Thursday, August 2, 2018

Beware the Snake

While it's important for us to recognize that Laban, even as sly and cunning as he appears to be, is a product of his circumstances just like the rest of us and that, in fact, it may be he's had experiences in his life that have changed him, it is just as important for us to also recognize that maybe Laban is just a slimeball, a snake. 

Maybe, if Rebekah had not agreed to go in Genesis 24, Laban would have pulled the same kind of stunt he pulled a few chapters later with his daughters. Maybe he would have drawn out the whole thing so long that Abraham would have been without a servant, a very good servant, for decades. Maybe the entire coming of Israel would have been put off, if not rerouted altogether, if Laban's question had not been met so boldly by Rebekah's faithful willingness. 

Maybe, just maybe, in Rebekah, we have a woman standing up to a snake, the reversal of Genesis 3. 

For whatever reason (and there are a number of reasons, far too many to dive into in such a short space here), some persons among us are just snakes. They are just wily creatures, the kind of men and women who are cunning, but only for their own gain. They really don't have your best interest at heart and certainly don't have God's, and they'll do whatever it takes to get their own way. They'll do whatever it takes to be "right" about something, even if they are desperately wrong. And they hold the power in this world to really throw things entirely off track if they aren't recognized, caught, and stood up to and stopped. 

The great thing about snakes, though, is that they often reveal something glorious about God without ever even intending to. The snake in Genesis 3 revealed God's tender mercy when, after it had deceived Adam and Eve, the Lord came walking in the cool of the day to find them and to make them coverings out of fig leaves. The Lord who knew their nakedness and was unashamed by it felt their shame and covered them, not because He had to but because He loved them. That never would have happened without the snake. 

Step a few chapters later into the Laban story, and we see for the first time the gentle strength of a beautiful woman. We don't recognize it until a few chapters even after that, when we see Laban for who he really might be, but when his character (perhaps) is revealed, if we go back and then look at Rebekah - at the dignity, the grace, the certainty, and the conviction with which she said, simply, "I will go," we see something here that we could never have known, and that is the incredible confidence that God has given us for our journeys. 

We can step boldly into our yes because we know the One who ordains our steps. 

Rebekah knew the Lord who was calling her to a foreign land, even through the voice of a servant she had never met, and she trusted that more than she feared the snake (maybe), Laban, who could have thrown the whole thing off course. That's powerful. 

Most of us fear the snake. We hear the hiss and see the fangs and think that it's just a matter of time before it sinks its teeth into us, so we we give in and we give up and we give ourselves over to whatever devious schemes are afoot, thinking this will save us from the snake's bite. But what we ought to know about the snake can save us from cowering in fear, for there are two truths that are real beyond all the hissing and showmanship of the serpent:

First, snakes are cowards. It's not as hard to stand up to them as it seems, especially when there's something greater on your side. And every snake needs to be stood up to. 

Second, snakes, often without realizing it, reveal something about God we could not have known otherwise. They reveal His tender mercy. They reveal His divine plan. They reveal His powerful presence and His intimate love. So look for what you can learn from the snake, which is much more than merely to fear it.

When you hear the hissing, beware the snake, yes, but look for the Lord, for He, too, is present and near.

No comments:

Post a Comment