Friday, December 30, 2016

Genesis 31:1-16 comments: Jacob consults with Rachel and Leah about leaving

1 ¶  And he heard the words of Laban’s sons, saying, Jacob hath taken away all that was our father’s; and of that which was our father’s hath he gotten all this glory. 2  And Jacob beheld the countenance of Laban, and, behold, it was not toward him as before. 3  And the LORD said unto Jacob, Return unto the land of thy fathers, and to thy kindred; and I will be with thee. 4  And Jacob sent and called Rachel and Leah to the field unto his flock, 5  And said unto them, I see your father’s countenance, that it is not toward me as before; but the God of my father hath been with me. 6  And ye know that with all my power I have served your father. 7  And your father hath deceived me, and changed my wages ten times; but God suffered him not to hurt me. 8  If he said thus, The speckled shall be thy wages; then all the cattle bare speckled: and if he said thus, The ringstraked shall be thy hire; then bare all the cattle ringstraked. 9  Thus God hath taken away the cattle of your father, and given them to me. 10  And it came to pass at the time that the cattle conceived, that I lifted up mine eyes, and saw in a dream, and, behold, the rams which leaped upon the cattle were ringstraked, speckled, and grisled. 11  And the angel of God spake unto me in a dream, saying, Jacob: And I said, Here am I. 12  And he said, Lift up now thine eyes, and see, all the rams which leap upon the cattle are ringstraked, speckled, and grisled: for I have seen all that Laban doeth unto thee. 13  I am the God of Bethel, where thou anointedst the pillar, and where thou vowedst a vow unto me: now arise, get thee out from this land, and return unto the land of thy kindred. 14  And Rachel and Leah answered and said unto him, Is there yet any portion or inheritance for us in our father’s house? 15  Are we not counted of him strangers? for he hath sold us, and hath quite devoured also our money. 16  For all the riches which God hath taken from our father, that is ours, and our children’s: now then, whatsoever God hath said unto thee, do.

Jacob’s cousins, Laban’s sons, are envious of Jacob’s success. Laban himself is showing signs of being hostile to Jacob from his own envy. Many commissioned salespersons can relate a story of a manager who resented their success even though the salesperson was making the manager money. It is one of those strange things about business where a boss can resent an employee’s success even when that success puts money in his own pocket. I’ve witnessed it myself.

God told Jacob to go home to where he was from and that God would be with him. Jacob called Rachel and Leah together and reminded them about how their father had changed his wages so many times and yet, God had made Jacob successful and blessed him with wealth. He told them how God had appeared to him and said that He had seen how Laban had treated him and told Jacob to go back from where he came. God reminded Jacob that He was the God of Bethel where Jacob had the dream of the ladder to heaven. Most importantly, Jacob understood that God was responsible for the condition of the sheep and was behind what happened.

The Bible teaches us that God often uses people and methods to express His will which go beyond natural explanations but involve natural means. It is an important aspect of God’s will, using human agency while being responsible for the effort Himself. For instance, in Exodus 17 Israel is victorious if Moses’ hands are held up and they begin to lose if his hands are lowered. So, his arms are held up by rocks to keep them up. But, we know that it was God who gave the victory. Why not just have them win without Moses’ even being there? Simply because the action invested authority in God’s man and God working with human efforts that would be impotent without Him God moves His will forward. Neither Jacob putting sticks in water troughs nor Moses holding up his hands have any power to accomplish anything without God’s direct will being involved. This teaches us not to wait for a miracle passively but to pray and get busy, praying that God will work through you, if what you want to do is His will. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t wait for God’s direction, revealing His direct and perfect will, and inspiration, giving understanding, but it just shows that God may use your efforts, no matter how weak and irrelevant they may seem, to accomplish His purpose.

The treatment the doctor applies to your sickness heals you but the Bible teaches that it is God who does the healing, only often as not, through human agency and effort. A family hurt is soothed because you went and apologized to a family member and although God did the soothing He used your willingness to act favorably in the matter to accomplish the calming. Understand, though, that the doctor’s effort without God’s will or your words of regret would have no effect without God. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that it was all you or the doctor’s great skill alone. And although God can heal without a doctor and can level out family difficulties without your apology He more often than not will use them both to perform His will.

Rachel and Leah both agree that Laban, their father, had not been exactly upright in his dealings. He had taken their money by cheating their husband. The wealth that Jacob had gotten from Laban was theirs and their children’s. In the end they were willing for Jacob to do whatever God led him to do.

Proverbs 13:22 ¶  A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children’s children: and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just.

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