Text: Genesis 31
God blessed Jacob and he became rich, even though Laban tried to cheat him by changing his wages ten times. If Laban changed the rules and said Jacob could keep only the goats with streaks, God made sure that only goats with streaks were born. If Laban said Jacob could only keep the goats with white streaks, God made sure that only goats with white streaks were born. Because of God's blessing, Jacob's flocks grew so large that Laban's sons were angry and Laban too!
God speaks to Jacob in a dream to leave Laban and head back to the land promised to Abraham--Canaan. Laban will catch up to Jacob and his family not wanting to lose the employment of Jacob, the many flocks and his daughters. But there was nothing he could do. The Lord had warned him to leave Jacob be. God had a plan for Jacob to live in the Promised Land. One day, one of his far off grandchildren, Jesus, was to be born there in a town called Bethlehem. There is no way Laban would stop that from happening.
Envy is an ancient sin. Cain envied Abel because he received God's favor. Dathan and his unruly crowd envied Moses’ leadership. Psalm 106:16-17 King Saul envied David because he was getting the praise of the people. 1 Samuel 18:8-11 Righteous blessing is often the source of envy. Envy is all about jealousy, hatred and getting what someone else has. In Jacob's case, Laban tried at every turn to get more and more through cleverness and scheme. But God thwarted his mischief and turned it into blessing and enlargement for Jacob. See Christ here: the Pharisees envied Jesus.
The scripture tells us what Pilate knew:
“For he knew that the chief priests had handed Him over because of envy.” (Mark 15:10, NKJV)
Christ was blessed. The whole public was flocking to him as the speckled flocks were gathering in large numbers to Jacob. He was fruitful. The Pharisees weren't and they envied him: "Look, the whole world has gone after him."John 12:19
Christ’s ministry became a threat to the Jewish leaders. As with Cain, David, Moses and Jesus, envy and hatred is sure to turn to harm if God leaves their hands untied. Job 5:2
"Envy will not rest until its rival is beaten,
bloodied and strung up on a Roman Cross." John Piper
Guard your heart from it with contentment and gratefulness to God. Have no part in the slander and discontent of others. If you are on the other end of envy from others, stay humble and entrust yourself to God as Jesus did. 1 Peter 2:23
Like Jacob, God will vindicate his own.
Read John 15
Jacob confers with Rachel and Leah. He tells them of a dream where "The Angel of God", which is Christ, spoke to him and told him to leave the land and return to the land of his family. Jacob is not the only one who has been treated poorly. Rachel and Leah speak from the experience of their bad treatment. They have felt the coldness of being strangers to their own father. His only interest has been to use them for his own gain.
Hear the testimony of Christ here: You don't belong in this world. ““If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (John 15:18–19, NKJV)
If you are a Christian, you should not be surprised when you don't fit into the world. The ungodly will use you for all of your resources and forget you the next day. When the Bible speaks of the world as it does in John 15, it is referring to the sinful, rebellious, world system. Satan legally gained rights to the world system when Adam and Eve yielded to temptation and forfeited their managerial role. This is why Jesus calls Satan, "the prince of this world." John 12:31
Being connected to the true vine, means we will get what Jesus gets--hatred. Remember, we are in enemy territory and the devil thinks we are trespassing. Christ has a better country for us. Hebrews 11:8-10
Now arise and get out of the the land, and return to the land of your family.” Genesis 31:13
The talk of Laban and his sons had turned hostile toward Jacob. He no doubt had been considering leaving, but now he was given the positive orders by God to go. Laban would catch up with him three days later but had been given a warning by God in a dream to not harm him. See how the enemy accuses: Laban accuses him of being a renegade that he had deserted service with him and broken contract. He had not. He is accused of being a thief, taking Laban’s herds. Genesis 31:43 He had not. The man who had treated his daughters like strangers (Genesis 31:15) now pretends he would have had a party for this daughters and grandchildren and kissed them all in honorable departure.
As we see Christ on every page, we shouldn’t be surprised to find the devil and chief adversary of Christ in the pages too.
The devil is not only an accuser; but he always pretends to good while doing bad. Judas complained about the expensive oil being poured upon Christ. “Why was this ointment not sold and given to the poor?” He didn’t care for the poor but for the money he could have put in his own pocket. It is common for bad men, when they are disappointed in their schemes, to pretend that they had nothing but good in in mind. Men may be deceived, but God is never fooled.
Let us see Christ: Jacob acted with integrity under Laban’s unemployment.
Like Christ, Jacob had been a faithful and good shepherd. Genesis 31:38-42 In the end, the Lord himself sorted out Jacob from imposters like Laban.
Text: James 5:7-11
Jacob is chosen. Jacob is blessed. A simple reading of Jacob's life by a simple man will undeniably reveal a man who mustn't have felt blessed much of the time. What does it really look like to have blessing and favor from God?
Consider this: The chosen life and the blessed life is neither sanitary nor particularly orderly. It is neither pain-free nor problem-free. The chosen and blessed life is by no means properly sensible or pleasurable on any given day.
Take note: Jacob works seven years for a wife and she is switched out at the last minute. He puts in another seven years for the first one who was the apple of his eye, Rachel. Does that feel like God's chosen life?
But Jacob bears up.
As for the first wife, Leah, she isn't loved. That doesn't feel very blessed. Wombs are opened. Wombs are closed. Bitter rivalry and broken hearts mark the growing family. Maidservants give birth by proxy to get the lead in the baby race. An uncle and father-in-law, ratchets up deception and cheating at every turn in his agricultural empire changing Jacob's wages ten times. His own daughters, Jacob's wives, feel the financial robbery and emotional abandonment of their father for his preference of monetary gain. All the while, there is a dark-minded brother somewhere out there hunting and haunting Jacob in the name of revenge for stealing his birthright.
If this isn't dysfunction,
the Kardashians deserve an apology.
Jacob gives twenty years of his life in this circle of frustration. His father Isaac had blessed him with the Abrahamic blessing. Genesis 28:3-4 God had prophesied first blessing over his life when he was yet an unborn baby. Genesis 35:23 Looking back over these twenty years, one wonders what Jacob often felt about his blessed and chosen life.
How messy this life is. How imperfect and hurtful. What disappointment and unfairness. Struggles and wrestlings are at every new day's sunrise. Sunset brings no relief when the trials grow into long seasons. Yet, taken as a whole, we see a protected man, a prospered man and a productive man. God was faithful to the promises in his life.
Let us all take note: In the end, the blessed and chosen come through. In the end, Christ’s hand is clearly seen. The blessed and chosen are set apart.