From Genesis 30-31
Jacob hears from Laban’s sons that he has lost favour. God calls him to return home. Jacob tells his wives of the trials he has undergone during his time with Laban. Yet God is with him. He has been using these trials to grow him in dependence and knowledge of God’s gifts.
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
Jacob has spent a lot of time with Laban by now. After so much time tensions between them are rising and Jacob is in the process of leaving.
31 Now Jacob heard that the sons of Laban were saying, “Jacob has taken all that was our father’s, and from what was our father’s he has gained all this wealth.” 2 And Jacob saw that Laban did not regard him with favor as before.
3 Then the LORD said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your fathers and to your kindred, and I will be with you.” (Gen 31.1-3)
‘Sons of Laban were saying’. Jacob finds out through others that his relationship with Laban has soured. He has worked more than fourteen years for the wife that he wanted. Through it all Laban has tried to unsuccessfully swindle him out of his earnings. Yet the LORD was with him and instead Jacob has emerged wealthy. Laban no longer favours Jacob.
‘Return to the land’. The LORD says it is time for Jacob to go home. So he calls his family together.
At Jacob’s low point God told him to return home, reassuring him, ‘I will be with you’.
4 So Jacob sent and called Rachel and Leah into the field where his flock was 5 and said to them, “I see that your father does not regard me with favor as he did before. But the God of my father has been with me.
6 You know that I have served your father with all my strength, 7 yet your father has cheated me and changed my wages ten times. But God did not permit him to harm me.
8 If he said, ‘The spotted shall be your wages,’ then all the flock bore spotted; and if he said, ‘The striped shall be your wages,’ then all the flock bore striped. 9 Thus God has taken away the livestock of your father and given them to me.
10 In the breeding season of the flock I lifted up my eyes and saw in a dream that the goats that mated with the flock were striped, spotted, and mottled. 11 Then the angel of God said to me in the dream, ‘Jacob,’ and I said, ‘Here I am!’ 12 And he said, ‘Lift up your eyes and see, all the goats that mate with the flock are striped, spotted, and mottled, for I have seen all that Laban is doing to you.
13 I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and made a vow to me. Now arise, go out from this land and return to the land of your kindred.’ ” (Gen 31.4-13)
‘I served your father’. Jacob shares with them their father no longer favours him and explains why. Their father has cheated him by changing his wage ten times over the fourteen years he was working for him. Laban constantly changed the kind of flock he would receive so that it would be in his favour.
‘I have seen all Laban’s doing’. But Laban’s actions have not gone unnoticed. The LORD has seen, and since he is supporting Jacob. The LORD made sure the flock bred in Jacobs favour.
Jacob wants to influence his wives, Laban’s daughters to leave with him.
14 Then Rachel and Leah answered and said to him, “Is there any portion or inheritance left to us in our father’s house? 15 Are we not regarded by him as foreigners? For he has sold us, and he has indeed devoured our money. 16 All the wealth that God has taken away from our father belongs to us and to our children. Now then, whatever God has said to you, do.” (Gen 31.14-16)
‘Portion or inheritance left to us’. In ancient near eastern marriages, the bride price paid by the husband’s family was supposed to be kept in case the wife were abandoned or widowed. Jacobs fourteen year labor, the equivalent of his wages should have been set aside for the women. But, Laban kept it all for himself. They felt as if he had sold them, not married them off. Since their father kept no economic security for them, they have no reason to stay.
Story of Israel
Our passage highlights that Jacob’s twenty years in Haran were a period when he became a victim of the same types of situations he previously used to his advantage. In the larger story of his life it is evident that God is using these difficult times to discipline him. To grow him in dependence and help him to recognise God’s gifts. God does the same with the people of Israel through their history.
Story of Jesus
In the gospel, the disciples gave up their former lives, their families, jobs, and wealth follow Jesus. They reversed their own fortunes. No doubt God used their sacrifice to grow them in dependence and faith in Jesus. Just as Jacob learned in his own.
27 Then Peter said in reply, “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” 28 Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and the last first. (Mt 19.27-30)
When we are involved in competition, rivalry and conflict. Try to remember God could be using it to grow you in maturity and faith. Continue in faith and hope that God is making something good of it.
Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2014. All Rights Reserved.