This teaching is our 27th session in our verse-by-verse study of the Book of Genesis by pastor Barry – given as part of our family service on 8th September 2017.
In Genesis 31 we see Jacob begin his journey back to the promised land after 20 years with Laban. The catalyst was the attitude of Laban’s sons who were starting to blame Jacob for stealing from their father Laban. The problem wasn’t that Jacob stole; it was that Laban’s sons were filled with envy. Envy will distort the truth. Jacob had not taken anything of Laban’s, but it seems from the text that Laban also started to believe this lie, and Jacob quickly realised he had outstayed his welcome in Haran!
It would have been easy to panic or blame God in a situation like this, where everything seemed against him, but Jacob goes to God who confirms that He was in this situation. It was now time for Jacob to go back to the land of promise. God had prepared him for this time. First, God gave him the desire to go back home, then the circumstances became unbearable, and finally, the Lord gave personal direction to Jacob. God leads each of us in ways that, at the time, might seem haphazard, but we later look back and realise that God had been engineering the circumstances all the time.
Oswald Chambers says: “It is only the loyal soul who believes that God engineers circumstances. We take such liberties with our circumstances, we do not believe God engineers them, although we say we do; we treat the things that happen as if they were engineered by men. To be faithful in every circumstance means that we have only one loyalty, and that is to our Lord. Suddenly God breaks up a particular set of circumstances, and the realisation comes that we have been disloyal to Him by not recognising that He had organised them… If we learn to worship God in the trying circumstances, He will alter them in two seconds when He chooses.”
Jacob’s first challenge would be to convince his wives! Whenever we step out in faith it is good to be surrounded by people who are like-minded and share our vision. Both Rachel and Leah are easily persuaded, although this is largely due to the feeling they weren’t going to get anything from their father in terms of inheritance. As an aside Donald Barnhouse comments: “Rachel and Leah were wrong to look to their father Laban for their portion or inheritance once they were married to Jacob. He now was their portion and inheritance. “Since you are saved and joined to Christ, appraise the world and ask, ‘Is there yet any portion for me?’ If you think there is, you are mistaken.”
Jacob leaves – unannounced. Laban discovers and pursues after Jacob but once again God intervenes and warns Laban not to harm Jacob. Jacob had been an ‘unconscious witness’ to Laban who eventually suggests a covenant between them appealing to “The God of Abraham, and the God of Nahor, the God of their father”.
However the world treats us, we should seek to be a witness in every part of our lives, that they might see beyond us to our God.
You can listen to the audio on this web page, or save it for listening to later. We have also made available the Powerpoint slides (in PDF format) that outline the key points of this study.
We hope and pray this teaching will bless you and encourage you to undertake your own personal study and adventure in God’s Word!