In Genesis 26 we learn how Isaac followed in the footsteps of his father, Abraham. However, at the end of chapter 26 we find two obscure verses that mentions Isaac’s eldest son, Esau. Notice what the scripture says: “And Esau was forty years old when he took to wife Judith the daughter of Berri the Hittite, and Bashmath the daughter of Elon the Hittite. Which were a grief of mind unto Isaac and Rebekah.”
This thing that Esau did troubled his parents and brought a great burden onto the family. It is important to note that just because something is recorded in scripture does not mean that God approves or is pleased. Esau married two women and later married another. Polygamy is not something that is approved by God. In Old Testament times, it was common for men to have more than one wife. However, just because this practice is recorded in scripture does not mean it is right. The book of Genesis is an historical narrative. It is presenting real events that occurred in the early history of man. Though not approved by God, having more than one wife was widely accepted by the society of that day. It was God’s intent that marriage be between one man and one woman for life. However, with sin entering the world, the institution of marriage was affected by sin just as it is often affected today.
Esau marries two Hittite women. The Hittites are the descendants of Heth, who was the second son of Canaan, who was the youngest son of Ham. The Hittites were one of the Canaanite nations during the time of Abraham all the way to the time of Ezra. The Hittites were a heathen people. They did not worship the one true God. Isaac and Rebekah suffered much grief over Esau’s marriage to these women. Partly due to the fact that Esau married outside of his people and partly due to the fact that he married heathen women. This burden placed upon Isaac and Rebekah, no doubt lead to Rebekah’s deception as we will see in chapter 27.
Esau is not the only one in scripture that brought grief upon his parent’s. Remember Samson? Look at Judges 14:1-3. Samson’s parents were not happy with his decision to marry someone from a heathen nation. Over and over in scripture and throughout history we find children who became a great burden to their parents. Even God was grieved over the behavior of his chosen people, Israel. Isaiah 1:2 says, “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the Lord hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.” A rebellious child can cause tremendous grief for any parent, even to the point of affecting the health of the parent.
What do you do when you have children that rebel? What if you did all the right things? What if you nourished them and taught them well and, yet, they still rebel? Allow me to give you five things to remember if you have a rebellious child.
- You are not alone.
God said that He ‘nourished and brought up children and they rebelled.’ Think of all the times that God’s chosen people rebelled. Think of all the times that God had to deal with a rebellious nation. Think of the millions of parents down through the years that have dealt with rebellious children. It is important to understand that you are not alone. God knows what you are going through.
- The rebellious child is still your child.
In the example of God’s dealings with the children of Israel, God never gave up on them. They remained His chosen people even in the worst of times. The same is said concerning our relationship with God. As a believer, you are sealed by the Holy Spirit. Your salvation is secure. You are a child of God and will always be a child of God. No matter how rebellious you become, if you have truly been born-again, you will always be a child of God. When dealing with a rebellious child, it is important to keep in mind that he or she is still your child. There is never a time when they will cease to be your child. It is important to communicate this fact to the rebellious child.
- Discipline wisely and strongly.
Look at Hebrews 12:5-11. God disciplines His children. If you are not disciplined by God, then you are not His child. As a parent, when you have a rebellious child, it is important that you do not neglect proper discipline. That discipline should be proportionate to the offense and to the age of the child. For example, you are not going to discipline a toddler the same way you discipline a teenager. Another example would be of adult children still living in the home. There may come a time when a parent must practice hard love and have the child leave the home. Parents should also honor the consequences that comes with crimes. For example, if a teenage or adult child commits a crime and is arrested, it is my opinion that the parent should not bail their child out. They should let the child suffer the consequences that comes from breaking the law. This sounds harsh, but sometimes tough love needs to be exercised.
- Give grace liberally.
I often will say that I would rather err on the side of grace. When it comes to dealing with a rebellious child, it is vitally important that we exercise grace. Think about how much grace God gives you. We are all in the same boat. We are all sinners. We are all in need of a Savior. Grace is God’s unmerited favor. It is God giving us what we do not deserve. God loves us even when we rebel. In order to demonstrate the grace of God, it is important that a parent shows love and grace to the rebellious child. This does not mean there is no discipline. It does mean to love and comfort the child and encourage him or her as they go through a process of learning from their mistakes.
- Truly Forgive.
Forgiveness is not just patting someone on the back and telling them its all okay. Forgiveness does not take away the natural consequences that comes with making wrong choices. Forgiveness is not holding the past against someone. When you truly forgive someone, you will not keep bringing up what they did wrong. As a parent, you must forgive your rebellious child. This means that once the child repents and turns away from his or her wrong, you must let it go and not hold it against them. Now, there are somethings that cannot be totally let go of. For example, if someone is abusive or committed a crime, it may require some boundaries and limitations. However, forgiveness is letting it go in your heart. It is not holding a grudge. It is loving that rebellious child and giving them another chance. This is exactly what Jesus does for us everyday. We fail Him constantly. We never measure up. We sin everyday. Yet, He forgives.
Your heart may be grieved. You may be burdened over a rebellious child. Don’t lose heart. Think of all the times we grieve the heart of God. Just as He loves us no matter what, we should love one another the same.