Wednesday, March 11, 2015

God’s Tool belt (Jacob, part 7)

Please note…this is "Jacob, part 7." I encourage you to scroll down and start with "Jacob, part 1."

Have you ever considered what “tools” God uses to change us?

Having fled from Esau and having received God’s promise to him, Jacob continues on his journey to his Uncle Laban’s house.  There, he falls in love with his uncle’s youngest daughter, Rachel, and agrees to work 7 years to gain her hand in marriage.  “So Jacob served seven years for Rachel and they seemed to him but a few days because of his love for her” (Genesis 20:20).  But, something goes awfully wrong on the honeymoon. Laban switches the older, homely Leah with the younger, beautiful Rachel, covers her face with a veil as is the custom in the ancient near east, and sends Leah into the honeymoon tent under the cover of night.  Jacob, the deceiver, is himself deceived, and, unfortunately, he doesn’t discover this until the morning after. OOPS!  Now, I really don’t know what eternity will be like, but there are numerous Old Testament scenes where I’d really love to grab some popcorn, plop on my heavenly couch and hit “replay.”  Can you just imagine Jacob’s face as he gazes over at his bride, in the first light of dawn, to recognize he had married Leah instead of Rachel?!  

Does Laban remind you of anyone?  He should remind us of Jacob himself.  Since Jacob is a big deceiver, God sends him to an even bigger deceiver.  God puts Jacob on the other end of the stick to see what it is like to be tricked, deceived and cheated.  God knew precisely what Jacob needed in order to become aware of the fruits of his own manipulation and deception, in order to stop trusting in his own craftiness.  How has God used this tool, the tool of consequence in your life?

Laban tells Jacob he can still marry Rachel, for another 7 years of work!  But this initiates a fierce rivalry between the two sisters, both competing for the love of their husband.  Homely Leah bears Jacob 3 sons, while Rachel is barren. Rachel gives her maid, Bilhah to Jacob, in order to have children through her. (They sure did things kinda different back then, didn’t they?!) Rachel has 2 kids through Bilhah, and says, “With mighty wrestlings I have wrestled with my sister, and I have indeed prevailed."  Leah then decides she better get moving, so she gives her maid Zilpah to Jacob, in order to have children through her.  Jacob isn’t interested in sleeping with homely Leah, so she hires him to do so, paying off Rachel, in order to have the chance at another child.  When all is said and done, Jacob ends up with twelve sons and is very, very tired!  

Doesn’t this sisterly rivalry, competing for the love of Jacob remind us of Jacob and Esau competing for the love of their parents?  Through Rachel and Leah, an all-wise God provided a mirror to Jacob, in which he could visualize the distant reflection of his own striving with his brother Esau.  Mirrors are circumstances and people who reveal us.  How has God used this tool, the tool of mirrors, in your life?

Since Jacob is being paid by Laban in livestock, Jacob figures out a way to get the strongest goats to be his, and the weakest to be Laban’s.  Laban, therefore, slowly losing his flock to Jacob, changes Jacob’s wages no less than 10 times!  As a result, Jacob’s life becomes very difficult as the tool of hardship has its affect.  As Jacob declares, by day the heat consumed me and the frost by night, and my sleep fled from my eyes” (Genesis 31:40).  God often uses hardship to break down our resistance to Him, our pride.  How has God used this tool, the tool of hardship, in your life?

So, Jacob deceives Laban yet again, running away in the middle of the night fleeing for his life, with all his family and all his flocks.  Does this remind you of anything? This is the second time Jacob has had to run away from his home due to the strife he had created.   Laban awakes in the morning, just as Jacob had on his first honeymoon, to discover that he, now, is the one who has been deceived.  And he is ticked!  For seven whole days Laban and his men track Jacob, until at last, they overtake him.

This is the moment of truth for Jacob.  But to his surprise, Laban tells Jacob, “It is in my power to do you harm, but the God of your father spoke to me last night, saying, ‘Be careful not to speak either good or bad to Jacob’” (Gen 31:29).  With Jacob out of tricks and defenseless against Laban, God revealed to Jacob that He would protect him, even if he had to speak to a bitter old man through a midnight dream.  

God’s faithfulness to all that He had promised is accomplished as God heals Jacob’s “stuff” through consequence, relationships, and hardship, not to mention God’s dreamy intervention.  Jacob’s baggage does not create an obstacle to God, but, instead, becomes the stage for God to move in on Jacob’s issues.   If it were not for the difficulties that we go through, none of the things stuck in the dried concrete of our core beliefs would EVER be addressed or changed.  But these things--consequence, relationships & hardships--are the tools of God for our healing.

What does your life reveal God is you?  What is the great Healer seeking to heal?

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