Summary: Do you ever try to “help God out”? Or are you content even in an uncomfortable situation to trust Him?
The flow of the story is rather simple: Jacob wants to go home, but instead remains on with uncle Laban and gets rich in the mean time. The passage carries with it allot of presuppositions; starting with the obvious strain between Jacob and Laban and continuing in Jacob’s alternating faithfulness and deception. So as we look at Genesis 30:25-43 I first want us to understand it, and second I want us to figure out how to apply it.
Hoping to Leave.
The Whole Episode starts innocently enough in GENESIS 30:25-26. Jacob’s obligation was fulfilled to his father-in-law and now he wanted to go home.
Having already completed his half of the bargain, Jacob expected Laban to fulfill his. Whether we like the condition or not he had "earned" his wives by working for them
We’re told that this took place after Joseph was born. It’s then that apparently Jacob completed his seven extra years service for Rachel’s hand in marriage. Remember this had taken fourteen years altogether. Seven of them married to these two warring women.
When that service was completed, Jacob asked Laban to send him away. We have to ponder the question “Why didn’t he just go?” Apparently he recognized Laban’s authority over him as father in law, and more than that as the son in law he had an obligation to provide for Laban in his old age.
In northeastern Iraq About ten miles southwest of Kirkuk in Iraq is an archaeological dig which is commonly referred to by the ancient city that was situated there. The city was named Nuzi (noozee). While digging there some Stone Tablet’s were discovered in Nuzi1 These stone tablets contain a lot of legal documents and they provide for us a primary source of knowledge about the life and customs of ancient middleastern culture outside of the scriptures. The short message is that these tablets teach us that it was expected of a son-in-law to care for his father in law in his old age.
Now this is especially true for a man who didn’t have sons, but Laban had sons and since they were more than capable of taking care of their father Jacob was asking for more than leave to go home, he was asking to be relieved of this duty to Laban.2
Like Jacob we desire to depart and go to our own country (Heaven Philippians 3:20), but we cannot yet go for it is not God’s timing. That must be waited upon (Gen 31:3).
In the interim we are called to serve in a world which is constantly changing the terms of our stay. (Gen 31:7) We shouldn’t be surprised at this since as with Laban the world’s terms are always changing.
Whenever we think we’re about to get "satisfaction" "joy" or "happiness" from this world the terms of the contract change on us. Getting satisfaction from this life is like chasing a Mirage. We think that in this life’s offering we see what we want and just as we reach to grab hold of it, we discover it’s position has changed, and we are left holding something less than we desired.
We are not however called to hide in this world but to labor hard in it - we dare not rest till we get home. Even so we desire to rest.
I have seen many signs that say such things as
Old BANKERS never die. They just lose interest.
Old CARPENTERS never die. They just get nailed.
Old CONTRACTORS never die. They just get remodeled.
Old MECHANICS never die. They just get overhauled.
Old SALESPEOPLE never die. They just lose their pitch.
Well I have another for you.
Old Christians never retire they just serve in different ways.
Having to stay
I’m intrigued that Laban who later when it suits him will pretend that he loved his daughters but now when the first opportunity arises to show that he instead tries not to keep THEM near him, but to keep his prized worker near him. For Laban it’s not about love or family, it’s about the equivalent of MONEY. His priorities are wrong.
I’m bothered by the fact that he gained his information through the occult, divination is an occult practice practiced in many different ways and throughout the scriptures the unrighteous often claim to gather their information through divination: which is basically asking the spirits for truth. At any rate this revelation to Laban ignites his greed. If God has blessed him because of Jacob’s presence - surely God will continue to bless if Jacob remains.
In every culture that has abandoned God utterly they have gone backwards and not forwards. Doug Wallace discovered in his own studies that "stone-age" civilization only exists and only existed where God was utterly abandoned for idols of wood and stone. (Did not God therefore give them over).