‘Did Rachel Steal Her Father’s… Gods?’

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Nope, no idols here!

When Jacob finally left his service with Laban, his wife, Rachel, Laban’s daughter, stole Laban’s gods (Genesis Chapter 31). Jacob didn’t know, so when Laban came after them and demanded his gods back, Jacob said he could search the camp. Rachel sat on the loot, wrapped up in a camel blanket, and pretended she couldn’t move because it was her time of month.

Did Rachel Steal Her Father’s… Gods?

The Hebrew word here translated as “gods” or “idols” is terephim, and its meaning has grown obscure over the centuries.

But what about us? Do we have idols? Do we worship the work of our own hands? Are things more important to us than God?

The answers might prove embarrassing.

13 comments on “‘Did Rachel Steal Her Father’s… Gods?’

  1. There is nothing new, under the sun. We might not see literal statues of Baal all around us, but there are still idols. I am amazed by people who will spend enormous sums buying the latest version of their favored smartphone. Who cares?! It’s a phone and it take pictures; what else could we ask for? But people indeed idolize this junk.

    Blind brand loyalties strike me as a possible form of idolatry. There can be valid reasons to prefer various brands, but sometimes, perhaps even frequently, people will choose to identify with a certain brand, and can be quite militant. I’m thinking, especially, of Ford vs. Chevy loyalties that were quite strident back in the day. Is tattooing a Chevrolet emblem on one’s upper arm a form of idolatry? I don’t claim to know.

    Dr. Michael Heiser is a scholar whom has researched the Bible from the standpoint of the cultural context of the times. In other words, what would have been the worldview of people that read these Bible books, at the time they were written. His conclusion is that in the ancient world, including ancient Israel, they would have viewed the spirit realm as a complex place, with many lesser spirit creatures, created by Yahweh, and who were influencing matters on earth. For example, in Daniel 10, an angel on his way to help Daniel reported being hindered by the “Prince of the kingdom of Persia” and requiring the assistance of Michael.

    Dr. Heiser believes that the false gods of the nations may well have been sprit creatures who were in rebellion against the Creator. If this is a valid belief, it places a far different slant on the significance of idolatry, and the importance of worshipping only the Creator. At the time of Abraham, his son Isaac and grandson Jacob, there were many nations, worshipping many gods, the offspring of Abraham were given a physical location on earth and made into a nation which was commanded to not practice idolatry, but instead, to worship the One True God, exclusively.

    All around us, these days, we see a world of confusion and strife. The Christian worldview of the past generations is not as common as it once was. When people leave the worship of the One True God, they begin to worship other “gods”, whether these be literal images, such as ancient isolators, or various material things, or philosophies. Disorder is the inevitable result.

    1. All you say here is very true. We can also see from the account of Rachel and her trick, this points out the truth of what happens when children are brought up in a house of idolatry instead of teaching them the truth. God was able to use her later on, but this little trick of hers was a shame. Her father also lived in shame.

    2. Come clean man; were you a Chevy guy? ‘Cause, if you were, I’m going to have to straighten you out. 🙂

      It’s funny, because, in retrospect, it was so arbitrary. People held these strong opinions, but most of it was a matter of affiliation; they liked what their group of friends liked, and the reason may well have been mundane, if there even was a reason.

      I was a “Ford man”, but I think that this was actually related to having seen Tennessee Ernie Ford advertising Ford cars, when I was fairly young, and I loved Tennessee Ernie, so the cars had to have been good. Such logic is unassailable. To this day, I have a taste for Fords, but I buy Toyotas; my last Ford (Ranger pickup) blew its transmission every two years, like clockwork.

      Having been a bit of a hot rodder, I did hop up some cars (mildly), and the small Ford V-8s were pretty limited by the cylinder head design (since revised) making it a lot easier to build a hot Chevy engine; which is exactly what I did. So this Ford man’s automotive opus magnum was a Chevelle with a beefy 327. That was long ago, and these days I drive 4 cylinder pickup trucks, built for fuel economy, and have for over 40 years. The car I loved the most was a sports roadster with a tiny engine.

      There is an element of brand identity that strikes me as at least borderline idolatrous. How many products have distinct logos that people identify strongly with? It may not actually be idolatry, but I think that the same aspects of human nature which make us susceptible to idolatry can be harnessed to manipulate our buying habits. Even the most thought-out decisions have an emotional element, and simple things, such as logos and slogans can come into play.

      I’d say more, but I’m off to buy some Welches Grape Juice and have a breakfast of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes and Jimmy Dean Pure Pork Sausage. If only I had a Ford to drive to the store. 🙂

    3. Oh, good grief! We were a Ford household all the way: my father worked there for 25 years. No one in our family owned a Chevy… or even talked about owning one. Taboo!

    4. Good for you, Lee. I don’t think I could abide hanging around with Chevy folk. 🙂

      I’m a “Toyota man”, these days. Even if I were exceptionally wealthy, I would probably never buy anything more prestigious than a Toyota. I’d rather have a Toyota that is reliable than a Rolls Royce that wasn’t.

    5. I would love a Mercedes W113, which is the two seat sports model from the late ‘60s until the early ‘70s. But … even if I could find one at an affordable price, the cost of keeping it properly maintained would be excessive.

    1. I watch it daily. 🙂 Ok, not quite daily, but I’ve been a Caroll Shelby fan for a very long time.

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