Summary: The Patriarchs From the Frying Pan to the Fire Genesis 32-33 Grace is not getting what we deserve and instead getting what we do not deserve.
From the Frying Pan to the Fire
September 19, 2016
We are in the midst of our series, “The Patriarchs,” and now looking at the life of Jacob. We have seen that the Patriarchs are just like the rest of us, morally frail and sinful, yet trophies of God’s grace. Turn to Genesis 29 as we see God’s grace working in the life of Jacob, “Jacob Get’s More than He Bargained for.”
Jacob is a fugitive on a journey to find a wife. He encountered God and God’s word came to him in incredible promises, evidence of God’s grace in his life and this story today must be read in light of those promises given to him. He thinks he is on the run from death, looking for a wife but God has him on a spiritual journey in which God will guide him to a wife but also a journey in which God will be shaping him for twenty years. Jacob happens upon a well with three shepherds and their flocks (2). He asks them three questions and finds out that they are from Haran, where his mother’s brother Laban is from, that they know Laban, and that he alive and well, and then they tell him that Laban’s daughter Rachel is coming with sheep (4-6). His encounter with these shepherds is in the middle of the day, an unusual time for them to be gathered together so he suggests they water their sheep and go out to pasture (7). But they cannot until all the shepherds are gathered together and a few of them roll the stone away to water their sheep (8). In the Ancient Near East, wells were covered with large flat stones to protect them from contamination and took a few men to move it. This is unusual providence here, that is, God guiding and directing the circumstance in Jacob’s life. He stumbles upon the right well, when the right shepherds are there, at a time they should not be there, and then at the right time Rachael, his cousin, shows up. God is with him (28:15), guiding the circumstance of his life for his benefit. Remember, he is on the run because of his sin yet God is gracious to him. Grace is not getting what we deserve and instead getting what we do not deserve.
While he is still speaking to the shepherds, Rachael comes with her father’s sheep (9). Jacob rolls the stone away to water her father’s sheep, then kisses her and weeps (10-11). Some see this as love at first sight but I am more inclined to see this as ingratiating himself with her and her family. Then he tells her who he is and she runs to tell daddy Laban about him (12).
Laban comes, thinking he is going to cash in as he did with his sister Rebekah many years ago. If you remember, Abraham gave his servant lots of gifts to give the family. Laban greets Jacob, kisses him, brings him home, and Jacobs retells him what he has told Rachel (13). I think Laban is disappointed. Jacob has no silver or gold, no jewelry, no garments; He has nothing. Yet Laban lets him stay and after a month he recognizes that he is a good worker so Laban offers him wages for his work (15). Then we have an editorial comment from Moses to set up the next part of the story. “Now Laban had two daughters. The name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. Leah’s eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful in form and appearance. Jacob loved Rachel (16-18a).” He is making a comparison, Leah was ugly and Rachel was beautiful. Jacob falls in in love with Rachel and wants to marry her so when Laban offers him wages, Jacob gives him an offer he cannot refuse by overpaying the bride price – he will work seven years for Rachael! So Jacob serves seven years but it seemed like just a few days because of his love for her (20). When the seven years was up, Laban neglected to honor the deal, so Jacob demands that Laban give him Rachel to consummate the marriage (21). Laban then throws a wedding feast with lots of food and drink and in the evening he sends in Leah instead of Rachel to consummate the marriage (23-24). It is dark, Leah is wearing a veil, and Jacob has probably been drinking. All night long he tells her how much he loves her as he is intimate with her, all the while thinking she was Rachel. In the morning, he awakens to find Leah next to him in bed (25). I can only imagine what he said. Laban has deceived him; Leah has deceived him. And Laban has pawned off his unloved and ugly daughter off on a man in love. In marriage, we always think we are getting a Rachel but end up with Leah. That is, we think that Rachel is the answer to our deepest longings and end up disappointed. The bible calls it idolatry.