Then they journeyed from Bethel. And when there was but a little distance to go to Ephrath, Rachel labored in childbirth, and she had hard labor. (Genesis 35:16)
As it turned out, her labor was so intense that it resulted in her death. As she died, she called her child, Ben-oni, or “son of my mourning.” It should be noted that she is the one who had taken Laban’s idols and Jacob, not knowing she had done this, had pronounced death on whoever took them. Consequently, Rachel never truly reached her final destination; she was buried on the road that leads to Bethlehem.
Rachel never realized a future for her children which prompts the question of whether she was mourning for herself or for the future of her children? I pose this question because, centuries later, Jeremiah penned this prophecy:
Thus says the LORD: “A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more.” Thus says the LORD: “Keep your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears, for there is a reward for your work, declares the LORD, and they shall come back from the land of the enemy. There is hope for your future, declares the LORD, and your children shall come back to their own country.” (Jeremiah 31:15-17)
The focus of this prophecy is the children of Israel, who have been scattered among the nations, returning from the land of their enemies. The reason they were scattered in the first place was due to their idolatry and spiritual adultery. Through the centuries of exile, there were times when it seemed there was no future for Rachel’s children, specifically referred to as Ephraim (Jospeh’s son). But, through Jeremiah, the God of Israel promised that He would regather all of Rachel’s children and bring them to their final destination.
Let us consider that this promise is ours in the sense that we can have hope for our children. Whether they are close by or far away, our children tend to be our greatest concern and especially when the times seem so uncertain. Take comfort in the fact that the God who promised to regather the sons and daughters of Israel is the same God who will watch over our children and bring them safely to their destination.
Blessings and Shalom,