Summary: Jacob the deceiver meets his match.
Let’s Make a Deal
We continue this morning with the life of Jacob, whom Jesus names along with his father, Isaac, and grandfather, Abraham as being alive and in special relationship to God. We have to keep the after picture clearly in mind when reading about Jacob. If we don’t, we might ask how this rascal could be one of His saints. As we have studied, Jacob had cheated his brother Esau out of the birthright and then stole his blessing by deceiving Isaac and even lying using the LORD’s name as part of the lie. The LORD had a lot to do with Jacob to transform him. The LORD had promised great blessings to Jacob, and He is good to His word.
Last week, we saw how Jacob had arrived at his uncle’s house, having met his daughter Rachel at the well. It looked like th LORD was in the arrangements. Jacob was in love, and Rachel was the daughter of Laban whom his mother had instructed to marry. It looked like happiness ever after.
In today’s passage, things appear to continue smoothly. H e had been there thirty days as Laban’s guest. It is hard to say whether he took advantage of hospitality for that month or whether he helped with the sheep. But after thirty days, Laban lets Jacob know he needs to earn his keep. Shepherding is hard, dirty, and sometimes dangerous work. It ranks with hoeing cotton in the blistering Southern US sun. Many of you have stories like this one, and it has been the cause of seeking better employment elsewhere.
So it was time to make a deal. Jacob shows how much he loves Rachel by agreeing to work seven years for her. Usually it was the bride’s family to pay a dowry to the groom. But Jacob agreed to hard labor to purchase his beloved. Laban must have been delighted with the deal. He agreed and set up the wedding. For Jacob it was buy now and pay later. And boy he would pay.
Wedding feasts were a big affair in the Ancient Near East. It lasted for a week. The entire community came together and there was much food, drink, and festivity. On the first night the bride was introduced into the tent of the groom to consummate the marriage. Jacob was probably a bit tipsy on drink and his joy that his beloved was his. So under cover of darkness, the veiled bride was introduced into the tent and the marriage consummated.
Morning was a rude shock when he woke up nest to Rachel’s sister, Leah. He had been tricked.by his uncle Laban. Jacob had more than met his match with his wily uncle. He who had deceived both his father and brother had himself suffered the pain of deceit He confronts Laban about it who says that the younger daughter cannot marry before the older. It was a pretty lame excuse. But Jacob had consummated the marriage with Leah, so he had to keep the deal and work seven years for her. What pain he felt.
Now Laban pulls another one of his deals. After the wedding week for Leah, you can work another seven years for Rachel, another buy now pay later. But Jacob loved Rachel so much that he agreed to the terms. Seven years for a despised wife, and then seven years for the love of his life. Since these were his only wages, other than basic subsistence, he would have nothing after 14 years but his wives. This looked like a road to perpetual slavery. O what a cruel deal! But Rachel was his. To him the price was right. But he would not be going home to his father and his father’s blessings anytime soon.
So, we see this as a love story with a twist. It is easy to get swept away by the romance, especially when we can get the emotional lift without having to go out into the field and tend the sheep for his deceitful father-in-law. It is so much easier to sympathize for the difficulties for others than it is to go through it one’s self. Perhaps this brought him unto a little bit of understanding to the pain Esau felt by being deceived by Jacob,
God had to bring Jacob to the realization that as one who has been chosen and blessed by the LORD, he had an obligation to be a blessing to others and not a curse. God is always honest in his interactions. He never deceives anyone. Anyone who bears the image of God as his/her child has the spiritual DNA of the Father. In other words like father, like son. God the Father is in every way perfect. That perfection at some point must start to come out.