Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Genesis 30:25-43

Today’s scene is a strange one - all about speckled lambs and goats! I had to read it a couple of times just to wrap my brain around it this early in the morning! :) Jacob has been working for his difficult father-in-law for 14years. He’s had enough! He now has a large family, that includes his new son, Joseph, and he’s ready to head home and start working for himself.

Laban, on the other hand, knows a good thing when he sees it, and he has totally prospered while Jacob has been working for him. He is not about to let go of his meal ticket! The interesting thing is that Laban, who is not a believer, realizes that God has been with Jacob. He truly wants the blessings of God, but not God Himself:

After Rachel gave birth to Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, “Send me on my way so I can go back to my own homeland. Give me my wives and children, for whom I have served you, and I will be on my way. You know how much work I’ve done for you.”

But Laban said to him, “If I have found favor in your eyes, please stay. I have learned by divination that the LORD has blessed me because of you.” He added, “Name your wages, and I will pay them.” (Gen.30:25-28)

Please remember that Laban is a deceiver through and through, so his attempt at humility in his plea doesn’t fool Jacob. Jacob very reasonably asks for release from his service to his father-in-law, but Laban wants to bargain to keep him. So he agrees to allow Jacob to walk through the flocks of sheep and goats and keep any that he finds that are spotted or speckled. Of course, first Laban, on the sly, separates them out himself and sends the spotted and speckled ones a three-day journey away with his sons. In this way, when Jacob goes through the herds, there are none for him.

However, you can’t con a con man! Jacob puts striped branches in the watering troughs where the flocks in heat come to drink, and they produce spotted and speckled lambs when they mate! Now, the blessing here is clearly God’s and has nothing to do with the branches! God had promised to prosper Jacob and he surely does here. We’ll see in chapter 31 how God was in this.

Beth Moore focuses on our need to find a formula for our successes with God. Does He answer our prayers because of the way we pray? Is it because of our fasting? Is it the people we ask to join us in the ministry? We want to know what it is that makes God bless our efforts, so we can replicate it the next time. The reality is that God is not tied to our formulas. He is the One who blesses. He delights in blessing any efforts we make for His glory! But He will not be put in a box by methods! God planned to bless Jacob and his family, and He made a covenant with Jacob to give him the land He had promised to Abraham and his descendants. It was time. So God blesses Jacob in his efforts and thwarts the plan of Laban:

In this way the man grew exceedingly prosperous and came to own large flocks, and maidservants and menservants, and camels and donkeys. (vs. 43)

One of the many lessons that I’m seeing here is that there are many people who want the blessings of God (like Laban), but who do not want God Himself. Laban could see that Jacob was blessed by God, and he loved the way that benefitted him, too. Just like Laban, we all know people who are happy to be around those who seem to receive answers to their prayers - in fact they will often ask believers to pray for them - as if we have this magic connection to God. While we want people to see that God is with us, our goal is that they will want our God, not the stuff of blessings (whether material goods or good health or job success). God IS the blessing!

We’ll see in the next chapter that it took Jacob another six years of working for Laban to build his flock! Ye gads!

Off to a day at the beach with 127 fifth graders as we celebrate their graduation from elementary school and the end of a LONG school year (our last day is Thursday)!! Yesterday we played a softball game (5th grade vs. the teachers), and today I'm feeling it!  I got on base three times and made it home - lots of running for a sixty year old broad!!


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