Please read Genesis 28, 29 beforehand
A desperate man of God flees for dear life
Jacob got underway, fleeing to his uncle Laban in Paddan-Aram. (If a person must flee, it is better for him to seek refuge with other children of God than with people of the world.)
Weary, lonely and worried
He was now away from his parent’s home and from the protection of his mother.
One night, nearby a little town called Luz, he lay down with his head on a stone, so tired of the day’s long journey. This could have been his third or fourth night after leaving home.
Way above him twinkled the stars that had been witnesses when the Lord had promised to Abram that his descendants would be as numerous. That promise, his father Isaac had assured him, was now his.
But could he be sure about that; he who had defrauded both his brother and his father? Would the judgement of a righteous God not catch up with him somewhere along the way? Would a wild animal not tear him apart or robbers murder him? At last, overcome by weariness, he drifted away into slumber.
Connecting with heaven
All of a sudden, a miracle happened. He saw a ladder reaching up from earth to heaven with angels ascending and descending along it, while God Himself was right at the top.
Then the Lord spoke to him. His words were not those of judgement and punishment as he expected they would be, no, they were kind, comforting and encouraging.
The Lord knew of the doubt in his heart and wanted to replace it with faith and hope because Jacob would have to have faith in God to be able to walk with Him so that God could further His plan of building a people for Himself from which a Saviour could be born. So by His boundless grace, God confirmed to this small, sinful little human being, that He would protect him and that his descendants would be as numerous as the dust of the earth on which he was lying – not a single word of reproach came from the mouth of the Lord!
It did not mean that Jacob’s sin was ignored, no it was passed forward onto Christ that would bear it on the cross and as for his sinful character, that would in due course be dealt with. His cheating spirit would later on be eradicated. Everything in its own good time.
(A poster of a mother hyena and her cubs I once saw, read: “First teach your children to laugh and then to obey.”
Fired on by God
Early the next morning, Jacob was up and about. Still dumbfounded and overwhelmed by his experience of the night before, he raised up the stone on which his head had rested as a memorial tablet and anointed it with oil. Then he lifted up his heart to the God Who he had met personally during that night and promised to serve Him.
God has many ways to get our loyalty; sometimes by chastising us, often by bestowing undeserved goodness and blessings upon us. No chastisement would have had the effect on Jacob’s heart to bring about such a complete sacrificing of his life to the Lord, as did these precious loving words. From that day onward, Jacob’s life would be sold out to the Lord.
Oh, the greatness and love of God; how it can overwhelm a human being! Are we not created by Him and for Him? In Him we live, move and find our being. Now the “Deceiver” could tackle the road to Haran with expectancy and joy.
Tithing to his Blessor
It is also interesting to note that he promised to give to the Lord, tithes of everything with which He would bless Him. We give tithes to our congregations or to some or other institution engaged in building God’s Kingdom, but to whom would he have given his; Melchizedech the king of Salem?
Jacob on his way to Haran
And so, Jacob, after his dream night at Bethel, “Picked up his feet,” and set off (briskly and cheerfully, AMP) on the long road to Haran in Padan-Aram. He now was some 97 km’s from his parent’s home, Beersheba, and ten km’s north of the later Jerusalem. By now he would have had more peace of mind, knowing that he had escaped his brother Esau, but there was still a long and dangerous road ahead of him.
(Depending on the route he took, it could have been some 650 km’s he had to travel. At 25 km per day, his journey would have lasted 26 days. One wonders why his rich father had not provided him with a camel. Or had it been safer to travel on foot to escape detection?
What is ironical, is that after all his manipulating to lay hold of Esau’s heritage, he now had to leave it all to his brother and meet the future with just the clothes he had on his body. The spiritual blessing of God was upon him and accompanied him wherever he would go, but he was denied the material blessings. How suddenly one’s fortunes can change: one moment he was a potentially rich man and a day or two later, he was a pauper.
When at last he found the shepherds of Haran as well as his niece Rachel at a well, he was overwhelmed with relief and joy so that tears coursed down his cheeks. The welcome he received from Laban, was just as overwhelming.
He however had to explain to him why he just popped up there out of the blue: “And he told Laban all these things,” (29:13). All these things? That he and his mother (Laban’s sister) had deceived his father and that he was a fugitive because his brother was out to kill him? It would have been a great embarrassment to spill all the beans and keeping in mind his tendency not to be all that concerned for the truth, causes one to speculate – well, perhaps he did indeed relate the whole story because he was convinced that he had done the right thing to deceive his father because, – had he not bought Esau’s birth right?
However it may be, for the following month he could take a break while enjoying his family’s hospitality (29:2-14), while God kept His Beth-el promise and saw to it that Laban provided him with board, lodging and clothes (the ironing out of the flaws in his character would follow later on).
But Jacob was a thrifty and handy man who, even among strangers, could take the initiative (29:10) and would certainly have started rendering a helping hand with the farming activities right from the start. Laban noticed this and after a month, offered him a service contract (29:15).
Laying a foundation for his future
In the meantime, he was fascinated by the beautiful Rachel and she too, must have indicated that she had taken a liking to him. But how to go about now, because he did not even have a lamb to offer her father as dowry? The service contract which Laban was offering him, gave him an idea, so he responded by offering to work, not for wages, but for his daughter Rachel for seven years during which he would receive only board, lodging and clothes (29:15-19).
This, “long term investment,” of his life, also indicates that he realized that it would not be wise to wait in uncertainty on the day that his brother’s wrath against him had subsided. He had to continue with his life and make peace with the fact that he had lost his material heritage, because Esau was now in control of it and would most definitely not give it up.
Making peace with the present
What no one could take away from him, was God’s blessing, which his father had pronounced over him and which God had confirmed to him at Beth-El. He therefore decided to pursue the way which the Lord had opened up for him and, as we will see later on, this was indeed the best way.
We need to make the best of the circumstances in which God places us.
So, from then on, Jacob was herding sheep and goats under the basking sun and through the freezing nights, and if a lamb was lost because of a lion or jackal, he had to replace it. But he persevered, true to his word, for seven full years. Every time he wanted to give up, he saw Rachel’s enticing, sparkling eyes and his will was strengthened to press through: only another two years, one year, six months, 3 days.
Do men nowadays still fall so deeply in love with beautiful girls? If fathers-in-law-to-be would set such conditions to their “sons-in-law-to-be”, there would be fewer marriages and less divorces!
We sometimes get so engrossed with the earthly roll players, that we forget the Writer of the play. We forget that the Bible actually is about God and His dealings with people to achieve His end purpose.
Is Jacob’s leaving of the Promised Land and relocating back to Haran not disrupting God’s plan of building a special nation having its own land?
No, it is furthering it, for Jacob meets up with Rachel, Leah and their two slave girls from which the twelve patriarchs will be born. To have persuaded these four ladies to go and settle with Jacob way down south in that foreign country, might have been difficult to achieve, so God brings Jacob to join them at Haran. His plan is actually accelerated by Jacob’s scheming. Later on, He will take them, their sons and grandchildren back to the Promised land.
God always triumphs, hallelujah.
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