August 23, 2017 • Life for Leaders
May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and numerous, that you may become a company of peoples.
In yesterday’s Life for Leaders devotion, we saw how the unwise leadership of Isaac and Rebekah wreaked havoc in their family, leading to deception and animosity among family members. You would hardly want to model your family — or any organization you lead — on the example of the Abrahamsons. (Okay, I made that up, since Isaac is the son of Abraham.)
Yet, the results of Isaac and Rebekah’s leadership aren’t all bad. In Genesis 28, Isaac chooses to bless his son Jacob, even though Jacob had egregiously deceived his father in chapter 27. After instructing Jacob to marry someone from his own kinship group, Isaac adds, “May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and numerous, that you may become a company of peoples” (28:3). As we’ll see later, this is exactly what happened to Jacob, the progenitor of the tribes of Israel as well as Joseph, the hero of the latter half of Genesis.
As I step back from the particular story of Isaac and Rebekah’s incompetent leadership and its sorry results, I’m struck by the fact that God used this family, warts and all, in his plan and purpose. God acted in and through their mistakes and misdeeds to accomplish his will. How amazing! How gracious!
This isn’t the only place in Scripture where God works for good through sinful human actions. We might remember, for example, that one result of King David’s murderous adultery was his marriage to Bathsheba, who gave birth to Solomon, whose line ultimately connected to Joseph, the father of Jesus. Or we might think of Paul, who persecuted the church before he became the church’s most prolific promoter.
Of course, the greatest redemption of human sin came when God turned the unjust and excruciating murder of his Son into the central act of salvation. One of the most horrifying signs of human depravity, the Roman cross, became the most glorious sign of God’s grace.
The fact that God can redeem our worst messes doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to do what’s right. The results of our failures are often quite painful and well worth avoiding, as in the case of the Isaac and Rebekah’s family. Nevertheless, it is reassuring to know that God, in his mercy, can and will use us even when we fall terribly short of the goal.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
Have you ever experienced God’s taking a terrible situation and using it for good?
Have you experienced something like this in your own life?
If you knew that God could work even through your failures, what might you attempt for God that you wouldn’t otherwise do?
Gracious God, sometimes it astounds me how willing you are to use broken people, broken families, and broken institutions in your plan. As I marvel, sometimes wondering why you do as you do, I am comforted. If you can use Isaac and Rebekah for your kingdom purposes, then surely you can use me.
Moreover, I am encouraged, Lord, not to be afraid of taking risks for you. Even if I don’t get things right, that won’t stop you from using my efforts for good. So, though I certainly pray for wisdom and am eager for your Spirit to guide me, I am strengthened to act by the assurance that you can work all things together for good.
All praise be to you, gracious, merciful, redeeming God! Amen.
This post originally published on November 3, 2015.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary: A Family for All Families
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.