Family crisis results in spiritual renewal.
7 And the sons of Jacob came out of the field when they heard it: and the men were grieved, and they were very wroth, because he had wrought folly in Israel in lying with Jacob’s daughter: which thing ought not to be done.
21 These men are peaceable with us; therefore let them dwell in the land, and trade therein; for the land, behold, it is large enough for them; let us take their daughters to us for wives, and let us give them our daughters.
25 And it came to pass on the third day, when they were sore, that two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brethren, took each man his sword, and came upon the city boldly, and slew all the males.
30 And Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, Ye have troubled me to make me to stink among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites: and I being few in number, they shall gather themselves together against me, and slay me; and I shall be destroyed, I and my house.
King James Version (KJV)
Introduction: When I speak about family crises I am referring to incidents that happen in a family. These incidents often are unexpected emergencies, like sickness, injuries, losses, death, etc. A crisis is a situation that creates anxiety and fear. How many of you sometime or other have experienced a family crisis, either in your parents’ family or in your own?
Family crises are unexpected circumstances that create hurt, pain, loss, suffering and often much agony. We never know when a family crisis will take place in our own family or when we will be called on to help other families who are in a severe crisis. Therefore I believe it is important that we seek to understand in trying to understand family crises. I think we need to keep several things in mind
Often it is not possible to fully understand the reason for a family crisis.
Often we tend to blame others or God for allowing us to go through a family crisis.
Often people feel they are being punished by God when they have a family crisis.
Often people feel they should be exempt from a family crisis because of who they are and what they do, as though being a Christian should be a good reason for not having a family crisis.
People respond differently to family crises. Some rebel against God and against other people; others learn to endure family crises and don’t talk about them.
We want to briefly examine four family crises that Jacob faced in his own family and see how he dealt with them. Possibly we can learn some vital lessons from Jacob’s family crises and how we can deal with similar situations.
In Genesis 34 and 35 we find at least two family crises in Jacob’s experience. Let’s examine them one by one.
Crisis #1 – Dealing with immorality in the family. Gen 34:1-7
Jacob’s daughter, Dinah, was defiled by Shechem, the prince. It was a forced situation. It is very easy to blame Jacob and his wife for allowing this to happen. Some might say if Jacob and his wife had not allowed their daughter to visit the daughters of the land this would not have happened. In other words, Jacob and his wife should not have let their daughter associate with the other girls her own age. Some say we should be very careful with whom we let our daughters associate. I feel every family has to find meaningful ways of dealing with this matter of association of young children with others. Children and young people want and need friends. We need to help them choose friends that will be wholesome and not destructive.
Others say if Jacob had not lived near the city where Shechem was this would not have happened. They go on to say God is punishing Jacob for partial obedience. In this case with Jacob that may be true. But we need to be careful and not conclude that every time immorality takes place in our family that God is punishing us. Immorality is often the result of us yielding to our sinful desires and not trusting God to give us strength to resist them.
Personally, I believe every family has a potential for immorality taking place among its members. Therefore we need to be on guard and we also need to trust the Lord to safeguard us from this sin. However, how do we deal with immorality in our families when it does tale place? How did Jacob deal with it here?In Gen 34:5 he heard about it. He kept silent until his sons came home. To me this response of Jacob is very unusual. In earlier situations Jacob always seemed to know how to handle the crises that came up. Now in the face of his daughter getting into trouble he kept quiet until his sons came home. WHY?
maybe he was so stunned that he didn’t know what to do.
maybe he wanted time to think and pray about the matter.
maybe he just didn’t know how to handle it.
From the context it seems to me Jacob was in a state of indecision and therefore he waited until his sons came home. Surely this immorality would also affect his sons. They were part of the family. Notice what transpired when the sons came home.
In Genesis 34:6,7 Jacob and his sons were present when Shechem’s father suggested a way of dealing with this sin. What did Jacob do when his sons became very angry and rebuked this sin? He continued to remain silent. Finally Jacob’s sons and the other party came to an agreement as to how they would deal with this immorality. The proposal seems valid for those days. But throughout this bargaining Jacob remained strangely quiet. He seems to have let his sons handle the whole matter.
According to Scriptural teachings the father is the head of the house. He is responsible for what happens in the family. When such a crucial matter as forced immorality occurs in the family, the father must provide some leadership in dealing with the matter. I am not saying the other members of the family have no say in it, but I do believe that Jacob made a very serious mistake here in letting his sons handle the whole matter without him having an active part in it. Notice how one crisis in the family leads to a more severe one.
Crisis #2 – Dealing with revenge in the family
When family members act in revenge for some hurt that others have inflicted, be careful. Revenge is a very serious motivation to act on. Jacob knew his sons were very angry about the immorality. But he kept quiet about it. Notice where inner anger expressed itself. The sons deliberately suggested a solution to the problem that would give them an occasion to get even with the offenders. Genesis 34:25 describes it. The revenge of Jacob’s sons was far out of proportion to the offence. They killed all the men and yet only one of the men had committed immorality with their sister. This is what happens when we give in to our anger and want to get even with those who hurt us.
Scripture taken from the KING JAMES BIBLE