God Promises - Jacob Believes
At the end of a father's life it is customary for him to call in the eldest son and bestow on him a blessing from God. The blessing is revelation from God--a prophecy. When Isaac had grown old he had lost is eyesight and God told him to bless his sons (Genesis 27). Isaac told Esau to prepare for him some venison for Isaac to eat and then he would give him the blessing. Well, Rebekah overheard them and decided to step in and help out. It is possible that Isaac didn't know that Esau sold his birthright to Jacob but Rebekah did. However, God still knows what is going on. Rebekah prepares the meal and disguises Jacob to resemble his hairy brother Esau and sends him in to Isaac. God knows who is standing there when Isaac delivers the blessing.
The blessing is revelation from God. God knew who was standing there to be blessed. We will see later that Jacob listened to God and God talked with Jacob. And remember, Esau despised his birthright, he had little interest in the things of God.
When Isaac and Esau had discovered what had been done they were very distraught. Isaac trembled with a great trembling greatly (according to the emphasis on the words in vs. 27:33). Esau cried with a great and exceeding bitter cry and sought a blessing also. Isaac's recognized that God had given Jacob that blessing and that it stood. God's Word says that Esau hated Jacob to the point that he wanted to kill him (vs. 27:41). When Rebekah heard it she told Jacob to go to her father's house, Laban in Padanaram (back up north).
God did prosper Jacob greatly and continued to edify him with the promises that he made to Abraham and Isaac.
The blessing of Abraham and Isaac now falls to Jacob. Jacob is the one who carries the seed of the Christline. So far we have only seen Isaac speaking the promises of God to Jacob. God is going to make things personal now:
Jacob has already been told that he will have 'a multitude of people'-now his 'seed shall be as the dust of the earth and thou shalt spread abroad?' This must be a comfort to Jacob-he is important to God. God also promises to help him return to his father's house. Think about, Beersheba, where he is from, is about 500 miles away from Haran. This is a very long trek. We can cover it in a day in our cars, a few hours in a plane but he was riding a camel most likely. The Word doesn't say that he took servants with him but it would be unusual if he went alone. Nevertheless the average distance covered in a day was only 20 miles. The journey was probably not a stroll in the park either. He would have faced wild animals and marauders. So, to hear that God will make sure he returns is a great boost.
Jacob ends up finding Laban's household and falling in love with the younger daughter Rachel. He pledges seven years of work for Rachel which seemed to him but a few days. When his time was up Laban sent Leah the older daughter into the wedding tent and deceived Jacob. Jacob still wanted Rachel and agreed to serve him another seven years. God prospers Jacob and he ends up with 12 sons and at least one daughter. Following is the list of sons, the meaning of their names and who the mother was. (Genesis 28-30)
This is quite a family that Jacob has now. He is working on the multitude alright. Jacob now feels the need to return home (Genesis 30:25). All the time that Jacob has been working for Laban God has given them abundance. Laban said himself that he had little when Jacob came and now there was much. By all rights the prosperity belongs to Laban and Jacob cannot leave with just his family, they would starve. So Laban convinces Jacob to stay and earn enough sheep to support his (large) family. Jacob agrees and puts forth that he will separate the speckled, spotted and ringstraked cattle (sheep) for himself and leave the solid colored ones for Laban. It must have looked like a good deal to Laban in the beginning for he agreed. So Jacob took his flock and went three days journey away from Laban's flocks. God continues to prosper Jacob and his sheep multiply where Laban's were not as prosperous. Laban must not be doing something right before God otherwise God would have prospered him also.
After Jacob had served Laban another 6 years* God told him to go home to Canaan (Genesis 31:3 - 13). By this time Laban's sons are complaining about Jacob's abundance and accusing Jacob of stealing from their father. Laban is also starting to have misgivings. So Jacob and his family leave without letting anyone know.
In Genesis 31 we are told why Laban did not prosper and why Rachel didn't have but only one son.
Rachel had taken the idols that her and her father worshipped. Laban had also not kept his word with Jacob, he had been deceitful in his dealings.
After Laban finds out that Jacob and his daughters and grandchildren are gone he pursues and catches up with them seven days later. There trail was probably easy to spot and they couldn't go very fast because they were driving sheep. Laban could travel more swiftly. During Laban's pursuit God spoke to him in a dream:
So when Laban finally catches up with Jacob he does him no harm. He just accuses him of stealing his idols and searches all of Jacob's stuff for anything that belongs to him. However Rachel has hidden the idols in the camel's furniture and was sitting on it saying she couldn't move because 'the custom of women was upon her' (Genesis 31:34-35). So they make a covenant and set up a pillar swearing that neither of them will cross into each other's land to do harm.
Jacob is now freed from the servitude to Laban. God has taken care of him as He said He would. He is also returning to his father's house just as God had promised. God's promises didn't come to pass in a few days. This is learning for us, unless God specifically states the time frame we do not know. So when we are told things by God and we read the promises in His Word, it is always up to God and His perfect timing to bring His Word to pass. We, with patience, wait, continue to pray, give praise and trust in Him--believe like Jacob.
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For the Glory of God and Accuracy of His Word