Origins

Monument To Peace

(Genesis 31:45-55)

 

INTRODUCTION

“Located in the southwestern region of the United States is a tourist attraction that draws thousands of visitors every year. It is a six-hour drive from the nearest airport and 33 miles from the nearest town. It claims no majestic rock formations or redwoods. Resting in unremarkable landscape, its focal point is nothing more than a small brass disc, roughly three inches in diameter—a government survey marker designating the point at which four different state boundaries meet: Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico. Tourists pose for photographs on all fours—feet in two states, hands in two more—faces beaming with delight of being able to boast that they are in four places at once.

 

But the tourist fascination with The Four Corners Monument reveals something about us human beings: we cannot be in more than one place at one time. We can move from one place to the next, but we cannot occupy two places simultaneously. Yet God, who is spirit, is able to be everywhere fully present. God, unbound by a body, is not limited to one place. He is not merely big, he is uncontainable, able to be present everywhere.”

 

Source: Adapted from Jen Wilkin, None Like Him: 10 Ways God Is Different from Us (and Why That's a Good Thing), (Crossway, 2016), pages 93-94.

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2018/june/four-corners-monument-reveals-gods-nature.html]

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Unity candle

        • Judy and I still have our unity candle from our wedding

        • The candle is a monument to our covenant of two becoming one flesh

    • Burial markers

        • When our dog, Socks, was hit and killed on the road in Ohio, we buried him in the woods on Judy’s parents property and I stuck a stick in the ground, so we would remember where he was buried

        • When our cat Clyde-Barney-Skittles (CBS) was hit and killed on the road in front of our current house, we buried him in the woods by the pond and put a large flat stone over the place where he was buried

        • These are markers/monuments that help us remember

    • Trophy

        • I have a baseball trophy from when I played Little League in Shippensburg

        • Our team went 14-0, if I remember correctly

        • We were undefeated that season

        • It was a monument to our success

 

  • WE

    • Marriage unity

        • How many of us had some kind of unity representation as part of our wedding ceremony? ​​ (candle, sand, tied ropes, cross, etc.)

        • How many of us still have that item in our possession?

        • How many of us have that item prominently displayed in our homes?

    • Burial markers

        • Most us have a loved one that has passed away

          • My guess is that every person who has passed away has some kind of marker or headstone at their burial plot

          • How many of us visit the cemetery to remember our loved one?

        • Many of us have probably lost a pet and perhaps buried them on our property with a marker showing where they are buried?

    • Trophies

        • How many of us have trophies from the sports we have played?

        • How many of us have deer heads, deer antlers, fish, or other wild animals on our wall as a monument to success? ​​ (I’m still lacking a set of deer antlers on my wall, but I have deer meat in mason jars)

    • These are like monuments to our marriage, loss of a loved one or family pet, or success in sporting events and/or outdoor endeavors

 

As we learned last week, Laban suggested that he and Jacob make a covenant of peace. ​​ Today we will see how they marked that covenant with a stone monument and heap of stones. ​​ Their monument was not marking a marriage or a death, but rather peace. ​​ They were calling on God to be the judge between them while they were separated from each other. ​​ We will learn today that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – God is our witness to living at peace with others.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (Genesis 31:45-55)

    • Attest (vv. 45-47)

        • Stone pillar

          • To mark the covenant between himself and Laban, Jacob took a stone and set it up as a pillar

          • This is not the first time that Jacob has set up a stone as a pillar to remember something significant in his life

          • When he left Beersheba for Haran, he spent the night in a place, that he then called Bethel

          • He placed a stone under his head, and that night he had an incredible dream from God

          • Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. (Genesis 28:18)

          • He not only set up a single stone as a pillar, but he encouraged his relatives to gather some stones

        • Stone heap

          • Jacob’s relatives gathered smaller stones and placed them in a pile

            • After heaping up these stones, they sat down and ate a meal together

              • Presumably the author is referencing the meal that Jacob prepares following the sacrifice in verse 54

              • Keil & Delitzsch believe the stone heap may have served as a table for the meal [Keil & Delitzsch, Commentary On The Old Testament, Volume 1, The Pentateuch, 192]

              • “Both families gathered stones and ate a meal together on those stones as a symbol of the agreement they had reached. ​​ Eating a meal together is an Eastern custom when creating a binding agreement (26:26-33).” ​​ [Wiersbe, The Bile Exposition Commentary, Pentateuch, 130]

              • Isaac prepared a meal for Abimelech and his two advisors when they came to make a treaty with him (Genesis 26:26-33)

            • Most scholars believe the heap of stones was used as a boundary marker, because that is what the narrator explains in verse 52

            • “That the narrative specifically includes that they ate ‘there’ (šām) anticipates the role of the heap as a boundary marker (v. 52).” ​​ [Mathews, The New American Commentary, Volume 1B, Genesis 1:27-50:26, 532]

          • Witness heap

            • Both Laban and Jacob gave the heap the same name, but in two different languages

              • Laban

                • Jegar Sahadutha (yegar’ sah-had-oo-thaw’)

                • Aramaic

              • Jacob

                • Galeed (gal-ade’/gail-odd)

                • Hebrew

            • It means “witness heap” or “heap of witness”

            • It is significant that after 20 years of living in Haran with Laban that Jacob chooses to use his native tongue (Hebrew) to name the heap of stones

              • This helps us understand that Jacob had not forgotten his vow to the Lord at Bethel when he was traveling to Haran (Genesis 28:20-22)

              • Jacob had not forgotten or forsaken his ethnicity, religion, or culture

            • “This symbolism reminds us that these men came from two different ethnic groups, two different religions, and two different cultures.” ​​ [Gangel & Bramer, Holman Old Testament Commentary, Genesis, 266]

          • The heap of witness was significant for both men

        • What we see next is Laban explaining “the purpose of the stones and the conditions of the treaty” [Mathews, 533]

    • Agree (vv. 48-53a)

        • This is what Laban and Jacob are agreeing to

        • Purpose

          • Witness

            • The pillar and heap of stones would serve as a witness between Laban and Jacob

            • God was going to be the witness between them both as to how Jacob treated Laban’s daughters and how Jacob treated Laban

            • God would be the witness to whether or not Jacob and Laban would be living at peace with each other

            • God is our witness to living at peace with others.

          • Watchtower

            • Laban gives the pillar and stone heap another name

            • He calls it Mizpah (mits-paw’), which means watchtower

            • Laban was calling on God to keep watch between them both while they are away from each other

            • Laban knows that he will no longer be able to keep an eye on Jacob, since he will be in Canaan and Laban will be in Haran

          • We see the conditions of the treaty/agreement

        • Conditions

          • Treat daughters well

            • Laban reminds Jacob that God is watching how he treats Leah and Rachel

            • God will know if Jacob mistreats them

            • God will know if Jacob takes other wives besides Laban’s daughters – that would potentially lessen the inheritance that his daughter’s children would gain

            • Even though his daughter’s felt like their father did not care about them (treated them as foreigners), that was not necessarily true

            • PRINCIPLE #1 – God is all seeing and all knowing!

              • Laban emphasized the fact that while they were apart, God would see and know how Jacob treated his daughters

              • Nothing would be outside the purview of God

              • Application

                • The same is true for us

                  • There is nothing we can think, say, or do that God is not aware of

                  • He sees everything we do (how we treat others, what we look at, etc.)

                  • He hears everything we say (whether it lifts others up or tears them down)

                  • He knows every thought we have and the intention of our hearts (whether we are truthful with others or deceptive, whether we genuinely love others or not, etc.)

                  • God is our witness to living at peace with others.

                • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Confess to the Lord anything I have thought, said, or done that displeases Him.

                • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Acknowledge that God sees and knows whether I am living at peace with others.

            • Laban was not just concerned about the conditions of his daughters, but he was also concerned about his own well being

          • Treat Laban well

            • The pillar and heap of stones would also serve as a witness and boundary marker against hostilities

              • Laban would not go southwest past the pillar and heap to harm Jacob

              • Jacob would not go northeast past the pillar and heap to harm Laban

            • God as Judge

              • Laban calls on the God of Abraham and the God of Nahor to be the judge between them

                • “The verb judge is plural, indicating that Laban has two deities in mind . . . In context, this should be translated ‘the gods of their father’ (see Josh. 24:2).” ​​ [Waltke, Genesis: A Commentary, 434]

                • Laban is still entrenched in polytheism

                • He obviously believes that the God of Abraham is separate and unique from the God of Nahor

              • PRINCIPLE #2 – God is our Judge!

                • There is only One God

                  • Isaiah 44:6, “This is what the Lord says – Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty: ​​ I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God.”

                  • 1 Timothy 2:5, For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.

                  • Isaiah 43:10-11, “You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. ​​ Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. ​​ I, even I, am the Lord, and apart from me there is no savior.”

                  • Deuteronomy 6:4, Hear, O Israel: ​​ The Lord our God, the Lord is one.

                • He is our Judge

                  • Psalm 7:9, O righteous God, who searches minds and hearts, bring to an end the violence of the wicked and make the righteous secure.

                  • Psalm 75:7, But it is God who judges: ​​ He brings one down, he exalts another.

                  • Psalm 50:6, And the heavens proclaim his righteousness, for God himself is judge.

                  • 2 Timothy 4:8, Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

                  • James 4:12, There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. ​​ But you – who are you to judge your neighbor?

                • God is able to judge us righteously and fairly, because He is all seeing and all knowing

            • Laban calls on the gods of Abraham and Nahor to be the judge between them

          • He wants to be treated well and he wants his daughters to be treated well in his absence

        • What we see next is Jacob taking an oath to the only true God

    • Affirm (vv. 53b-54)

        • Fear of his father Isaac

          • This is the second and final use of this name for God

          • As was mentioned last week, this name of God can also be translated as the “Awesome One of Isaac”

          • Jacob will not take an oath by the gods of Nahor, only the God of Abraham

        • Sacrifice

          • Jacob made a sacrifice to the Lord in the hill country of Gilead

          • It can be assumed that he used some the animals from his flock, though it is not stated here

        • Meal

          • He invites his relatives to a meal following the sacrifice

          • This would have included his own family members and Laban’s family members also

          • “A meal subsequent to the sacrifice would normally mean that the meal consisted of the animals that were just offered.” ​​ [Hamilton, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 18-50, 315]

          • “A sworn oath and a meal commonly accompanied a peace agreement.” ​​ [Mathews, 536]

            • Genesis 26:30-31, Isaac then made a feast for them, and they ate and drank. ​​ Early the next morning the men swore an oath to each other. ​​ Then Isaac sent them on their way, and they left him in peace.

            • Exodus 34:15, “Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land; for when they prostitute themselves to their gods and sacrifice to them, they will invite you and you will eat their sacrifices.”

          • With their bellies full and their hearts united, it was time for sleep

        • Sleep

          • “With the treaty established and the witness heap built, the combatants became relatives once more so they ate and slept in the same campground.” ​​ [Gangel & Bramer, 267]

          • Peace had been established between Laban and Jacob

          • They were relying on God to be their witness and judge so that peace would be maintained

        • God is our witness to living at peace with others.

    • Adieu (v. 55)

        • The time has come for Laban and his relatives to return home

        • The evidence that peace had been established is how Laban treated his grandchildren and daughters

          • He kissed them

          • He blessed them

        • He returned home

  • YOU

    • Since God is all seeing and all knowing and therefore judges perfectly, are there any thoughts, words, or actions that you need to confess to Him?

    • Since God is our witness, is there anything you need to change in order to live at peace with others?

 

  • WE

    • As a body of believers, we need to make sure that our thoughts, words, and actions are pleasing to the Lord

    • We also need to acknowledge that God sees and knows whether or not we are living at peace with other churches and our neighbors

 

CONCLUSION

“As 2020 draws to a close, much of humanity appears to agree that the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has turned the year into chaos. One company is now selling ornaments, which embody the feeling.

 

Manufacturer RexRoi specializes in 3-D printing, and one of their original pieces is proving to be quite special in the way it captured the mood of the moment. The popular ornament is a literal dumpster fire, complete with battery-operated flames lighting up one side. The description sums up many feelings on the matter: ‘What a year 2020 has been. The perfect way to commemorate 2020!’

 

RexRoi CEO Amir Fakharian says that his wife gave him the inspiration for the holiday ornaments. ‘My wife suggested we start making ornaments for Christmas, so we decided to start a line of ornaments representing the year we all had.’”

 

Source: Hannah Frishberg, “Dumpster fire Christmas ornaments are ‘a perfect way to commemorate 2020,’” New York Post (11-13-20).

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2020/december/commemorative-ornament-depicts-2020-as-dumpster-fire.html].

9

 

Origins

Pathway To Peace

(Genesis 31:36-44)

 

INTRODUCTION

“In Northern Ireland, there’s a city that’s so divided, part of the population calls it Londonderry and others calls it Derry. In this city Protestants live on the east bank and Catholics on the west bank. Many don’t like to mix; so, one of the solutions was to build a bridge. The 900-foot bridge curves like a snake and is for walkers, joggers, and cyclists. They named it ‘Peace Bridge.’ That’s what they’re trying to do, build a bridge, build peace.”

 

Source: “Derry/Londonderry name dispute,” Wikipedia (Accessed 11/15/20); Mark Simpson, “New peace bridge is symbol of hope in 'stroke city'” BBC (6-24-11).

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2020/december/peace-bridge.html].

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Peace

        • In middle school I did something to another student that was wrong and they retaliated, which caused me to retaliate also

        • I delivered the newspaper in our community and I knew that I would see this individual on my route

        • I asked my Dad to drive me around that day instead of riding my bike, because I was scared this other student would try to hurt me

        • My Dad, in his great wisdom, refused to drive me around, but told me that I would need to work things out with this other person

        • If I remember correctly, I successfully avoided this other person for several days

        • Eventually we were able to reconcile and find peace

    • No Peace

        • Many years ago I met with an individual and was very transparent and honest with them about some hard feelings I had toward them

        • My hope was that through this I would be able to find a pathway to peace in my own heart and mind

        • Unfortunately, my honesty and transparency seemed to have the opposite affect

        • It created turmoil in the relationship and it breaks my heart that the relationship has not been reconciled

        • The pathway to peace requires both parties to be honest and transparent with one another

        • When that does not happen, there cannot be peace

 

  • WE

    • Peace

        • Have you all experienced the pathway to peace in a relationship?

        • What happened to finally bring peace? (honesty, transparency)

    • No Peace

        • Are you currently in a tumultuous relationship where there is no peace?

        • Do you need to be honest and transparent with that individual, so you can begin the pathway to peace?

 

Last week Pastor Marc shared with us how Laban was honest and transparent with Jacob about his feelings concerning how Jacob snuck off without saying goodbye. ​​ This week we will see that Jacob is honest with Laban about his feelings concerning his treatment over the past twenty years. ​​ As we will see next week, the pathway to peace only happened when both men were honest and transparent with each other. ​​ The same is true for us. ​​ We need to be honest and transparent with each other if we truly want to experience peace. ​​ That leads us to our big idea today, which is . . .

 

BIG IDEA – God is pleased when we are honest and transparent with others.

 

Let’s pray

  • GOD (Genesis 31:36-44)

    • Reprimand (vv. 36-37)

        • Household gods

          • We know from last week that Laban searched through the possessions of all of Jacob’s household

          • He began with Jacob’s tent and then went through Leah’s, the maidservants, and then Rachel’s tents

          • Laban did not find his household gods in any of their possessions

        • Jacob’s questions

          • Jacob is rightly angry with Laban and confronts him

            • Remember, Jacob is unaware that Rachel has stolen the household gods

            • “Took to task”

              • “The Hebrew describes a quarrel or dispute (see 13:7-8; 26:20-22). ​​ In Genesis it refers to quarrels between groups regarding rights to pasturage (see 13:7-8), ownership of wells (26:20), and here possession of flocks (31:36). ​​ The “dispute is a ‘war’ in the prenational arena,” but God prevents physical conflict between Laban and Jacob. … He [Jacob] turns the table from being the accused to being the aggrieved party.” ​​ [Waltke, Genesis: A Commentary, 430-31]

              • Jacob publicly confronts Laban in front of both families [Mathews, The New American Commentary, Volume 1B, Genesis 11:27-50:26, 527]

            • He has a couple of questions he would like answered

          • What is my crime?

            • Jacob is asking what property he has taken

            • This is appropriate, because Laban did not find anything, after his thorough search

          • What sin have I committed?

            • Jacob is wondering what law he has broken

            • He was legally married – to four women

            • The flocks he had, he gained legally – they were his wages

          • What have you found that belongs to your household?

            • This question comes after Jacob expresses that Laban has search through all of his goods

            • The author has already told us that Laban did not find anything in his search (Genesis 31:34-35)

            • Jacob is not yet aware of that fact

          • “Jacob’s use of pišʿî (peh’-shah) [crime] would challenge Laban to provide empirical evidence that Jacob is guilty of behavior that has fractured the peaceful relation between the two parties.” [Hamilton, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 18-50, 306]

          • God is pleased when we are honest and transparent with others.

          • Jacob demands that Laban present anything that belongs to him in front of both families

        • Witnesses

          • Laban’s relatives are those who joined him in the pursuit of Jacob (Genesis 31:23)

          • Jacob’s relatives would have been his family members who were with him

          • These two groups would serve as the judge and jury in this legal dispute [Waltke, 431]

        • Jacob was honest and transparent with Laban by allowing him to search through all of his goods, but his honesty and transparency does not stop there

        • He basically unleashes what he has been holding inside, for twenty years, in what could be considered a job related exit interview

    • Review (vv. 38-42)

        • Jacob provides a review of his twenty career with Laban

        • Flocks (vv. 38-39, 41b)

          • Sheep and goats did not miscarry

          • Jacob had not eaten any of Laban’s rams

          • Jacob absorbed the loss of any animal that was torn by wild beasts

          • “Jacob went far beyond the obligations later codified in the Code of Hammurabi (see also Ex. 22:10-11). ​​ A shepherd was not usually accountable for animals that were attacked.” ​​ [Waltke, 432]

          • Exodus 22:10-11, “If a man gives a donkey, an ox, a sheep or any other animal to his neighbor for safekeeping and it dies or is injured or is taken away while no one is looking, the issue between them will be settled by the taking of an oath before the Lord that the neighbor did not lay hands on the other person’s property. ​​ The owner is to accept this, and no restitution is required.

          • Jacob paid for whatever was stolen by day or night

          • It appears as though Jacob went above and beyond what was expected of other shepherds

          • Jacob served six years for the flocks he now had and he did not complain about the fact that Laban changed his wages often (ten times)

        • Physical (vv. 40-41a)

          • Jacob served and did not complain about the weather conditions

            • He was consumed by the heat of the day and cold of night

            • “… it is well known, that in the East the cold by night corresponds to the heat by day; the hotter the day the colder the night, as a rule.” ​​ [Keil & Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume 1, The Pentateuch, 191]

          • He served with very little sleep, but never complained

          • These were the conditions during the entire twenty years that Jacob served in Laban’s household

          • Jacob then reviews how long he served Laban for his two daughters

        • Family (v. 41b)

          • Jacob served fourteen years for Leah and Rachel

          • He served seven years upfront before marrying Leah

          • He then served seven years on the back end, after marrying Rachel

        • Faith (v. 42)

          • Jacob is finally recognizing God’s hand of provision and protection, publicly

          • Over the last twenty years, it seems as though he has been silent about his faith and the faith of his father and grandfather

          • Fear of Isaac

            • This is a rarely used name of God

            • It means “the object of fear and reverence” [https://www.blueletterbible.org/lexicon/h6343/nasb95/wlc/0-1/]

            • It can also be translated, “the Dreaded One of Isaac.” ​​ [Hamilton, 308]

            • “This could also be translated, ‘the Awesome One of Isaac,’ that is the One of Isaac who inspires dread (see 31:24, 53). ​​ This is a unique epithet for God. ​​ The God who providentially provided for Isaac, as Laban knows, also providentially protects Jacob, as Laban is now learning.” ​​ [Waltke, 432]

          • God was with Jacob and provided for him

            • Jacob recognized that if God had not been with him, he would have left Haran empty-handed

            • Jacob also recognized that if God had not appeared to Laban the night before, to rebuke and caution him, Laban might have harmed Jacob when he caught up with him

            • “He is the one who has seen Jacob’s low position and the exhausting nature of the work he has done for Laban over those twenty years. ​​ He is the one who has given Jacob the ideas about breeding that led to his not leaving Harran empty-handed.” ​​ [Goldingay, Baker Commentary on the Old Testament, Pentateuch, Genesis, 501]

          • God is pleased when we are honest and transparent with others.

        • Application

          • There are two principles that are important for us to think about from this section

          • PRINCIPLE #1 – God sees and honors hard work and sacrifice.

            • Jacob

              • Jacob had worked hard for Laban and had been very honorable in how he handled Laban’s flocks

                • Jacob had not eaten any of the rams from Laban’s flock

                • Jacob did not bring any of the animals torn by wild beasts to Laban, but he bore the loss himself

                • Jacob paid for any of the animals that were stolen during the day or night

              • God honored Jacob’s hard work by:

                • Not allowing any of the sheep or goats to miscarry

                • Sustaining Jacob in the heat of the day and the cool of the night

                • Providing a flock for him

                • Protecting him from Laban’s wrath

            • Us

              • God sees and knows everything, so we cannot hide our work ethic from Him

                • He knows if we are working hard

                • He knows if we are honorable in how we handle our work

                • He knows if we are going above and beyond what is required or if we are just doing what we need to do to get by

              • God still honors hard work

            • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Work hard and be honorable in how I handle my work.

            • Colossians 3:22-24, Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. ​​ Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. ​​ It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

          • PRINCIPLE #2 – God is pleased when we honor Him for His provision and protection.

            • Jacob

              • Jacob recognized that God had provided for him

                • If God had not provided for him, then he was certain that Laban would have sent him away empty-handed

                • God is the One who had given him insight, through a dream, about what wages to ask for – streaked, spotted, and speckled animals (Genesis 31:10)

              • Jacob recognized that God had protected him

                • If God had not rebuked Laban through a dream, he may have physically hurt Jacob

                • God warned Laban not to say anything, good or bad to Jacob (Genesis 31:24)

            • Us

              • How have you experienced God’s provision and protection in your own life? ​​ (take a few seconds to reflect on that)

              • Has He sustained you in extreme weather conditions at work?

              • Has He provided for you?

              • Has He protected you?

            • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Honor the Lord by thanking Him for sustaining, providing, and protecting me while I work.

        • Jacob has been honest and transparent with Laban through reprimanding him and reviewing how he served him

        • What we see next is a softening of Laban and a desire to seek a pathway to peace

        • God is pleased when we are honest and transparent with others.

    • Reprieve (vv. 43-44)

        • Reprieve is defined as “a cancellation or postponement of a punishment.”

        • What Laban could do

          • As the head of the household, in which Jacob served, Laban could have flexed his “headship muscles” and demanded that his daughters, grandchildren, and flocks return with him to Haran

          • Laban spoke correctly when he said that everything was his

        • What Laban did do

          • Laban conceded his defeat

          • He realized that his daughters and grandchildren were now part of a new clan that God had ordained

          • “… it had not been Laban against Jacob for the past twenty years but Laban against Jacob’s God.” ​​ [Gangel & Bramer, Holman Old Testament Commentary, Genesis, 266]

          • God is the One who told Jacob to return to Canaan

          • PRINCIPLE #3 – There is honor in recognizing defeat and seeking peace.

            • Laban had to swallow his pride and sacrifice his rights in order to seek a pathway to peace

            • There may be times when we have to swallow our pride and sacrifice our rights in order to seek a pathway to peace

            • We may be fighting against the Lord

            • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Ask the Lord if I need to swallow my pride and sacrifice my rights, in a current situation, so I can seek a pathway to peace.

          • Laban encourages Jacob to make a covenant with him

        • Let’s make a covenant

 

  • YOU

    • Do you need to work hard and be honorable in how you handle your work?

    • Have you honored the Lord by thanking Him for sustaining, providing, and protecting you at work?

    • Is God calling you to swallow your pride and sacrifice your rights in order to seek a pathway to peace?

 

  • WE

    • When we serve in the church, are we doing it with honor and all our strength?

    • Have we thanked the Lord for sustaining, providing, and protecting us as we serve in the church?

    • Do we need to swallow our pride and sacrifice our rights, as we serve in the church, so there will be peace

 

CONCLUSION

“There once was a king who announced a painting contest. He was building a new palace, and he wanted the main entrance hall to be decorated with a large work of art. The king envisioned his kingdom as a peaceful land, so whoever's painting best symbolized peace would win a large cash prize.

 

Over the next few months, hundreds of paintings arrived at the palace. The king decided on the top two. Before announcing a winner, he hung both paintings in the palace for public viewing.

 

The first painting was of a majestic lake, so tranquil and still that the lush hills behind it were perfectly mirrored in its reflection. The sky was a brilliant blue with soft, puffy clouds floating above. Wildflowers bursting with color outlined the lake, and a family of deer calmly grazed in a far meadow. All who saw it felt peace and happiness.

 

The second painting portrayed a tall mountain cliff, rugged and strong. A few small trees grew out of the cracks of the face of the cliff, with gnarled roots clinging for life. A foamy waterfall angrily crashed down the cliff and into the rocky land below. Above, dark ominous clouds loomed, and in the distance lightning flashed. Halfway up the cliff grew a small bush. In its branches, a bird sat in a nest apparently warming her eggs.

 

After several weeks, the king declared the second painting the winner. Confused and upset, the people asked the king to explain his decision. He said, ‘Peace is not the absence of conflict. Peace is a state of mind. Those who experience peace have love in their hearts even when turmoil surrounds them.’”

 

Source: Michael Webb, "The Peace Prize," TheRomantic.com newsletter.

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2001/november/13349.html].

10

 

Origins

Moving On

(Genesis 31:1-21)

 

INTRODUCTION

“During the Vietnam War, my uncle, Captain Ray Baker, flew for the Strategic Air Command. The Air Force trained him, along with all the other pilots, to run out of their barracks to their planes at the sound of a buzzer. He couldn't begin to remember how many times he had dropped his utensils during dinner and bolted to his bomber.

 

He then came home on a furlough to California.

 

When he arrived, we took him to his favorite Mexican restaurant. Everything was going great until Captain Baker jumped up without warning and ran out of the building into the parking lot.

 

Catching up with him when he finally stopped running, I asked him in total puzzlement, ‘Where were you going?’

 

‘I was looking for my plane,’ was his bewildered reply as he searched the horizon for the B-52.

 

‘But what prompted you to run out here?’ I asked.

 

‘I heard the buzzer,’ he said.

 

Then I realized that directly above our table was a buzzer the kitchen used to call the waiters to pick up their meals.

Obedience speaks of unquestioned, immediate action. Is this not what Jesus Christ wants from his followers?”

 

Source: Martin Baker, Stockton, California.

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2005/april/15870.html].

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Moving on

        • Judy and I have moved several times in our 31 years of marriage

        • Most of the time it has been because of a job change for me

          • We moved from Ohio to Missouri when I accepted a position at the headquarters of CEF

          • We moved from Missouri to California to begin working with Every Generation Ministries

          • We moved from California to Pennsylvania to begin serving in pastoral ministry at Idaville Church

        • We always prayed and sought God’s will for each of those moves

          • The one thing that gave me confidence to make each of those moves was Judy’s encouragement and support

          • She has always been willing to move when we knew that it was God’s will for our lives

          • She would tell me that she would go wherever God was leading me

        • I am very grateful for her unwavering support over the years

        • God has truly blessed me with an incredible wife

  • WE

    • Support and encouragement

        • Hopefully all of us have had that kind of support and encouragement through life’s transitions

        • My prayer is that all of us have had a spouse, parents, children, friends, etc. that have supported and encouraged us throughout our lives as we have transitioned between jobs, houses, schools, etc.

 

Jacob experienced the support and encouragement of Rachel and Leah as he shared with them what God was calling him to do. ​​ Perhaps he was not sure how they would react to a 300-mile move away from their family, friends, and homeland. ​​ What Jacob experienced was the truth that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – Obedience to the Lord brings favor.

 

Let’s pray

 

NOTE: ​​ Four of the five main point titles were taken from Mathews commentary The New American Commentary, Volume 1B, Genesis 11:27-50:26 (they include Dissension, Divine Directive, Defense, Deceptions)

 

  • GOD (Genesis 31:1-21)

    • Dissension ​​ (vv. 1-2)

        • Laban’s sons

          • Jacob heard that Laban’s sons were not happy with his prosperity

          • They blamed him for taking everything that Laban owned

          • They said that Jacob gained his wealth from what belonged to Laban

          • They were watching their inheritance being transferred to a “foreigner”

          • This was not sitting well with them

          • Jacob not only heard what Laban’s sons were saying about him, he noticed Laban was treating him differently

        • Laban

          • Laban’s attitude was not what it had been

          • Laban had enjoyed many years of benefit from Jacob’s presence with him, but that had now changed

          • “Alienation, first expressed physically in three-days’ distance, is now psychologically complete.” ​​ [Waltke, Genesis: ​​ A Commentary, 423]

            • Laban had made it difficult on Jacob to prosper, so he thought, by taking certain male and female goats and other lambs and moving them three-days away

            • Genesis 30:35-36, That same day he removed all the male goats that were streaked or spotted, and all the speckled or spotted female goats (all that had white on them) and all the dark-colored lambs, and he placed them in the care of his sons. ​​ Then he put a three-day journey between himself and Jacob, while Jacob continued to tend the rest of Laban’s flocks.

        • The dissension between Jacob and his father-in-law and his sons was not by chance

        • Application

          • PRINCIPLE #1 – “God sometimes uses circumstances and other people’s attitudes to indicate that a change is needed.” ​​ [Gangel & Bramer]

            • Jacob realized that things were never going to be the same if he remained in Mesopotamia with Laban and his sons

            • God used three things to let Jacob know it was time to move on [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Pentateuch, 129]

              • “Inner witness in the heart”

                • Genesis 30:25, After Rachel gave birth to Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, “Send me on my way so I can go back to my own homeland.

                • We have to discern whether or not the inner witness of the heart is God’s leading or our own desires

                • Jeremiah 17:9, The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. ​​ Who can understand it?

                • Through prayer and the counsel of other believers, God will make it clear if it is His will or our desires

              • “Outward circumstances of life”

                • Not every outward circumstance is “the finger of God pointing out His way” ​​ [Wiersbe, 129]

                • In Paul’s journey to Rome, as a prisoner, they were having difficulty sailing because the sailing season was almost over. ​​ The centurion did not listen to Paul’s advice, but rather the pilot’s advice.

                • Then we read these words, When a gentle south wind began to blow, they thought they had obtained what they wanted; so they weighed anchor and sailed along the shore of Crete. ​​ Before very long, a wind of hurricane force, called the “northeaster,” swept down from the island. ​​ The ship was caught by the storm and could not head into the wind; so we gave way to it and were driven along. (Acts 27:13-15)

                • There are times that God may make us uncomfortable in order to motivate us to make a change

              • “Truth of His [God’s] Word”

                • “When the Lord wants to move us, the Scriptures we read day after day all seem to point in that direction.” ​​ [Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary, Old Testament, Volume 1: Genesis-Job, 146]

                • As we will see in verses 10-13, God had already spoken to Jacob in a dream, preparing him to move on

                • Jacob would accumulate his wealth before making the move

            • “The Lord often uses the negative attitudes of other people (in this case Laban and his sons) to make us wonder whether it is time to move on. ​​ Pastors experience this with congregations; men and women in business and industry; and many who just think about relocating.” ​​ [Gangel & Bramer, Holman Old Testament Commentary, Genesis, 262]

          • How about you?

            • Are you feeling an inner desire for change? (school, work, relationship, house, etc.)

            • Are outward circumstances confirming those inner feelings? (have certain people’s attitudes changed toward you?)

            • Is God speaking to you about making a change? (in your times of prayer and study of the Word, are you hearing God speak to you about a change?)

            • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Discern God’s will concerning a change He is asking me to make in my life.

        • Jacob knew that circumstances had changed with his father-in-law and his sons, but he also received a divine directive

    • Divine Directive (v. 3)

        • Command

          • God told Jacob to go back to the land of his fathers and to his relatives

            • The land was Canaan

            • His relatives would be his father, Isaac, and his brother Esau and their families

            • Jacob fled Canaan at the prompting of his mother, because Esau was plotting to kill him

            • Rebekah had told Jacob to stay with Laban until Esau’s fury had subsided and he was no longer angry and she would send for him (Genesis 27:44-45)

            • It has been 20 years since that happened and Rebekah is no longer alive

            • How would Jacob be received?

          • Fortunately, Jacob did not have to worry, because of God’s promise

        • Promise

          • “I will be with you.”

          • God promised to be with Jacob

          • PRINCIPLE #2 – God promises to be with us.

            • Biblical background

              • Matthew 1:22-23, All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ​​ “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” – which means, “God with us.”

              • John 14:16-17, And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth. ​​ The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. ​​ But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.

              • Matthew 28:20b, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

              • Psalm 139:7-10, Where can I go from your Spirit? ​​ Where can I flee from your presence? ​​ If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. ​​ If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.

              • Hebrews 13:5b, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

            • This is a promise we can receive as followers of Jesus Christ

              • God promised to be with Jacob as he returned to a potentially volatile situation with his brother

              • God promised to be with Jacob as he traveled 300 miles with his family, flocks, herds, and possessions

              • God promises to be with us when we face potentially volatile situations in our lives

              • God promises to be with us through the changes He is asking us to make

              • God promises to be with us through every trial (physical, emotional, financial, relational, spiritual)

              • Whatever you are facing today, you can receive the promise that God is with you

              • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Receive the promise, from the Lord, that He will be with me.

          • Jacob was going to experience the favor of the Lord, through His presence with him, as he stepped out in faith and obedience

          • The same is true for us, obedience to the Lord brings favor, through His presence with us

        • After Jacob receives the divine directive to go, he calls for Rachel and Leah to join him in the field

    • Defense (vv. 4-13)

        • Attitude change (v. 5)

          • Jacob shared with Rachel and Leah that their father’s attitude has changed toward him

          • Laban is no longer viewing Jacob and his service as a benefit to him

          • As mentioned earlier, Laban is probably feeling the same way as his sons are feeling – that Jacob has taken everything that belonged to him

        • Cheating (vv. 6-9)

          • Jacob reminds Rachel and Leah about his work ethic

            • He worked for Laban with all of his strength

            • He was motivated by love

            • If you recall, seven years seemed liked a few days to him (Genesis 29:20)

          • Jacob then reminds them of how their father cheated him by changing his wages often

            • Laban would tell Jacob which animals of the flock would be his, but when they gave birth to those kinds of animals, Laban would change his mind

            • When Laban would give Jacob the speckled ones as his wages, then all the flocks gave birth to speckled young

            • When Laban would give Jacob the streaked ones as his wages, then all the flocks gave birth to streaked young

          • After Jacob made his defense with Laban’s attitude change and cheating habits, he shared with them about the dream he had

        • Dream (vv. 10-13)

          • We now see where Jacob got the idea to ask for the streaked, speckled, and spotted animals as his wages – it came from God!

            • The dream that Jacob had happened during the breeding season

            • The angel of the Lord said his name and Jacob responded that he was here

            • Jacob saw in the dream that the males goats mating with the flock were streaked, speckled, or spotted

            • Even when Laban removed the streaked, speckled, and spotted animals and the dark-colored lambs and sent them three-day’s journey away (Genesis 30:35-36), God was going to provide those kind offspring for Jacob through the black goats and white sheep – the seemingly “purebred” animals

          • We see God’s providence highlighted in three ways in Jacob’s defense

        • Providence (vv. 5b, 7b, 9)

          • Presence (v. 5b)

            • When Laban’s attitude changed toward Jacob, he was able to see that the God of his father had been with him

            • The Lord had just reiterated that promise before Jacob spoke with Rachel and Leah (Genesis 31:3)

          • Protection (v. 7b)

            • When Laban cheated Jacob by changing his wages multiple times, Jacob knew that God had protected him

            • God had not allowed Laban to harm him

          • Provision (v. 9)

            • Even when Laban thought he had made it impossible for Jacob to gain any wages by removing the streaked, speckled and spotted animals and the dark-colored lambs, God provided for Jacob through the black goats and white sheep

            • Jacob became wealthy with streaked, speckled, and spotted offspring

            • It had nothing to do with his superstitious practice of peeling the bark back on poplar, almond, and plane tree branches

            • It was the providence and power of God to do the impossible

          • Application

            • PRINCIPLE #3 – God’s providence is evident through His presence, protection, and provision.

              • We can trust in the providence of God through His presence, protection, and provision

              • The Lord will be with us through whatever is happening in our lives – we already talked about this with the second principle

              • The Lord will protect us when others try to harm us

              • The Lord will provide for us, even when we think it is impossible

              • Where are you today?

                • Do you need God’s providence to manifest itself through His presence, protection, and/or provision?

                • I would encourage you to cry out to Him today

                • When He calls your name, be sure to respond with, “Here I am!”

              • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Cry out to God for His presence, protection, and/or provision.

            • PRINCIPLE #4 – Spiritual leadership is important!

              • It seems as though Jacob is finally stepping up as the spiritual leader of his household

                • Instead of just passively listening to his wives, he is listening to the Lord and leading his family

                • He takes the initiative and calls for Rachel and Leah

                • He shares with them what he has seen and experienced with their father

                • He also shares the divine dream he had and how the Lord directed him through that dream

              • Men, God has called us to be the spiritual leaders of our households

                • We cannot just passively listening to our wives

                • We need to be listening to the Lord and then lead our wives and children

                • We need to be the ones who initiate spiritual activities in our homes (Bible reading, prayer, church attendance, witnessing, etc.)

                • Our wives and children are eagerly desiring this from us

                • Statistics from the article The Impact on Kids of Dad’s Faith and Church Attendance by Nick Cady [https://nickcady.org/2016/06/20/the-impact-on-kids-of-dads-faith-and-church-attendance/]

                  • If a father does not go to church, even if his wife does, only 1 child in 50 will become a regular worshiper

                  • If a father does go regularly, regardless of what the mother does, between two-thirds and three-quarters of their children will attend church as adults

                  • If a father attends church irregularly, between half and two-thirds of their kids will attend church with some regularity as adults

                  • When both parents attend Bible study in addition to the Sunday service, 72% of their children attend Sunday school when grown

                  • When only the father attends Sunday school, 55% of the children attend when grown

                  • When only the mother attends Sunday school, 15% of the children attend when grown

                  • When neither parent attends Sunday school, only 6% of the children attend when grown

                  • If a child is the first person in a household to become a Christian, there is a 3.5% probability everyone else in the household will follow

                  • If the mother is the first to become a Christian, there is a 17% probability everyone else in the household will follow

                  • However, when the father is the first, there is a 93% probability everyone else in the household will follow

                • Men, our wives and children want to follow our spiritual leadership – it is important!

                • Jacob found out that obedience to the Lord brought favor with his wives and family

                • Men, we can experience favor with our wives and children when we obey the Lord and step up as the spiritual leaders of our households

              • #4 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ As a man, take my role as the spiritual leader of my household seriously and make any changes needed.

          • At the end of the dream, the angel of the Lord reminded Jacob of a couple of things

        • Reminder

          • The angel of the Lord reminded Jacob of who He is and the vow that he had made

            • The Lord is the God of Bethel

              • This takes us back to Genesis 28:10-22 when Jacob had the dream on his way to Haran where the angels were ascending and descending

              • Jacob named the place Bethel, which means “house of God,” because the Lord had met him there

            • It was there that Jacob set up the stone that was under his head and anointed it with oil and made a vow to the Lord

              • The vow was two-fold

              • When the Lord brought him safely home to Canaan, Jacob would acknowledge that the Lord would be his God

              • The other part of the vow was that he would give a tenth of all that the Lord gave him, back to the Lord

          • The angel not only reminded Jacob of who the Lord was and the vow that he made, but he also gave him a command

        • Move on

          • Jacob was to leave the land he was living in (Haran) and go back to his native land (Canaan)

          • This command came during the breeding season, so Jacob had not obtained his wealth yet

          • In verse 3 the Lord told Jacob it was time to move on – he had accumulated his wealth by this point

        • Jacob’s defense was convincing, but I believe the Lord was already preparing Rachel and Leah for this huge move

        • Their response is one of support and determination

    • Determined (vv. 14-16)

        • There is no inheritance here for us

          • Rachel and Leah recognized that as Laban’s daughters, they do not have any share in the inheritance of their father’s estate – they are now Jacob’s responsibility

          • They also realized that their father’s attitude toward them has probably changed

            • He regards them as foreigners

            • They felt like their father had sold them

            • Whatever dowry their father should have saved for them he has used up

          • They acknowledged that God had blessed Jacob and had provided for them through their husband

        • Obey God

          • So, they encouraged Jacob to obey what God had told him to do

          • I am sure that Jacob was pleased to hear that his wives were agreeable to God’s prompting and plan

        • With the support of his family, Jacob does not hesitate to obey the Lord

    • Deceptions (vv. 17-21)

        • Jacob obeys the Lord

          • Jacob loads his family members on camels, which would have allowed them to travel more quickly than on foot

          • He drove all his livestock ahead of him

          • Presumably, some of the livestock were burdened with carrying or pulling wagons with all of the goods he had accumulated in Paddan Aram (well south of Haran)

          • We will see in the coming weeks that God was pleased with Jacob’s immediate obedience

          • PRINCIPLE #5 – God is pleased when we obey Him immediately.

            • We have talked today about a potential change that God may be asking us to make

            • We have also seen how important fathers are in the faith of their wives and children

            • Perhaps the Holy Spirit is prompting some of us to make a change today

            • Will you be obedient to the Holy Spirit’s prompting?

            • Obedience to the Lord brings His favor

          • The final thing we see today is some deception that takes place

        • Deceptions

          • Rachel’s deception was that she stole her father’s household gods while he was busy sheering his sheep

            • We will see in several weeks that she continues her deception when Laban pursues Jacob (Genesis 31:34-35)

            • These household gods may have been made to look like some of their ancestors

            • These gods were believed to provide protection and blessing [Waltke, 427]

            • They were small enough to be concealed under a camel’s saddle

          • Jacob’s deception

            • The same Hebrew word is used for “stole” in verse 19 that is then translated “deceived” in verse 20 (gānaḇ)

            • “This is better translated ‘stole the heart.’ ​​ To ‘steal the heart’ can mean ‘to deceive,’ but elsewhere it involves taking away a person’s ability to discern and act appropriately (2 Sam. 15:6; 1 Kings 12:27).” ​​ [Waltke, 427]

        • Jacob fled and crossed the Euphrates River and headed for the hill country of Gilead [show map]

 

  • YOU

    • What change(s) is the Lord asking you to make?

    • Do you need to receive the Lord’s promise that He will be with you?

    • Are you ready to cry out to God for His presence, protection, and provision?

 

  • WE

    • We can do all three of those things as the body at Idaville Church

 

CONCLUSION

“Trust that God has your best interests in mind and be willing to do what he asks of you, even if you don't understand why. Obedience starts with having a heart that says yes to God.”

 

Source: Stormie Omartian, author and fitness authority, as quoted in Especially for a Woman. Marriage Partnership, Vol. 12, no. 3.

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/1998/march/2934.html].

13

 

Origins

The God of Possible

(Genesis 30:22-24)

 

INTRODUCTION

“I was surprised to read a Facebook posting from a friend in South Dakota named Diane. She wrote, ‘Had a nice surprise last night. At about 10:30 p.m. the phone rang. It was Governor Mike Rounds checking in with us to see how the road repair was going.’ There had been a lot of flooding in the area where Diane lives, and the roads were a mess—and the governor actually called her to see how she felt about the repair progress.

 

When I wrote Diane to express my surprise, she said it wasn't the first time a governor had called her. Another time, some years ago, one of South Dakota's previous governors called about some FEMA money for the area. She told me that when the governor called she was in the middle of a home perm, but couldn't very well tell the governor to hold while she rinsed her hair. She added: ‘That frizzy hair haunted me for weeks.’

 

I know that South Dakota is a small state, but this was incredible to me. I asked Diane if she was in county government or something, and she said she wasn't. Sensing I was blown away by her interactions with the government, she had this to say: ‘I have found that shaking the tree from the top gets the fastest results. When there is a problem, I usually become the ‘squeaky wheel,’ and I think they just want to get me off their case!’

 

My conversation with Diane made me think of the parable Jesus told in Luke 18:1-8—the one about the persistent widow and the judge who finally relented and granted her request. Jesus concluded: ‘And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?’

 

The issue isn't whether God cares or is listening. The issue is whether we have faith enough to persist in ‘shaking the tree.’”

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2010/august/4083010.html].

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Praying about the tax debt

        • My prayer about the tax debt has been that God would miraculously and supernaturally provide a large lump sum that would eliminate the entire tax debt

        • God has answered that prayer in several ways

          • He recently provided $28,000 in three weeks toward the tax debt in three smaller lump sums

          • He has been providing each month through the rental of the other parsonage and the multipurpose room to Monelli Educational Services

          • He has also been providing through consistent giving from individuals within the church

        • Through all of those ways I know that God cares and listens

    • Personal answered prayers

        • Judy and I know that God cares and listens

        • We had complications with our last two pregnancies

          • We fervently prayed for those pregnancies

          • We saw God answer in miraculous ways to allow us to have our second and third sons

        • We have experienced God’s care through healings

        • We know that God cares and listens when we have transitioned from one job to another

        • God has shown His love and care to us through providing financially throughout our married lives

        • The Lord has given us wisdom in relationships as we have sought Him through prayer

 

  • WE

    • Continue asking

        • How many of us have continued to seek the Lord in prayer for something?

        • Many times, we ask and keep on asking for salvation of a loved one (husband, parent, child, grandchild, etc.)

        • At other times we continue to pray about a financial situation

        • Still others get on their knees daily for a job or job related circumstance

        • At times we fall face down in desperation concerning an illness, whether our own, a family member, or a friend

        • We do not stop petitioning God until we hear from Him

    • Answered prayer

        • How many of us know that God cares and He listens?

        • Take a moment to reflect on a recent answer to prayer

          • What were you praying about?

          • How long had you been praying about it?

          • How did God answer your prayer?

 

Rachel experienced God’s care and knew that He listened to her cries of desperation. ​​ The Lord would open her womb and allow her to conceive. ​​ It would be an answer to her prayers and not human schemes or a magical fruit or root. ​​ She experienced what many of us have experienced, that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – God cares for us.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (Genesis 30:22-24)

    • Remembered (v. 22a)

        • God remembered Rachel

        • This is not the first time that God remembered a human being

          • We see this phrase used for Noah and Abraham in Genesis also

          • Genesis 8:1, But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded.

          • Genesis 19:29, So when God destroyed the cities of the plain, he remembered Abraham, and he brought Lot out of the catastrophe that overthrew the cities where Lot had lived.

        • PRINCIPLE #1 – God does not forget about His people.

          • He is all-knowing

            • He knew what Noah needed after being cooped up in an ark for long time

            • He knew what Abraham and Lot needed

            • He knew Rachel’s heart and her desire to have her own children

          • God’s timing and purposes are perfect

          • God has not forgotten about you

            • He knows your heart and your desires

            • He knows that you want your spouse, parent, child, grandchild, friend, schoolmate, coworker, etc. to believe in Jesus

            • He knows that you want to be healed from the physical issues you are having

            • He knows that you want your family member or friend to be healed

            • He knows about the financial struggles you are experiencing

            • He knows about the relational tensions that are happening in your family, at school, in your neighborhood, and at work

            • He knows that you want to be married and have a family

            • He knows that you want to have children of your own

            • He knows about your fears, anxiety, and depression that accompany the issues mentioned above

          • Biblical promises/truths

            • Proverbs 18:24, A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

            • Hebrews 13:5-6, Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have; because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” ​​ So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. ​​ What can man do to me?”

            • Isaiah 49:15-16, “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has born? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! ​​ See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.”

            • 1 Peter 5:10, And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

          • Perhaps you need to be reminded today and claim the truth that God has not forgotten you

            • You have not slipped His mind

            • He is aware of everything you are going through

          • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Find encouragement through the truth that God has not forgotten about me.

            • God cares for you.

            • He knows the struggles you are going through

            • He knows your heart desires

        • God had not forgotten about Rachel and her desire to have a child of her own

        • He had heard her prayers

    • Listened (v. 22b)

        • The fact that God listened to Rachel tells us that she had been crying out to Him

          • “His attentive ear implies that she continued her petitions for a child, resulting in his gracious answer.” ​​ [Mathews, The New American Commentary, Volume 1B, Genesis 11:27-50:26, 490]

          • It is likely that Rachel’s prayer also included a petition that the Lord would remove her disgrace within the community

          • God answered her prayer and opened her womb

          • Rachel had probably been praying for a child from the beginning, which would have been around seven years

        • Application

          • What have you been crying out to the Lord about?

          • How long have you been petitioning Him?

          • Are you beginning to question whether or not He is listening?

          • PRINCIPLE #2 – God hears and answers our prayers.

            • God was listening to Rachel and her prayers and He had the perfect time set aside to answer her prayer

            • Biblical background

              • 1 Peter 3:10-12, For, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. ​​ He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. ​​ For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

              • 1 John 5:14-15, This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. ​​ And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him.

              • 1 Thessalonians 5:17, pray continually.

              • Isaiah 65:24, Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.

              • Philippians 4:6-7, Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. ​​ And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

            • The same is true for you and me – God hears our prayers and has perfect timing in answering them

              • We know that God answers our prayers in three ways: ​​ Yes, No, and Wait

              • Our desire is that He always answers Yes, right away – that is our immediate gratification culture at play

              • We struggle when He answers No or Wait

              • The Lord had been answering Rachel – wait, but eventually He answered yes

              • Maybe the Lord is currently answering your request with wait

              • That does not mean that He has not heard your prayers or has not answered

              • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Have confidence that God hears and answers my prayers, even if His current answer is No or Wait.

              • God cares about you by hearing and answering your prayers.

          • God opened Rachel’s womb at just the right time, in answer to her prayers

          • Notice that the mandrakes she asked for did not have any influence on her infertility – it was God who opened her womb

        • God provided a son for her

    • Provided (vv. 23-24)

        • After God opened her womb, she became pregnant and gave birth to a son

          • God is the One who provided a baby boy for Rachel

          • “There are four keys that God personally holds on to, so that only he can open the door: ​​ rain, food, tomb, and womb (Tg. Neolf.).” ​​ [Goldingay, Baker Commentary on the Old Testament, Pentateuch, Genesis, 476]

          • It was according to His timing and purpose for Rachel

            • Rachel tried to speed up God’s timing by giving her maidservant Bilhah to Jacob

            • Rachel tried to supersede God’s purpose by bargaining with Leah for her son’s mandrakes, hoping that the “magical” fruit and root would reverse the curse of infertility

            • She realizes now that God is her provider

          • PRINCIPLE #3 – God is our provider!

            • We have to be careful that we do not try to run ahead of God and His timing

            • We also have to make sure we do not try to supersede God’s plan and purpose by using other people and things to accomplish our desires

            • We need to patiently and faithfully wait for God to provide according to His timing and purpose

            • When He provides, we know it will be good

            • Biblical background

              • Philippians 4:19, And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

              • James 1:17, Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

              • Matthew 6:31-33, So do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” ​​ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. ​​ But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

            • God cares about you and provides for you

            • You can claim that truth today!

            • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Claim the truth that God is my provider.

          • God had provided a son for Rachel at just the right time and according to His plan and purpose

          • God also answered Rachel’s prayer to eliminate her disgrace

        • Rachel’s disgrace removed

          • Rachel’s response to becoming pregnant was to recognize that God had removed her disgrace and exalted her in His time

          • My guess is that perhaps Rachel needed to learn to rely on God instead of herself, her husband, her maidservant, and some magical plant

          • Maybe when she learned that lesson and God saw growth in her, He opened her womb and allowed her to become pregnant

          • PRINCIPLE #4 – God exalts us in His time.

            • I am certain that no one else struggles with pride, like I do

              • In my humanness, I want to be exalted and looked at with high regard by others (colleagues, friends, family, parishioners, etc.)

              • I want to recognized and praised

              • I know that no one else has those same desires

            • My guess is that most of us struggle with some pride in our lives – wanting to be praised and recognized by colleagues, family, and friends

            • We all need to be reminded that we work and serve for an audience of One

              • Matthew 25:21 & 23, “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! ​​ You have been faithful with a few things; I will put in charge of many things. ​​ Come and share your master’s happiness!’”

              • Colossians 3:23-24, Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. ​​ It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

            • God will exalt us in His time, so we need to faithfully serve Him where we are

            • Through that we will know that God cares for us

          • Rachel names her son, Joseph

        • Joseph

          • His name means, “Jehovah has added”

          • Rachel is hopeful in naming her Joseph, that the Lord allow her to have another son

 

  • YOU

    • Be encouraged today that God has not forgotten you, because He cares for you

    • You can have confidence that God hears and answers your prayers

    • Know that God is your provider

    • God is the One who exalts you in His time

 

  • WE

    • God has not forgotten about Idaville Church

    • He answers our prayers

    • He provides for us

    • He will exalt us in His time

 

CONCLUSION

“Author and speaker Brennan Manning has an amazing story about how he got the name ‘Brennan.’ While growing up, his best friend was Ray. The two of them did everything together: bought a car together as teenagers, double-dated together, went to school together and so forth. They even enlisted in the Army together, went to boot camp together and fought on the frontlines together. One night while sitting in a foxhole, Brennan was reminiscing about the old days in Brooklyn while Ray listened and ate a chocolate bar. Suddenly a live grenade came into the foxhole. Ray looked at Brennan, smiled, dropped his chocolate bar and threw himself on the live grenade. It exploded, killing Ray, but Brennan's life was spared.

 

When Brennan became a priest he was instructed to take on the name of a saint. He thought of his friend, Ray Brennan. So he took on the name ‘Brennan.’ Years later he went to visit Ray's mother in Brooklyn. They sat up late one night having tea when Brennan asked her, ‘Do you think Ray loved me?’ Mrs. Brennan got up off the couch, shook her finger in front of Brennan's face and shouted, ‘What more could he have done for you?’ Brennan said that at that moment he experienced an epiphany. He imagined himself standing before the cross of Jesus wondering, Does God really love me? And Jesus' mother Mary pointing to her son, saying, ‘What more could he have done for you?’

 

The cross of Jesus is God's way of doing all he could do for us. And yet we often wonder, Does God really love me? Am I important to God? Does God care about me?

 

Source: Adapted from James Bryan Smith, The Good and Beautiful God (IVP, 2009), p. 142.

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2010/july/6072610.html].

God cares about you!

  • Gospel

    • John 3:16

    • Romans 3:23

    • Romans 6:23

    • Romans 5:8

    • John 1:12

  • Next Step: ​​ Receive Jesus and believe in Him and become a child of God

10

 

Origins

“Superstition Ain’t The Way”

(Genesis 30:14-21)

 

INTRODUCTION

There are all kinds of wives tales or folk wisdom concerning what a couple needs to do or eat while they are trying to conceive a child in order to guarantee that it will be a boy or girl.

 

Babycenter.com lists some of the folk wisdom about this.

 

If you want a boy…

  • Eat more meat – the redder the better

  • Stick with salty snacks, such as pretzels and chips

  • Dads-to-be: ​​ stock up on soda, especially cola drinks

 

If you want a girl…

  • Both partners should eat lots of fish and veggies

  • Give in to your chocolate craving, or just sweets in general

 

Women should sleep to the left of their husbands

 

Mark your calendars: ​​ more boys are conceived on odd days of the month and more girls are conceived on even days of the month.

 

Hairline of your last child: ​​ if the hairline at the base of the neck of your last child is a ducktail, your next baby will be a girl. ​​ If it is straight across, it will be a boy.

 

There are many more wives’ tales and folk wisdom surrounding how to help determine the sex of your next baby.

 

[https://www.babycenter.com/getting-pregnant/how-to-get-pregnant/choosing-your-babys-sex-the-folk-wisdom_7061].

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Three boys

        • We have three boys and no girls

        • I wish I could remember if we ate more red meat

        • I have always loved snacking on pretzels

        • I do not drink very much soda, and if I do drink soda, it is not normally the cola kind, because it has caffeine

        • I do not remember if our boys were conceived on an odd day of the month

        • I don’t remember what our two oldest boys hairlines looked like, but our youngest has a ducktail, so perhaps if we had tried for one more child, we might have gotten a girl

    • Faith in God

        • I do not subscribe to the wives’ tales or folk wisdom about the gender of a baby

        • In fact, with our first two children we did not find out their sex until after they were born

        • I liked the surprise factor

        • We did find out the sex of our third child before his birth

        • We trusted the Lord to provide the children that were best for us

        • He knew that my brother, and our only other male cousin with the last name Johns, would only have daughters

        • There is no pressure, but our three boys are the last Johns’ in our line

        • Of our three grandchildren, we have one grandson now, who will carry on the family name

        • We are hopeful for more grandchildren in the future – whether boys or girls (if you are listening boys, hint, hint!)

 

  • WE

    • Rhetorical question

        • How many of us have heard of some of these wives’ tales or folk wisdom?

        • How many of us have tried one or more of them when we were conceiving children?

        • How did it work out?

    • Faith in God

        • How many of us waited until our children were born to find out whether they were a boy or a girl?

        • How many of us are grateful that God knew how many children we could handle and what gender they were?

 

Rachel and Leah continue to compete with each other and are now turning to “love apples” to help with their infertility issues. ​​ They have tried human schemes by giving their maidservants to Jacob as additional wives and now they are trying superstition and legend concerning the properties of the fruit and root of a certain plant. ​​ What we will see in this message and the next one is that God is in control of the timing of when couples have children. ​​ We can try all kinds of things, from human schemes, bargaining and manipulation, to wives’ tales, and much more, but . . .

 

BIG IDEA – Faith in God supersedes everything.

 

Let’s pray

  • GOD (Genesis 30:14-21)

    • Time stamp (v. 14a)

        • The wheat harvest would have been around March or April

        • Laban was not only a shepherd, but also a farmer – he was diversified in what he did for a living

    • Bagged (v. 14b-c)

        • Reuben

          • If you recall, Reuben is Jacob’s firstborn son

          • He is probably between seven to nine years old

          • We are not told if he is working in the fields with the other farmers at this point

          • Perhaps he was just hanging out with the farmers and looking around for something to do

          • He obviously knew what a mandrake was and my guess is that he knew something of the plants importance and value, which is why he brings it back to his mother (Leah)

        • Mandrakes

          • It is likely that Reuben brought the entire plant(s) back with him, because the fruit and the root were both used

          • “The plant exhibits long, dark green leaves in a rosette pattern; from the center of the leaves are flower stalks that each produce a ‘purple, bluish, or greenish-white flower.’ ​​ During the spring the plant produces a yellow-red fruit, likened to a plum in size and shape . . . Especially interesting are its dark roots that resemble the lower torso of a human form, which probably contributed to the mysteries surrounding its magical, sensual powers.” ​​ [Mathews, The New American Commentary, Volume 1B, Genesis 11:27-50:26, 486]

          • The mandrake was believed to be an aphrodisiac that caused sexual desire and encouraged conception [Goldingay, Baker Commentary on the Old Testament, Pentateuch, Genesis, 474]

          • Depending on the culture, the fruit from the mandrake was given a different nickname: ​​ the Greeks called them “love apples,” while the Arabs called them the “devil’s apple.” ​​ [Mathews, 486]

          • Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, beauty, and sex was called ‘Lady of the Mandrake.’” [Waltke, Genesis: A Commentary, 412]

          • There was definitely legend and superstition surrounding this plant and its fruit

          • It was believed that it promoted fertility and both Leah and Rachel were currently dealing with infertility

          • They both realized that having their maid servants act as surrogates was not fulfilling and did not bring true happiness

        • Rachel’s request

          • It seems as though Rachel is coming to Leah in humility and with kindness when she asks for some of Reuben’s mandrakes

          • Rachel is probably aware of the medicinal properties of the root and the fruit and was willing to try anything to reverse the curse of infertility

        • Leah’s response to Rachel’s request shows the continued tension between the sisters

    • Bitter (v. 15a)

        • Leah lashes out by accusing Rachel of taking away her husband

          • It is not that Leah has lost Jacob as her husband, but she realizes that Jacob’s affections are focused primarily on Rachel

          • There seems to be a sense in the text that Jacob is not fulfilling his husbandly duty of sexual intimacy with Leah at this point

          • It is not certain whether Jacob stopped being intimate with Leah because she stopped having children or that Leah stopped having children because Jacob had stopped being intimate with her [Goldingay, 474]

        • Leah wants to know if Rachel is going to take away her sons mandrakes, like she took away her husband

          • If Leah is dealing with infertility, she is hoping that her sons mandrakes will somehow, magically, restore her fertility

          • If Rachel takes her son’s mandrakes, what will that leave for her

          • If Leah is dealing with bitterness about being loved less, then she does not want her sister to stop being infertile

        • Application

          • PRINCIPLE #1 – Turmoil is the result of not depending on the Lord.

            • The turmoil that we see between Leah and Rachel is the result of not having what they want and not depending on the Lord to provide it

            • As was mentioned several weeks ago, Leah wanted the affections of Jacob and Rachel wanted children from Jacob

            • The same is true of us – turmoil is a result of not depending on the Lord

            • When we try to use superstition to accomplish something in our lives, it inevitably results in turmoil

            • When we try to do anything without depending on the Lord for His wisdom, guidance, and help, chaos can ensue, because we will probably approach the situation from a human perspective instead of a godly perspective

            • Think of a time when you tried to resolve an issue without first consulting and depending on the Lord for help

              • I may be different from the rest of you, but when I have tried to resolve an issue or conflict without praying about it first, I usually do or say the wrong thing or act in a way that creates turmoil instead of peace and reconciliation

              • My humanness gets in the way and I fail

              • My assumption is that the same thing has happened to you all too

              • Are you currently dealing with a family situation that is volatile?

              • Perhaps there is a situation at work that is causing you frustration

              • Maybe relationships at school are difficult and chaotic

              • Remember to turn to the Lord, first, and depend on Him for His help, guidance, and wisdom

          • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Depend on the Lord for His wisdom, guidance, and help with a current tumultuous situation.

        • Both women wanted the mandrakes for their “magical” properties in helping to deal with infertility

        • Faith in God supersedes everything, including superstition

    • Bargain (v. 15b-16)

        • Rachel’s offer

          • Rachel offers a night of intimacy with Jacob, to Leah, in exchange for her sons’ mandrakes

          • “Apparently Rachel, as Jacob’s favorite wife, had the questionable privilege of deciding which of Jacob’s wives or concubines would sleep with him on any given night.” ​​ [Youngblood cited by Waltke, 413]

          • The Hebrew word for “sleep” that Rachel uses seems to support the idea that she somehow controls Jacob’s sexual activities

          • “Like the English expression ‘sleep with,’ šākab (shak-have) as a euphemism for having sex applies to irregular sexual liaisons rather than regular relations between husbands and wives (19:32-35; 26:10; 34:2, 7; 35:22; 39:7-14). ​​ So Rachel’s use of this verb is neatly snide.” ​​ [Goldingay, 474]

          • The tension is thick

        • Leah’s desperation

          • Leah goes out to meet Jacob when he returns from the fields

            • There seems to be an urgency, a desperation to be the first to greet Jacob

            • We are not told why Leah goes out to meet Jacob

              • We can only speculate that perhaps she did not trust Rachel to follow through on the deal that was struck

              • Maybe it had been awhile since she had been intimate with Jacob and wanted to make sure it happened

              • We know that she was desperate to be loved by Jacob the same way that Jacob loved Rachel

            • When she meets Jacob, she informs him of the deal that has been struck – she has hired Jacob for the night with her sons mandrakes

          • Jacob does not object

            • Scripture says he slept with Leah that night

            • “First he was hired by Laban, and now he is hired by a woman who has already borne him four children. ​​ He raises no questions about Leah’s arrangement with Rachel.” ​​ [Hamilton, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 18-50, 275]

            • I do not know about you, but I am finding myself wanting Jacob to stand up and be the spiritual leader of his household

            • I want him to be fair and equitable with his wives and to try to meet their needs a little bit

            • And yet, I realize that Jacob is human and fallible and struggles with the same things that men struggle with today – we are no different

            • Men, I want to challenge you to be fair and equitable with your wife and try to meet her needs

            • It should be a little easier for us, because we only have one wife instead of four

          • Leah should have been seeking the Lord through prayer about her desperation to be loved by Jacob instead of bargaining with Rachel to able to spend time alone with him

            • The same is true for us also

              • In our desperation, we should be seeking the Lord through prayer instead of bargaining with others

              • He knows what is best for us

              • He knows the best time for us to receive what He desires for us

            • Faith in God supersedes everything, including bargaining to get something we want

        • Results

          • Rachel is going to be disappointed with the outcome of the bargain between her and Leah

          • PRINCIPLE #2 – Manipulation and bargaining do not always provide favorable results.

            • Rachel does not immediately become pregnant after obtaining the mandrakes and probably using them

            • Leah is going to conceive three more times and provide Jacob with two additional sons and a daughter

            • Perhaps you have experienced this truth in your own life

              • You bargained for something only to realize that the other person receive far more benefit from the bargain than you did

              • How did that make you feel?

              • Have you made bargains with God that you felt did not work out the way you had hoped?

              • Did that affect how you viewed God and felt about Him?

              • Just recently I was in a group where one of the people was sharing about their experience with terminally ill individuals as their hospital chaplain

                • Two interesting things they experienced, shocked me

                • When they went to talk with individuals who had claimed to be atheists, they admitted that there was a God and they wanted to know more about Him – their illness drove them to the Lord

                • When they talked with individuals who had claimed the name of Christ for most of their lives, they questioned God about why He was allowing this terminal illness to happen to them, especially since they had served Him all of their lives

                • The Christians had made some kind of bargain with God that sounded something like this, “If I follow You, God, then I can trust that You will never allow anything hard to come into my life.”

                • God and Jesus have never promised that in Scripture

                • In fact, we are to expect hatred and persecution from the world, and potentially illness or hardships that God allows to remain in our lives to keep us humble

                • The Apostle Paul asked three times that the thorn in his flesh would be removed

                • This was the Lord’s response, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” ​​ (2 Corinthians 12:9)

                • Faith in God supersedes everything, including bargaining

              • Application

                • Are you currently angry with God, because the bargain you made with Him did not work out the way you wanted?

                  • Was the bargain you made with God according to the promises in His Word, the Bible?

                  • If they were not, then God cannot and will not go against those promises and His own word

                  • I want to encourage you to confess those feelings of anger and hurt to the Lord today

                  • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Confess my feelings of anger and hurt to the Lord.

                • Are you contemplating making a bargain with God about something you want?

                  • First, is it according to the promises found in His Word?

                  • Second, does it show faith in God that supersedes everything else?

                  • Third, are you willing to trust in God’s grace to be sufficient for you and for His power to be made perfect in your weakness?

                  • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Trust God by faith that His grace is sufficient for me, even in my weakness.

          • Rachel’s bargaining and manipulating seem to back fire on her

        • In the remaining verses, we see that Leah begins having children again

    • Babies (vv. 17-21)

        • God listened

          • These words should be noted and not glossed over too quickly

          • We are not told if Leah gave Rachel all of the mandrakes or kept some for herself

          • The mandrakes did not affect Leah’s fertility at all

          • It was God who determined when Leah would begin having children again and not some “magical” fruit or root

          • PRINCIPLE #3 – God is ultimately in control of everything.

            • God was in control of when Leah would conceive again

            • God was in control of when Rachel would conceive for the first time

            • God is in control of the circumstances of our lives and He knows when certain things will happen for us according to His purposes

              • Proverbs 16:9, In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.

              • Proverbs 19:21, Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

              • 1 Chronicles 29:11-12, Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. ​​ Yours, O Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. ​​ Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. ​​ In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all.

              • Job 42:2, “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.”

              • Psalm 135:5-7, I know that the Lord is great, that our Lord is greater than all gods. ​​ The Lord does whatever pleases him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths. ​​ He makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth; he sends lightning with the rain and brings out the wind from his storehouses.

            • This is an important principle and truth that we must understand as followers of Jesus Christ

            • God is in control of everything and we need to have faith in that fact

            • Faith in God supersedes everything.

          • Leah recognizes that God is in control

        • Three more children for Leah

          • Issachar

            • Leah conceives and gives birth to her fifth son

            • She believes that God has rewarded her for giving Zilpah to Jacob as his fourth wife

            • Issachar’s name can mean, “my wage” or “he rewards”

          • Zebulun

            • Leah conceives again and gives birth to her sixth son

            • She considers him a precious gift from God and hopes that Jacob will now treat her with honor

            • Zebulun’s name can mean “honor,” “dwelling,” or “endowment”

          • Dinah

            • We do not know the time frame of when Dinah was born, but it was after Issachar and Zebulun

            • She is probably mentioned here because of the role that she plays in Genesis 34

            • Her name means “judgment”

 

  • YOU

    • Do you need to depend on the Lord for a tumultuous situation in your life?

    • Do you need to confess your feelings of anger and hurt toward God?

    • Do you need to trust God by faith that His grace is sufficient for you?

    • Do you need to embrace the truth that God is in control of everything?

 

  • WE

    • We can depend on the Lord for any situation that we may be experiencing at church

    • We can trust God by faith that His grace is sufficient for us

    • We can acknowledge that God is in control of everything here at church

 

Faith in God supersedes everything!

 

We do not need to trust in wives’ tales, folk wisdom, or superstitions.

 

CONCLUSION

Superstition

 

Very superstitious, writing's on the wall,
Very superstitious, ladders bout' to fall,
Thirteen month old baby, broke the lookin' glass
Seven years of bad luck, the good things in your past

 

When you believe in things that you don't understand,
Then you suffer, superstition ain’t the way

Hey

 

Very superstitious, wash your face and hands,
Rid me of the problem, do all that you can,
Keep me in a daydream, keep me goin' strong,
You don't wanna save me, sad is the soul

 

When you believe in things that you don't understand,
Then you suffer, superstition ain't the way,
Yeh, yeh

 

Very superstitious, nothin' more to say,
Very superstitious, the devil's on his way,
Thirteen month old baby, broke the lookin' glass,
Seven years of bad luck, good things in your past

 

When you believe in things that you don't understand,
Then you suffer, superstition ain't the way,
No, no, no

 

Source: Musixmatch

Songwriters: Stevie Wonder / Douglas Davis / Chris Howard / Kareem Davis

Superstition lyrics © Black Bull Music, Stone Agate Music, Sawandi Music, Jobete Music Co., Inc., Jobete Music Co Inc.

 

[https://www.musixmatch.com/lyrics/22/47009574].

12

 

Origins

The Baby Race

(Genesis 30:9-13)

 

INTRODUCTION

The Space Race was between the United States and the Soviet Union. ​​ It began with the Cold War, but quickly focused on space exploration. ​​ The Soviet Union struck first by launching Sputnik, the world’s first artificial satellite and the first man-made object to be placed into the Earth’s orbit, on October 4, 1957. ​​ In 1958, the United States launched its own satellite, Explorer I. ​​ In 1959, the Soviets launched the space probe, Luna 2 that hit the moon. ​​ April 1961 had the Soviet Union taking another giant leap in space travel; by sending Yuri Gagarin into orbit around the earth, (he was the first person to accomplish that). ​​ Alan Shepard was the first American in space (though not in orbit), which happened on May 5, 1961. ​​ In February of 1962, John Glenn became the first American to orbit Earth. ​​ The lunar landing program began at the end of 1962, but did not see success until July 20, 1969 when Neil Armstrong was the first person to walk on the moon.

 

By landing on the moon, the United States, in effect, “won” the space race.

 

[https://www.history.com/topics/cold-war/space-race].

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Uncle race

        • This is not actually a competition in our family, but it is mentioned from time-to-time

        • Our middle son, is only an uncle once

        • Our oldest son, is an uncle twice

        • But, our youngest son is an uncle three times

        • Some people may try to make this a competition

    • Aunt/Uncle race

        • I am an uncle twice

        • My brother is an uncle three times

        • My sister is an aunt five times

 

  • WE

    • How about in your family?

        • Are there any healthy competitions going on?

        • Who is “winning”?

    • How about at work or in your friend group?

 

Last week we saw that Rachel’s maidservant Bilhah had two sons. ​​ Rachel named the second son, Naphtali, which meant “struggle.” ​​ Rachel then claimed victory in the struggle with her sister, Leah. ​​ What we will see today is that the baby race has not stopped. ​​ In fact, it seems to be heating up. ​​ Leah follows her sister’s example without consulting God. ​​ Human schemes seem to be playing a larger role in the narrative than God. ​​ Perhaps Rachel, Leah, and Jacob should have been involving God instead of relying on themselves and their maidservants. ​​ We will learn today that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – Involving God in our plans is important.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (Genesis 30:9-13)

    • Leah’s plight (v. 9a)

        • Leah saw that she stopped having children

        • Perhaps she understood a little bit about how Rachel felt at not being able to conceive children, but probably not

        • Instead of being content with four sons at this point, Leah continues the baby race by following her sister, Rachel’s, example

        • She wanted to make sure she had a commanding lead in this “contest”

    • Leah’s plan (vv. 9b-13)

        • Jacob’s fourth wife

          • Leah should have involved God in her plans

          • Leah took her maidservant, Zilpah, and gave her to Jacob as his fourth wife

          • Two important principles we see here

            • PRINCIPLE #1 – Just because something is socially acceptable does not make it wise or right.

              • It was mentioned last week that in the ancient Near East it was not uncommon for a woman, struggling with infertility, to offer her maidservant to her husband, so that the children born to the maidservant would be considered the children of the husband and wife

              • Jacob is silent when Rachel and now Leah offer their maidservants to him as wives

                • He does not object

                • He certainly could have refused to give in to the socially acceptable practice and trusted God for His timing and plan

                • However, he doesn’t

              • How about us?

                • Is there something we are participating in or believing as followers of Christ, because they are socially acceptable in our culture?

                  • You would be surprised how many Christians accept things that God’s Word say are wrong, just because the court system in our country has ruled that it is acceptable and/or right

                  • Abortion, same sex marriage, use of marijuana, etc.

                • Are there things we have embraced as followers of Christ, because other people, including Christians, are doing them?

                  • Abuse of alcohol

                  • Use of marijuana, either illegally or with a doctor’s card

                  • Having sex before marriage

                  • Living together before marriage

                  • Gossip

                  • Foul language and coarse joking

                  • Looking at pornography

                • We can refuse to participate in, believe, and embrace what we know God says is wrong

                • We can choose, instead, to pursue holiness, righteousness, and purity

                • We can choose to wait on God’s timing and His plan for us

              • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Refuse to give in to what is socially acceptable and pursue holiness, righteousness, and purity instead.

              • Involving God in our plans is important.

              • This is so important, because others are watching what we are doing and determining what they should do as a result

            • PRINCIPLE #2 – Our actions/example may lead others astray.

              • This is what happened with Rachel and Leah

                • Leah saw what Rachel did in reaction to her infertility

                • So, Leah did the same thing when faced with not having any more children – she followed her sister’s example

              • When we participate in, believe, and embrace what our culture says is socially acceptable, we run the risk of leading other people astray

              • This happens with social issues, but it can also happen with spiritual issues

                • It happens all the time when someone takes just one verse from the Bible and uses it out of context to justify what they believe

                • Others try to make God in their own image, so they can continue to do what they want without feeling guilty

                • Still others try to reinterpret Scripture to have it say something that it does not say, so they can feel better about themselves or believe that God is accepting of their belief and/or actions

              • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Evaluate my actions to make sure they are in alignment with God’s Word, so that I am not leading anyone astray.

              • Rachel should have evaluated her actions to see what kind of impact they would have

            • Rachel, Leah, and Jacob should have refused to embrace what was socially acceptable in their culture and trusted God to fulfill His plan for them

            • Involving God in our plans is important.

          • Instead, Leah followed Rachel’s example and gave Zilpah to Jacob, which resulted in two additional sons for Leah

        • Zilpah’s children

          • Gad

            • Zilpah’s first son had Leah feeling fortunate, which is why she exclaimed, “What good fortune!”

            • Leah named him Gad, which can mean “good fortune” or “a troop”

            • “Does she attribute the birth to Fortune/Luck, not God? ​​ She is not represented as in prayer or praise, unlike the case of her own children (29:31-35; 30:14-20).” ​​ [Waltke, Genesis: A Commentary, 412]

            • “Elsewhere in the Middle East, Gad is the name of a deity who brings good luck, but in the First Testament it is simply a term for luck (except in Isa. 65:11).” ​​ [Goldingay, Baker Commentary on the Old Testament, Pentateuch, Genesis, 474]

            • It is fascinating that Leah names her first four sons in a way that recognizes that the Lord saw her, heard her, and blessed her

            • With Gad it seems to be different – it is almost as though she is embracing the pagan beliefs of the nations around her

            • It is not definite that this is what she is doing, because the text does not really tell us that

            • Leah now has five sons, but it does not stop there

          • Asher

            • Zilpah bore Jacob a second son

            • Leah is really happy to have six sons

            • In fact she believes that the women in her community will call her happy

            • Asher’s name means “women will call me happy”

            • Waltke says, “Essentially, Leah is saying, ‘I am to be envied.’” ​​ [Waltke, 412]

            • “That Leah refers to the ‘women’ (‘daughters’) indicates the community setting in which the prestige of children accrued for a woman. ​​ The women of Bethlehem present just such a benediction for Naomi at the birth of Obed (Ruth 4:14-15).” ​​ [Mathews, The New American Commentary, Volume 1B, Genesis 11:27-50:26, 485-86]

            • Ruth 4:14-15, The women said to Naomi: ​​ “Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer. ​​ May he become famous throughout Israel! ​​ He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. ​​ For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.”

            • Leah’s naming of Asher brings to mind Mary’s song of praise in Luke 1:46-55

              • Luke 1:48b, From now on all generations will call me blessed

              • “The major difference between the two is that Leah speaks of the ‘women’ (LXX A ‘all the women,’ pásai hai gynaíkes), while Mary speaks of ‘all generations’ (pásai hai geneaí).” ​​ [Hamilton, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, The Book of Genesis, Chapter 18-50, 273]

              • Leah is talking about the women who are in her immediate community, while Mary is talking about women throughout history

 

  • YOU

    • Have you involved God in your plans?

    • Do you need to refuse to give in to what is socially acceptable and pursue holiness, righteousness, and purity?

    • Are there some actions that you need to evaluate to make sure they are in alignment with God’s Word, so that you do not lead other people astray?

 

  • WE

    • Are there spiritual issues that we need to evaluate as a body of believers to ensure that they align with God’s Word, so we are not leading others astray?

 

CONCLUSION

“In the late eighties and early nineties, there were several hundred studies about happiness published each year; by 2014, there were over 10,000 per year. It was an exciting shift for psychology, one that the public immediately responded to. Major media outlets clamored to cover the new research. Soon, entrepreneurs began monetizing it, founding start-ups and programming apps to help ordinary people implement the field's findings. They were followed by a deluge of celebrities, personal coaches, and motivational speakers, all eager to share the gospel of happiness. According to Psychology Today, in 2000, the number of books published about happiness was a modest fifty. In 2008, that number had skyrocketed to 4,000. Of course, people have always been interested in the pursuit of happiness, but all that attention has made an impact: since the mid-2000s, the interest in happiness, as measured by Google searches, has tripled. ‘The shortcut to anything you want in your life,’ writes author Rhonda Byrne in her bestselling 2006 book The Secret, ‘is to BE and FEEL happy now!’

 

And yet, there is a major problem with the happiness frenzy: it has failed to deliver on its promise. Though the happiness industry continues to grow, as a society, we're more miserable than ever. Indeed, social scientists have uncovered a sad irony—chasing happiness actually makes people unhappy.”

 

Source: Emily Esfahani Smith, The Power Of Meaning (Crown, 2017), pages 9-10.

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2017/march/6030617.html].

6

 

Origins

Sister Struggle

(Genesis 30:1-8)

 

INTRODUCTION

“Like many parents of grown children, Sadhana and Sanjeev Prasad of India are frustrated at the lack of grandchildren in the picture. But, the Prasad’s resorted to a desperate tactic to force their son’s hand. They are suing him.

 

The couple's legal representative said, ‘They raised him, educated him, made him capable, made him a pilot -- which was expensive.’ The Prasad’s filed a suit against their son and daughter-in-law, seeking damages in the amount of 50 million Indian rupees, or about $643,000 in US dollars. ‘They see people in their neighborhood playing with their grandchildren and feel like they should also have one. They said they didn't marry (their son and daughter-in-law) off so that they can live alone. So, they said, in the next year, either give us a grandchild or give us compensation.’

 

According to CNN, such lawsuits are rare, but they highlight the strong familial traditions in India, where carrying on the family line is of utmost importance. Lawsuits like this reflect the inevitable conflicts that arise from generational shifts in perspective that include a stronger focus on work and career over raising a family.”

 

Source: Esha Mitra & Jessie Yeung, “Indian Couple Sue Only Son for Not Giving Them Grandchildren,” CNN (3-17-22).

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2022/august/couple-sues-only-son-for-failing-to-procreate.html].

 

This couple was jealous of those around them who already had grandchildren. ​​ They wanted to experience the joy of playing with their own grandchildren. ​​ They were not content to wait on God’s providential timing, but rather used the court system to get what they wanted.

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Discontentment/Jealousy

        • It is so easy to want what others have, especially when it comes to our siblings

        • I know that it has happened in my own family with my brother and sister

        • I’m not going to give any specifics, but I can tell you that each one of us has wanted what the other sibling(s) have had or have

        • It is so easy to think that the grass is greener on the other side

        • Most of the time we are not aware of some of the hardships that go along with having a particular thing and if we knew the hardships that come along with it, we would probably not want it

    • Dependence on God

        • This is an area where Judy and I continue to grow

        • We have seen significant growth over the many years of our marriage

        • In the early years, we depended on God to provide for our monthly bills and to put food on the table

        • When we started having children, we had to depend on God to guide and direct us in raising them

        • As older adults, we are depending on God to provide wisdom in counseling our children as they go out on their own, have children, change jobs, return to school, start their own businesses, etc.

        • There were times over the years where we tried to depend on human schemes in order to provide for our needs, but inevitably we returned to God for help and dependence

 

  • WE

    • All of us have a time in our lives when we were discontent and probably jealous of a sibling, friend, neighbor, fellow student, or coworker – it is part of our human condition to want what others have.

    • Every one of us can probably remember a time that we used a human scheme instead of depending on God

 

Last week, Pastor Marc shared with us that Leah had four sons by Jacob, because God had opened her womb. ​​ Rachel’s womb remained shut at this point and it caused her to become jealous of Leah. ​​ In her jealousy, she blamed Jacob and then devised a plan that would enable her to have children by her maidservant. ​​ She was not willing to wait on God’s providential timing, but tried to take control of the situation. ​​ This human scheme would not provide the contentment that she was hoping for. ​​ She need to depend on God and seek Him instead of trying to work it out on her own. ​​ She needed to learn to . . .

 

BIG IDEA – “Never replace dependence on God with human schemes.” ​​ [Gangel & Bramer]

 

The same is true for us.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (Genesis 30:1-8)

    • Sadness (vv. 1-2)

        • Rachel became jealous of Leah, because Leah was having children and Rachel was not

          • Rachel’s jealousy stemmed from the pressures of her culture

          • “In a society that considered children, especially sons, symbols of wealth and power, jealousy loomed as the inevitable result of Rachel’s dilemma.” ​​ [Gangel & Bramer, Holman Old Testament Commentary, Genesis, 248-49]

        • Neither sister is content with what God has given them

          • “One wife has children but no love, the other has love but no children, and ‘they are competing with each other, one for love and the other for children.’” ​​ [Goldingay, Baker Commentary on the Old Testament, Pentateuch, 472]

          • For Rachel, love was not enough when Leah was bearing sons for Jacob

          • For Leah, children were not enough when Jacob clearly loved Rachel more than her

          • PRINCIPLE #1 – Contentment comes when we treasure what God has given us.

            • Where are you at today?

              • Are you dealing with discontentment?

              • Is there something that someone else has that you wish you had?

              • Is jealousy gaining a foothold in your life?

              • What does Scripture have to say about jealousy and envy?

                • James 3:16, For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

                • James 4:1-3, What causes fights and quarrels among you? ​​ Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? ​​ You want something but don’t get it. ​​ You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. ​​ You quarrel and fight. ​​ You do not have, because you do not ask God. ​​ When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

                • Proverbs 14:30, A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.

                • Proverbs 27:4, Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?

                • 1 Corinthians 3:1-3, Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly – mere infants in Christ. ​​ I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. ​​ Indeed, you are still not ready. ​​ You are still worldly. ​​ For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? ​​ Are you not acting like mere men?

                • Paul tells the Galatians that one of the works of the flesh is jealousy and if we do any of the works of the flesh that we will not inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:19-21)

              • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Confess my jealousy to the Lord and ask Him to forgive me.

              • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Treasure what the Lord has given me and thank Him.

            • We can experience contentment when we depend on God instead of other human beings

            • Rachel was depending on Jacob instead of the Lord to provide only what the Lord could provide

          • So, Rachel confronts Jacob while she is sad and hurting from the jealousy she is experiencing

        • Immediate gratification

          • Rachel is demanding that Jacob give her children or she’ll die

            • Obviously she will not die if she doesn’t have children, but this is the extent of her sadness, pain, and social disgrace

            • We have the privilege of knowing the whole story, from start to finish

              • The Lord will open Rachel’s womb and she will have two sons

              • Just a side note – Rachel will die after giving birth to her second child, Benjamin

              • Rachel does not have the foreknowledge that she will eventually have her own children with Jacob

              • She is impatient with God’s timing and takes her anger and frustration out on Jacob

                • There are two principles here that we do not want to miss

                • PRINCIPLE #2 – God’s providential timing is best.

                  • When we are hurting and upset, it is nearly impossible to see that God’s providential timing is best

                  • That is why we have to have close friends or family members that we can trust to point us back to the truths of who God is and what He has promised to do

                  • We need accountability partners that will remind us to never replace dependence on God with human schemes and to wait patiently for God’s perfect timing

                  • Do you have those kind of people in your life? ​​ (if you do that is great, hold on to them)

                  • If you do not, who can you trust to be that person(s) for you?

                  • Do you need to trust in God’s providential timing for something that you have been impatiently waiting on?

                • PRINCIPLE #3 – Misplaced anger can hurt relationships.

                  • “. . . instead of praying, either directly or through her husband, as Rebekah had done, to Jehovah, who had promised His favour to Jacob (28:13ff), she [Rachel] said to Jacob, in passionate displeasure, ‘Get me children, or I shall die;’ to which he angrily replied, ‘Am I in God’s stead (i.e., equal to God, or God), who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb?’ i.e., Can I, a powerless man, give thee what the Almighty God has withheld? [Keil & Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume 1, The Pentateuch, 184]

                  • We see that both Rachel and Jacob speak without thinking and allow misplaced anger to hurt each other

                  • Rachel was actually angry with God, because she knew who had the power to give and take life – she knew that Jacob did not have that power

                  • Jacob speaks impulsively when verbally attacked by Rachel

                  • “. . . what Rachel needed wasn’t a lecture on theology or gynecology. ​​ She needed the kind understanding of her husband and the encouragement that only his love could provide.” ​​ [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Pentateuch, 128]

                  • Is there something that you are angry with God about, but you have taken it out on a love one? (it’s not too late to go to that person, apologize, and ask for forgiveness)

                  • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Apologize and seek forgiveness for taking out my anger on a loved one.

                  • Have you been verbally attacked for something you do not have any control over?

                  • How did you react? ​​ (verbally attack back or provide understanding and encouragement with love)

                  • It’s not too late to go back to that person and provide loving encouragement and understanding

                  • #4 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Provide understanding and encouragement with love to someone who has verbally attacked me.

                  • It is important that we work to restore relationships that been damaged by misplaced anger

          • In her desire for immediate gratification and to best her sister, Rachel hatches a plan to ensure that she will have children

        • She offers her maidservant, Bilhah, to Jacob as a third wife and surrogate mother for her children

    • Surrogate (vv. 3-8)

        • “Never replace dependence on God with human schemes.”

        • Rachel’s plan

          • In the ancient Near East it was not uncommon for a wife who was experiencing infertility to offer her maidservant to her husband, so that the children born to the maidservant would be counted as the children of the husband and wife

          • We will see this played out as Rachel is the one who names the two sons born to Bilhah

          • In essence, Jacob and Rachel have adopted them

          • Two things that set Rachel apart from Sarah

            • There does not seem to be tension between the Rachel and Bilhah after she gives birth, while there was certainly tension between Sarah and Hagar

            • Rachel accepts the two boys as hers, while Sarah does not accept Ishmael

          • Jacob sleeps with Bilhah and she becomes pregnant

        • Bilhah’s babies

          • Dan

            • Rachel’s reaction to the first child born to Bilhah is recognition that God has vindicated her and has listened to her plea

            • It seems as though Rachel has been praying for a child, but perhaps this only happened after she gave Bilhah to Jacob as a third wife

            • Dan’s name comes from how Rachel felt after his birth

            • Dan literally means, “God has vindicated me.”

            • “In such context, the verb dîn signifies justice for an individual who finds herself in a heretofore hopeless and helpless state.” ​​ [Hamilton, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 18-50, 271]

            • Rachel is equally excited about birth of a second son to Bilhah

          • Naphtali

            • Bilhah conceived again and birth another son for Jacob

            • Rachel obviously perceived that she and Leah were in a competition, but again they were competing for two different things – Rachel was competing for children and Leah was competing for love

            • It is fascinating that Rachel would declare that she had won the struggle between her and Leah after having only two adopted sons

            • Perhaps this is an indication that the narrative is not in chronological order

              • Last week we learned about the four sons that Leah had

              • It is probable that Leah had two sons and then Bilhah had two sons, before Leah had two more sons

              • Maybe that is why Rachel is claiming victory at this point

              • The chronological time frame is not spelled out specifically in the text

            • Rachel names this second son Naphtali, which means “my struggle”

          • It appears as though Bilhah stops having children after Dan and Naphtali – no other children are recorded for her in Scripture

 

  • YOU

    • Are you jealous about something right now – take time to confess that to the Lord and seek His forgiveness

    • Are you treasuring what the Lord has given you and have you thanked Him for those things?

    • Do you need to apologize and seek forgiveness for taking out your anger and frustration on someone else?

    • Do you need to provide loving encouragement and understanding to someone who is sad, hurting, and struggling?

 

  • WE

    • Is there jealousy in the church that needs to be addressed and dealt with?

    • What are things we need to treasure that God has given to us as a body of believers?

    • How can we as a church provide loving encouragement and understanding to those in our community who are experiencing sadness, hurt, and struggles?

 

CONCLUSION

“Research studies indicate that up to 45 percent of adult siblings have relationships marked by rivalry or distance. A story from the Wall Street Journal featured Al Golden, 85, who still chokes up when he talks about his twin brother, Elliott, who died three years ago. The brothers shared a room growing up in Brooklyn, N.Y., graduated from the same college and then married within a month of each other in 1947.

 

Yet Mr. Golden still remembers how their father often compared their grades, asking one or the other, ‘How come you got a B and your brother got an A?’ Elliott Golden became a lawyer and eventually a state Supreme Court judge. Al Golden went into the mirror business then sold life insurance. He says he always envied his brother's status and secretly took pleasure in knowing he was a better fisherman and owned a big boat. Once, Elliott asked him, ‘I am a lawyer. How come you make more money than me?’ Mr. Golden says. ‘He meant: ‘How come you are making more than me when you are not as successful?’ But it made me feel good.’

 

One day, Elliott accused him of not doing enough to take care of their ailing mother. After the conversation, Al didn't speak to his brother for more than a year. ‘It might have been the build-up of jealousies over the years,’ he says. His brother repeatedly reached out to him, as did his nieces and nephews, but Mr. Golden ignored them.

 

Then one day Al received an email from his brother telling a story about two men who had a stream dividing their properties. One man hired a carpenter to build a fence along the stream, but the carpenter built a bridge by mistake. Mr. Golden thought about the email then wrote back, ‘I'd like to walk over the bridge.’ ‘I missed him,’ Mr. Golden says now. ‘I never had the chance to miss him before.’”

 

Source: Elizabeth Bernstein, "Sibling Rivalry Grows Up," Wall Street Journal (3-20-12).”

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2014/november/3110314.html].

8

 

Origins

Love Is Blind

(Genesis 29:14b-30)

 

INTRODUCTION

“The story is told of the cruel and tyrannical Baron Rascas and his beautiful and kind wife, the Lady of Rascas. ​​ When the baron was summoned to the Crusades by his king, he was concerned that his wife would turn to another (either because of his death or his long absence) that he commanded his wizard Malagan, to make her ugly just after his departure and then for the wizard to join him in the crusade so the spell could not be undone. ​​ It was done as the king commanded, with the result that the good lady had the face of a horse. ​​ Despite her condition, she managed the lands of the baron well during his absence, and the people grew to love her with no thought to her appearance.

 

After seven years, the baron returned without Malagan and was repulsed by his wife’s ugliness. ​​ Without Malagan there was no way to reverse the spell, and his wife was utterly rejected by the baron, who, if it were possible, had become even more insufferable since the wars. ​​ Word was sent far and wide offering a reward to any wizard or magician who could reverse the spell. ​​ Many tried; none succeeded. ​​ One day a poor beggar arrived at the gates and, after gaining admission to the baron’s presence, identified himself as Malagan. ​​ He recounted before the entire court how the baron abandoned him when he had been wounded and left him for dead. ​​ Years of slavery followed, and he lost most of his skills before he was finally able to regain his freedom. ​​ He had now returned to remedy the situation.

 

When the Lady of Rascas was called into the king’s presence, the wizard’s words proved not to transform the lady to her earlier beauty, but instead, transformed the baron a similar horse-face appearance. ​​ It was only in this condition that the baron finally learned to love and cherish his wife and become the kind and caring lord he should have been from the start. ​​ The moral of the story has two parts to it: ​​ (1) ‘Out of evil came good, out of ugliness, beauty’; (2) ‘he who turns to evil will, at the end, find it turned against him.’”

 

[Walton, The NIV Application Commentary, Genesis, 595-96].

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Love is blind

        • In talking with couples prior to marriage I always find it interesting some of the statements they make or how they view the person they are in love with

          • There was one couple that I knew where the man filled out a reference form for the lady and he scored her a perfect 10 on everything (the employer already knew that there was room for improvement, but the boyfriend did not see it that way)

          • Another young man said that he would be fine with letting the young lady always getting her way after marriage

        • This just proves that love can blind us to reality and make us say things that we will probably not follow through with

    • We reap what we sow

        • Once the honeymoon was over, the young man probably realized that his, now wife, was not a perfect 10 in all areas – there were adjustments that had to take place, and some recognition of reality, in order for the couple to remain married (they are still married today, 24 years and going)

        • The same thing happened with the second young man – reality sank in and in order for the marriage to work, there had to be give and take on both sides and not one person always getting their own way (this marriage is also still going strong)

 

  • WE

    • Most of us can probably say that we have been blinded by love at one time in our lives

    • If we have not been blinded by love, we can probably admit that we have reaped what we have sown (whether positive or negative)

 

We will see today that Jacob was blinded by love, which caused him to miss that fact that Laban deceived him. ​​ Jacob had used deception with his father and brother and now he was getting a taste of his own medicine. ​​ In everything that took place in this narrative, we cannot miss the fact that God is in control and His sovereign plan will be fulfilled. ​​ We can all agree to today, that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – We reap what we sow.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (Genesis 29:14b-30)

    • Wages (vv. 14b-20)

        • Timestamp (v. 14b)

          • The second half of verse 14 gives us a timeframe

          • One month after Jacob arrived in Haran/Paddan Aram, Laban pulls him aside to talk about wages

        • Negotiations (vv. 15-20)

          • This would have been a little bit unusual in the Ancient Near East, since family members were not usually paid

          • They were taken care of, as a family member, by the head of the household, therefore, there was no need for them to take a wage

          • “His initial question is rhetorical, meaning Jacob should not be utilized without compensation lest he be a slave. ​​ Yet he cannot establish the standard of payment for Jacob since he is not merely a hired worker either.” ​​ [Mathews, The New American Commentary, Volume 1B, Genesis 11:27-50:26, 466-67]

            • Jacob is not a slave – slaves did not receive any wages

            • Jacob is not a hired hand – hired hands were given a specific wage

            • Laban should have realized that Jacob was not going to remain in Haran permanently, but would be returning to Canaan after he found a wife

            • So, perhaps the offer of wages was to prepare Jacob for his future

            • If Jacob is going to marry one of his daughters, then he would want Jacob to be well-established

            • Jacob came to Laban with nothing, which means he would not have the ability to pay a bride price

            • Maybe Laban was offering a wage to Jacob, so he could begin to save for a dowry

            • None of this is directly expressed in this passage of Scripture, so we are left to speculate concerning why Laban is offering to pay Jacob, as a family member

            • From Jacob’s response, we realize that he understands that he does not have anything to give for a bride price

          • Laban’s two daughters (vv. 16-18a)

            • The narrator gives us some information about Laban’s daughters, before sharing Jacob’s offer about wages

              • Leah

                • Her name means, “cow” or “weary”

                • She was the older of the two

                • She had weak eyes

                  • This does not mean that she had poor eyesight

                  • The Hebrew word can also mean “soft,” “delicate,” or “tender”

                  • Leah probably did not have bright eyes that sparkled with fire in them

                  • Women with bright, sparkling, and fiery eyes were considered to be beautiful in the Oriental culture [Keil & Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume 1, The Pentateuch, 183; Waltke, Genesis: A Commentary, 405]

                  • We have to remember that in the culture of the day, women were covered from head to toe with only their eyes and cheeks exposed

                  • So, their eyes told a lot about them

                  • I imagine that Leah was perhaps more reserved and contemplative, which her eyes revealed about her

                  • Jacob obviously did not find that attractive

              • Rachel

                • Her name means, “ewe” (it is fascinating that Rachel is a shepherdess, taking care of her father’s sheep)

                • She was the younger of the two

                • She was lovely in form, and beautiful

                  • I am not sure how the narrator knew that Rachel had a beautiful figure (shape of her body), since she would have been covered head to toe

                  • Other translations say that Rachel also had a beautiful or lovely face, which probably meant that she had bright, fiery, sparkling eyes

                  • One other translation says she has a beautiful countenance, which would have been apparent through the bright, fiery, sparkling eyes

                  • She was probably outgoing, energetic, and fiery in her personality

              • “Apparently both of Laban’s daughters served as walking commercials for his business operation.” ​​ [Gangel & Bramer, Holman Old Testament Commentary, Genesis, 246]

            • Jacob was in love with Rachel (love at first sight?)

          • Jacob’s offer (v. 18b)

            • Jacob offers to work for Laban for seven years in return for Rachel’s hand in marriage

            • This would have been a generous bride price

              • “In texts from Nuzi the typical bride price was thirty to forty shekels. ​​ Since a shepherd’s annual wage was ten shekels a year, Jacob is in effect paying a premium by working seven years, but he is in no position to negotiate.” ​​ [Walton, 586]

              • With the way the housing market is right now, there are individuals who are making higher offers in an effort to try to guarantee that they will get the house – in fact, cash offers are being accepted over all other offers

              • Jacob wants to make sure that he will be able to marry Rachel, so he offers more than the usual bride price

            • Laban is agreeable to the terms

          • Laban’s response

            • Laban tells Jacob that it is better for him to give her to him than to some other man

              • The cultural practice of endogamy is at play here again – marrying within the family instead of outside the family

              • Perhaps Laban saw the character and work ethic of Jacob in that first month and realized that he would be a good spouse for his daughter

            • Laban encourages Jacob to stay with him

          • Love is blind

            • Jacob served seven years to get Rachel

            • The seven years only seemed like a few days to Jacob, because of his love for Rachel

            • Judy and I got engaged between our Sophomore and Junior year of college and then got married a year later between our Junior and Senior year of college

              • I don’t remember everything that happened in that year, because it seemed to go by so fast with full-time school and wedding preparations

              • I’m sure Judy felt the same way

            • Love has a way of blinding us to everything that happens between certain events

            • Jacob experienced that with the seven years of service just flying by

        • Application

          • We reap what we sow

            • We see Jacob maturing in his character as he patiently waits to marry Rachel

            • He was sowing patience and reaping God’s blessing of time passing quickly

            • This was not the case when it came to Jacob’s birthright and Isaac’s blessing

            • God used human sinful circumstances to accomplish His plan and purpose concerning Jacob being the covenant carrier, even though it may come sooner than later

            • While Jacob was impatient, waiting for God to fulfill His promise, we now see that he is sowing patience when it comes to finding a wife

            • PRINCIPLE #1 – Patience is a virtue.

              • Have you ever tried to run ahead of God and His timing?

                • Maybe it was with a relationship, or a financial decision, a job change, or career path

                • How did it work out for you?

                • In hindsight, did you wish that you had waited on God’s timing and His plan?

              • Is there a situation, currently, where you are struggling to be patient?

              • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Patiently wait on God’s timing and plan for the situation I am currently involved in.

              • We can trust God to accomplish His plan and purpose in our lives at just the right time – wait on Him, spend time in prayer and reading His Word, and seek the counsel of other believers

          • Jacob was reaped what he had sown – patience – the seven years seemed like a few days

        • The wages were set and the Jacob had faithful fulfilled his obligation of the bride price

        • It was time to celebrate and consummate his marriage

    • Weddings (vv. 21-30)

        • Jacob asks for his wife, so he could consummate his marriage – he had patiently waited and now it was time

        • Laban’s deception

          • Laban prepared a feast and brought all of the people together

          • The wedding feast would last one week, as we will see in verse 27

          • Jacob is expecting to receive Rachel as his wife and perhaps Rachel is with him during the feast, but something happens after dark

          • Laban took Leah and gave her to Jacob as his wife

          • Jacob consummated his marriage with Leah by laying with her (they were intimate with each other)

          • How did Laban get away with this deception?

            • Love is blind!

              • Jacob’s patience had reached it limit and he was ready to consummate his marriage with Rachel

              • Perhaps in his eagerness, he was not very attentive to whom was in bed with him

            • There are all kinds of other ideas and speculations

              • It is very likely that wine was part of the feast and potentially Jacob may have had a little too much to drink, which could have clouded his mind

              • The bridal attire would have covered the women’s bodies completely and the bridal veil would have covered all but Leah’s eyes

              • Culturally, the veil may have been worn even during the sexual act

              • The tent where Jacob and Leah would have spent the night would have been dark or dimly lit

              • Laban may have had Leah wear some of Rachel’s clothes, which would recall what Jacob doing the same thing with Esau’s clothing at the prompting of his mother

            • Scripture does not tell us how the deception was carried out, it just tells us that it happened

          • The narrator gives us a side note about Laban giving his servant girl, Zilpah to Leah as her maidservant

          • Morning wakeup call

            • The morning light and a clear head revealed that Jacob had married Leah instead of Rachel

            • Jacob confronted Laban about his deception – “I thought the deal was to work for you for seven years and then I would marry Rachel, why did you give Leah to me?”

            • We reap what we sow

              • While Jacob was maturing and developing as the covenant carrier, he was experiencing a taste of his own medicine

              • He had sown deception with his father and brother and was now reaping deception

              • “The nemesis is made all the more pungent by the fact that Jacob is caught in the same device he himself had once used. ​​ He pretended to be Esau in front of Isaac. ​​ Leah pretends to be Rachel next to Jacob. ​​ While Jacob’s ruse was pretending to be his older brother, Leah’s ruse is pretending to be her younger sister. ​​ Jacob is deceived as he deceived his father.” ​​ [Hamilton, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 18-50, 262]

              • Numbers 32:23, “But if you fail to do this, you will be sinning against the Lord; and you may be sure that your sin will find you out.”

              • Galatians 6:7-8, Do not be deceived: ​​ God cannot be mocked. ​​ A man reaps what he sows. ​​ The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

              • This is true for us also, when we do things that please our sinful nature, there will be consequences for those behaviors

              • When we do things that please the Lord, we will experience eternal life

            • God knew what He was doing, through Laban’s deception

            • PRINCIPLE #2 – God is sovereign and will accomplish His plan.

              • What is so significant about Jacob marrying Leah instead of Rachel?

              • Leah’s fourth child with Jacob is Judah

              • Read Matthew 1:1-16

              • Do you see the significance of Leah as Jacob’s wife?

              • It is through the line of Leah and Jacob that Jesus is born

              • We may not understand all that God is doing through His sovereign will, but we can trust Him to accomplish His perfect plan and purpose for us

              • Are you struggling to understand what God is doing in your life right now?

              • Do you need to trust in His sovereign will?

              • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Trust in God’s sovereign will for my life, even when I do not understand.

            • Laban already had his defense planned, because he knew that Jacob would uncover his ruse

          • Laban’s defense

            • Laban explains the custom of his people

              • They do not give the younger daughter in marriage before the older daughter

              • This custom was not something that was taken lightly, because it could threaten the very core of their society [Hamilton, 263]

              • Did Laban have this planned the whole time and just waited for seven years to spring the trap?

              • Probably not

              • Perhaps he thought that during the seven year service period, Leah would get married to someone else and when that did not happen, he saw a way to make sure that Leah would get married [G