Summary: Jacob's trials in Haran teach us the Lord sends trials into our lives to test our commitment and to refine us to me more like Jesus.
I have had the privilege to disciple many new believers. I’ve seen and heard many testimonies of new believers, some were private and some were public at times such as baptisms and public testimony. The ones that concern me the most, the ones that I fear will not make it in their walk with God are the ones with the greatest hubris and unbridled enthusiasm. When I hear a person say, “I’ll never fail the Lord,” I get really worried. This comes by way of personal experience, but I think that the principle is born out in Scripture.
The reason is that testing always follows commitment. It’s easy to make commitments. Sometimes we are moved by an emotional sermon, or we are desperate for God’s help during a time of suffering or failure. But then comes the testing which reveals whether or not our commitment was real.
Jesus talks about this in the parable of the soils in Matthew 13. There, the seed of the gospel is planted in four types of soils. Only one produces a mature plant that will bear fruit. One out of four never sprouts up. Two out of four show some signs of life, but then quickly die off. Only the seed planted in good soil produces fruit. One out of four. I’m not certain that Jesus is giving us hard and fast percentages here, but my own experience bears out the statistical truth of this parable. The fact is that many who make commitments to Christ fail to carry out those commitments. The life of Joseph illustrates this principle.
Our focus in this message is for new believers, or for those who have just made commitments to the Lord. Perhaps this is a message we should preach on the first Sunday of January, after New Years resolutions are forged!
Jacob is at a turning point in his life. In fact, I believe that his experience at Bethel represents the first time that he truly trusted God. Now he is in Haran, a far away place where his commitment to the Lord will be tested.
JACOB is our picture of the CHRISTIAN LIFE
HARAN is our picture of the lessons that God must teach us if He can ever use us.
Our text is Genesis 29:15-30. This is the story of Jacob’s love for Rachel, and the deception of Laban in substituting Leah for Rachel on the wedding night and for forcing Jacob to work for him for twenty years. While this story is about weddings, work, deception and disappointment, the context of the story is found in Genesis 25:19 "This is the account of Abraham’s son Isaac. Abraham became the father of Isaac.” Note the phrase, “This is the account...” The Hebrew word here is Toledot. It is used throughout Genesis to give us the key characters, and in my opinion, the key divisions of this book. Genesis is a book about PEOPLE. Every story, every event in Genesis is given to demonstrate the fact that God works through people, and that people are accountable to him. This particular section of Jacob, Rachel, Leah and Laban is part of a bigger context. God is working through Jacob to bring about nation that he promised to Abraham. Throughout the book of Genesis, God is working out HIS PLAN through the people He created. Jacob is part of that plan, just like you and I are a part of that plan. The story of Jacob at Haran can teach us all an important principle about our lives and our walk with the Lord.
Haran is meant to represent something in our lives. It represents the testings that follow commitment. Let’s learn these lessons together.
After Bethel, for the first time, Jacob is a man who is WALKING WITH GOD.
But there are still some important LESSONS that God must teach Jacob. Other men and women of God had to learn these lessons.
For MOSES, it was 40 years of preparation tending Jethrow’s sheep
For PAUL, serving God was preceeded by 14 years in an “undisclosed location” (Galatians 2:1)
Even our Savior spent 30 years in relative seclusion and preparation for his three years of public ministry.
Our patriarch JACOB will spend 20 years in Haran (Gen 31:38).
This particular part of the story contains both POSITIVE and NEGATIVE elements
Jacob takes some BOLD STEPS, but also learns important lessons to help him overcome his former ways.
LESSON #1. Jacob Learns to TRUST GOD.
For Jacob, like most of us, the biggest question of our youth concerns love and marriage. In a good way, Jacob learned to trusts God for a wife. 29:15-20. Jacob left Beesheva for two reasons. One was to flee from Esau’s wrath, the other was to find a wife from among his grandfather’s people (Genesis 27:48- 28:4). His pursuit and his ambitions were good! Proverbs 18:22 tells us "He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord."