It is my contention that the contents of verses 15-30 conveys the conviction that Jacob had a Serious Problem With Trusting God. The basis for that conclusion is grounded on the fact that here was a man, who with his mother, had conspired, schemed and tricked both his father and brother out of the blessing and birthright of the first-born. And, as a consequence of which, put his life at risk of death, so he runs! But in his flight from the consequence of his character, the Lord God Almighty, in sovereign mercy, gives him an unconditional promise of His Constant Presence and Protection on his journey and bring his safely to the home of his uncle. And yet, Jacob still tried to do things his way!!! He still tried to out-think and use tricks to get what he wanted.
Now I don’t know how you feel about this matter, but, to me, Jacob was a Man who had a Problem With Trusting God! He had a serious problem coming to grips with the fact that God had a plan that covered all of his life; that God had previously planned and provided for all of his needs since day one of his birth to day last of his death; that God is totally reliable and trustworthy and that He wants only the best for us. So Jacob trusted only himself. He always held back something in reserve. He always had a back-up plan. He trusted no one but himself!
The vow that he vowed in Genesis 28:20-21 speaks of this problem. He says: “If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go” (incidentally God was with him and did keep him); and he said, and if God “will give me bread to eat and raiment to put on” (and incidentally God did), “so that I come again to my father’s house in peace: then shall the Lord be my God….” Now here is a man declaring he would not trust God until God had solved all of his problems and provided all of his needs!!!
We have this terrible tendency to hold out on God until He has met all of our demands. The terms of our total trust runs like this: ‘Lord, if You will give me a good paying job and a brand new car, and give me the woman that I want or the man; or bring my husband/wife back home to me; heal my body, straighten up my finances and save all of my children; then, Lord, I will serve You!’ We sometimes act as if the Lord needs us because we are so valuable; as if God would be blessed to have us. What kind of foolishness is that?
But the problem with that was this: What was Jacob going to do while God was guiding, guarding and providing for him all this time? It seems to me that the relationship was to be one-sided. One party was to do all the giving and the other the receiving. But a covenant is a contract based on a relationship. Jacob wanted God to enter into a relationship with him while he remained neutral. He was not going to depend on God Until…
And so, the question our Text raises is: What do you do when you Fail to Trust God? What do you do when you Fail to Take God At His Word? What do you do when you fail to Rely on the Present Goodness of God? How are you going to Make It on Your Own?
Well, let me suggest there are A Number of Things You Will Do, when you have a problem trusting God.
Let me suggest that when you fail to trust God, one of the First Things You Will Do Is:
I. SERVE A HUMAN MASTER.
That is the First Thing Jacob Did as recorded in verse 15. Because he would Not Serve God, he had to Serve A Human Master. In this 15th verse, Laban says to Jacob: “Because you are my brother, should you therefore serve me for nothing? Tell me, what shall your wages be?”
The fact of the matter is that’s why he left home so abruptly: he wanted to Be Served instead of Serving Esau or his father, Isaac. And he came to Haran to be served: to be served with safety and a wife. And so, when Laban brought up this Serving-Thing in verse 15, it must have blown him away and deflated his pride.
I believe it stemmed from the fact that Jacob misunderstood the Promise of Blessing in Genesis 25:23. According to the last part of that 23rd verse, the Promise of Blessing was “the elder shall serve the younger.” God did not specify WHEN the elder would serve the younger. And so, I believe that Jacob took it for granted that the time-factor was unimportant. According to the Seasons of our Soils, there are times when we don’t understand the Will and Word of God. And because we don’t understand spiritual things as we ought, we resort to carnal reasoning. We calculate from the standpoint of our planning not from the standpoint of God’s tempo. But that is a mistake, because the Promises of God Have A DUE-DATE! They are Due in God’s Time, not ours. But until that Due-Date, the Younger Shall Serve the Elder. And Jacob had a problem with that!!!
And one of the problems that plagues us today is this Disdain for Submission; this Younger Shall Serve the Elder Until the Time Appointed. We covet the Position of Dignity and Honor but despise the Position of Service, the Posture of a Servant. We want the seat without the service; the praise without the pain; the glory without the gloom; the title without the tension; the position without the performance; we want the crown with the cross. We have a big problem with this “Less than the Least” concept. But the Way to Greatness is still thru Service. For says Jesus: Whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave — just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
Hardly anyone wants to start at the bottom and work their way up to the top. We want to start out as the boss. We want to by-pass the period of preparation and training. We want to come in giving orders instead of taking orders. Even the small child has found out he/she can have their way if they cry loud and long enough. Even they want to be served and not serve as obedient children.
The husband does not submit to the Lordship of Christ, subsequently his wife does not submit to his headship. Consequently, the children serve neither of them. The home become a house of lords and no servants.
And from there it spills over into all sectors and arenas of society: school, neighborhood, government, business and yes, even into the Church! Hardly anyone wants to Serve! What has happened to “the Younger Serving the Elder” until the Time Appointed Mentality?
But what this episode in the life of Jacob teaches us is that: IF WE FAIL TO SUBMIT TO GOD, WE SHALL SUBMIT TO A HUMAN MASTER!
And when you serve human masters, you shall never be Treated or Paid Fairly. And that’s the tragedy of it all: When you’re too proud to Trust God, you will fall into the Hands of a Crafty Schemer! There is a Laban for those of us who Fail To Trust God! Laban says: “Oh yes, You’re going to Serve me. The only issue to be debated is, the Amount of Your Wages.”
There are Wages to be Paid for our Failure To Trust God! To fail to trust God is to be Paid Cheap! To be at the mercy of your human master. To work long hours for little pay. To be treated as a Thing with no Worth. To be threatened with Firing when you fail to comply.
To Fail To Trust God results in Serving A Human Master; for the Divine Principle is yet “Whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that humble himself shall be exalted.” For God still “resists the proud, but gives graces to the humble.” So what you and I need to do is, Submit ourselves therefore to God in Trusting Obedience!
Let me also suggest that when you fail to trust God, a Second Thing We Will Do Is:
II. DISRESPECT THE RIGHTS OF THE FIRST-BORN.
The First-Born of that day and culture had certain rights and privileges. They had the right to claim the inheritance of their parent’s wealth and possessions; the right of the Blessing; the right to be given first in marriage. Because the Line, Name and Inheritance would be carried thru the First-Born. Thus, to subvert or contravene those rights amounted to ‘dissing’ that Family, Culture, People and their Customs.
So Laban tells Jacob in verse 26: “I’m not gonna let you dis my Daughter, my family, my culture and tradition. We don’t do that here in our country. We don’t give the younger before the First-Born in marriage.” In others words, if you want the younger, you’ll have to take the Elder first! Oh, how many times have we had to settle for what we didn’t want or ask for, because somewhere in our past we ‘dissed’ the rights of someone else ahead of us!
The story is told of a woman forced to spend layover time in an airport. During the layover she became hungry. Knowing she would receive a full meal on the next flight, she bought a small package of cookies to tide her over. Sitting at a table in the snack bar area, she pulled out her newspaper. After a few minutes of reading, she heard the crinkling of plastic. She lowered her newspaper to find a stranger dressed in a fine suit eating the cookies. Angry at what he was doing, she frowned at him and pulled the cookies to her side of the table. Minutes later he was at the cookies again. She repeated her silent assertiveness. Soon there was only one cookie left. As she glared at him, he broke the last cookie in half, slid her the remnant and walked off with the final cookie in his mouth. She fumed until her flight was called. At the ticket counter she reached in to her purse for the boarding pass and found the package of cookies she had purchased earlier--still unopened. Somewhere in that airport a businessman was telling his colleagues about the unusual woman who ate his cookies. So when you eat someone else’s cookies, you have to settle for what you don’t want!
Jacob had to learn to Respect the Rights of the First-Born. He had not leaned it at home, for he disregarded the rights of the first-born in connection with Esau, his elder brother. So that which he had ignored concerning his brother, he must bow to in connection with his wife.
We must Practice Respecting the Rights of those who were Born First and ahead of us. Just because a person is old, sick and cannot function does not mean they don’t have rights. We can’t run around them to get what we want and not pay the consequences. They have paid their dues and are owed respect.
They might not have the Good-Looks, but they were First. They might not have a high intellect, but they were First. They might not be as productive as they once were, but they were First. They may no longer be able to run with the footmen or contend against the horses, but they were First. They may no longer be able to preach as well, teach as clearly, sing as melodiously, pray as fervently as we do, but they still were First. They might not have the looks and figure of a Rachel, they may be weak-eyes as a Leah but never mind, Still They Were First!!!
Let’s Respect the Rights of those who are our Elders in Age and Honor, because They Were First. They have the first claim on the Promises, Blessings and Good Things of God. We need to step aside and allow them to be Served First. We must Serve Them Until the Time Appointed of God. We must Learn to Wait Our Time!!!
And that leads me to suggest that in the Third Place, If we Fail to Trust God:
III. WE WILL NOT WAIT ON GOD.
It was because Jacob had refused to Wait God’s Time for the fulfillment of His Promise that he had involved himself in so much trouble, and had to leave home and flee from Esau. And so now he had to wait Seven Years before he could marry Rachel, and had to serve Seven More Years after they were married!
Patience was one of the first lessons we had to learn in childhood. The child who does not learn to be patient is not likely to learn much of anything else. It takes patience to learn to read, to spell, to write and to master the multiplication table. It even takes patience to grow. God has ordained that maturity is a slow process, not an instant experience.
But patience is also a lesson we are still learning as adults. For Abraham got tired of waiting for the promised son; so he hurried and took Hagar as a second wife, and she bore him Ishmael.
Moses got impatient and killed a man. This necessitated forty years of postgraduate work in the pastures of Midian. Years later, Moses became impatient again, smote the rock and lost a trip to the Holy Land.
Part of the problem is that we are prone to walk by sight and not by faith. God assures us in His Word that He is busy on our behalf, but we still want to see something happen. At the exodus, the Israelites were sure that God had deserted them and destruction was on the way. Listen to the wind! See how dark it is! And yet God was working for His people in the wind and in the darkness.
We need to understand that God’s Delays Are Not God’s Denials. They are usually the means which God uses to prepare us for something better. God is always at work for the good of His people and He is working in all things. This includes the things that perplex us and that pain us. The only way God can teach us patience is to Test and Try Us; and the only way we can learn patience is to Surrender and Let God Have His Way. God’s Delays Are Not God’s Denials.
Perhaps the hardest place to be patient is in the Furnace of Suffering. God does not always explain what He is doing or why He is doing it. It is in the hour of suffering that we need to “imitate those who thru faith and patience inherit the promises.” For we have need of endurance, so that after we have done the will of God, we may receive the promise.
If God makes you patient, then God can trust you with whatever is in His gracious will. But the school of patience never produces any graduates and it never grants any honorary degrees. We are always learning, always maturing. Sometimes we fail the examination even before we know what the lesson is! But it really doesn’t matter, because our loving Father is guiding us and making us more like His beloved Son, and that is all that matters.
God does not make us patient right away; for even Almighty God must take time to turn clay into useful vessels. The best thing you and I can do is to Stop looking at our Watches and Calendars and simply Look by Faith into the face of God and let Him Have His Way in His Time. For to Fail to Trust God results in Serving Human Masters, Disrespecting the Rights of our Elders and an Inability to Wait On God’s Timing.
Trust Him...He’s Reliable...Trustworthy...Faithful.
Trusting God eventually Pays Good Wages! … Trusting God elevates the Last Over the First! … Trusting God makes the Wait Worth It All!!!