Summary: Jacob made some terrible mistakes in the way he raised his children. And we can learn some valuable lessons from the mistakes that he made. (PowerPoints available - #126)
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
(PowerPoints used with this message are available for free. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and request #126.)
A. Listen to Psalm 71:17-18. "Since my youth, O God, you have taught me, & to this day I declare your marvelous deeds. Even when I am old & gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come."
ILL. In a TV commercial for a bank, a mother is shown putting her first grader on the bus & waving good bye. Then we hear the voice of the announcer saying, "Every morning we send our children one day closer to the future."
Then there are more pictures of young children, with the announcer concluding, "The best investment in the future is an investment in our children."
The commercial is right, except that our primary concern should not be financial but spiritual. We should deposit in our children a rich faith in God & leave them an inheritance of biblical values so that they'll be protected against the propaganda with which Satan seeks to destroy them.
B. Though we usually like to learn by imitating the positive examples of others, we can also learn from the mistakes of others.
Such is the case with Jacob, one of my least favorite Bible characters. Too much of what we know about him is negative. As a young man he was a schemer & a deceiver, taking advantage of both his brother & his blind father. Then, as a father himself, he made some big mistakes that we must be careful to avoid.
1. First of all, Jacob did not communicate real love to all his children. Instead, it was obvious that he had a favorite.
Genesis 37:3-4 tells us, "Now Israel (that's Jacob's other name) loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; & he made a richly ornamented robe for him. When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him & could not speak a kind word to him."
This was no typical sibling rivalry. This was bitter hatred that turned to violence & ripped the family apart. Joseph's brothers hated him so much that they even plotted to kill him their own brother!
But at the last minute, they changed their minds & sold him to slave traders. Then, to deceive their father, they took that special coat of Joseph's, soaked it with blood, & told Jacob that Joseph must have been torn apart by a wild animal.
Though their father was heartbroken, his sons maintained that lie for 22 years. And during that time they went from bad to worse. Their record during those 22 years includes rape, incest, immorality, & murder.
You see, Jacob made some terrible mistakes in the way he raised his children.
APPL. Now there was nothing wrong with Jacob loving Joseph & giving him a special coat. Children need positive strokes, & they need the security of knowing that someone thinks they're special.
ILL. One mother was always calling each of her two sons her "favorite." She would say, "You're my favorite younger son," or "You're my favorite older son." She once told one of them who had just sat on the bench for an entire basketball game, "You're my favorite basketball player on the bench!"
No, Jacob's mistake was that he ignored his other sons. He doted over Joseph, but seemed oblivious to the needs of the others. No wonder they hated Joseph. They were starving for attention from their father. Now that doesn’t excuse their behavior, but it helps us understand it.
2. Jacob's second mistake was that he failed to teach his sons to care about others.
Jesus said the most important commandment is to love God with all your heart & soul & mind & strength, & the second is to love others as yourself. But the sons of Jacob had no idea how to show love, even to each other. They were as self centered as they could be.
If Joseph had been sensitive to the feelings of his brothers, he would not have flaunted his dreams. And his brothers should have cared enough for Joseph to want to protect him. Instead, they sold him into slavery.
PROP. We learn, then, two important lessons from the terrible example of Jacob & his family.
I. CHILDREN NEED TO KNOW THEY ARE REALLY & TRULY LOVED
First of all, children need to know they are really & truly loved.
ILL. A few years ago CBN News had a feature about immorality among teenagers. When they interviewed one young woman who was involved in immoral behavior, & asked her why, she responded, "If you don't get love at home, you'll try to find it someplace else."