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RESOURCE CENTER AND ARCHIVES

Genesis 29:1617, 2123, 2627; 31:13, 3842comment (0)

March 6, 2008

By Jay T. Robertson

Related Scripture: Genesis 29:1617, 2123, 2627; 31:13, 3842


LEARNING ABOUT GOD’S FAITHFULNESS
Genesis 29:16–17, 21–23, 26–27; 31:1–3, 38–42

Faithful Despite Deception (29:16–17, 21–23, 26–27)
God’s gift to Jacob of the vision of the stairway between heaven and earth portraying that God was with him wherever he went was a gift Jacob would carry with him the rest of his life. Jacob’s knowledge that the stairway of God’s presence and provision was with him does not suggest, however, that his faith was complete. His conditional vow (Gen. 28:20–22) reveals that the old scheming Jacob remained alive and well. We must keep in mind that Jacob was a work in progress. What goes on here is a part of the ongoing maturing of the father of the 12 tribes of Israel.

For the first time, Jacob was the object of deception. Laban turned the tables on him. The similarity between what Laban did to Jacob and what Jacob had done to Isaac is remarkable. Jacob was able to exchange the younger for the older, whereas Laban exchanged the older for the younger. Jacob was getting his just desserts. It is clear from the Scripture that Jacob’s scheme for obtaining the blessing did not meet with the Lord’s approval. Through it, God’s will had been accomplished. But the writer is intent on pointing out that the schemes were not of God’s design.

Instead of the one woman he loved, Jacob found himself married to two women and involved with their female slaves. Twelve sons and one daughter were born to the four women. Through unloved Leah and her slave, Zilpah, eight of the 12 tribes came. Leah was the mother of Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar and Zebulun. Leah was the mother of the kingly tribe of Judah and the priestly tribe of Levi. Her offspring included Moses, David and Jesus Christ. God’s work goes on and even thrives amid human failure.

Jacob must have wondered if God was still the God of Jacob. The divine stairway was there, and the Lord was keeping him. Jacob, however, did not escape the consequences of his own sins. The heavenly stairway both disciplined and exalted. God had brought the archdeceiver into the life of the great patriarch-deceiver so that Jacob’s sin might be displayed before his eyes. His nemesis was an instrument in the hands of God to shape and transform Jacob’s heart. Jacob was going to change over a period of time. He would become Israel, a prince of God.

Faithful Despite Hostility (31:1–3)
The primary point of Jacob’s escape in Genesis 31 is that God did it all through His multiple interventions and constant protection. God would later do exactly the same in Moses’ escape from Egypt, and so it now is in the ultimate exodus in Christ. One of the beautiful things about Jacob’s flight is that we see that Jacob has matured spiritually. He was now faithful to God. The old deceiver was honest and rightly declared his integrity before Laban. Everything was in place for Jacob’s exodus. He now had a people and a vast amount of material blessing.

Just as Isaac’s wealth had made the Philistines jealous (Gen. 26:14), Jacob learned that Laban was jealous. At this time, the Lord commanded Jacob to return to the land of his fathers. In the face of Laban’s hostility, the Lord again promised to be with Jacob.

Faithful Despite Hardship (31:38–42)
Jacob recounted for Laban how he had worked hard and sacrificed much to tend to his flocks. He had replaced any injured or stolen animals. He endured the heat by day and the cold by night. Jacob had been a faithful shepherd of Laban’s flocks for 20 years. Laban had changed his wages 10 times.

Jacob credited "the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac" for his blessings. He acknowledged that if the Lord had not been with him, then Laban would have sent him away empty-handed. "God has seen my affliction and my hard work, and He issued His verdict last night." God had rebuked Laban when he warned him not to harm Jacob. Laban was so low that he would have robbed his daughters and grandchildren. Jacob, however, honored God for His continued faithfulness — even in the midst of hardship.

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