Lessons from Jacob’s life history -lesson #4. God is faithful to His promises and still disciplines
God is faithful to His promises and still disciplines.
Jacob journey to Haran continues.
After the dream in an open place where he slept during the night time and the assurance of the LORD God that He would be with Him, watch over him wherever he goes and brings him back to the land of promise, Jacob continued his journey to the land of the eastern people-his uncle’s house in Paddan-Aram in Haran. Jacob followed the advice of his parents in seeking for a wife. It was commendable that he did not want to get a wife from the daughters of Hittite and Amorites. (Genesis 26:34-35 and 27:46). In this matter, Jacob followed the guidance of God instead of his own desires. When we read the ensuing chapters from 29 we come to the understanding that though he was fleeing from the land due to the anger of Esau, there was another higher purpose in the plan of the LORD God. The plan was to seek a wife and a family for Jacob by which all the Abrahamic blessings could continue.
In the twists and turns of our lives also, God has a higher plan and purpose behind it all. God of Jacob is our God who guides our steps and open the ways even when we do not understand the details.
The sovereign guidance of God for Jacob.
When Abraham sent his servant to find a wife for his son, Isaac, it was God who sovereignly guided the steps of the servant to Rebekah. (Genesis 24). In the case of the servant of God when he was assigned with the task to find a wife for Isaac, he was leaning on the Lord in prayer and sought continuously His directions. We do not see such prayers of continuous learning on the guidance of the Lord in Jacob’s case. Though God promised his blessings and presence wherever he goes, Jacob is not claiming these promises like Abraham’s servant did. However, God was behind Jacob’s moves in accordance with His blessings.
God directed Jacob’s steps to the well where Rachel, Laban’s daughter, would come to water her flocks. This is also comparable to Abraham’s servant who was guided by God to the well where Rebekah (Jacob’s mother) would come to water the flocks. Chapter 29:2 says, “He looked, and a saw a well in the field, and behold, three flocks of sheep were lying there beside it.” This is the well they watered the flocks. Jacob inquired about his uncle, Laban. They said Laban is well and his daughter, Rachel, was coming with the sheep to water her flocks. When he was speaking with the shepherds there, Rachel came with her flocks. When he saw her and the flocks of Laban, he went and moved the big stone on the mouth of the well and watered the flock of his uncle. This incident reminds when Rebekah gave water to drink to the servant of Abraham and watered the flocks when he was supernaturally guided by God to seek a wife for Isaac, according to the direction of Abraham.
29:3 says the big stone is moved by them which means it is not possible to move the big stone by one man. However, God apparently gave supernatural strength to Jacob and he moved the stone by himself. Rachel may have noticed his unusual strength and his kindness toward her in watering her flocks. Jacob then kissed her and wept loudly and told her he is related to her and Laban is his uncle. Rachel got very excited and ran to her father and told him about Jacob. Laban ran and came to meet his sister’s son, embraced and received Jacob to his house. Jacob stayed with him a month.
Blooming love and the deception of Laban.
Laban then said to Jacob you should not work for him for anything and asked him what wages he like? Jacob loved Rachel from the very beginning because her eyes and face were beautiful. Now Laban had two daughters- Leah was the first born and Rachel was the second. Leah’s eyes and face were not beautiful like Rachel. Jacob said he would serve Laban seven years for his younger daughter Rachel because he loved her. Laban agreed and Jacob served him for seven years. 29:20 says, “So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.” When he completed seven years, Jacob asked for his wife Rachel. Laban made a feast and invited all the men of the place. However, in the evening, he took Leah and give to him as his wife. It must be real late in night and dark. Jacob did not recognize it was Leah. He lied with her and in the morning he recognized it was Leah. Jacob asked Laban didn’t he work for Rachel for all these seven years and why he deceived him? Laban’s explanation was it was not the practice of their place to marry the younger one first before the first-born. Jacob became apparently speechless at this deception. He also said to Jacob to complete another seven years and he would give Rachel also to Jacob. Jacob had to complete another seven more years of labor to get his loved one, Rachel, which he did and received her as well.
Jacob was clearly deceived by Laban. I believe there is a lesson to learn here. God performed his justice on Jacob for his deception. He lied and deceived his blind father Isaac for the birthright. Of course, God promised his presence and blessings for Jacob. Of course, God is going to fulfill the blessings of Abraham through the line of the children of Jacob. However, God would also discipline him for his deception. God committed fulfilling all His plan in the life of Jacob but still punishes Jacob’s deception and scheming.
From self-reliance to God-reliance is a lesson progressively learned.
Even after the planned deception, the Bible does not record Jacob was remorseful over the incident. Did we wonder why? Basically, Jacob was different from his parents – Abraham and Isaac. Abraham leaned on the Lord and was a friend of God (James 2:23). Isaac was more a passive person who relied on the Lord. However, Jacob relied on his plans and schemes in the early part of his life until later when his name was changed from Jacob to Israel. We will look into this change later in our study. God was in the process of changing Jacob from a self leaning man to a God leaning man. The process had to take some painful life experience for Jacob because he was basically a self-reliant man.
Bible says it is very important to seek His face in confession when we recognize we did wrong in the sight of the Lord. Bible says in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
A divine principle.
Galatians 6:7-10 says, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have the opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”
In short, Jacob reaped what he sowed. The extra seven more years of working for Laban was apparently a discipline by the hand of the Lord for Jacob’s deception and scheming. Laban was the instrument God used to bring retributive justice. A principle to keep in mind. God would keep His promises, no matter what happens. In the end, God’s promises were the tower and shield for Jacob. Jacob came out blessed and the lineage of the savior of the world would come in the line of his son, Judah. However, that does not take away the principle of reaping what he sowed along the way.
God balances the scale of unfairness sovereignly
There was another issue faced. Leah was the unloved and Rachel was the loved and preferred wife for Jacob. 29:31 says, “When the Lord saw that Leah was not loved, he enabled her to conceive, but Rachel remained childless.” You see, God favors those who are treated unfairly. This is another principle we can learn from the pages of the Bible. He goes to work in favor of the one who was treated unjustly. Therefore, let us be thoughtful to avoid unfair and unjust treatments. God moves His scale in favor of the lowly and unfairly treated. Leah was not a wanted wife for Jacob but God turned her to become the mother of Judah, in whose line the savior of the world (full fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant) would eventually come. Jacob was a patriarch of Israel and God made Leah a matriarch of the nation Israel. God turned table when He saw that Leah was not loved. You see, God watches and takes note of what happens in our lives and moves sovereignly.
Genesis 30:1 says when Rachel got jealous and said to Jacob give her children or else she would die. She came to a point that she could not take it anymore because by this time Leah had four sons from Jacob and the fourth one was Judah. Jacob’s anger got burned against Rachel and said, “Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?” This gives us some lessons. First of all, the fruit of the womb, the children, are given to us from God only. He only determine who gets the fruit of the womb and at what time. We cannot make it happen with our own ability and cannot expedite God’s time. Slowly Jacob is learning a lesson. Of course, Rachel was the preferred and loved one in his eyes. However, God meant Leah to be his wife to become a matriarch in the promised lineage. Jacob was apparently learning a lesson now that God’s plan was different from his plans and ways.
Jacob was lying with Rachel ignoring Leah that she had to hire him for one night with her son’s mandrakes. (30:15-16). That night again God gave heed to Leah and she conceived and gave birth a fifth son.
Bible says in 30:22 says, “Then God remembered Rachel; he listened to her and enabled her to conceive.” She bore her first born-Joseph.
In total Jacob had twelve sons and one daughter. All twelve of his sons are important and became the twelve tribes of Israel. These are 12 tribes upon which God built the nation Israel according to his promise to Abraham (Genesis 12). However, in the narrative history, Judah and Joseph stand out for the readers to take note off. However, the descendants of Abraham and the fulfillment of God’s promises to Him would be through Judah, the son of Leah.
Some of the lessons:
- First, Take note- in the twists and turns of our lives, God has a bigger plan and purpose.
He is able and powerful to accomplish His plans in and through our heartbreaking circumstances. Jesus himself said to those who labor and heavy laden these kind words. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Be restful in the plan and purpose of God. Run to Jesus for help. Do not run away from Him in difficulties. He is faithful to help you because He said: “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 and Hebrews 13:5-6. God’s bigger plan in our turbulences was evident all through the pages of the Bible. We can see this not only in Jacob’s life but also in the life of Joseph, Moses, Ruth, David and so forth, Christ being the prime example of turbulence and the fulfillment of God’s plan for the whole world-the ultimate fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant. Find rest in the Lord instead of being heavily laden and too much worried. The one who called you, the Christ Jesus, the Son of God, is able to lead you to success in the end. How often we go to the promise God gave in Romans 8:28? It says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
- Second, God is in your life leading each of your steps and nothing is luck, chance or accidental in the life of a believer.
God is the one who orders our steps on a daily basis. Bible says in Psalms 37:23, “The steps of a man are ordered by the LORD.” Nothing happens without the order of the sovereign God in our lives. Proverbs 16:9 says, “We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.” God led Jacob to the well to meet with Rachel. God led the servant of the Lord to the well where he met the bride of Isaac. God led the feet of Ruth to the field of Boas, although there were many fields in Bethlehem during the harvest time owned by many.
- Third, God does not need our plans and schemes to accomplish His purposes.
His provision is based on His gracious gifts only. Hebrews 10:23 says, “He who promised is faithful.” 1 Thessalonians 5:24 says, “the one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.” Jacob was blessed and granted Abrahamic blessings not because of his cleverness but because of God’s grace only. Zechariah 4:6 says, “This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.” Whatever Jacob tried to accomplish by his might and power are going to crumble. However, God will keep His promises by His gracious gifts only. Jacob was in the school of learning to learn this principle. We will see eventually in future lessons that he finally got this message. However, let us hold on because we do not want to jump ahead now.
- Fourth, Jacob reaped what he sowed
He deceived his blind father and he was deceived in his uncle’s house. As Galatians 6:7-10 says, we can not mock God. What we sow we reap is a divine principle. Galatians 6:4 says, “Each one should test their own actions.”
- Fifth, God brings justice when there are unfairness and injustice.
God looks down from heaven and He sees what happens in our lives and all over the world. He takes note of it and He responds. Exodus 2:25 says, “God saw the sons of Israel, and God took notice of them.” If God took notice, He is going to take an action. He took an action when he saw Leah’s condition and opened her womb to bear children. Later God showed mercy to Rachel also. He took action when he saw the condition of the sons of Israel. He raised Moses and delivered them from slavery and brought them to the promised land. However, all of God’s dealings are based on His grace and mercy and none of our efforts can earn only what grace can offer.
- Sixthly, Very important point but many are confused with this truth of the Bible. Our salvation and eternal life are also based on His grace.
Bible says in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” In short, our salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. It is the gift of God-not by works. If by works, there are opportunities for boasting. But no one can ever boast before God. However, once you are the recipient of God’s grace we become God’s handiwork because we are newly created in and through faith in Jesus Christ to do good works. These works we would do are prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10). All are equal in the sight of the Lord. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Make mark! ‘All’ means simply ‘all’. There is no other meaning to it. No works can ever save a person and allow them to go to heaven and live eternally because there is no one who does what is right and never sins.” (Ecclesiastes 7:20). All humans are equal at the foot of the cross of Christ where he paid for all of our sins with His divine and sinless blood.
- Seventhly, do not neglect the grace of God.
Bible says Esau ignored the grace of God because he wanted to live based on his fleshly desires and not according to God’s plans. Bible says, “See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God.” God is full of grace and mercy thereby He can fill us with His abundant grace. God’s grace is in the person of Christ. In other words, God’s grace is personified in Christ Jesus. Those who have Christ have the grace of God and those who do not believe in Christ do not have the grace of God. It is that simple. Bible says in John 1:14 the glory of God is seen in the glory of Jesus because He is the glory of the one and only Son because He came from the Father. It says there He (Jesus) is full of grace and truth. Then verse 16 says, “Out of his fullness we have all received grace upon grace.” In other words, in Jesus, we have received grace heaped upon grace.
Beloved, God is calling you today because of His grace and mercy. He invites you to come to His Son, Jesus Christ, who died, buried and rose again for all of your sins. When you come and accept Him as your savior and Lord God is going heap grace upon grace. You are saved from sins and God gives you eternal life with Him in heaven. Not because of your merits or efforts, but because you accepted God’s Son, who died in your place, as your savior and Lord.