Monday, February 20, 2017
Daily reading assignment: Genesis 28-31
The strife between two brothers, Jacob and Esau, continues in Genesis 28. Remember, Jacob and his mother schemed in Genesis 27 and, by masquerading as his elder brother Esau, Jacob stole his brother’s birthright when blind Isaac blessed him (27:18-29). Realizing his birthright was given to his younger brother, Esau vowed he would murder Jacob (27:41). Hearing news of Esau’s threat, their mother interceded with their father Isaac and requested that Jacob be sent away to seek safety and a wife among her people (27:42-46).
We find Jacob escaping with his life in Genesis 28, cut off from his parents, family, and land (28:1-5). He is at the end of himself. His life has been one of plotting and scheming against his elder brother. In the midst of his solitude, God appeared to Jacob in a dream and rehearsed the covenant promises made first to his grandfather Abraham and then to his father Isaac (28:12-15). Jacob’s encounter with God forever altered his view of God (28:16-17).
Traveling east from what we know today as Israel, Jacob came to Haran and the ancestral land of his father and mother (Genesis 29). There he met Rachel, the young woman who would become his wife (29:9-12). [As a side note, Rachel was Jacob’s cousin and their marriage in our day would be genetically ill-advised; however, nearly 4,000 years ago the bloodlines of humanity were free from many of the genetic disorders that plague our day].
Falling in love with Rachel, Jacob soon realized he had met his match in her father Laban who was a notorious plotter and schemer in his own right! Realizing Jacob’s love for his daughter, Laban asked him to labor seven years for the right to take Rachel as his wife (29:15-20). In a beautiful poetic portrait of love, Jacob agreed to the father’s terms and we read the seven years he labored for Rachel’s hand “seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her” (29:20).
The seven years being ended, Jacob demanded his right to marry Rachel (29:21), but was beguiled into marrying her elder sister Leah who was not as lovely as her sister (29:17). Veiled as a bride and cooperating with her father’s scheme, Jacob discovered the morning after his wedding that he had been tricked and married Leah and not his beloved Rachel (29:24-25). Demanding his right to marry Rachel, Laban forced Jacob to agree to another seven years of labor to take her as his wife (29:26-30).
One passing phrase in this story forewarns us to the troubles that will follow Jacob’s household in the years ahead: Jacob “loved also Rachel more than Leah” (29:30).
There is an old idiom that says, “Chickens come home to roost!” In other words, as it is the nature of chickens to come home to their roosting place every night, it is also true that consequences of sinful choices invariably catch up with us all. For Jacob, although he was hundreds of miles from home, the sins against his father and brother were mirrored in his father-in-law’s schemes of which he fell victim.
Warning: Be sure your sin will find you out! (Numbers 32:23)
Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith