God Provides for His Own (Genesis Pt. 51)
Text: Genesis 30:25-43
By: Ken McKinley
So Jacob’s now served his uncle Laban for 14 years, and he’s ready to get out of there and go back home. And when we look at this passage, we can see that the relationship between Jacob and Laban has become pretty strained. Laban tricked him, and lied to him, and Jacob has had to work for his uncle for the past 14 years, all because of those lies. And it amazes me that Jacob actually fulfilled his end of the bargain. He worked those 14 years, without trying to cheat Laban, or pull any of his shenanigans. But now he’s fulfilled his obligations, and he’s ready to leave.
And I’m sure we’ve all experienced, or we know people who have experienced situations, maybe in their jobs, or in relationships… where their boss or their co-workers treated them badly. Maybe they took credit for something that you did, or they schemed you in some way, and you just want to get away from them and from those types of situations. Well; that’s where Jacob’s at in life. And so he goes to his uncle and basically says, “Listen, I’m ready to go, please send us away in peace.”
Now some might ask, “Well why didn’t Jacob just take off and leave? Why did he have to ask his uncle?” Well I think there’s a couple of reasons why he did it the way he did it. First of all, I think Jacob… in those 14 years of working for Laban… I think he came to understand what sort of person he was. He probably knew that Laban was going to be mad at him if he just took off. But not only that, this is his wife’s father, and his kids grandfather, and his mom’s brother. So no matter how big of a jerk Laban might have been, he was still family. So Jacob’s doing the right thing by asking this way.
And it’s interesting because there is a bit of a symbolism here.
Jacob wants to go home. He’s fulfilled his obligations, and now he wants to go home. And I think all of us are like that in a way. Like Jacob we want to go to our home… not the places we stay in here on earth, but to our heavenly home, our heavenly country, Philippians 3:20 says, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” But sometimes we still have work to do, and obligations that God wants us to fulfill. Now I’m not comparing Laban to God… Laban is compared to the world. Because just when we think we’re moving up in the world, or that we’re going to finally get what we want in this world, the world changes the terms. And so as Christians, we’ve got to keep in mind that this world is not our home, and this world can never give us lasting joy and peace and satisfaction. At the same time, God calls us to be in the world, but not of the world. And we are to occupy until He comes, or until we are called home. And so the reality is that there is no retirement from our Christian duty. We might retire from our jobs, but we are to never stop doing ministry and serving the Lord, and sharing the Gospel with others.
And so in verse 27, Laban says, “Stay!”
Now it’s interesting here, because in the NKJV, Laban says, “I have learned by experience that the LORD has blessed me because of you.” In the NIV and ESV he says, “I have learned by divination that the LORD has blessed me because of you.” And this is an instance where the NIV is a better translation, because that’s exactly what Laban is saying. And so that adds another dynamic to the whole scenario.
Laban is consorting with demons. And so Jacob, the believer has been forced to work for Laban the pagan. And not only is he a pagan, but look at what he’s concerned with here. Not his daughters, or his grandkids… he’s concerned about the material blessings he’s been getting because he’s been around Jacob.
Now there’s some principles we need to look at here.
Laban’s a pagan. He’s not a believer, but because he’s been in close proximity to Jacob, the blessings have rubbed off on him. That’s not an unbiblical idea. First of all, God has promised to bless Abraham and his offspring, and God said that He would bless those who blessed him. And that blessing is to Abraham and his offspring and ultimately to his Seed, which is Christ, and all of those who are in Him. That’s why Paul says in 1st Corinthians 7:14 that, “The unbelieving husband is sanctified by the believing wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the believing husband.” Now that doesn’t mean that they are saved by association, they are set apart, sanctified… they aren’t saved by association, but they can be blessed by association. And not only do we see that in Scripture, we see it in history. Europe was once a bastion for Christianity, but as they grow more and more secular, they become less and less blessed. The same is true for us here in the U.S. God has blessed us because at one time, we were a nation that was predominantly made up of Christians, and even those who weren’t Christians held to certain Biblical principles of morality and ideals. But as we’ve moved away from that, and the more we’ve moved away from the LORD, we are in essence removing ourselves from the blessings as well. Every culture that has abandoned God, has always moved backward, not forward, and eventually they were destroyed.
And so Laban realizes this, even though it’s through divination, and he’s all about the money, so he says to Jacob, “Listen, I want you to stay here, because I’m getting blessed by you being here. So tell me what it’s going to take to make you stay here.”
Now if you’re Jacob, you’re probably thinking to yourself, “Uh oh, what’s this guy scheming now?” I mean, you already know that Laban isn’t the most honest or trustworthy guy out there. And I kind of get the feeling that Jacob knew this was coming, and that he already had planned out what he was going to do. That’s why he answers him so quickly.
In verses 31 – 33 Jacob tells Laban what he’s willing to take for payment if he continues to work for him. Let’s read that really quickly (Read). And so Laban agrees to that, and then look what he does. He takes all the speckled and spotted goats and all the brown lambs… basically the ones that Jacob said that he would take, and he moves them about 50 miles away. In other words, Laban is going to make sure that there’s no breeding between those that Jacob said he would take, and the goats and lambs that didn’t have speckles and spots, or brown in their wool. And the agreement is that when he comes back after a certain amount of time, if the pure flock had speckles or spots, or brown coloration, they would also belong to Jacob, but if not, they all went back to Laban, and Jacob would’ve again worked for his uncle for next to nothing.
Now look at verses 37 – 39… Now I’ve tried to find out if putting striped sticks in the watering troughs and being right in front of these animals when they mated, would result in them having speckles or spots. I’ve read articles on animal husbandry, and Bible commentaries both, and it’s actually pretty interesting what Jacob did here. There’s no scientific evidence that just by looking at these different colored reeds and trees and things, that it would affect what type of goat or sheep was born, but there is scientific evidence that what Jacob did would stimulate the goats and sheep and make them go into heat more frequently. And Jacob… if you remember, had most likely watched his father Isaac’s sheep for a long time, and he’d been taking care of Laban’s for the past 14 years, so there’s a good chance that he had some kind of understanding of genetics, and he understood that the sheep and goats had both the recessive gene and the dominant gene and it was just a matter of getting the recessive to manifest.
Regardless; it was God who brought this all about. God had already promised to bless him and prosper him.
Anyway… once he starts getting some of these goats and sheep that are spotted he starts separating them from the others, and he starts what might have been the first instance of selective breeding ever recorded in history. And he makes sure that the stronger, healthier sheep and goats were breeding with the spotted and speckled ones, and eventually, Jacob has made sure that he has a good herd of sheep and goats, and he’s made sure that the ones who stayed all one color, were the weaker ones. And verse 43 says, “Thus the man became exceedingly prosperous, and had large flocks, female and male servants, and camels and donkeys.”
So Jacob was scheming here, but it was God who brought about the increase.
And when we read through this, it sounds like Jacob is the one who’s doing something really bad here. It sounds like he’s just scammed Laban out of everything. But there’s a couple of things that we need to see before we jump to judgment. If you look back up at verse 30, we see that it’s because of Jacob that Laban had such a large flock in the first place. It was Jacob’s hard work and diligence that resulted in the large flock. And not only that, but also in verse 30, Jacob basically says, “Look, I’ve worked for you for 14 years, and I’ve made you rich… but hey, I’ve got a growing family here, and I’ve gotta do what’s best for them.” So Jacob’s trying to provide for his wives and kids and Laban’s been keeping him down by making him work for basically nothing while he’s getting rich off of Jacob. Thirdly; Laban tried to scam Jacob here as well. He was like, “Sure you can work for me some more…” But then he hedged his bets, basically; by Laban taking all the spotted and speckled sheep and goats, he was perfectly fine with Jacob working and keeping his sheep for hardly nothing. I mean; this guy didn’t care about Jacob, his daughters, or his grand-kids… he just wanted the money to keep flowing in. In Laban’s mind; he was going to get Jacob to keep working for him, for next to nothing, because in his mind, there was no way there were going to be any speckled or spotted sheep or goats. Don’t think that Laban was the victim here.
Here’s the main point of this passage.
God made a promise to Jacob that He was going to provide for him, and take care of him and bless him. And God isn’t in the business of breaking promises. And that’s what we need to understand as well. God; in His Word, has promised to provide for us. He has promised to meet our needs and take care of us. Now granted; in the case of Jacob, God made him “exceedingly prosperous” and that’s the exception to the norm… but regardless; whether you’re rich or poor, or somewhere in between, if you are Christ’s, then He will meet your needs.
Learn the promises of God and stand firm on them.