LEARNING ABOUT GOD’S FAITHFULNESS
Genesis 29:1-32:55 March 9 2008
Genesis 29:1-31:55 focuses on Jacob – his trip to Haran,
his 20-year sojourn there, and his departure to go back home .
On his trip home he had a final confrontation with Laban
when Jacob reached Gilead. Through every hardship, God
proved faithful to Jacob. Eventually Jacob would thank God
for His faithfulness.
Several important aspects of Jacob’s life and thus of the
overall account of God’s redemption of His people are
developed in these chapters. Jacob the bachelor became Jacob
the father of 11 sons and 1 daughter (Gen. 29:31-30:24). Jacob’s
12th son Benjamin, was born later near Bethlehem. The
enlargement of Jacob’s family to include 12 sons resulted
ultimately in the 12 tribes that became God’s people. Each tribe
took the name of one of Jacob’s sons with the
exception that two tribes were named after Joseph’s two sons,
Ephraim and Manasseh.
Finally, God’s plan to bless all humanity through Abraham,
Isaac, Jacob, and their descendants was not frustrated by
negative circumstances. God had told Jacob in his dream of the
stairway to heaven, "All the people on earth will be blessed
through you and your offspring" (Gen 28:14). the Narrative of
divine redemption thus moved from Abram to Isaac, from Isaac,
and finally focused to Jacob and his family.
1. Faithful Despite Deception (Gen.29:16-17,21-23,26-27)
Gen. 29:16 Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older
was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 29:17 Leah
had weak eyes, but Rachel was lovely in form, and beautiful.
29:21 Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife. My time is
completed, and I want to lie with her.” 29:22 So Laban brought
together all the people of the place and gave a feast. 29:23 But
when evening came, he took his daughter Leah and gave her to
Jacob, and Jacob lay with her. 29:26 Laban replied, “It is not
our custom here to give the younger daughter in marriage before
the older one. 29:27 Finish this daughter’s bridal week; then we
will give you the younger one also, in return for another seven
years of work.”
Jacob went to his uncle Laban’s house for two reasons . First ,
Jacob had deceived his father Isaac and had stolen his brother’s
(Esau) blessing . Fearing for Jacob’s life. his mother Rebekah
entreated Isaac to send him to Haran.
Secondly , Jacob went to find himself a wife from Rebekah’s
Family .These two strands of the story, deceiving his family and
his marriage within the family, are intertwined throughout this
Lean. . . Rachel. The names mean “cow” and “ewe” respectively,
appropriate in a herdsman’s family. My wife. If Jacob had said
“Rachel,” Laban would have had no excuse for giving him Leah.
Feast. A wedding feast was usually seven days long (Gen.29:27-28;
Jdg 14:10,12). When evening came. . . Jacob lay with her. The
darkness, or perhaps a veil (Gen.24:65), may have concealed Leah’s
identity. (Gen.29: 29) a wedding custom documented in Old
Babylonian marriage contracts. You deceived me. Jacob, the deceiver
in name (Gen. 25:26; 27:36) as well as in behavior (Gen.27:36), had
himself been deceived. The one who had tried everything to obtain
the benefits of the firstborn had now, against his will, received
the firstborn (Gen.29:16,26).
2. Faithful Despite Hostility (Gen. 31:1-3)
Gen. 31:1 Jacob heard that Laban’s sons were saying, “Jacob has
taken everything our father owned and has gained all this wealth
from what belonged to our father.” 31:2 And Jacob noticed that
Laban’s attitude toward him was not what it had been. 31:3 Then
the LORD said to Jacob, “Go back to the land of your fathers and to
your relatives, and I will be with you.”
Rather soon, Jacob was the father of 11 sons and 1 daughter
and the possessor of great flocks, many camels and donkeys, and
many servants (Gen. 29:31-30:34). The Lord had blessed Jacob in
spite of Laban’s deception. Even more, the Lord watched over
Jacob as He had promised (Gen. 28:15). Jacob had grown wealthy
while Laban had grown more controlling.
Go back to the land of your fathers. Every sign Jacob was
getting —from his wives (Gen. 31:14-16), from Laban (Gen. 31:2),
from Laban’s sons (sGen.31:1) and now from God himself —told
him that it was time to return to Canaan. I will be with you .
(Gen. 26:3). Rachel and Leah. At long last (Gen. 31:14) Rachel,
the younger, has been given precedence over Leah —but she will
soon become a deceiver like her husband Jacob (Gen.31: 31,35).
3. Faithful Despite Hardship (Gen. 31:38-42)
Gen. 31:38 “I have been with you for twenty years now. Your
sheep and goats have not miscarried, nor have I eaten rams from
your flocks. 31:39 I did not bring you animals torn by wild beasts;
I bore the loss myself. And you demanded payment from me for
whatever was stolen by day or night. 31:40 This was my situation:
The heat consumed me in the daytime and the cold at night, and
sleep fled from my eyes. 31:41 It was like this for the twenty
years I was in your household. I worked for you fourteen years for
your two daughters and six years for your flocks, and you changed
my wages ten times. 31:42 If the God of my father, the God of
Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had not been with me, you would
surely have sent me away empty-handed. But God has seen my
hardship and the toil of my hands, and last night he rebuked you.”
The final lesson segment deals with the encounter between
Jacob and Laban in the land of Gilead. Laban approached Jacob
like a sheriff seeking to confront a lawbreaker. After Laban failed
to locate the idols Rachel had stolen (Gen. 31:19), the momentum
quickly swung in her husband’s favor. Jacob took the opportunity to
show how, in reality, Laban was the one who had done wrong over
the past two decades.
Fear. Here a surrogate for God. Or perhaps the Hebrew for this
word means “Kinsman,” stressing the intimacy of God’s relationship
to the patriarch.
Jacob acknowledged God’s faithfulness in the midst of his
hardship. He referred to the Lord as the God of my father, the
God of Abraham, the Fear of Isaac. This way of referring to the
Lord heightened the sense of God’s faithfulness through the
generations, extended here to Jacob.