Jacob Heads Home
January 24 - Nº 24 Genesis 30:25-33; 31:1-55
Jacob was a shrewd businessman and a hard worker. It wasn’t long before he convinced Laban, his father-in-law, to allow him to keep the weaker, less desirable lambs in the flocks for himself. Laban agreed. God blessed Jacob, and soon he had more sheep than Laban. Laban’s sons grew jealous and accused Jacob of stealing from their father. But it was their father who kept changing the terms of the agreement and stealing from Jacob! Jacob longed to go home, but Laban balked. He knew that all the success he was experiencing was a result of God’s desire to bless Jacob. If Jacob left, so would Laban’s good fortune. With his cunning and controlling personality, he convinced Jacob to stay. God finally told Jacob it was time for him to leave. He promised to protect Jacob and his family on the long trip back to the Promised Land. (It was after this journey that Rachel died in childbirth—look back at #23 - January 23.) Both Leah and Rachel chose to leave with Jacob. They gathered the children and packed their belongings. On her way out the door, Rachel grabbed the family idols that belonged to her father and hid them in her gear! Even though he knew God would protect him, Jacob was afraid of Laban. So, he waited until his father-in-law was away for a few days. Then he and his family quietly snuck off. Laban had no idea they were gone until three days later. He set off in hot pursuit. On his way, God showed up in a dream and warned him that if he hindered or harmed Jacob in any way there would be serious consequences. Although he was furious, Laban was afraid to disobey God. He finally caught up with Jacob and angrily accused his son-in-law of stealing the family idols. Jacob was clueless. He was sure no one in his family had stolen them and suggested that if Laban could find the thief, he should kill him. Rachel scrambled and hid the idols under her camel’s saddle. Then she sat on the saddle. When her father came to search her tent, she lied saying she didn’t feel well enough to get up. He believed her and finally stopped searching. Jacob was more than a little upset with his father-in-law’s accusation. He angrily criticized Laban for all the times he had cheated and mistreated Jacob’s family over the past 20 years. He listed all his accomplishments and all the hardships he had endured during the time he had served so diligently. After exchanging a few more words, Laban and Jacob decided to separate. They built a boundary line of stones and made a covenant. Neither of them could cross that boundary into the other’s territory without breaking their treaty and risking death. Jacob’s own sin and selfishness had forced him to run away from home. Even though he had repented at the altar in Bethel (see #21 - January 21), Jacob still had to deal with the consequences of his actions. He had become the servant of a ruthless, godless man, and for a while he was trapped in a difficult situation. Escaping Laban’s strong grasp wasn’t easy. But with God’s help, and when the time was right, he finally broke free!
Do you feel trapped? Is there something (or someone) in your life that is keeping you from doing and being all that God wants you to do and be? Ask God to show you how you can best serve Him in this situation—and to let you know when it is time to leave. You can trust Him to protect you in the process.