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Developing Promise

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Change is necessary

Baby animals are pretty much the cutest things in the world.
Pet stores with puppies in them aren’t as popular as they used to be.
I remember going to the mall and always wanting to go by the pet store.
And in the window of the store there’d be those puppies, and you’d always want one.
It’s hard to say no to a puppy.
When I was in high school, I really wanted a dog, but my mom said there was no way we were getting one.
One morning, my dad and I found a whole litter of puppies, about 7 weeks old, out in a field.
The perfect age to bring home a puppy.
They were abandoned in the field in a box.
But remember, my mom had said I couldn’t get a dog.
A couple of my brothers and sisters were with us when we found these puppies.
So what we did, was have each sibling held onto a puppy.
Then when we came home, there’d be all these cute puppies that we were attached too.
There’s no way my mom could say no to all these puppies.
It’s hard to say no to puppies.
Kittens are so cute.
Soft.
Loveable.
Even if you don’t like cats, you have to like kittens.
There’s a pet store that I go to every few weeks, and in this pet store, occasionally, they have kittens for sale, or for almost free.
I’ve already got a cat, but sometimes I see them and I think, “I could use one more.”
But as cute as baby animals are … if you’re a pet owner, you don’t want to have baby animals forever.
Puppies are cute, but when you have a puppy, what you want more than anything else is for that puppy to turn into a dog.
You look forward to him being housebroken.
You look forward to being able to trust him.
God certainly loves us.
And when we are first saved, we are kind of like that puppy.
We love the attention we receive from God.
He’s chosen us.
We love the great love He has for us in His Son.
We are like a puppy, in that we stumble around.
We act immature.
We make mistakes that immature people do.
But no one wants a puppy forever.
And God doesn’t a puppy forever.
But He doesn’t want us to remain a puppy.
He expects us to mature and to grow up.
We are continuing going through the book of Genesis.
Today we will cover 3 chapters of Genesis, .
And in this passage, we are watching God mature Jacob.
It’s time for Jacob to grow up.
It was cute watching him stumble around when he was younger
Trick his brother.
Put on goat skins.
But obedience school has started.
It’s time for him to grow up.

Don’t read this - The Easy Life

As we begin our time with Jacob, things are going well for him.
He’s a puppy.
He’s just had an incredible experience with God.
A vision of a ladder.
God communicating with him.
God making promises to him.
God promising to be with him.
Can you relate to this time?
Often it comes when you are first converted or after a weekend away.
You have spent this great time with the Lord.
Sometimes we call it a Mountaintop Experience.
And now Jacob’s on his way to his mother’s homeland.
He was always a momma’s boy, and perhaps his mom had told him the story about how she met his father, Isaac.
Abraham had sent a servant to her homeland to find a husband for Isaac.
He had said a prayer, that the woman God had in mind for Isaac would be made clear.
He prayed that Isaac’s future bride would come out and water his camels.
And that she would be the one.
And now, Jacob is going to the very town that Rebekah, his mom, came from.
He’s most likely, at the very same well.
Maybe he’s even prayed the same prayer as that servant did, a generation before.
“God bring my future wife here.”
And while there at the well, a group of shepherds show up to water their sheep.
He asks if they know Laban, that’s his uncle.
They say they do.
Then what do you know, Rachel shows up with her sheep!
Jacob sees Rachel.
Rachel sees Jacob.
This is literally, a match made in heaven.
They just met, but Jacob kisses her and weeps, because he knows she’s the one.
This is probably one of the most romantic spots in the Bible.
Jacob’s love for Rachel is no fly by night kind of thing.
He meets her father, his uncle, Laban.
Laban’s not so sure about Jacob.
He was probably out on the front porch cleaning his gun, and he found out some random man ran up and kissed his daughter at the well.
Laban wants to know what kind of person Jacob is, so Jacob stays with Laban for a month.
At the end of the month, Laban says that it is okay for Rachel to marry Jacob.
Notice the dowry.
The dowry, the price for marrying Rachel.
Men, I know we don’t have dowries, but looking back on your own marriage, this is a dangerous question, what would you have paid to marry your wife?
Jacob says he would work for 7 years to marry Rachel.
7 years.
7 years, and his wage was marrying Rachel.
7 years is a long time.
But he’s in love.
In it says, “So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her.”
Those words seem straight out of Shakespeare.
Jacob’s a puppy at this point.
Puppy’s enjoy life.
They wag their tales.
They chase butterflies.
Nothing can go wrong for a puppy.

Then there’s the Marriage

He serves the 7 years, and God begins working on Jacob.
Up until now, Jacob’s been a swindler.
His name means deceiver or trickster.
He took advantage of his brother for a birthright.
He tricked and lied to his dad in order to secure a blessing.
He’s a sneaky guy.
But he’s about to get a taste of his own medicine.
He works for 7 years for Laban.
At the end of 7 years he goes to his uncle, and said, “Give me my wife that I may go in to her, for my time is completed.”
Laban had two daughters.
His older daughter was named Leah.
The younger was Rachel.
The description of these girls is interesting, if not sad.
Leah is described as having weak eyes.
What does that mean?
They didn’t sparkle.
They didn’t stand out.
She’s not the pretty daughter.
Meanwhile, Rachel is described as beautiful in form and appearance.
Actually, I feel pretty bad for Leah.
Her entire description here isn’t … flattering.
Rachel’s name means ewe.
Which means a female sheep.
In the Bible, sheep are described as gentle.
Fragile.
Loved.
Cared for.
After David had his affair with Bathsheba, then conspired to have her husband killed in battle, Nathan approached David.
He used the story of a young lamb, cruelly stolen and killed to melt the heart of David and convict him of sin.
Sheep and ewes illicit loving feelings.
Meanwhile, poor Leah.
What does her name mean?
He name means … cow.
All this to say, Jacob fell in love with the right daughter.
Well it comes time for the marriage.
They have a feast.
The odds are a lot to drink.
Laban brings his daughter to Jacob.
And in the morning, Jacob wakes up, and the woman next to him is not Rachel.
It’s Leah!
This is like something from a country song.
He was tricked.
And he was tricked in the very same way that he tricked his father.
He tricked his father by dressing up like Esau, and getting a blessing.
And now, Laban has tricked Jacob by dressing Leah up like Rachel, and giving her to him instead.
The problem is that he’s married to Leah.
There’s no undoing the marriage.
He’s married to her.
He spent the night with her.
He’s consummated the marriage.
And so through the deception of Laban, Jacob’s starting to get a taste of his own medicine.
God is going to refine Jacob.
He’s going to mature Jacob.
And He’s going to do this by using his cruel, lying, pagan uncle, Laban.
After being tricked into marrying Leah, Jacob confronts Laban.
Laban makes up a lie that says it’s their custom to not give away the younger daughter, who would be Rachel, before the older daughter, who would be Leah.
Laban makes Jacob another offer, he says, if he promises to serve another 7 years, he can marry Rachel in 7 days.
Now we see how much Jacob loves Rachel.
This means he’s willing to work for 14 years to marry Rachel.
He’s beginning to learn the price and the pain of lying and deception.
God’s teaching him first hand the cost of sin and what it’s like to be sinned against.
You might be thinking to yourself, “Why would God let this happen?”
“If God loved Jacob, wouldn’t He have protected him against such a deception?”
And the answer is no.
Puppies are cute, but you don’t want a puppy forever.
It’s cute when they chew on your hand when they’re little.
It’s not so cute when they are bigger.
And because you like your dogs, you train them and you discipline them.
The same thing with God.
The correcting hand of God is not punishment, but a means to sanctification.
It’s because God loves you that when you sin, and you sin, He doesn’t abandon you, but He corrects.
Let me give you a scary thought, it’s those that God doesn’t love, that He doesn’t correct.
It’s those that God doesn’t desire to spend time with into eternity that He lets remain in sin.
Perhaps you’ve wondered why it is that the wicked seem to get away with things.
Solomon asked this in Ecclesiastes.
There’s that saying, “Nice guys finish last.”
Maybe you’ve wondered why this is.
God doesn’t correct them now, because the day is coming when they will face His eternal judgment.
But it’s specifically, those that God loves, and loves salvifically, through Christ, it’s these people that He corrects.
says, “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.”
Who is it?
Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline ...”
An encouraging thought is that God disciplines and He corrects.
says, “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives. It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.”
One of the most perverse and dangerous places in the world is the toy aisle of a grocery store.
Have you ever gone by it in the store?
There’s some poor mom, with 3 screaming kids.
They want some cheap plastic toy, that’s not worth the packaging it’s in.
And they’re screaming.
They’re begging their mom to buy them something.
I’m sure you’ve seen it.
There’s usually a warning.
Because you can hear the whining children from 3 aisles away.
Sometimes I want to go down that aisle.
First, I’ll go to the baking aisle, and I’ll grab a wooden spoon.
Then I’ll go down that toy aisle with the screaming kids.
And then I’ll show them some love.
I wish that poor mom would start spanking and correcting her kids.
But what’s keeping me from spanking random people’s kids?
Well, I’m pretty sure it’s illegal for me to spank random kids.
But also, I am not responsible for other people’s children in that sense.
It’s a parents right and responsibility to spank and discipline their kids.
says, “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.”
When God disciplines you, that’s an encouraging demonstration that He recognizes you as one of His children.
says, “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives. It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.”
This means, by God disciplining you, that Christ has died for you.
You’ve been declared righteous because of Him.
Discipline is proof that He has adopted you as one of His own.
Perhaps you’re in the thick of it right now.
It seems as if everyone is out to get you.
Nothing is going right.
Maybe it’s time to stop thinking of yourself as the victim.
Change your thinking to:
What is the Lord teaching you?
Are you being corrected?
And if you are, then be patient as He corrects you.
-4 says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
And later in on verse 12 it says it’s a blessing.
This means be encouraged when you are corrected.
Know that you are blessed when you are corrected.
And allow God to patiently refine you.

The next phase is how God uncommonly prospers Jacob.

I say uncommonly because it’s not normal.
There are some things in the Bible that are descriptive, not necessarily prescriptive.
It’s describing how something happened.
Not prescribing how we should pursue things.
There are many things that are uncommon, that are descriptive in this passage.
The first, is probably easiest to spot.
Jacob had 2 wives.
And even worse they were both sisters.
Both of these things would be forbidden in the law.
Polygamy is adultery.
Not only is polygamy outlawed in the law, but so is marrying two sisters at the same time.
This means its something that is double-wrong.
It’s adultery and then some.
And this poor marriage, it’s not something I would say is healthy.
Jacob loved Rachel.
And he withheld his love to Leah.
In verse 31 it says that he hated Leah.
This doesn’t mean that he loved her less.
The word means what it says.
He hated her.
It’s the same word that is used for God’s hatred of idols, false worship and pagan feasts.
It’s the same word used to describe how Joseph’s brothers felt for him.
Jacob hated Leah.
And perhaps saddest of all, is Leah’s lack of being loved, by anyone in her life.
Her father sold her to Jacob, like a used car salesmen selling a broken down, but freshly Ford Pinto to a foolish buyer.
Laban treated Leah like a faulty product that would be recalled in a couple years.
Then her husband hated her.
Then when she gave birth to a son, she thought that this would make it so Jacob loved her.
Sadly it didn’t.
You can see the sadness in Genesis 29:34.
She said, “Now this time my husband will be attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.”
And yet, Jacob still didn’t love her … he impregnated her, but didn’t love her.
How about , children later, when she says, “God has endowed me with a good endowment; now my husband will honor me, because I have borne him six sons.”
6 kids and still no honor or love from Jacob?
These two women, I feel bad for both of them.
One is unloved.
Then there is the loved one, Rachel, and she feels as if she’s a bad wife because she hasn’t become pregnant.
The next chapter and a half read like a nuclear arms race between the Soviet Union and the USA during the Cold War.
Rachel gives her handmaidens to Jacob as wives, but claiming their children as her own.
Only to have Leah counter in the same way.
The next chapter in a half describes Leah and Rachel’s pursuit of children.
By the middle of chapter 30, Jacob has 11 sons, and one daughter.
The 12th son, Benjamin doesn’t come till later.
But remember, Jacob is in obedience school.
We began our passage with him as a reckless puppy.
He went through a hard stretch when he first met Laban.
He’s being corrected by God.
He’s learning that God is faithful to His promises, but often in ways we’d never expect.
Though Leah was unloved by Jacob, and perhaps even her father, God certainly was kind to her.
She gave birth to:
Reuben
Simeon
Levi
Judah
Isaachar
and Zebulun.
What’s most notable in this list is that her children included Levi and Judah.
Levi, became the tribe where the priests came from.
And Judah?
That’s where the kings came from.
David.
Solomon.
But the greatest of the descendants of Judah was Jesus.
Leah, the unloved wife, would become the great, great, great, great, grandmother to the Christ.
As if again to throw things in Jacob’s face.
Earlier in his life he stole a blessing from his brother Esau.
But now, instead of his greatest blessings going to Rachel’s children … they go to Leah’s.
And in these 11 sons God began to fulfill those promises that He had given to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
These 11 sons and 1 more who would come later, would end up becoming the fathers of the 12 tribes of Israel.
And isn’t that how life goes?
We try to control so much of life.
We plan out the next 5 years of our lives.
Then the next 10 and the next 20.
And things rarely go the way we think they should go.
So how are we to respond to the future?
Remember, that God is sovereign over the future.
He’s the author of today and tomorrow.
Make your plans, but don’t get so caught up in your plans that you forget that God is the author of tomorrow.
says, “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.”
Jacob’s plans weren’t for Leah to have the majority of his heirs.
Yet, Jacob is being corrected by God.
He’s going from being a reckless puppy, to a patriarch.
Now think of your own life.
Are you so tied into your plans for the future, that you have grown arrogant against God’s ability to lead your life?
In your world, do your plans stand supreme.
To the person who has a hard time with change, beware.
This is a brutal lesson to learn.
It’s a painful lesson to learn.

Finally, we have a trained dog.

I enjoy training animals.
I like it when my dog is trained and I can predict his behavior.
He’s been trained and done a task so many times, I know he will do what he’s told.
After Joseph is born, Jacob decides it’s time for him to leave.
It’s time for him to take his wives and his children, and return to his homeland.
Laban’s not so keen on him leaving.
Not because Jacob’s his son-in-law, married to his daughters.
But because God has made Laban a wealthy man because of Jacob.
Jacob’s mere presence has made him a very rich man.
So Jacob comes up with a deal for him to stay, and for him to make a bit of a profit.
Jacob says that he will continue to shepherd Laban’s flocks as long as he can can have all the speckled, spotted and black sheep.
He says
Laban agrees to the deal.
But Laban is Laban, and he’s still a crook.
He takes all the striped, spotted, and black sheep, gave them to his sons and sent them out 3 days away from Jacob.
This means Jacob’s not getting any of those.
Laban is stealing from Jacob.
Now we see how Jacob has learned his lesson.
He doesn’t stress.
He doesn’t freak out.
He doesn’t do any of his previous conniving.
Instead, he takes he takes pieces of wood, and peels the bark back so that there were white streaks in them.
Then when the sheep came to breed, he would put that streaky wood in front of the strongest of the flock, and miraculously, they would produce large, spotted, striped, black sheep and goats.
I’m not a scientist.
I don’t know a whole lot about animal husbandry.
I’ve never been in a 4H club.
But I do know that putting colored pieces of wood in front of animals doesn’t produced colored animals.
It’s been a long time since I took a biology class, but I’m pretty sure it has more to do with genetics than the color of the wood.
All this to say that God worked a miracle here.
Later on in it says that God had told Jacob that if he put colored wood in front of the animals when they mated, they’d produced spotted offspring.
At the end of this time, God made Jacob a rich man.
Laban, that sneak, wasn’t so fond of Jacob’s success.
He turned against Jacob.
Even Rachel and Leah saw that Laban didn’t care about them anymore.
So they decided to take off without saying a word.
They had a 3 days head start on Laban.
After 3 days, Laban took off after Jacob.
He finally caught up with Jacob and his family.
He began by saying that he was upset because they didn’t say goodbye before they left.
I’m sure you grandparents would love to say goodbye to your grandkids.
Sadly, that’s not what he was most angry about.
He was mad because his good luck charm, Jacob, who had made him wealthy was gone.
And secondly, and sadly, Rachel had stolen his household gods.
But thankfully, God’s promise to Jacob was again fulfilled.
God had said that He would bless those who bless Jacob and curse those who curse Jacob.
Laban was going to attack Jacob, but the night before they met, God appeared to Laban and warned him not to do anything good or bad to Jacob.
The Lord had prevented Laban from harming Jacob.
Because of God’s intervention, their reunion was not a violent one, but a peaceful one.
Both parties were able to say goodbye to each other, and leave peacefully.
Jacob had begun this passage as a puppy dog.
Never having been disciplined.
Excited, but immature.
Reckless and uncorrected.
But by the end of this passage, the Lord had matured him.
He had learned the danger of deception.
Learned to be patient.
And learned that God fulfills His promises.
Where are you in your spiritual maturity?
What is it that the Lord is teaching you?
Don’t be a bad puppy.
Don’t resist His instruction.
Remember, , “For we are his workmanship ...” a work in progress.
Recognize how the Lord is refining you.
Rejoice that He loves you enough to correct.
Then submit to it.
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