Jacob and Laban, by Melissa Gibbs
Jacob and Laban, Genesis 30:25-31

 

The dysfunction between Jacob and Laban which has festered over 20 years, finally comes to a head in this chapter. Jacob receives the first direct revelation he has had from God in those twenty years, and he is told to go back home. This fits perfectly with what Jacob was already feeling in his spirit and lines up circumstantially, in that both of his wives are in agreement. In order to make himself "financially secure" before he makes his move, Jacob goes through some bizarre measures to ensure his flock will increase. Having the animals mate in front of the striped branches and later in front of the striped flock, seemed ridiculous until I got to chapter 31. There we read that an angel spoke to him in a dream, telling him that God has seen Laban's mistreatment and that He is responsible for the striped and speckled animals. What seemed to be the work of Jacob's effort and cunning, was God all along. This is so much like us. We are quick to think ourselves very clever or talented; somehow the authors of our own good fortune. And all along, it is God who works in and around us to give us the successes we claim as our own.

Once Jacob leaves, he is pursued by Laban. Probably not for the reasons he gives (wanting to throw them a going-away party), but because he realizes that he has prospered because of Jacob's presence. When he catches up to them, he reports the theft of his household gods, which we learn was Rachels' doing. Why did Rachel steal the idols? Why did Laban have idols? Later on, in verse 31:53 Laban calls upon the God of his ancestors, "the God of your grandfather Abraham and my grandfather Nahor" (Abraham's brother). So was he a follower of God or a pagan idol worshiper? Remember that Abraham had two brothers, Nahor and Haran. When their father Terah left Ur for the land of Canaan, he took Abraham and Lot, Haran's son. Haran was dead, but Nahor stayed behind, with no reason given in the text. This was the land of Babylon and a very pagan culture. It seems logical that Nahor and his son Bethuel and his grandson Laban, were steeped in paganism. He may have given lip service to God, but if he had household gods, he was a pagan. Just because you know a believer, doesn't make you a believer! Just like being raised in a Christian home doesn't make you a Christian.

So what about Rachel? I have read a few different opinions on why she stole the idols. There is some evidence of a cultural practice in that region connecting the possessor of the household gods to the family inheritance. She may have been protecting herself or Jacob in that regard. However, it is more likely that she took them because she placed value in them. In chapter 35, Jacob tells everyone in his household to "get rid of all your pagan idols", so the problem must not have been isolated to Rachel. From this evidence, it doesn't seem like Jacob has been a strong spiritual leader in his household. His character and witness are still somewhat questionable. But he is about to have an encounter with God that will change everything.

Tomorrow's reading: Genesis 32-35

About Melissa Gibbs:

 

Melissa is the mother of four boys and the wife of her junior high sweetheart, JD.  He is the President of Joe Gibbs Racing and the son of NFL Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs.  JD and Melissa have been married 16 years and are actively involved with Young Life, Motor Racing Outreach, their church, and other ministries.  Their youngest son Taylor is nearing completion of a 3 year treatment protocol for leukemia, which has been a powerful faith walk for their family.  Since his diagnosis, Melissa has been called upon to share their family's testimony with many local churches. Much of her energy is now focused on a huge festival planned for mid May in celebration of Taylor's victory over leukemia and in effort to raise money and awareness for pediatric cancer.  If you'd like to check out what she's up to while not blogging, go to www.finishlinefestival.com.

 

Visit Melissa at http://chronologicalbiblein2010.blogspot.com/.

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