Pathway To Peace
“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).
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
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
Have you all experienced the pathway to peace in a relationship?
What happened to finally bring peace? (honesty, transparency)
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.
GOD (Genesis 31:36-44)
Reprimand (vv. 36-37)
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 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
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.
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 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
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 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)
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
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?
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
“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.