What did the following women have in common:
After you've taken a minute to think about it, scroll down to read the rest of the post.
These women all shared a miracle. They all received a miraculous gift. They all became Mothers in unnatural ways. They each had miracle babies. They each needed God to make this happen, because quite frankly, Sarah and Elizabeth were too old. Rebekah, Rachel, Hannah, and Mrs. Manoah had female problems. And Mary was, well, too single.
But, they all found themselves surprisingly pregnant, and delighted to hear the news. Hannah and Mary broke into singing. Sarah laughed. Mrs. Manoah ran for her husband she was so excited. Elizabeth's baby leaped in her womb. Rachel praised God. And, poor Rebekah didn't know what to say, because of the distressed pregnancy, so she prayed for God to tell her what was going on inside her. Supernatural prayer gave her the results she couldn't obtain before ultrasound- "Sit down sister, you're carrying twins!"
Sarah's son was a Mamma's boy. Rebekah gave birth to the twins: one was an unbeliever and apostate, the other so deceptive that his own family despised him for years. Manoah and his wife both spoiled their son, and he was a party animal and immoral; sleeping with whores and tying foxes tails together just to set them on fire and watch them run through his enemy's cornfield. Rachel's son was thrown in prison, after being accused of rape, and Mary's son was sentenced to die as a terrorist. Elizabeth's son was thrown in jail for "hate speech" and afterwards executed. Hannah's son once became so angry that he chopped a political prisoner to death with a soldier's sword.
There the stories diverge, and we must remember that Sarah's, Rebekah's and Mrs. Manoah's sons turned to God later in life, after "sowing some wild oats." But, the sons of Rachel, Elizabeth, Hannah, and Mary were all upright and honest men, with a zeal for serving God that would explain their odd behavior and imprisonment, and even executions.
Sarah was the mother of Isaac, one of the Patriarchs who redug the old wells of his father, a Spiritual symbol for us today. And, he married Rebekah, who was the mother of twins Esau and Jacob. Esau never repented and turned to the God of his father, but forgave his conniving brother Jacob in midlife. Jacob raised a family of more than 100 children and grandchildren, establishing the nation of Israel in their worship of the one true God. Mrs. Manoah gave birth to Samson, the mighty man of valor, who repented after years in confinement and prayed for God to use him one last time. And, God did. Rachel gave birth to the honorable judge Samuel, who served his whole life without mention of sin, until it came time to raise his own sons, and they didn't turn out so well. It seems he let them get away with whatever they wanted to do in his house, just like Eli had before him. Elizabeth gave birth to the wildman John the Baptist. After his parents died, John lived as a Bedouin in the desert, eating locusts and honey. He preached salvation to Israel to turn their hearts to God, and prepare for the coming of the Messiah. And, his 2nd Cousin Mary gave birth to Jesus, the Messiah and Savior for the whole Earth. John and Jesus were both imprisoned and executed, but one came out of the grave. Because that baby was born, you and I today have been saved. This birth brought about the salvation of the whole Earth.
Never forget the importance of a single prayer.
Everybody wants something. None of us are immune to "wishery." If you've ever bought a lottery ticket, entered a contest, or tried to become pregnant, then you know what it means to wish. Prayer is different from wishery, as I like to refer to the practice of wishing. When we talk to God about our wants and our needs, we are involved in a conversation and God listens as well as speaks. Wishery is missing one vital ingredient, hope. Hope likewise requires reason. Without both reason and hope, it does no good to "name it and claim it." No, I am not very much into the name it and claim it camp. You guessed it right.
I have known cases where children wanted to pray for God to "let them win" a Bible competition, after not studying. I reminded them that the other team was praying to the same God, and they studied. I told them I thought God would let the team win that studied His Word the best.
In prayer, a meeting of minds takes place, so to speak. But, sometimes we find it easier to manipulate or convince God to give in to our petitions. Superstition and witchcraft are specifically related to rebellion in the Bible. 1 Samuel 15:23 God wants Christians to come to Him for their needs.
Genesis 30:14 Leah and Rachel were sisters in the Old Testament. Rachel was beautiful. Leah was plain to look at, but the oldest child. Abraham's grandson Jacob met Rachel at a well outside her father's ranch, and it was love at first sight. He followed her home and struck a deal with her dad Laban to work seven years as a dowry for the right to marry Rachel. Seven years seems like a long time, but he was in love. At the end of the seven years, the family throws a wedding and Jacob gets married. But, Laban covered Leah's face with a veil until after dark, to trick Jacob into thinking he was marrying Rachel. In the end, Jacob had to agree to keep Leah, and work another seven years in order to marry Rachel.
This trick may have helped Laban out by giving Leah a husband, but it certainly didn't help Leah's relationship with Jacob, who wasn't interested in her to start with. But, as it turned out, Leah gave birth to one boy after another, while Rachel remained childless. Still, Jacob loved Rachel the most. It seems that both women began to wish. Rachel wished for children, and Leah wished for Jacob to love her. After a few years the two experimented with the idea of surrogacy, but this didn't bring them satisfaction, even though they were both successful in their plan.
One day, Leah's oldest son Reuben found some mandrakes growing in the fields and brought them to his mother. Mandrakes have roots that are shaped in the form of a man, as pictured below.
Not only was the form of the root seen as erotic to people in the middle east, but it's fruit was a potent hallucinatory drug, slightly poisonous and considered an aphrodiasiac to many people. The fruit was also called the love apple. Many believed superstitiously that the fruit, like the root, had magic properties that would cause fertility and sexual drive and desire. Rachel believed this superstition and thought that if she gave some of the drug to Jacob, she would get pregnant. Mandrakes are also mentioned in Song of Solomon 7:13.
The Bible records that she asked her sister for some of the mandrakes. Her sister would have known what she wanted them for, and made a lewd joke about the fact that Rachel had Jacob's love. Genesis 30:15 "And she said unto her, Is it a small matter that you have taken my husband? and would you take away my son's mandrakes also?" This was an insult, but Rachel had no pride at this point apparantly. She quickly offered Leah the chance to have Jacob spend the night with her, in exchange for some of the mandrakes, which she planned to use later with Jacob herself, in order to conceive a child. Leah accepted the deal.
Though the drug acted as a stimulant temporarily, it would leave him unconscous for two or three days. This didn't stop the woman from her plan to use the drug on Jacob. From there, we find that Leah conceived that night and gave birth to a son. But, Rachel did not get pregnant... not for at least three more years. We know this because Leah had three children after that exchange before Rachel finally conceived Joseph. Rachel's wishery led her to try superstitious nonsense to get what she wanted, instead of turning to God for what God apparantly wanted her to have.
We may find this story humorous and silly, thinking that these women were superstitious and ignorant. But, how often do women today follow what we refer to as "old-wives tales?" Even "love potions" and aphrodiasics are common usage. Nothing has really changed in the last 3000 years. The more things change, the more they stay the same.