Summary: Life’s crossroads can be messy, but sometimes you cannot walk around the mud, but you must march right through it. Yet even [when we are] walking through the mud, God does not abandon His children.
A Bitter Goodbye
1. At Kokomo’s Jackson Morrow Park, Marylu and I were hiking. We like to walk several times a week, and a walk in the woods can add an pleasant environment. I decided to take a short cut near the creek…I thought the ground was solid, but I immediately sunk in mud up to my thigh! And I wasn’t dressed for a rigorous hike -- had on a pair of new dress pants.
2. Somehow, Marylu got the stains out.
3. My experience illustrates what happens so often in life: we are taken by surprise with trouble or messy situations. Sometimes it is caused by our own stupidity, as in my situation. Sometimes we are simply passive victims.
4. Sometimes it doesn’t matter what you do. You find yourself in a catch 22, no win situation. Jacob was in such a situation. He needed to leave Laban and return to the land of Canaan, but there was no good way to do so. No matter what he did, trouble would await him.
Main Idea: Life’s crossroads can be messy, but sometimes you cannot walk around the mud, but you must march right through it. Yet even [when we are] walking through the mud, God does not abandon His children.
I. Sometimes There Is No GOOD Way to Accomplish What You Need to Do
A. Jacob develops an EXIT strategy (17-18)
• This is the "least worst" choice.
• Jacob’s children were young. The oldest boy, Reuben, was about 12; the youngest, Joseph, was about 6. He set them on camels.
• They would sneak out without saying goodbye.
B. Rachel steals her father’s GODS (19)
1. "Why did she even want them? Perhaps she worshipped these idols. People can be stubborn and do things for comfort, sometimes very wrong things, like worshipping an image. Perhaps Rachel was not yet converted to faith in Yahweh. This is my view.
2. Perhaps she thought they gave her father magic power; Laban, we know from previous texts, followed divination, fortune telling.
3. Most scholars lean to the idea that the household idols were used to prove property rights; if you had the idols, you owned the property.
4. Some think that she took them to irritate her father as an act of revenge.
5. The idols may have been of monetary value.
6. In the Talmud, the Jews always come to the defense of Jacob and Rachel, and they think Rachel stold these idols out of the goodness of hear heart to keep her father from idolatry…why did she keep them?
C . Jacob keeps his departure SECRET (20-21)
• Situated far away from Laban, this distance would buy him some time.
D. After two days, Laban DISCOVERS Jacob is gone (22)
E. His family PURSUES Jacob (23)
• Laban & sons are likely determined to kill Jacob & drag back his family.
F. God warns Laban in a DREAM (24)
G. Laban had a BARRAGE of accusations (25-30)
1. Why did you sneak off?
2. Why did you cheat me from saying "Goodbye" to my family?
3. Why did you steal my gods?
H. Jacob’s DEFENSE (31-32)
I think Jacob was correct to think this. Laban was frustrated because Jacob was now untouchable -- but Laban was the type of fellow who would have done what Jacob feared.
I. Rachel’s DECEPTION (33-35)
She has hidden the idols and sits on them, then claims to be under the weather. The deception works; Laban probably never suspected Rachel, but Jacob. Sometimes the natural born child can do no wrong, but the in-law can do no right.
J. Jacob expresses his AGGRAVATION (38-42)
1. He has no idea that Laban was right, Rachel stole the idols
2. Read aloud vs. 38-42
3. Note Jacob says that, "God is the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac." But Jacob had not come to the point yet of saying, "My God."
4. God has no grandchildren, only children.
K. They make a covenant because Laban refuses to LEARN (43-55)
1. This is a covenant of mistrust
2. Laban thinks of his daughters and grandchildren as his, not Jacob’s.
3. He acts like he is doing a favor to Jacob by letting him go
4. He has been forced to do this by God, but is still a control freak at heart
5. Laban kisses his daughters and grandchildren
6. Sometimes the best relational solution is to see certain people no more!
Life’s crossroads can be messy, but sometimes you cannot walk around the mud, but you must march right through it. Yet even [when we are] walking through the mud, God does not abandon His children
II. God is the God of the MESSY Times, Not Just the Neat Ones