The moving parts of God's plans are hard to understand. Even more hard to understand are the reasons that God does what He does, or why God makes certain decisions that He does. Simply put, God just doesn't do things the ways that human beings would. When people plan and make calculated decisions, there is usually a consideration of the events, the people, how the people will relate to the events, and we try and make things as easy as possible so that the people and the circumstances live in harmony with one another. For example, when a person is hiring another person for a job, the hiring manager will examine a candidates qualifications to make sure they can do the job, then meet with the candidate to ensure that the person is a good fit for the job in terms of the culture of the business. God doesn't do things this way. Though God clearly communicated the end results of His work, the methods that God uses to achieve those results can be confusing. Nonetheless, God intentionally does His work this way to reveal certain characteristics about Himself in order that His children would get to know Him and recognize the patters of His "unorthodox" work.
In Genesis 35:16-29 the Bible quickly summarizes three major events: the birth of Jacob's youngest son Benjamin, the death of his favorite wife Rachel, and the death of his father Isaac. The birth of Benjamin and the death of Rachel are tied together since Rachel died while giving birth to Benjamin. The scriptures explain that Jacob and his family were staying in Bethlehem at the time of Benjamin's birth, and that while Rachel was in labor with Benjamin, she actually wanted to name her son Ben Oni, which means, "Son of My Sorrow." Since Rachel was having a difficult labor that would eventually lead to her death, she sought to name Benjamin after the circumstances. However, upon her death, Jacob insisted that his son's name be Benjamin, which means, "Son of the Right Hand." Since Jacob was saddened by the death of his favorite wife, he built up a pillar on her burial site in Bethlehem and journeyed towards the city of his father Isaac.
It is the details that are given in between Benjamin's birth/Rachel's death and Isaac's death that are troubling to make note of. The Bible explains that there is significance to the birth place and death place of Benjamin and Rachel respectively. The place of Bethlehem has Messianic significance since it is the place where the Messiah would be born. This is important because the Messiah would come from this family. The dynamics of this family have already been examined. Jacob had children with 4 different women. Jacob had issues with honesty since he was often scheming and being deceptive. Jacob's daughter was defiled and he made no efforts to seek the Lord's counsel regarding the situation. Jacob's sons responded in vengeance and murdered innocent people while plundering the city. There are some serious offenses that are candidly described in the scriptures with the family of Jacob. Then, in Genesis 35:16-29 the Bible explains that Jacob's son Reuben was having sexual relations with Bilhah, Jacob's concubine, which would have been one of Reuben's step-moms. Jacob's son Reuben was sleeping with the mother of Jacob's other sons Dan and Naphtali.
The scriptures then go on to review the children of Jacob and explain which child came from which mother. Though the scriptures do not show God approving of the behavior of Jacob's family, it is incredible to see that Jacob had 12 sons; a reality that would have been perceived as a tremendous blessing from an ancient cultural standpoint. The scripture then simply go on to explain that Isaac died being 180 years old, and that Jacob and Esau buried him. The scriptures explain the miserable sin of Reuben, yet don't show a response from Jacob, even though the Bible is sure to explain that Jacob knew about the situation. Though Jacob was obedient to make sure that his family got rid of all of the false gods and idols before they went to Bethel, Jacob didn't respond in any way to the relationship between Bilhah and Reuben at the time that he heard about yet. Still, the scripture show that God progressed towards the fulfillment of His plans through the birth of Benjamin in a place of prophetic significance.
This portion of scripture is simple in one respect, difficult in another. The simple point to see is that God clearly does not look for the "qualifications" of people that He desires to use for His plans. The family of Jacob is dysfunctional in some major ways. Jacob is hardly the stellar example of godly leadership that one should mimic in one's own household. The children of Israel don't seem to resemble the children of God at several points in scripture. Nevertheless, knowing all things, God chose this family. He chose a family that would have a deceptive and weak father He chose a family who's daughter would be raped. He chose a family that would conspire to murder and plunder. He chose a family that would worship false gods and idols. He chose a family where 4 mothers would somehow have to manage as one unit. He chose a family where one mother would die leave two children to figure things out without their mother. He chose a family where immoral and unrighteous sexual relationships were taking place. Yet the scriptures are clear to explain that God did not choose this family with the intent for them to stay this way.
The fact that God worked with this family is a major example of God's grace. It is true that the Messiah would come from the loins of Jacob. God would be born in flesh from the family that is presented in the Book of Jesus as "the children of Israel." This reality teaches that God is not looking for perfect people to use for His work. There are no perfect people. There are likely some aspects of Jacob's family that might seem familiar to one's own family. It would be a tragic affair if God only sought to use "perfect" people, thereby disqualifying every normal person from being used by the Living God. While mankind might seek to examine qualifications and personality to determine the perfect fits and candidates for certain positions, God doesn't see things that way. He uses messed up people in order that He would be glorified when He cleans them up. Many statistics would suggest that the fruit of a family such as Jacob's would resemble some messed up people.
The history of the nation of Israel would support those stats. Yet God proves Himself able to defy all human logic and statistical analysis and patterns when He took the form of a man through the incarnation and birth of Jesus, in the very place that Rachel died. While one woman died in grief giving birth to another son that would be part of a messed up family in Bethlehem, another woman gave birth and heaven rejoiced because God used that same family to forgive the sins of all messed up people. Praise the Lord that He's not looking for perfection. Praise the Lord even more that He is able and willing to perfect those who believe.