S (Scripture): Genesis 31:3 Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Go back to the land of your ancestors and to your relatives, and I will be with you.”
4 So Jacob sent for Rachel and Leah and summoned them into the field where his flock was. 5 He said to them, “I am aware that your father no longer likes me as much as he used to. But my father’s God has been with me. 6 You know that I’ve worked for your father as hard as I could. 7 But your father cheated me and changed my payment ten times. Yet God didn’t let him harm me. 8 If he said, ‘The speckled ones will be your payment,’ the whole flock gave birth to speckled young. And if he said, ‘The striped ones will be your payment,’ the whole flock gave birth to striped young. 9 God took away your father’s livestock and gave them to me. 10 When the flocks were mating, I looked up and saw in a dream that the male goats that mounted the flock were striped, speckled, and spotted. 11 In the dream, God’s messenger said to me, ‘Jacob!’ and I said, ‘I’m here.’ 12 He said, ‘Look up and watch all the striped, speckled, and spotted male goats mounting the flock. I’ve seen everything that Laban is doing to you. 13 I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a sacred pillar and where you made a solemn promise to me. Now, get up and leave this country and go back to the land of your relatives.’”
O (Observation): Rachel and Leah are sisters and the wives of Jacob. Years ago, Jacob came to his relative, Laban (after he fled from his brother, Esau, after Jacob stole the birthright and blessing that belonged to Esau). Jacob was told to begin a family with one of Laban’s daughters. He fell in love with the younger daughter, Rachel, but was also asked to marry Leah, Laban’s oldest daughter.
So, Jacob worked for 7 years, married Leah, then Laban was asked to work for 7 more years, knowing he would be able to marry Rachel, too.
Each time Jacob wished to leave, Laban tricked him to staying longer, taking advantage of the arrangements. Eventually, Jacob’s abundance (clearly a gift from God) made Laban jealous and upset. This also upset Laban’s sons.
So, Jacob finally leaves Laban, bringing his wives – Rachel as Leah – and some livestock, knowing that whatever he and his family needs, God would provide.
A (Application): The squirrelly situations that our Old Testament ancestors found themselves in is most peculiar. Jacob was a thief in a way. He was second-born, and was not supposed to have the birthright or blessing of the oldest son, which was rightfully Esau’s.
Knowing he would be in trouble, he skips town. While in Laban’s service, God blesses Jacob with beautiful wives and servants and children, and even as Laban tricks Jacob, each trick seems to be met with God’s touch. Things keep on turning up “golden” for Jacob.
I wonder how many times we see these good things happening to people in squirrelly situations.
And worse, how many times do we see people taking these kinds of stories and twisting the theology to match personal circumstances? So many times we interpret Scripture in a way that fits nice and neat around our / my particular circumstances.
Should we point to Jacob’s and Rachel’s trickery as a way to be blessed? Absolutely not! Did God stick with Jacob despite his earthly failings? Yeah, sure, you betcha!
So what is God blessing? What does God hold dear?
If you look back to Rachel’s pregnancy, the Lord does prophecy that the older will bow to the younger. But does that mean Jacob was right?
In all of these questions, we simply – and humbly – remain unsure. We know that God makes good on God’s promises in God’s time. We know that God calls us to be wise as serpents, too.
God made a covenant with Abraham, which is passed on to Isaac, and to Jacob (not Esau). Weird how things work out in an unexpected manner.
Hmmm…I guess my takeaway today is that copying circumstances in which God blesses those we read in Scripture is not the key to the life of a God-follower.
Instead, perhaps we reflect on God’s call in our lives, take action as we think God would have us do…then, seek the sense of fulfillment that comes from living a life to God’s glory. I don’t know that we can name our actions “blessed.” After all, who is to say what we have done is blessed, other than God?
P (Prayer): Lord, I leave leave this devotion with a question…may you allow me to struggle with this question of blessedness today. Amen.