Gems from Genesis: Chapter 31

Sometimes God uses the circumstances of our life to get us to move. We have seen this multiple times in Genesis already.

  • An irritated Pharoah gives Abram back his wife, causing Abram to get on back to the land of Canaan.
  • An angel grabs Lot and practically pulls him out of Sodom.
  • Abimelech’s dream about Sarah again wakes Abraham up to the need to keep a distance.
  • Esau’s threats urge Rebekah to send her favored son to her brother’s for a wife.

Now we find ourselves in the thirty-first chapter, twenty years after Jacob’s departure to the land of Haran, and six years after he first told his uncle that he wanted to go home. He’d been busy in the interim (think spotted and striped sheep and goats), but when was he going to make his move? Well, it seems the time had come for three reasons:

  1. The sons of Laban were complaining that Jacob had taken all the wealth of their father.
  2. Jacob saw that Laban did not think so highly of him as before.
  3. The Lord spoke to him and said, “It’s time to go home.”

Now to our gems for today:

So Jacob sent and called Rachel and Leah into the field where his flock was and said to them, “I see that your father does not regard me with favor as he did before. But the God of my father has been with me. You know that I have served your father with all my strength, yet your father has cheated me and changed my wages ten times. But God did not permit him to harm me. If he said, ‘The spotted shall be your wages,’ then all the flock bore spotted; and if he said, ‘The striped shall be your wages,’ then all the flock bore striped. Thus God has taken away the livestock of your father and given them to me. In the breeding season of the flock I lifted up my eyes and saw in a dream that the goats that mated with the flock were striped, spotted, and mottled. Then the angel of God said to me in the dream, ‘Jacob,’ and I said, ‘Here I am!’ And he said, ‘Lift up your eyes and see, all the goats that mate with the flock are striped, spotted, and mottled, for I have seen all that Laban is doing to you. I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and made a vow to me. Now arise, go out from this land and return to the land of your kindred.’”

Genesis 31:4-13 ESV (Emphasis mine)

In the midst of this new reality, Jacob acknowledges the hand of God. Look at each of the statements I’ve highlighted.

  • God has been with Jacob.
  • God kept him from harm.
  • God took away Laban’s livestock and gave it to Jacob.
  • God saw what Laban did.
  • God reveals himself as the God of Bethel—the one he encountered before leaving Canaan.

Despite all Jacob’s failings and family dysfunction, God has been with him. Again, we see the grace of God in this foundational story. God doesn’t bless and watch over Jacob because of what he’s done but because God keeps his promises and covenant. He brings Jacob through seemingly overwhelming obstacles. Think about it. Jacob married a woman, who turns out to be the older sister of the woman he loved; he ends up working seven years for each one, and then another six to get the wages that should have been paid him all along. Yet, through it all, God blesses and multiplies, not only his family but his wealth.

Changing circumstances should lead us to listen for God.

Just as Jacob heard the voice of the Lord in the midst of the stress he was feeling from the changed attitudes of his cousins and uncles, we can also take unexpected changes in our lives as an opportunity to reflect and listen for God to speak. When we listen, we might be hearing him say: “It’s time to move on, I’ve got better things for you.”

If you’re stuck and feeling increased stress from your current circumstances, take time to pray and seek God’s guidance. Acknowledge his hand in your life up to this point or during this current season of life and then be willing to follow his lead. He may be calling you to stand firm, take a stand, and speak into the situation with his truth. If he is, then trust him to give you the strength to do so. However, if he’s saying it’s time for a change, then also know that the God who has been faithful in your life to this point will continue to faithfully guide and provide for you wherever he’s leading you.

Grace and Peace              

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