Genesis Chapter 31:1-55
In one of his books Chuck Swindoll tells the following story. It seems that in the north easternUnited States, codfish are not only loved, they are also a very big commercial enterprise. A vast industry has grown up around catching, preparing and shipping codfish to every part of the country. But the great demand for codfish posed a problem to the shippers. At first they froze the codfish before shipping, but freezing them took away much of the flavour. Then they tried shipping the codfish alive in salt water, but that didn’t work either. Finally, someone hit on a creative solution. The codfish were placed in a shipping tank with their natural enemy catfish. From the time the codfish left the east coast until they arrived at their destination, the catfish chased the codfish all over the tank! When they arrived, the codfish were as fresh as when they were first caught with no loss of flavour or texture.
All of us live in a “tank” of particular circumstances. Into that tank God has placed a few divinely appointed “catfish” who chase us from morning till night. Who knows? You may be living with a catfish right now. You may see one at work tomorrow morning. You may live next door to one. The catfish in your life are not sent to destroy you but to keep you healthy, alert, and always swimming. Without them, you would soon get fat and flabby. Your unique flavour and texture would soon disappear.
Jacob flees from Laban
v Jacob learnt that Laban’s sons were grumbling about him
v Jacob noticed that Laban’s attitude towards him had changed
v God directs Jacob to return to his own home
Jacob talks to his wives
v Leah & Rachel support Jacob with his plan to run away from Laban.
v They feel deceived & used by their own dad, “he has reduced our rights to those of foreign women. And after he sold us, he wasted the money you paid him for us.”
v They felt all the wealth from their dad transferred to Jacob was theirs legally.
v Stole her father’s idols
v Sat on top of them & pretended to be on her period
v Jacob places a curse on the person who stole Laban’s idols & unwittingly pronounces a death sentence on his beloved wife.
v Rachel stole the god’s thinking she was covering all her bases. Sometimes we behave like Rachel when we leave the world but go on to take things from the world, e.g. mixing our faith with worldly wisdom.
Jacob’s favour with God
v When Laban said Jacob could have all the speckled animals as his wages all the flock began to produce speckled young.
v Laban then changed his mind again and said Jacob could have the striped animals as they were fewer however God made all the flock produce striped young, (Proverbs 13:22; Deuteronomy 8:16; James 5:1-5).
v Jacob has a dream where God assures him that he had seen how Laban had been cheating him.
v God directs Jacob to return to his father’s land
v When Laban seeks to harm Jacob, God appears to him in a dream & forbids him to harm Jacob
v Jacob helped by the God of Abraham & the fearsome God of Isaac.
v God plus one equals a majority. If God is on your side, it doesn’t matter who or what against you. If God is on your side, it doesn’t matter if the game is rigged against you. If God is on your side, it doesn’t matter if you are dealing with unscrupulous people.
Jacob’s goes through discipline
v Jacob went through 20 years of hard labour caring for Laban’s flocks
v Jacob never used a single ram for food
v Whatever was attacked by wild animals or stolen had to be replaced by Jacob
v Jacob worked through scorching heat & spent many sleepless nights in the cold.
v Jacob suffered abuse on top of the hard work
Jacob & Laban’s covenant
v Gilead= witness pile
v Mizpah = watchtower
v Jacob promised not to mistreat Laban’s daughters or marry more wives
v Jacob & Laban promised to respect each other’s territory & not to harm each other.
Lessons from Jacob’s family
v God’s grace is always available for us even when we are undergoing discipline.
v Instances of wealth transfer in the Bible
- Joseph – Genesis 47:13-26
- Israelduring the exodus from Egypt– Ex 7:12-14/ 12:36
- The 4 lepers – 2 Kings 7
- Judah– 2 Chronicles 20:1-25
- King Solomon – 1 Kings 10:13-27
v God only gives prosperity for the purposes of the Kingdom, so that the prosperous person can become a channel of blessings.
Lord Jesus, we know that nothing is wasted in life. We know that everything has a purpose. We thank you for sending the Labans of life. Although it seems difficult to us, we know that you use unpleasant people to develop godly character in us.
For those who are hurting because they have been hurt by others, grant new faith to believe that even our wounds are meant for our own healing. In the end we will thank you for the pain, if the pain drives us closer to you.
We love you, Lord, and we reaffirm our confidence that you have our best interests at heart. When we are hurt by others, may we respond with blessing. When we are slandered, may we respond with grace.
Lord Jesus, whatever it takes to make us like you, do it, Lord, and in the end we will be glad that you answered our prayer. Amen.