The One Year® Chronological Bible (Tyndale, 2013), January 11
The possessions of others attract those whose hearts are full of covetousness.
Since day one, Jacob has desired Laban’s possessions: “And it came to pass, when Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother’s brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother’s brother, that Jacob went near and rolled the stone from the well’s mouth, and watered the flock of Laban his mother’s brother” (Gen. 29:10, emphasis added). Thus began Jacob’s journey to possess all that Laban possessed!
After he establishes the wages to earn Rachel, Jacob elaborately plots to obtain Laban’s herds of sheep and goats by setting his wages, “Let me pass through all your flock today, removing from there all the speckled and spotted sheep, and all the brown ones among the lambs, and the spotted and speckled among the goats; and these shall be my wages” (30:32). After Laban agrees, Jacob strategically creates an environment for the reproduction of the speckled, spotted, and brown sheep and goats. And he becomes prosperous!
Jacob’s prosperity, at Laban’s expense, creates contention among Laban’s sons, but God uses the situation and throws Jacob a lifeline, “Then the LORD said to Jacob, ‘Return to the land of your fathers and to your family, and I will be with you’” (31:3). God’s instruction forces Jacob to trust Him. Jacob cannot remain where he is, and returning to the land of Canaan forces him to face his past. God is like that. It’s how He rolls!
God takes advantage of the adverse circumstances (both self-induced and others-induced) in which we find ourselves. He works through those circumstances to further the faith development of His servants and to accomplish His greater redemptive purposes. God wastes nothing!
This scene in Jacob’s life offers a number of illuminating truths about God’s operations:
- God takes the most unlikely candidate (a covetous man with a scheming heart) and transforms him into a person of faith.
- It is always too soon to judge a person’s usefulness to God.
- God patiently tends a person’s heart until it becomes receptive to His grace and responsive to His purposes.
- God doesn’t sanitize a person’s past, but highlights His marvelous grace through the glaring flaws of those He enfolds into His story.
- God allows both the passage of many years and people to become entrapped by their scheming before He interrupts.
Questions from today’s reading (Genesis 30:25-31:55):
What two events prompt Jacob to consider leaving Padan Aram?
How does the LORD use the consequences of Jacob’s scheming to get his attention?
What does this reveal about how God works?
How does God protect Jacob from Laban? What does this reveal about God?