Summary: We don’t need to offend unbeleivers because we follow Jesus. Let the Cross offend them, but not us.
I once worked at a grocery store which employed a truck-driver and while his instructions were basically to get a load from point A to point B he felt on occasion that in order to meet a deadline he would have to speed or otherwise break a few laws. Yet the double edge to the sword was if he got speeding tickets he would become uninsurable and lose his job. Obviously Delbert thought he had to be careful. From my perspective he apparently opted rather to obey the laws and to show up late whenever the dilemma came. Obviously, this occasionally created some level of problems as from time to time obedience to the law meant offending nearly every one of us who were waiting for his delivery.
We’ve talked before about this concept that sometimes obedience to Jesus means an offense to the world. However, it’s not always necessary to create a problem in our obedience. Romans 12:18 says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” In no way does that mean that we can compromise our integrity or bend the word of God to fit our circumstance and make people like us. But it does mean that we have to be careful how we obey.
Tonight, as we continue in Genesis 31 with the life of Jacob we have an example of an instance in Jacob’s life where his failure to guard how he obeyed created a bigger problem than the one he thought he had avoided. Please turn to and read Genesis 31:22-55.
1 Jacobs Deception vv 20-22
He deceived Laban. Remember Jacob got into this whole mess with Laban because he had deceived his brother, and his father and now he’s trying once again to do things his way. But mark first that this time he probably thinks that he’s following orders. If you look back to the 11th verse it’s clear that God has told Jacob to return to Canaan and yet Jacob – I think unwisely – opts to deceive when he leaves.
2 God’s Interception vv 22-24
When Laban find’s out he gives chase to Jacob together with a number of his men including his sons more than likely and it’s apparent that he’s coming with vengeance in mind because God has to stop him.
God’s appearance does not somehow verify that Jacob was doing everything right as soon as we see that we’re prepared to make applications from the passage. The application certainly isn’t “deceive your enemies” God told Jacob to go home true enough but he didn’t instruct Jacob to flee under cover of deception. He came to Laban in order to protect Jacob because Jacob had been chosen, not because Jacob was worthy of protection.
God told Laban not to say anything bad to Jacob this was to protect Laban as God had already said "those that bless you I will bless, and those that curse you I will curse." So God endeavored here to protect Laban from forcing God to curse him if he cursed Jacob.
On the other hand God also warned Laban to say nothing Good to Jacob - perhaps this was to protect Laban from saying something he knew wasn’t true but probably more to protect Jacob from thinking that he had been justified in his deception of Laban (by fleeing).
Thus the command to say nothing good or bad was a referent to the extremes of blessing or of cursing. Don’t bless Jacob (I’m assuming because Jacob didn’t deserve to be blessed) and don’t curse him either (because God didn’t want to have to curse Laban). I’m convinced this is an act of mercy to Laban - who himself had been merciless in his treatment of Jacob.
God is merciful even to those who are not his promised people. That is why we are here as Gentiles who worship God in Christ Jesus. We’ve received his mercy.
3 Laban’s confrontation vv 22-30
In the 25th verse Laban finally catches up with Jacob. The idea behind the way the phrase is written is to intentionally show that they both put up camp in the same aproximate location. It also allows for the action that takes place in the next verse. In a way it is a perfect transition from the chase to Laban’s confrontation
This confrontation probably took place as the two companies were errecting tents in the end of the day.
The literal hebrew behind the complaint "You’ve decieved me" is "and you have stolen my heart". We would understand this a bit different from our perspective but Hebraicly it’s a reference to his trust in Jacob being broken. Laban’s heart trusted Jacob and Jacob’s actions have broken that sacred trust. The so called "captivity" of his daughters doesn’t indicate that they were bound captives but is an indication of the hurry with which Jacob left.