Genesis Lesson 20 Day 5
Genesis 31 and Hebrews 12:3-15
God intervenes as Jacob and Laban confirm a treaty, and Laban allows Jacob and his family to return to Canaan.
11) Jacob overheard Laban’s sons talking about him.
In Genesis 31:1, we read about Laban’s sons for the first time (unless I overlooked it before). They complained to their father saying, “Jacob has taken all that was our father’s, and from what was our father’s he has gained all this wealth.” As a result, Jacob noticed a difference in Laban’s attitude toward him.
I assumed Rachel tended the flocks because she had no brothers, and that Laban wasn’t prosperous because he had no sons. I find it interesting we didn’t hear about them sooner.
Jacob’s diligence turned Laban’s ranch from meager to prosperous. Now his sons are worried about Jacob taking it all.
Jacob wasn’t taking anything away from Laban. God prospered Jacob’s flocks in a larger proportion than Laban’s. Greed caused Laban’s sons to exaggerate, distort the truth and poison their father’s heart against Jacob. Before this, Laban was pleased with the agreement.1
Jacob went to Haran to escape Esau and find a wife. He never planned a permanent move which would violate the covenant, Isaac and Rebekah’s wishes, and God’s promise in Jacob’s ladder to heaven dream.
The Lord tells Jacob it’s time to return to the land of his family.
Thankfully, the Lord spoke to Jacob and said, “Return to the land of your fathers and to your kindred, and I will be with you.” The Lord already put that desire in his heart (Genesis 30:25), but now he knows it’s His will, too. And God promises to be with him.
Jacob sent for Rachel and Leah to meet with him in the field where his flocks were.
There he explained the situation and his desire to leave. He said, “the God of my father has been with me.” God kept His promise to Jacob (see Genesis 28:15).
Jacob also relayed a dream where God showed him how He prevented Laban from harming him. He also caused the flocks to bear whatever type of sheep and goat Laban said he could have. Laban couldn’t win, because no matter how he changed the plan, God favored Jacob.
God identified Himself saying, “I am the god of Bethel . . .”
An amazing thing happened—This may be the first time in quite a while when the sisters Leah and Rachel agreed on anything. They agreed to unite against a common enemy – their father Laban.1
It’s interesting Jacob sent for Leah, too, and never offers to leave her behind even when confronted by Laban.
Laban catches up with Jacob, his family, and the flock.
Laban seems especially angry that his household gods are missing. Jacob makes a rash statement—”Anyone with whom you find your gods shall not live.” He seems confident Laban made up the accusation or that no one in his family would take them. It’s a good thing Rachel came up with a good ruse for hiding them.
Guzik offers several reasons Rachel may have taken them—
These teraphim, shall figurines of the family gods, held great meaning for the heirs. According to the ancient law around Haran, the sons, particularly the eldest, had the privilege of inheriting the family “gods.” as well as all the property that went with them. Rachel stole them either to ridicule her father’s religion (vv. 14-16), to lay claim to the inheritance, or to remain attached to her native religion.
After a tense confrontation, Laban and Jacob make a covenant to leave each other alone. A pile of stones marks the boundary line.
Laban connived throughout the entire twenty years Jacob spent with him.
This is no sweet farewell. It is a parting of the ways between two men who don’t trust one another. Both are tricksters, but they are family. It is probably best from now on if they avoid each other completely. (Voice translation note after vs. 53)
Laban was not a nice man. He accepted a large dowry (Genesis 24:53) when Abraham’s servant came for Rebekah, and he and his family had little to show for it when Jacob arrived. So once again, his family is prosperous because of Abraham’s offspring, but instead of gratitude, he is fearful and possessive of everything that rightfully belongs to Jacob.
12a) Jacob matures and learns to trust God.
If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had not been on my side, surely now you would have sent me away empty-handed. God saw my affliction and the labor of my hands and rebuked you last night.”
Jacob declared that the Lord would be his God; he set up a stone as a pillar and declared it to be God’s house; he swore “all that you give me I will give you a tenth.” (Genesis 28:21-22)
Jacob gave God the glory for protecting him, blessing him, and prospering him rather than taking the credit himself. (Genesis 31:5,7,9,38-42)
Jacob humbly sought the Lord, acknowledging his heritage and the promises already fulfilled. He then asked the Lord for protection from Esau as he set out to return to Canaan in obedience to the Lord’s command. (Genesis 32:9-12)
b) God is faithful.
Some of us are more stubborn than others. Guilty. When God has big plans for our lives, He goes to great lengths to insure we grow up and deal with our stuff.
13) Apparently Laban did plan to do evil against Jacob.
God came to Laban in dream by night and gave him a warning. Even though Laban seems to be a solid pagan, he had a healthy fear of Jacob’s God. (Genesis 31:24,53)
If anyone means to do me harm, I hope they have a dream that puts the fear of God in them.
The dream about Jacob’s breeding plan is great, too. His success was all the Lord’s doing. (Genesis 31:10-12)
I also love that God spoke to Jacob in that same dream saying it was time to return to his homeland. He had a desire to go back and God confirmed it. (Genesis 31:13)
When I have a big decision to make, I want God to confirm it, too.
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1 EnduringWord.com used by written permission.
2 AWM Living Commentary used by written permission.
3 Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations from *The ESV Bible® (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®) copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
4 Strong’s Concordance, public domain.
5 Spirit-Filled Life®Bible* Copyright © 1991 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. (footnote on Genesis 31:19.)
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