Summary: God is at work in and through our lives despite our differences and dysfunction,.

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Title: And You Think Your Family Is Messed Up! (Part I)

Text: Genesis 29:15-28

Thesis: God is at work in and through our lives despite our differences and dysfunction.

Back Story

In Genesis 28 we see how a dream encounter with God had a transforming affect on Jacob.

When he woke up from his dream he set up a stone memorial pillar, consecrated it with oil and named it Bethel which means “house of God.” He then went on to make a vow to God: “If God will indeed be with me and protect me on this journey, and if he will provide me with food and clothing, and if I return safely to my father’s home, then the Lord will certainly be my God. And this memorial pillar I have set up will become a place for worshipping God, and I will present to God a tenth of everything he gives me.” Genesis 28:18-22

In Genesis 29:1 we see Jacob hurrying on toward his uncle’s home in Haran with this new inner assurance that God’s promise was good, “What’s more, I am with you and will protect you wherever you go. One day I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have finished everything I have promised you.” Genesis 28:15

As noted last week, Jacob was about to jump out of the frying pan into the fire and he would need the presence and protection of God for the years before him. He was leaving one dysfunctional family for another…


In Shrek 2 an Ogre named Shrek is married to the princess Fiona. In the story the princess took her new husband home to the Kingdom of Far Far Away to meet her parents. The King and Queen of Far Far Away were shocked to discover their new son-in-law was a big green Ogre and their beautiful princess daughter Fiona looked just like him.

When the family sat down to a royal meal the personalities and prejudices began to clash. The king and his new son-in-law glowered at each other from opposite ends of the table.

The king shouted to his son-in-law, the big green Ogre asking, “What kind of grandchildren can we expect from you?”

“Ogres!” Shrek yells in return.

Attempting to keep the peace, the queen adds, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.”

“Not unless you eat your young!” shouted the king.

As classical music played in the background the anger spreads as Fiona screams at Shrek and the queen screams at the king. Suddenly the battle broke out in earnest and a food fight was on… crackers crushed, lobster cracked, chicken shredded, fish filleted and a roasted pig flew through the air as the queen remarked “It’s so nice to have the family together for dinner.”

Dysfunction has become the go to word these days when attempting to describe anything that doesn’t work the way it would work if it were normal. It is generally used to describe a condition of having poor or unhealthy behaviors and attitudes within a group of people… hence dysfunctional families, dysfunctional workplaces, dysfunctional churches, etc. When I see or am aware of dysfunction I think, “Man, that’s messed up.”

Our text today is a continuation of a scenario of family dynamics that can only be described as messed up and dysfunctional.

Jacob had grown up in what I would say was a pretty messed up, dysfunctional home.

The Dysfunction in Jacob’s past

• Parental favoritism: Isaac favored Esau and Rebekah favored Jacob

• Jacob cheated his brother by trading a bowl of soup for his birthright

• Rebekah and Jacob colluded and connived to steal Esau’s blessing

• Jacob tricked his aged and blind father into giving him the blessing

• Esau is enraged and plots to kill his brother Jacob

• Rebekah manipulates her husband to save Jacob under the pretense of sending him to her brother’s home under the guise of getting a wife within the family rather than marrying a local pagan woman

Note! These were people God brought together in his Divine Providence. These are people through whom God would bless all the nations of the world.

And now Jacob was about to jump out of the frying pan into the fire of another messed up family.

The Dysfunction in Jacob’s future

• Laban tricked Jacob into working a total of 14 years for the privilege of marrying Rachel

• Sisters Leah and Rachel engage in a contest to see who can personally and through surrogates give Jacob the most children… result 12 sons and 1 daughter.

• Jacob practiced genetic manipulation of the sheep and goats to grow rich at his uncle Laban’s expense

• Jacob convinced his wives that their father was out to get him and the needed to return to his home

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