Thursday, June 23, 2011

Genesis 31:1-21

God is so faithful! He worked out the situation at work in a way that totally brought Him glory, so I’m so very thankful to be heading into summer vacation without the conflict hanging over our heads!

Today’s verses describe Jacob’s getaway from Laban. After getting the “go ahead” from God, Jacob does a remarkable thing for his culture: he has a family meeting with Rachel and Leah to explain his plan. Relationships with in-laws can be so very tricky (am I seeing you nodding your heads??), so he very respectfully and reasonably shares why it is time to go:

So Jacob sent word to Rachel and Leah to come out to the fields where his flocks were. He said to them, “I see that your father’s attitude toward me is not what it was before, but the God of my father has been with me. You know that I’ve worked for your father with all my strength,  yet your father has cheated me by changing my wages ten times. However, God has not allowed him to harm me. If he said, ‘The speckled ones will be your wages,’ then all the flocks gave birth to speckled young; and if he said, ‘The streaked ones will be your wages,’ then all the flocks bore streaked young. So God has taken away your father’s livestock and has given them to me. (Gen 31:4-9)

Then he reveals how God spoke to him in a dream to give him the plan to bless him with the speckled flocks:

“In breeding season I once had a dream in which I looked up and saw that the male goats mating with the flock were streaked, speckled or spotted.  The angel of God said to me in the dream, ‘Jacob.’ I answered, ‘Here I am.’  And he said, ‘Look up and see that all the male goats mating with the flock are streaked, speckled or spotted, for I have seen all that Laban has been doing to you.  I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and where you made a vow to me. Now leave this land at once and go back to your native land.’” (vs.10-13)

Isn’t it encouraging to know that God sees the injustices we suffer? All those years Jacob had worked tirelessly for Laban. He patiently waited for the right moment, for God’s direction - and God gave it to him!

Jacob is asking his wives to leave their homeland and their family. You would think this would be a painful decision, but note how quickly they agree!

Then Rachel and Leah replied, “Do we still have any share in the inheritance of our father’s estate? Does he not regard us as foreigners? Not only has he sold us, but he has used up what was paid for us. Surely all the wealth that God took away from our father belongs to us and our children. So do whatever God has told you.” (vs.14-16)

Apparently there was no love lost between the girls and their father! They felt no loyalty whatsoever to the man who had used them and their husband! Laban is reaping what he’s sown! So they split - but not before Rachel steals Laban’s household gods - probably believing they provided some protection.

Do you see how Rachel easily mixes pagan superstition with faith in God? And don’t we see this all of the time? Whether reading the daily horoscope, or kissing a religious icon, or burying a statue of a saint upside down in our yards, or wearing a “lucky” t-shirt, we, too frequently exhibit a schizophrenic faith to the world. Not good! Where do people see our trust placed? God is so clear in his Word that these things are an abomination before Him - we should have a healthy fear of mixing superstition with our faith!! It is God, not the St. Christopher medal, who gives us safe travel. [When I was in junior high school, a St. Christopher medal was given to a girl by a boy when you were going steady - the longest I ever kept one before breaking up was for two weeks - and we were too embarrassed to speak with each other during the entire two weeks! Apparently, not such a lucky medal...]

So, with Laban’s household gods hidden in the baggage, the family of Jacob sneaks out of town:

Moreover, Jacob deceived Laban the Aramean by not telling him he was running away. So he fled with all he had, and crossing the River, he headed for the hill country of Gilead. (vs.20-21)

I’m not sure how you sneak out of town with four wives, a boatload of children, many servants, and a huge flock of sheep, camels, etc. :) We’ll look at Laban’s reaction tomorrow!


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