Scripture Reading: Genesis 28 - 31 ...
There will be things that happen in your life that make no sense. There will be times when you make choices that are contrary to God's commands. There will be times when you think things are going well and the bottom falls out, and there will be times when you think there is no hope and things will turn around in your favor. But if you are a child of God, He will get you where He wants you to be. Paul puts it this way in Philippians 1:6: "He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."
Jacob had a lot to learn and a lot of growing to do. His mother had encouraged him to deceive his father to get his blessing, and then his brother, Esau, had threatened to kill him, so he ran far away, to the land where Abraham had come from. On his way, he met God ... or perhaps we should say, God revealed Himself to Jacob in an unmistakable way. Jacob was in the middle of nowhere and he thought he was alone, really alone. He was, perhaps, convicted that what he had done was not pleasing to God and now here he was, running from his problems without any idea of how this was all going to work out ... but God knew!
As he lay down to sleep, with only a stone for a pillow, Jacob had a dream. In his dream he saw a stairway, a ladder, extending from earth to heaven. Angels were going up and down on the ladder and at the top was the LORD, the God of Abraham and of Isaac. In his dream, God spoke to Jacob and repeated some of the promises He had made to Abraham and to Isaac: “I will give you the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth ... All peoples on earth will be blessed through your offspring. I am with you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you” (Genesis 28:13-15). What a comfort these words must have been to Jacob. Perhaps Jacob had heard these words before. These were words that had been spoken by God to his grandfather, Abraham, and to his father, Isaac, but now God was passing on these promises to HIM.
All of these promises pointed to what God was going to do through Jacob and his descendants in order to fulfill His promise to send a Savior. God’s plan in these days was revealed one step at a time and it would not be a smooth journey for Jacob! Chapters 29 - 31 reveal two things: the sinfulness of human nature and the providence of God in overruling the foolishness of man’s sin. Jacob's journey toward being an instrument of God to bring about the coming of the Savior was traveled along a path of sinful choices and behaviors, on his part and on the part of his cousin, Laban. One could get lost in the back-and-forth of their relationship, each trying to get the better of the other, but in the midst of it all, God was at work.
Through no “fault” of his own, Jacob ends up with FOUR wives: Leah, Rachel, Zilpah and Bilhah. Laban’s deceit and their foolish rivalry displays again the emotions and sinful will of people trying to take life into their own hands and not trusting in God. Yet again, God overcomes the sin of mankind and uses even their wrong choices to bring about the next step in His plan: the establishment of the nation of Israel - the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Some will ask: "If our sin ends up being turned for God's ultimate purpose, then how can God hold us accountable for our sin?" The answer to that question is actually quite simple if you know who God is ... if you accept that He is wiser than you and I and all mankind put together are ... if you trust the character and power of God. These events reveal the foolishness of man and the wisdom of God.
As we witness Jacob and Laban operating on a “human” level, God is at work “behind the scenes.” The same is true for you and me, but it is never “OK” to sin, trusting God to somehow make it right. The Apostle Paul addresses this question in Romans 6:1-2, where he writes, “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” Knowing God is at work to accomplish His purpose IN us and THROUGH us must be the driving force in our lives to move us to godly living.
We who are God’s children are born again by the Spirit of God and, like Jacob we are called to live in obedience to God. There is never an excuse for disobedience, and there are consequences to our actions. Jacob (and Laban) would face God’s discipline in several ways in the future because of their sinful choices. It is always better to obey God than to disobey God. Yet God is wise enough and powerful enough to allow mankind to stray, to wander, and still to accomplish His purpose IN and THROUGH people like Jacob ... and you and me ... for HIS glory!
We read in Hebrews 12:7,11: “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. … No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” God showed Jacob in a very dramatic way that He was with him wherever he was. God wants you to know the same thing! We can easily think that the people mentioned in the Bible were somehow different than we are, but they were sinful people, chosen by God for His purposes … to receive His grace and to learn to trust Him and serve Him.
When you come to know the God of grace, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God who gave His own Son so that you might know His love and forgiveness, then you can know that God will get you where He wants you to be. He is faithful! When you don’t understand the events that are going on around you and in the world, know Him, love Him, trust Him and serve Him ... and see what He will do in YOUR life!
"Thank you, Father, for Your amazing plan to accomplish Your purpose, even when by our sin and ignorance, we try to get in the way and have our own way. Help us to walk with humility and faith as we seek to live in obedience to Your Word, resting in Your grace, one day at a time. In Jesus' name, Amen"