Learning with Jacob

3 October 2021 PM – Genesis 29-30 – Gen2021 – Scott Childs
Introduction: We should learn from instruction (e.g., school). We may learn from practice (e.g., riding a bike). Sometimes we learn from experience (e.g., getting malaria). Often we learn from friends (e.g., wise or fool). We need to learn from mistakes (e.g., suffering the consequences). Learning is good if it makes us a better person.
Transition: This evening I want us to note four truths that God taught Jacob which we also need to learn.
  1. God is Faithful (Ge 29:1-14)
a.         God took care of Jacob (29:1)
1)         He kept him safe during the very long trip.
2)         God kept him healthy as promised (28:15).
b.         God led Jacob (29:2-14)
1)         He led him right to Haran (29:2-8).
2)         God allowed him to meet his cousin Rachel (29:9-11).
3)         He guided him directly to his uncle’s home (29:12-14).
  • We too must learn that when God keeps us safe, provides for us, and guides us through dark paths, He is showing His faithfulness. We ought to thank Him. (Psalms 107:8) “Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!
2.        We Will Reap What We Sow (Ge 29:15-30)
a.         In his youth, Jacob sowed deceit.
1)         He deceived his brother into selling his birthright for a bowl of soup.
2)         He deceived his father into giving him the firstborn blessing.
b.         Now, Jacob would reap deceit.
1)         The law of sowing and reaping is that you will always reap what you sow, some time after you sow, and more than you sow.
2)         Jacob loved Rachel and he agreed to work seven years to pay the dowry so he could marry her (29:18). Because of his love, those years passed quickly (29:20).
3)         The evening of their wedding, Laban switched his older daughter Leah for Rachel. We wonder how such a deceit could be carried out, but Leah obviously liked the idea and cooperated completely. The sisters may have had similar builds and similar voices. The bride was veiled and the night was dark. Laban must have kept Rachel away.
4)         Whatever the plot, Jacob was deceived and married Leah. He soon was allowed to marry Rachel with the agreement that he would work another seven years.
5)        His past deception caused many bitter feelings in his family. Now he was tasting the bitter fruit of deception. (Galatians 6:7-8) “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.
  • We too must learn that deceit never pays. If you children deceive your parents, you will be sorry. If you deceive your spouse, you will reap problems. If you deceive the boss, it will catch up with you.
3.        Multiple Marriages Bring Grief (Ge 29:31-30:24)
a.         Multiple marriages do not follow God’s plan.
1)         At creation God ordained the marriage of one man with one woman for life (Gen 2:24). God wants marriage to be a happy, harmonious, life-long bond.
2)         God never planned for a person to have more than one living marriage spouse.
a)         Having more than one wife (polygamy) was not God’s best plan. In the OT, God overlooked it, but it always caused disharmony.
b)         Divorce and remarriage is never God’s plan. (Matthew 19:6) “Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” As long as a former spouse is still alive, remarriage is wrong (Ro 7:2-3; 1Co 7:10-11).
b.         Multiple marriages breed discord.
1)         Jacob loved Rachel and hated Leah (29:31). There was constant tension between them. This discord displeased the Lord, thus, He enabled Leah to have children but not Rachel.
2)         The sisters were full of selfishness and jealousy (30:1).
3)         This caused anger and harsh words (30:2)
4)         To try to resolve the tension, Jacob married his wives’ maids. I find no indication that he loved Bilhah and Zilpah either. They were just part of the family feud.
5)         We will see in future chapters that his children struggled in the midst of the family fighting and favouritism. Jacob had a very unhappy home.
  • From this, we must learn! Second marriages today face similar problems. Comparing the new spouse with the former can cause many troubles even if it is never mentioned aloud. Children in second marriages become confused, torn between loyalties, frustrated, and often rebellious. A second marriage is not the answer.
4.        God is in Control (Ge 30:25-43)
a.         Laban agreed to hire Jacob (30:25-36)
1)         Jacob asked Laban to send him back home.
2)         Laban begged Jacob to stay and work for him (30:27).
3)         Jacob agreed to work for the pay of the speckled and spotted sheep and goats (30:32).
4)         Laban, to cheat Jacob, changed his wages ten times (Ge 31:7, 41).
b.         God blessed Jacob despite hardships (30:37-43)
1)         Jacob made special sticks with white stripes on them to put before the strongest animals when they were breeding. He did not put out the sticks when the weak animals were breeding. Thus, the strong babies born were spotted and speckled.
2)         We do not know whether God actually used these sticks to control the breeding of the flocks or whether it was simply Jacob’s superstition.
3)         We do know that later Jacob told his wives that in a dream that he learned that God controlled the breeding process (Gen 31:11-12).
4)         God has often used human participation in His miracles (He had Moses strike the rock, the widow poured the oil that multiplied, Elisha put a stick in the river to make the axe float, the disciples distributed bread and fish to the 5000). See Henry Morris, “The Genesis Record” for additional thoughts.
5)         Because Jacob was very modest in his deal with Laban and he even appealed to his righteousness during the deal, it hardly seems that he would seek to be dishonest in his work. I rather think that Jacob was following the directions of the Lord.
6)         Jacob’s flocks increased greatly (30:43). God was blessing Jacob. We do not find God blessing dishonesty in the Bible. For example, Achan stole to get rich and died for it. Gehazi lied to get wealth and got leprosy. If Jacob was being dishonest to get gain, I do not believe God would have blessed him as he did.
  • From this, we can learn that even when people or circumstances are against us, God is still in control. We must continue to trust the Lord and do right.
Conclusion: God taught Jacob that He was always faithful. We must learn that truth. Jacob learned that he reaped what he had sown. We must learn that this truth is reliable; therefore, we ought to be careful what we sow in life. Jacob learned the hard way that multiple marriages bring grief. We must learn this so well that we will, at the first symptoms of unresolved conflict, deny self and humbly seek help rather than ever allowing our marriage to break up. Jacob learned that God was in control of his wages even when Laban worked against him. We too must learn that if God be for us, who can be against us?
Song: He Keeps Me Singing 453 #1, 4