Summary: This sermon covers Jacob’s dealings with Laban in Haran for 20 years - and how God worked through it all.
June 19, 2005 Episode III - Jacob and Laban - Genesis 30-31
A part of the job of a teacher or a trainer is to look for the weaknesses in your pupil in order to strengthen them. The job of a student or trainee is to then LISTEN to the assessment of the teacher and to then follow the regiment that is prescribed for him or her. If a student is not willing to work or to listen, the student cannot grow.
Imagine God as your trainer. He knows your weaknesses. He knows the temptations that are bound to make you fall - when you are at your weakest - where you really have a potential for the devil to attack. If you’ve got a problem with letting your emotions overrule what you know is right, he knows it. If you have a tendency to get really angry over seemingly small things, he knows where you need more strength. The only way you can make a muscle stronger is if you exercise it. So if you have a weakness with patience, He knows when and how to test it. If you have a weakness with emotions, he works on it. He doesn’t confer with you on your training program. He doesn’t ask for your permission. He simply allows and guides the way your life goes in order to TRAIN you.
Some of our greatest lessons come from experience - especially in dealing with people. I think I’ve personally learned more about patience and love through my children and wife than I could through a thousand books. When we are thrown in situations where we have to deal with people - sinful people - including ourselves - it can really teach us a lot about ourselves and others as well.
Do you wonder why, then, people love to resign to a television or a computer instead of just talking to their family and spouses when they get home? Why? Because these relationships take work. They take patience. They take the usage of weak spiritual muscles, like patience, care, concern, and just plain love - that most of us would rather leave lie on the couch. A strong faith says to God, “I know I’m a weak person - and I need your training. Send me parents and teachers, children and family, parents and neighbors - do whatever you need to so that I can grow in faith and in godly living.” A strong faith is willing to be put in different experiential situations where we can grow in experience. Oh, for such a faith.
As we look at Jacob’s dealings with Laban, we’re going to see how God dealt with some of Jacobs greatest weaknesses - by having him deal with OTHER people - weak and sinful people. As Jacob dealt with these cousins of his, God helped him to grow. As we look at Jacob’s story continue, perhaps the Holy Spirit will help us to grow as well.
It’s Time to Go Through Some Troublesome Training
I. Training through Laban
If you look at the first two lessons, you can denote one main weakness in Jacob the heel-grabber. It was his idea that he needed to try and control how and when God would give him his blessings. God had to change this attitude in him that wouldn’t allow God to be God on his own time and his own terms. The first problem that God had to deal with in Jacob was his tendency to deception.
When Jacob arrived at Haran - after 500 miles and several months - being in his 70’s - mind you - he was overwhelmed with joy. While he was sitting by a well, one of the first people he ran into was Rachel - Laban’s daughter. I don’t know if it was love at first sight, but at any rate, Jacob couldn’t contain himself. Genesis 29:11-12 says, “Jacob kissed Rachel and began to weep aloud. He had told Rachel that he was a relative of her father and a son of Rebekah. So she ran and told her father.” He was so happy to see his cousins after this long journey.
This happiness wouldn’t last long, however. After working for Laban for a month, he finally got around to asking him what he could pay him for his work. Since Jacob was attracted to Rachel, he asked to work for his daughter - for seven years! Imagine that, young fellas. How would you respond if you met a gal that you really liked and her father said, “you be my slave for seven years, then you can marry her. But you can’t touch her until then!” This was an offer Laban couldn’t refuse! This was no easy work, either. He was put in charge of the sheep, goats and rams. Jacob later on described what he had to do. “This was my situation: The heat consumed me in the daytime and the cold at night, and sleep fled from my eyes. It was like this for the twenty years I was in your household.” (Ge 31:40-41) When animals are calving, the farmer has to get up in the middle of the night and make sure they are wiped off and clean, and that the mom does not need help getting the baby out. It is a very difficult and time consuming time of year. This is the way Jacob had to live for 20 years.