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29:15 Then Laban said to Jacob, “Because you are my kinsman, should you therefore serve me for nothing? Tell me, what shall your wages be?” Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. Leah’s eyes were lovely, and Rachel was graceful and beautiful.
29:18 Jacob loved Rachel; so he said, “I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.” Laban said, “It is better that I give her to you than that I should give her to any other man; stay with me.” So, Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her. Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife that I may go into her, for my time is completed.”
So Laban gathered together all the people of the place and made a feast. But in the evening he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and he went into her. (Laban gave his maid Zilpah to his daughter Leah to be her maid.) When morning came, it was Leah! And Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? Did I not serve with you for Rachel? Why then have you deceived me?”
29:26 Laban said, “This is not done in our country–giving the younger before the firstborn. Complete the week of this one, and we will give you the other also in return for serving me another seven years.” Jacob did so, and completed her week; then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel as a wife.
8:26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what the mind of the Spirit is because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family.
And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us?
8:32 He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us.
Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52
13:31 He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”
13:33 He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.”
13:44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
13:45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.
13:47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad.
13:49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
13:51 “Have you understood all this?” They answered, “Yes.”
13:52 And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”
“My kid is turning out just like me. Well played, karma. Well-played.” —Anonymous
There are things we say to children that children cannot understand- like
–“Someday you will have children just like you, and then you’ll understand”–jinx.
What Goes Around comes around
The Rev Dr Dianne S Carpenter
30 July 2023
Last week we mentioned that Jacob had been a person who gained a birthright and a blessing by less than honorable means. He had also been a person who encountered God at Beth EL… We know who Jacob was, that he was rightly named. The name Jacob means cheater each. He has a propensity to cheat, to reach from behind, to not always play fairly. While at home, Jacob took advantage of his older Brother Esau, exploiting his weakness, and gaining Esau’s birthright in exchange for a bowl of stew which Esau later regretted. Then, Jacob was involved in a plot to deceive his father. Isaac thought he was dying and sent Esau off to kill game and prepare a special venison dish. Rebekah overhead their plans and schemed to get her favorite son Jacob the blessing as well as the birthright. It worked. Jacob ended up with a blessing, lying to his father and the process, but in doing so, he put his life in danger. Esau was now waiting for the opportunity to kill him.
Jacob flees home and travels far away, sent by his parents to Padanaram, to the household of Laban. There he met the love of his life. He has fallen in love with Rachel, the younger daughter of his uncle Laban, his mother’s brother. In verse 18, Jacob offers to work seven years for Laban and the right to marry Rachel. Laban agreed, they shook on it.
Jacob is about to meet his match. His Uncle Laban has welcomed him into the family with open arms. However, Jacob is soon to get a good dose of himself. It appears that what goes around, comes around… It is payback time.
What a story. Jacob agrees with Uncle Laban to work for seven years for his younger daughter Rachel. There’s no discussion of Leah. Jacob has no interest in her, she is not part of the prenuptial agreement. His love for Rachel is so strong, that those seven years flew by. Genesis 29:20 says that they seemed but a few days! At the end of the seven years, there was a wedding. Everything was going as agreed upon, as planned. The bride was veiled and brought to the groom’s chamber in darkness where the marriage was consummated. Then came Jacob’s morning discovery!
In the morning, behold, Jacob said to Laban, “What is this thou hast done unto me? Did not I serve with thee for Rachel? Wherefore then hast thou beguiled me?” the word “beguile” in the Hebrew means to deceive, mislead, trick; to deal treacherously with or betray.
Laban becomes the first to introduce the small print tucked away on the bottom of the contract. His response to Jacob in verse 26, is classic. “oh yes, didn’t I tell you that we have a custom here in the East? Here it is,… written on the contract in small print. I was sure I told you about it.”
Jacob is beginning to understand how Esau felt, or how Isaac felt when deceived. All Jacob can do is grin and bear it! Laban works out another deal with Jacob, giving Rachel to him for a second wife as he works another seven years. Uncle Laban is smooth! He marries both his daughters and gets 14 years of labor for them!
How interesting that Jacob thought he had escaped an unhappy, competitive home, and ended up with one of his own. Here comes the first daytime soap opera- Leah gives Jacob four sons! And in addition Jacob has two waiting women – each one representing one of his wives – A literal baby war erupts in this household between Leah and Rachel! Two wives compete for the love and affection of one husband!
The person who recorded this story saw a human tragedy and interpreted what God was doing to bring a measure of justice to Leah, “And when the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren.” Perhaps Jacoby is getting what he deserves, however, he is not the only one who will suffer. When we are less than truthful, not just ourselves but others are hurt. Leah loves Jacob, but it is obvious that she does not have his heart, Leah is locked in an unhappy marriage. She will suffer for a lifetime through no sin of her own. And Rachel is saddened by her barren state.
But eventually, beyond this passage, Jacob becomes the father of 12 sons and at least one daughter. This is where the story really gets challenging. Gentlemen, can you imagine having 13 children and four women in your tent! The children named in Genesis were Reubin, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Napthali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulon, daughter Dinah, Joseph, and Benjamin, although Genesis 46:15 suggests that he had 33 grandchildren.
In case you feel badly for Jacob… Remember that he is still a recipient of a great promise from God who at Beth EL told him:
I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father and the God of Isaac:… And behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee until I have done that which I’ve spoken of to thee…
What is the God who knows Jacob intimately, who predicted the rivalry between the twins before they were born, what is the God who will fulfill his promise to Abraham through Jacob and has met him at Beth EL doing with Jacob in this challenging time of his life? And how can God use someone like Jacob?
Perhaps, some have pointed out that, he is molding and shaping Jacob to be a suitable man of God.
Jacob has grown in his encounter with Laban. He has learned to work hard, to accept life’s strange turns, and to deal with the person who he perceives has wronged him. After the birth of Joseph –Rachel’s first son –Jacob lives into the promise that he will return to the land where God met him.
Do you feel that God is/has been molding and shaping you and through you, your family, into a suitable person and place for His will to be realized in the world? Do you see God’s hand at work forming you to be his person? Strengthening you to make choices he would approve and helping you become more than you might have imagined? Are you anticipating that God is working on you or are you imagining you are a self-made person?
And as for his household. If there were to be 12 sons to give birth to 12 tribes, they would have to learn to work together to serve God with a single mind. They do not do this easily. Some days there’s great competition and jealousy between them, but God continually brings his plan for salvation out of their human plans for self-advancement.
We must remember that Uncle Laban is only a tool, an instrument in the hand of God to mold and fashion Jacob. God is the master potter, Jacob is the clay, and the house of Laban is the potter’s wheel, the potter’s oven. Jacob is not at the point in his life where we can say that he has totally learned his lesson, that he has his act together, that he is a finished vessel. He is still on the wheel and in the oven and will continue to be after he leaves Laban’s house.
You see, Jacob lives his life pretty much like we live ours. We learn lessons along the way. We grow along the way. We begin to exercise a measure of faith along the way, only to go backward as we face the next chapter in our lives. Like Abraham, we have great faith I offer up Isaac, and then we find ourselves lying about something before the lost world, motivated by fear! Two steps forward one step backward. This is the life of Jacob and this is our life as well.
Living in the house that Laban built has been good for Jacob even though it is not pleasant. The truth here is that we grow more in our lives when life is unpleasant than when we are comfortable. Ecclesiastes 7:2 says “It is better to go to the house of mourning, then to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men, and the living will lay it to his heart.” Already we can chart some positive steps in Jacob’s life.
Step one: Jacob evidence growth in his identity.
Jacob wants to leave the house of Laban and start a life for himself. Notice verse 25 “And it came to pass, when Rachel had borne Joseph, that Jacob said unto Laban, send me a way that I may go on to mine own place, and to my country. Give me my wives and my children for whom I have served thee and let me go for thou knows my service which I’ve done thee.” Jacob now has 11 sons and one daughter. He is viewing and self is the day of his own household, rather than as an extension of Laban’s house.
Also, Jacob refuses to be in debt to Laban. Verse 31a “and he said, what shall I give thee? And Jacob said, “Thou shall not give me anything.” Jacob had fulfilled his obligation to Laban and no longer wanted to be indebted to him in any way. He refused to be given any animals whether they be solid, speckled, or spotted. There are always strings attached to gifts!
Listen, it is healthy and necessary for each of us to establish our own identity. This is especially true of married couples. Jesus said in Mark 10:7-8 ” for this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and Cleave to his wife, and those two shall be one flesh: so then they are no more two, but one flesh.” When children grow up and get married, parents must learn a new language, and turn to a new relationship, a new way of viewing and relating to their children.
Step two: Jacob evidence growth in his dependency.
It is interesting that Uncle Laban has put together Jacob’s connection with God. Notice genesis 30:27. “and Laban said unto him, I pray thee, if I have found favor in thine eyes, tarry: for I have learned by experience that the lord hath blessed me for thy sake.” Evidently there was something to that vow Jacob made with God back at Beth EL. Jacob is keeping his vow. He is living his life in such a way that God can bless him. Matthew 6:33 says, “but seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
Laban asks Jacob to stay and set his own wages. Verse 28 Laban says, “appoint me thy wages, and I will give it.” Jacob responds in a most untypical fashion, by making the worst possible deal for himself. He put himself in a situation of total dependence on the Lord. How? Jacob agrees to supervise Laban’s flocks for only those unborn animals that would be undesirable, because of their markings.
It would be entirely up to God as to how many animals would become Jacob’s. The dominant color traits of Laban’s flock were the solid color animals. To make things even more generous for Laban, Jacob would not receive spotted or speckled animals from those few that were present of that variety. His future wages would be those spotted and speckled animals that were born to solid color pairs!
This was such a good deal, Uncle Laban quickly took Jacobs’s offer. Just for insurance, however, Lavin put all the spotted a speckled animals under the care of his sons and removed them from a 3 days journey from Jacob. There was no way, barring the intervention of God that Laban could not come out on top of this deal! In a real sense, Jacob is abandoning himself to God. He’s living by faith, placing his future in God’s hands.
Step three: Jacob evidences growth in his acceptance.
It is clear that Jacob was not living on sour Grapes. He has not been treated fairly by his Uncle Laban, yet is getting on with his life, accepting what has happened to him and making the most of the present situation. Jacob is not trapped in the past, he is looking to the future! Part of our accepting what has happened to us, no matter how unjust and might be, is seeing our own part in it. Laban’s ways and deception of Jacob is linked in part to Jacob’s ways and deception of his Brother Esau and Father Isaac.
It requires a level of maturity not to get sidetracked by life’s hard knocks and injustice. The Apostle Paul expressed this in Philippians 3: 13-14. “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” We cannot live in the past and claim the future. We cannot move to the second base and at the same time hug the first base. Instead, we must learn from the past, we must come to terms with our past and press on!
Step four: Jacob evidences growth in taking responsibility.
Notice vs. 29-30. “and he said unto him, thou knowest how I have served thee, and how thy cattle was with me. For it was little which thou hadst before I came, and it is now increased unto a multitude, and the Lord hath blessed thee since my coming: and now when shall I provide for mine own house also?” How refreshing it is to see someone who is willing to take responsibility. Jacob is acting as the head of his household. He is responsible to provide for his wives and children, rather than let his father-in-law carried him.
Jacob has placed his success and failure in the hands of God, but obviously, he does not sit idle. He has learned some things along the way concerning cattle. In Genesis 30:37-43, he uses methods known at the time to either encourage animals to breed and/or alter the color trait of their offspring. There are some who say that Jacob is not at all violating his trust in God for his situation. Faith requires action on our part. While we are living in dependence on God we are not to be idle. There are some things we must do. Someone has said that we should believe as if everything depended upon God, and act as if everything depended upon us! There is a song as says “I am not what I want to be, I’m not what I’m going to be, but praise God I’m not what I was.”
This is Jacob’s testimony. Is it our testimony? Are we taking steps in the right direction? Are we living our lives in a way that God can bless us? How are we living in the house that Laban built? What are we sowing? What are we reaping? What are we learning?
Some people see this as a dramatic and compelling love story – Jacob’s love for Rebekah… A microscopic- detail-laden account of the father of 12 nations.
Some people see this as the story of the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham: The sweeping step back and seeing God’s purposes come to fruition: finally, the 12 tribes are established in the Sons of Jacob
All that is true but here we also see the dramatic reality that although we are individuals with free will: however, perverted at times: we have an awesome God whose will for His people is salvation and triumph and who is willing to walk with us through our formative stages of faith.