture of the spiritual life of one person following the Lord.
As Jacob was journeying on from Bethel, he experienced a very deep and personal dealing: his beloved wife, Rachel, died as she was giving birth to Jacob's last son, Benjamin (35:16-20). This experience was a matter related to both death and birth, a matter of both loss and gain. Jacob lost Rachel and gained Benjamin. If you had to make the choice, would you prefer to keep the mother or to gain the son? The popular Christian concept is to have both the mother and the son. But in the divine economy, if you would gain the last son, you must let go of the mother. Without loss there can be no gain, and without death there can be no birth. Birth comes out of death, for apart from death there is no resurrection. If Rachel had not died, Benjamin could never have come forth.
Rachel represents Jacob's natural choice. Although Jacob had four wives, only Rachel was the natural and original choice according to the desire of Jacob's heart. He was forced to accept Leah and also constrained to take the two maids, Bilhah and Zilpah. But Leah and the two maids were not the choice of Jacob's heart. If you read Genesis carefully, you will see that Jacob's heart was absolutely set on Rachel; he had no heart for the other three. Recall what Jacob did when he feared an attack of Esau and his men. He put the two handmaids and their children at the front, followed by Leah and her children in the middle, and Rachel and Joseph at the rear (33:1-2). The fact that Jacob placed Rachel and Joseph at the rear to protect them in case of attack reveals that Jacob's heart was set on Rachel.
Everything in the Bible is purposeful. The death of Rachel is recorded here in chapter thirty-five with a definite purpose. As Jacob was taking his journey, he must have been joyful knowing that Rachel was pregnant again. Perhaps he expected his beloved wife to give him another boy. But as Rachel was giving birth to her second child, she died, and Jacob's natural choice, the desire of his heart, was taken away from him.
Before the experience at Bethel, God tolerated Jacob's natural choice, allowing him to have his heart's desire. But after the experience at Bethel, his natural choice was taken from him. Many of us can testify that before we experienced the church life, we still had our natural concept, natural choice, and natural desire. God even bestowed His blessing upon them. Consider, for example, the birth of Rachel's first child, Joseph. When Joseph was born, Jacob was very happy and might have said, "This is God's blessing upon the desire of my heart. God has blessed my choice." However, after his experience at Bethel, Jacob lost his natural choice.
After you experience the church life, your natural choice must be left behind. Before you came into the church, you still had your natural choice, and God tolerated it. But after experiencing the church life to a certain extent, God will tolerate it no longer. I hope that this will not frighten the young people and cause them to draw back from the experience at Bethel. When they hear about this, some may say, "If this will happen, I will never come to Bethel. Rather, I will stay on the other side of Bethel and go no further. Then I will not lose my natural choice." Yes, after you have had some experience at Bethel, you will lose your natural choice, but you will gain Benjamin, who is a type of Christ.
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