Monday, January 31, 2011

Genesis: Chapter 31

The beauty in this chapter is God's persistent love and willingness to work with we stubborn, sin-filled folks!  There are not many shining characters in this chapter...but in the dark, the glory of God is ever more brilliant!  Not only does God teach us through our circumstances, He directs us through situations and the reactions of others.  Jacob sensed a change in the family dynamics and set about helping his wives see the directing hand of God.  Jacob explained to Leah & Rachel how God had prospered him despite unfair treatment, and how God was now calling him to take the family and return to his homeland.  Perhaps he was weary of battling the manipulation or perhaps he just fell back on an old coping either case, Jacob planned to run away. 

His wives were evidently persuaded by Jacob's arguments and readily prepared to leave, but the family legacy of manipulation and deceit was well-ingrained in Rachel.  She stole her father's 'gods.' These idols  carried the 'head of household' rights as well as religious significance.  She was doing her best to ensure her family security.  When confronted by her father, she had no qualms at asserting her 'innocence.'   Although Jacob spoke rashly and committed the 'possessor of the idols' to death, God protected Rachel.  God had plans for this family; He needed them away from the idols and the influences of Laban.  Step-by-step, God is leading and purifying--He is never rushed or dismayed and is always loving!

Jacob and Laban are both plain spoken about their opinions of the others behavior.  God had warned Laban in a dream not to harm Jacob, but it does not seem Laban felt any prohibition about speaking clearly.  Neither did Jacob...and ultimately, they agreed to disagree.  It is ironic that the words of their rather unpleasant separation have become a sweet blessing:  "May the LORD keep watch between you and me when we are away from each other."  Their intention was not a sweet parting; it was an agreement to keep their distance from each other. 

Running from our problems, never works.  One confrontation is now 'in the Book'--and the earlier running away is about to be drawn to a conclusion as well.  God is always ahead of us, though, and He was ahead of Jacob.

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