And Laban said to Jacob, “What have you done, that you have tricked me and driven away my daughters like captives of the sword?…
These twenty years I have been in your house. I served you fourteen years for your two daughters, and six years for your flock, and you have changed my wages ten times. If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had not been on my side, surely now you would have sent me away empty-handed. God saw my affliction and the labor of my hands and rebuked you last night.” (Genesis 31:26, 41, 42 ESV)
Jacob, as the first verse above implies, has been a deceiver throughout his life. This is, in fact, what his name means. At every step he has sought to attain God’s promised blessing for himself. He took advantage of his brother when he was famished to gain the birthright, then dressed up like his brother to fool his father into giving him the blessing of firstborn. After fleeing from his brother to Laban and marrying his daughters he arranges to have his wages be the speckled sheep and goats with a plan to somehow cause newborns from the strong to be speckled through divination. And yet, the reality is that he has such great wealth because God has been with him. This he knows as he admits in these later verses.
From a reader’s perspective we look at Jacob and see the puzzle that he is and wonder, “Jacob, if you knew God was with you, why did you feel the need to manipulate the situation so much?” But then, isn’t this like us too? Do you ever feel anxious and pour your energy into forcing things to happen, perhaps even to the point of acting in “gray” areas?
We see it in retrospect, how God has been at work for us. And yet, at the time we grow anxious and do whatever we think it will take to survive and prosper, just like Jacob. By God’s grace we need to hold onto our determination to work diligently and hard to survive and prosper, but keep in perspective God’s faithfulness to us. This way we will work hard in a faithful manner and resist the temptation to try the shortcuts of the world.
Lord, you have plans for our future. They are plans to prosper and not to harm us, for you work all things out for our good (as your children) and your glory. You who did not withhold your precious son will not hold back anything else in all creation for our good. This is so amazingly mind blogging! Hallelujah! Help us to walk faithfully in light of this, giving your our very best unhindered by worry. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.