Tag Archives: sheep genetics

A baaad soap opera


Picture this: Jacob and his two wives Leah and Rachel are going to flee from his mean old father-in-law Laban. Because he’s mean, they’re going to steal all his stuff, too. Cue the swelling dramatic music as they meet in the field to make the crucial decision. The camera pans onto the worried faces of the wives.

Then Jacob keeps talking:

You know that I have served your father with all my strength; yet your father has cheated me and changed my wages ten times, but God did not permit him to harm me. If he said, ‘The speckled shall be your wages,’ then all the flock bore speckled; and if he said, ‘The striped shall be your wages,’ then all the flock bore striped. Thus God has taken away the livestock of your father, and given them to me. During the mating of the flock I once had a dream in which I looked up and saw that the male goats that leaped upon the flock were striped, speckled, and mottled. Then the angel of God said to me in the dream, ‘Jacob,’ and I said, ‘Here I am!’ And he said, ‘Look up and see that all the goats that leap on the flock are striped, speckled, and mottled; for I have seen all that Laban is doing to you. (Genesis 31:6-12)

Seriously? In the middle of a soap opera story, in the heightened drama of a theft and escape, Jacob starts droning on about sheep genetics? Boring!

And then, as we finish the lesson from Genesis — “thou shalt steal thy father-in-law’s stuff, and flee with thy two wives, and oh by the way, don’t forget to take the household gods, too” — we sing a song of praise, Canticle 13.

Glory to you, Lord God of our fathers; *
you are worthy of praise; glory to you.
Glory to you for the radiance of your holy Name; *
we will praise you and highly exalt you for ever.

Glory to you in the splendor of your temple; *
on the throne of your majesty, glory to you.
Glory to you, seated between the Cherubim; *
we will praise you and highly exalt you for ever.

Glory to you, beholding the depths; *
in the high vault of heaven, glory to you.
Glory to you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; *
we will praise you and highly exalt you for ever.
(BCP 90)

Wait, what?

In one breath we go from polygamous, plotting, sheep-stealing (but capably breeding) escapees … to glorifying God, seated between the cherubim.

Anyone who tells you the Bible is clear and easy to understand is pulling the wool over your eyes.

Get it? Wool? Oh, I kid. Get it? Kid?

On the face of it, this is one of those crazy stories, told and retold time and again, that makes your eyes glaze over every time you hear it.

“Oh God, uncle Jacob is telling the story about the sheep again!”

The lesson, and I promise there is one, is that it’s in the distance between our petty, thieving, sheep-stealing ways and God’s glory that we start to get the point of the larger story of Scripture. The Daily Office serves us well when it provides such sharp contrast between two pieces of Scripture.

The God of all creation, from the splendor of his temple, looks down on us and loves us. Even though we are manipulative tricksters, he loves us. Even though we defraud each other, and marry in weird configurations, and dream about sheep genetics, and run away from our lying, cheating families, God loves us.

In fact, he loves us so much that he works out his plan of salvation using us and our efforts.

If it weren’t right there in Scripture, plain as can be, we’d say that was a baaad soap opera.