Summary: When the "realities" around us seem to crumble and fall, we must rely upon the "Kingdom Realities" of God’s promises.
Texts: Genesis 29:15-30
Date: Sunday, July 28, 2002
Author: Rev. Jonathan K. Twitchell
The floor I lived on my Freshman year in college was known for pranks. Oh, I didn’t get too involved, playing pranks on other people was never really my idea of a good time, but the guys on Second Shields (including my roommate Justin) managed to get involved in quite a bit of friendly pranks. Usually, these pranks would start out small, like putting saran wrap over someone’s door while they were sleeping, or dumping cold water on someone while they were in a nice warm shower. Generally, a small prank would be played, and the recipient of the prank would come up with something a little bit better, in order to get the prankster back. The whole floor would watch in anticipation, knowing that these pranks would eventually get out of hand and some real excitement would follow. Mid-range pranks included turning desk and bureau drawers upside down so the contents would spill on the floor the next time they were opened, or stealing laundry out of the dryer and scattering it around campus. More serious pranks might include filling a 33-gallon trash can up with water and leaning it up against the outside of someone’s door, so when they opened it in the morning they would have a half-inch of water all over their floor. Then there was the time that someone filled a trash bag with shaving cream, slipped the opening under someone’s door and stomped on the bag, shooting shaving cream over everything in the room. I’ve heard stories of prank wars which escalated to the point of major pranks, like: carrying someone’s bed - with them sleeping on it - and setting it outside the cafeteria. Or, the time that someone got back from winter break to discover that the door to their dorm room had simply disappeared. Where there was once a door, there was now simply sheetrock and paint, taped, spackled, and painted to match the rest of the hall. While I was glad to never have been involved, it was sometimes quite amusing to watch the creative juices of my classmates at work. It was always fun to watch people storm around campus after they had been “GOT” with a major prank. And, somewhere deep inside, we always liked it when someone who had been dishing out lots of pranks finally “got what was coming to them.”
Some might say Jacob got what was coming to him in Genesis chapter 29. After his continuing deceit and treachery to his brother Esau, and later to his father Isaac, we might start cheering for Laban as we watch him deceive Jacob. As the audience, we watched Jacob be born, second in line to his brother, grabbing at his heel, trying to get ahead even in childbirth. We were disgusted as he charged his brother Esau an outrageous price for a simple bowl of stew, and horrified when he dressed up in a costume to trick his own father into blessing the wrong son while lying on his deathbed. And now, we have a hard time holding in the cheers when we see him come storming out of his tent the morning after his wedding realizing that he had been gotten BAD, and that the joke was finally on him. Seven years of his life had he given in exchange for beautiful Rachel, yet he awoke in the morning realizing he had married ugly Leah. Whether it was the lack of lighting, or perhaps too much partying, feasting, and alcohol, we may never know. But somehow, Jacob managed to consummate his marriage, not with Rachel, whom he had bargained for, but with her less-than-attractive older sister Leah.
Hear our scripture narrative this morning from Genesis 29:
15 Laban said to him, “Just because you are a relative of mine, should you work for me for nothing? Tell me what your wages should be.”
16 Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 17 Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel was lovely in form, and beautiful. 18 Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, “I’ll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel.”
19 Laban said, “It’s better that I give her to you than to some other man. Stay here with me.” 20 So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.
21 Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife. My time is completed, and I want to lie with her.”
22 So Laban brought together all the people of the place and gave a feast. 23 But when evening came, he took his daughter Leah and gave her to Jacob, and Jacob lay with her. 24 And Laban gave his servant girl Zilpah to his daughter as her maidservant.