READ: Genesis 29-30
BACKGROUND: Jacob, as you may recall from Chapter 28, is committed to serving God and vows that “the LORD will be my GOD!” But life is never easy and the complications and circumstances Jacob faces make it all too easy to fall back on his old ways – his sin nature – his tendency to scheme and deceive, a trait definitely inherited from his mother and quite obvious in his devious Uncle Laban as well.
Genesis 29:1-20: This seems to be a case of love at first sight; just one look and Jacob is smitten. Verse 20 tells us he loved Rachel so much that the seven years he worked to “earn” her seemed like only a few days. Wow!
25 – Wrong bride! Evil father-in-law conveniently forgets to inform Jacob that he must marry Leah first.
29-30:24 –Think you’re competitive? Well, these two sisters may have you beat as they battle to have the most male babies. Leah may not be loved, but she’s the clear winner in the baby battle. These sons are the beginning of the great nation that will grow through Jacob. Jacob now has eleven sons and at least one daughter – and FOUR wives.
30: 25 – 43 – Jacob and Laban try to out-scheme each other: Jacob just wants to take what he’s rightfully earned and go back home. Laban, never to be trusted, doesn’t want to let Jacob go. Basically, Laban agreed to Jacob’s request to take only the spotted sheep, but then underhandedly takes them all himself. Details are a bit confusing but the end result is that God continues to bless Jacob. His flocks are growing because of God’s blessing – not spotted tree branches.
THINK: Who votes this the craziest family in history? We’ve been reading about their lies, deception, and schemes for the last few chapters and these two are no exception.
We can read between the lines enough to know that Jacob desperately wanted to be independent of his father-in-law. Laban is a first-class jerk who plays Mr. Nice Guy. “Oh, you wanted Rachel? My mistake….I thought you knew our customs!” “Oh, you want to leave with the spotted lambs? No problem, except I won’t really let you…” We could probably assume that Laban constantly interfered with Jacob’s growing family. It doesn’t sound like much fun and we can sympathize with Jacob’s desire to get away. Life seemed overwhelming and Jacob’s default response was to plan a scheme…a crazy one involving spotted branches and breeding…but a lying scheme all the same.
ASK: When we get a bit desperate for a change in our circumstances, can we try to wait on God and trust in his promises before resorting to our own solutions? Being independent is a great thing, but God wants each of us to be dependent on him!
By: Deb Howard