Summary: Jacob lived a stressful life, and so do many of us. Yet we can escape some of the pressures of stress by following the Lord.
Living The Complex, Stressful Life
1. One of the stranger creatures in our world is a Tarsier.
2. You can see how weird it looks (Show photo, retrieve from the internet).
“The Tarsier is one of the smallest primates and lives in the forests of Borneo and Sumatra and the Philippines. Tarsiers have a maximum body length of 6⅓ inches and a 10½ inch tail. Their eyes are so large that they would be equivalent to grapefruit-sized eyes in a human being.
Tarsiers, along with animals from the genus Galago, are the only primates able to turn their heads through 180-degrees in each direction. Galagos, known as bush babies, also share the Tarsier’s large eye-to-body ratio. They can be found in sub-Saharan African forests.” [http://www.christiananswers.net/kids/biggest-eyes.html]
3. When seeing the picture of this small creature, I thought, "Hmm. They would probably make great pets. Or aliens. But then I read:
"Tarsiers have never formed successful breeding colonies in captivity, and when caged, tarsiers have been known to injure and even kill themselves because of the stress. [Wikipedia]
4. Some animals do better in captivity than others; some can be good pets, but others cannot.
5. Not all of us handle stress well. A lot of this is based on genetics, although no one really wants to say this. The playing field is not level: we all have strengths and weaknesses, and, generally, great strengths are usually accompanied by great weaknesses. If you have parented a number of children, I do not have to convince you that some of your kids naturally handle stress better than others. Some people handle stress like it is nothing, others are upset at the mere mention of the word "change."
6. But all of us are called to live in a world filled with stress. We don’t have to look for it, it looks for us. It comes at us in varying degrees and sometimes unpredictably. Even if we are not naturally good at handling stress, we are forced to cope or shatter.
42 percent of workers reported that yelling and verbal abuse took place where they worked. * One in ten said that physical violence had occurred where they worked. * 34 percent had lost sleep because of workplace stress, and 23 percent had been driven to tears. * Almost two-thirds, 65 percent, identified workplace stress as a problem for them personally. [sermoncentral]
7. I am among those who do not naturally handle stress well. It is a constant struggle for me, and sometimes I fail -- all too often. But I do a much better job of it than I otherwise would because of what I have learned from God’s Word.
8. Jacob’s life is an example of uncertainty, change, and stress in action -- lots of it.
Main Idea: Jacob lived a stressful life, and so do many of us. Yet we can escape some of the pressures of stress by following the Lord.
I. Jacob’s Life Was Stressful and COMPLEX
A. Jacob produced a LARGE family (29:31-30:24)
1. Leah’s PITIFUL hope to become Jacob’s Favorite (29:31-29:24)
Everyone wants to be loved, and a wife naturally wants her husband to love her more than anyone else. Look at vs. 32, 33,34,35
It is hard not to feel for her.
2. Rachael, Zilpah, and Bilhah produce MORE sons for Jacob (30:1-24)
• You can also feel for Rachael; Jacob loved her, but she could have no children. Look at 30:1-2
• Finally, she gives her handmaid Bilhah to Jacob to have children. This is sort of a surrogate mother sort of thing; Bilhah’s children would be considered Rachel’s.
• Then, to make up for lost ground, Leah gives Zilpah to Jacob to do the same thing.
• Then Rachel finally has children, and Leah begins having children again.
• Talk about stress and tension in the family. What a mess.
3. At this point, ELEVEN sons and probably many daughters
4. One more son, BENJAMIN, would be born later to Rachael
5. This wasn’t just a large family; it was a large, messed up family; Jacob would have to try to quell the constant friction and jealousy between Rachel and Leah.
B. Jacob’s PLAN to accumulate wealth (30:25-43)
1. Jacob doesn’t TRUST Laban
He is ready to move on, but Laban encourages him to stay and accumulate wealth.
They reach an agreement: all speckled and spotted sheep and goats would belong to Jacob. Jacob suggested this, because he knew Laban would accuse him of cheating. This was above board. No one could argue about which livestock were his.
2. Jacob himself is not TRUSTWORTHY
Through selective breeding, Jacob’s flocks are strong and many, while Laban’s were weaker and not as prolific. Jacob is getting rich, and Laban’s sons -- along with Laban -- are jealous.