“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.
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
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.
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)
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’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
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)
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
“I will be with you.”
God promised to be with Jacob
PRINCIPLE #2 – God promises to be with us.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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]
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 can do all three of those things as the body at Idaville Church
“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.