GENESIS 28:1 – 30:43 AND MATTHEW 8:1–34
It’s clear that both Rebekah and Isaac have concern regarding the marriage of Jacob (Gen 27:46, 28:1). You can see Rebekah’s concern as being a bit more self-serving. In verses 1-5 Isaac instructs Jacob to go and seek one of the daughter’s from his Uncle Laban. Like Abraham his father, he had concern that he take not a daughter from the land of Canaan. He reiterates some of the blessings that were spoken upon Abraham (verses 3-4). In verses 6-9 we see Esau being a witness to all that is taking place regarding his younger brother. He sees the obedience of Jacob as he went forth per the instruction from his parents. We see his spiteful response in going to Ishmael and taking foreign wives. He knew this would be a major disappointment to his parents but did so anyways. When a person becomes bitter or offended he will oftentimes seek to invoke harm upon those he is closest too. “I’ll show them” type of mentality is often seen. Esau was greatly offended and now most envious over the events surrounding Jacob. Still, he has no one to blame but himself.
Rom 9:13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.
As noted earlier, Esau lightly regarded his privilege. He had no appetite for the things of God which resulted in his current plight. This will be something seen in Christianity as we look towards the 2nd coming. Those who have an appetite to move on in God and serve Him fully will be opposed by those who are mediocre in their walk. You see this with Korah (Num 16:1-3) who withstood Moses due to his lifting up a standard of holiness. We will be tested on our appetites. Who do we more resemble; Esau or Jacob? Remember, Jacob certainly had his issues but there was something in him that God could work with. This should encourage any of us who have struggles. God in his mercy has ways to deal with bents and strongholds within us. We shall see this shortly regarding Jacob.
In verse 10-15, Jacob comes upon a certain place and had a dream. It is a profound dream where God renews and rehearses the covenant made earlier with his grandfather Abraham. In order for the promise made to Abraham to come to pass God had to work through the succeeding generations. He spoke similarly to Isaac and now to Jacob. (We could depart from this narrative and spend time debating the merits of Calvinism and Arminianism because both are in play here.) God’s sovereign will has been clearly seen since the covenant was established through Abraham. We have noted God’s intervention on behalf of Abraham on a few occasions like when he went down to Egypt (Gen 12) or when he was in Gerar with Abimelech. God intervened on behalf of Isaac in Gen 26 when he was told not to go to Egypt. At the same time we see choices that Abraham made by way of his immediate obedience when God would speak. So there is a combination of God’s sovereignty and man’s choice.
In verses 16-22 Jacob awakes from his dream and knows that he just had a special encounter with the Lord. This is the primary characteristic that distinguishes him from Esau. He did not take lightly the things of God. He was so moved that he made a vow to God coupled with a prayer. He established a stone (house) for God at Bethel. His prayer is worthy of note because it is needs to be our prayer. “If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go…”This prayer is similar to what Eliezer stated in seeking for a bride for Isaac in Gen 24:7) “I being in the way, the Lord led me to the house of my master’s brethren.” Remember, all the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth (Psa 25:10). It is important that we see God “in the way “of our respective paths. He is more involved in our lives than we know.
In verses 1-14 Jacob journeyed to the house of his Uncle Laban. While in route he meets Rachael at a well. Soon thereafter he is in the home of his Uncle Laban. Jacob favoured the younger daughter of Laban (Rachael) and agreed to work for seven years as wages for her hand in marriage. After seven years Laban deceived Jacob by giving Leah instead of Rachael. Here we see the sin of Jacob’s deceit beginning to be dealt with. We can say that this is Jacob’s Babylon experience.
God appointed 70 years of captivity for Israel in Babylon (Jer 25:10, 29:11-12) due to their idolatry. Prior to captivity they were idol worshippers. After captivity their hearts were forever cleansed of idolatry. Jacob deceived his father for the birth right. In order for God to address this issue of deceit in Jacob’s life he had to bring him before an even greater deceiver. This is how God deals with certain (bents) or issues in our lives. Do we recognize our Babylon’s? Remember, Israel for the most part rejected the message of captivity. They rejected that which God had ordained for their good. Most people are familiar with Jer 29:11.
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
This verse brings great encouragement, knowing that God has these thoughts towards us for our good. Have you ever considered the previous verse which helps to give context?
Jer 29:10 For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.
Why do we seem to omit verse 10? The message of Babylon is a needed one because it is there where God mercifully deals with sin issues in our lives. It is His mercy to do so. Once again we need to recall that “All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth” (Psa 25:10.) Jacob had to experience the wiles of his Uncle Laban so that he could come forth one day as a changed man. Do not miss the message of Babylon. Don’t always be too quick to get out of a situation because it may be that the Lord has ordained that trial for our eternal good. We need to pray, like Jacob did (Gen 28: 20) in asking God to keep us in the way. We then find that Jacob had to serve another 7 years for Rachael. In the meantime Jacob began to have children through Leah while closing the womb of Rachael. One of the prominent sons through Leah was Levi.
In verses 1-13 we see the birthing of sons through the handmaidens of Leah (Zilpah) and Rachael (Bilhah). We also see that Rachael is frustrated due to her barrenness resulting in conflict with Jacob. It says that Rachael envied her sister because of this. You may recall when Hannah was barren (I Sam 1:5). She was tested in this same area of barrenness. Penninah, the other wife of Elkanah, was unsympathetic to her plight. God allowed the barrenness in Hannah for a season so as to produce a consecrated prayer for a man-child, one who would introduce a new order of priest and king to Israel(1 Sam 1:11). We will find that God eventually blesses Rachael with a son (Gen 30:22). This son was Joseph. In chapter 29 we see the message of Babylon on display through the ordeals of Jacob. This is a message that God still institutes today. We must have ears to hear and discern the unique workings of God. Much of the theology that is taught today dismisses such experiences. In our short-sightedness we cannot conceive that God would work in such a way. We take ourselves “out of the way” whereby opting for an easier way or message. The same is true for barrenness. There may be seasons we go through when there is seemingly no fruit. The tendency is to then ask, Lord, what is wrong? People may look at you or your church in such a season and determine that you are missing it. This only adds to the anguish. We must hold fast at such times and know our identity and know what God has called us to do. Sometimes barrenness induces desperation and it is at this point when God comes on the scene. If Hannah was not barren and desperate she would not have cried out a prayer of consecration for a man-child. Without such a cry there would be no dedication of the child (Samuel) unto the Lord all the days of his life. Without such a cry there would not have been the Samuel that we come to know through scripture. In the last days there will be a similar man-child company (Rev 12:3-5). This chapter and the account of Hannah helps us to understand more of what the man-child in Revelation can be likened too through the life of Samuel.
In verses 25-43 we have the account of Jacob asking his leave from Laban. What is interesting here is the means of wages to be paid. Laban saw how he was blessed through the years of Jacob’s being with him (vs 27). Now we have the account of Jacob taking from amongst the flock of Laban the speckled, spotted and ring streaked livestock. The indication would be that Laban would be left with the best. The breeding process is a unique method that was used (vs 37-39) which resulted in Jacob becoming increasingly stronger. This account can be linked to the time when God declared that the elder shall serve the younger (Gen 25:23). This did happen when Jacob obtained the birth right deceitfully. Rebekah manipulated events to make this a reality. Though Jacob obtained the birth right it was done deceitfully. It was unacceptable with God so Jacob had to go to the house of Uncle Laban for about 20 years to have this nature of deceit addressed by a man who was an even greater deceiver. Now Laban is about to experience the fruits of his deceitfulness in the account of the breeding of livestock above. God can arrange for His will to come to pass without manipulation or deceit having to be used. Though Jacob had this nature he also had a love and reverence for God. This should be an encouragement for us. The key is to have a reverence for God and His ways. Esau lightly regarded the things of God. He had no appetite for his ways. If we please God, and walk in the Fear of the Lord, we will be sensitive to the path that we are walking in. We will be able to discern Babylonian appointments that God may have for us. We will have an understanding why there may be seasons of barrenness instead of running off after some other accommodating doctrine that can lead us off course. May we have to ears to hear what God is speaking to us today.
Jesus has just completed teaching the famous Sermon on the Mount and now goes about performing some extraordinary miracles. There is one particular point of emphasis I feel to elaborate on from this chapter. (There are many incidents in this chapter that can be commented on however they will come up again.) It is on the thought of miracles, signs and wonders. How we desperately need to see this in abundance in today’s church. Something we will see throughout the gospels is that there is a timing for many of the miracles that Jesus did. We also see that many were followers of Jesus for the signs and wonders only (John 6:1-15). Remember when Jesus came off the mount of transfiguration and was able to perform a miracle that the others could not? He rebuked them for their unbelief and lack of faith (Mat 17:20). Let’s consider two New Testament accounts. 2 Pet 1:5-7 and Philemon 1:5.
2 Pet 1:5-7-Peter is exhorting that we add to our foundation of faith 7 different attributes of God. Remember, faith has to serve as the foundation of our Christianity because without it we cannot please God (Heb 11:6). So Faith is the foundation which then has added to it Virtue, Knowledge, Temperance, Patience, Godliness, Brotherly-Kindness and then “Agape Love”. Each of these steps can only be obtained via grace. We know that many struggle in the area of lust; the remedy is the fruit of virtue (moral purity). The next godly attribute is Knowledge or the Spirit of Knowledge (Isa 11:2-3). The Bible makes clear the need for God’s people to grow in the Spirit of Knowledge which represents one of the seven spirits of the Lord (Isa 11:2).
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me, seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children” (Hos 4:6)
The reason is due to people finding the knowledge of God to be an inconvenient truth; their space and comfort zone are infringed upon resulting in a greater level of commitment in one’s walk with God. If we choose to reject knowledge we run the risk of forfeiting opportunities in becoming true priests of God; priests who possess the knowledge of His law and His ways. Please meditate on the following verses to better grasp the points being made.
Mal 2:7 For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts.
Isa 33:6 And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times, and strength of salvation: the fear of the LORD is his treasure.
Hos 4:1 Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel: for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land.
Isa 11:9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.
We rightfully long for the glory of the Lord to fill all the earth but what about the earth being filled with HIS KNOWLEDGE? Here are a few other verses to carefully ponder over.
Hab 2:14 For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.
Pro 1:29 For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD:
Rom 1:28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
The above verses only speak concerning the first steps to perfection from the text in 2 Peter 1:5-7. Each of the steps can be developed into comprehensive studies. The next step is temperance. Are you an angry person or one who has difficulty controlling your vessel; well then the fruit of temperance would be the needed medicine. Get the point? At the top of this 7 step ladder is charity (Agape Love) Do we have the measure of love that the Father had in giving us His Son? (John 3:16). Do we have the measure of love that the Son had in willingly giving of His life (John 15:13)? Do we have the measure of love for God that Abraham had in his willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac upon the altar (Gen 22:5)? This kind of love is not produced overnight. It is a step by step process as seen in Abraham’s life and as seen in the 7 steps to perfection from Peter’s epistle. Now think of the motivation that exists in one’s heart who has allowed God to produce this measure of love. This now takes us to Philemon 1:5. Please take note of the contrast as we just saw in Peter.
Philemon 1:5 “Hearing of thy love and faith, which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all saints”
In Peter it begins with Faith and leads up to love (2 Pet 1:5,7). Philemon reverses the order whereby faith is released out of a true heart of agape love.
Phm 1:5 Hearing of thy love and faith, which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all saints;
Phm 1:6 That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.
In other words the steps we see in Peter can be likened to steps that lead up to a mountain summit. Once upon the mountain summit you do not just stay there. You descend with “agape” type love releasing faith out of a true heart of compassion to people you come across. In Math 5-7 Jesus addressed heart issues and the keys to true kingdom living. Beginning in chapter 8 you now begin to see a release of the miraculous. Perhaps this may help to shed light on what happened in Math 17 at the mountain of transfiguration. Jesus was making clear that there was a growth yet required in His disciples before they could have this measure of authority. Prayer and fasting (Math 17: 21) will help us be mountain climbers in Peter’s steps to glory. Another verse that can be added here is Jude 1:22 “And of some have compassion, making a difference”. In examining the word compassion it speaks of having a heart that can relate to people in any state. In other words it reflects the motivation of one who is filled with agape love. This person when praying or ministering is one who can truly make a difference in a life. This is what is needed today. I believe and pray for a manifestation of great signs and wonders but there must be an understanding of the Beatitudes, an appropriating of the 7 steps to perfection as seen in Peter so that the Fruit of Faith is released from a heart that is motivated by Agape love. This is the Fruit of Faith as opposed to the Gift of Faith.