Year 2 Day 260
Read - Genesis 30v25-43
Message - Scott Woodburn
Jacob had been in the employment of his father-in-law Laban for fourteen years and it was now time to go home. He approached Laban and told him of his plans, asking to be allowed to leave taking only his family with him (v26). Laban was not a righteous man. If Jacob have proved to be a sneak then Laban had proved sneakier. Yet whatever we can say about Laban, he was no fool. He had used the wicked practice of divination to learn that the Lord had blessed him because of Jacob (v27) and now he offered wages to Jacob in order to get him to stay (v28).
Jacob responded to Laban’s request with a complaint that whilst the Lord had blessed Laban, Jacob’s own family hadn’t seen much of the blessing (v29-30) and so Jacob proposed that if he stayed and continued working for Laban he would receive all of the speckled and spotted sheep and goats and every black lamb from Laban’s flock (v31-33). Jacob’s request was both honest (v33a) and generous. His share of the flock would certainly not be as big as the share that remained with Laban.
Laban’s delight at this arrangement seems to jump off the page “Good!” He replied “Let it be as you have said.” (a34) A new era was dawning. No longer would Jacob work for free but instead he would be able to build his own flock and work in a new arrangement with Laban. Sadly though a leopard or a goat cannot change its spots and Laban remained untrustworthy and underhanded.
That day Laban removed all the striped and spotted goats and all the black lambs from his flock and sent them away with his sons at a distance of three days journey (v35-36). Laban was doing all he could to ensure his own prosperity and once again he proved himself duplicitous in all his ways.
In response Jacob met fire with fire. He cut fresh sticks of various trees and peeled the bark at certain places producing a striped stick (v37). It was believed that if an animal saw such an image during mating it would have an impact on their baby. He placed these sticks in front of the animals as they drank and mated (v38) and later when the animals gave birth they produced striped, speckled and spotted babies (v39). He kept the young animals for himself (v40) and he selectively bred the stronger animals, leaving the weaker flock for Laban and the stronger flock for himself (v42). Jacob prospered greatly in flocks, servants, camels and donkeys (v43).
What are we to make of such a passage? Firstly I’d suggest that we shouldn’t be surprised when the way of the world seems to be treachery, trickery and lies. No one is neutral in this world. Some are for Christ and some are against Him. We will encounter individuals both inside and outside the church who quite literally lie through their teeth and will do anything to succeed. Secondly I’d suggest that the Christian shouldn’t fight fire with fire. When a Laban enters your life and does the opposite of what was agreed you have no Biblical mandate to wage war on their terms. The Christian will not resort to name calling, slander, gossip or under handed means.
Instead we rest in Christ. Jacob responded to Laban by making striped sticks to manipulate the flock. Soon he will realise that it wasn’t the sticks but rather the Lord who gave the increase. It remains the same today. By the stripes of Christ we have been healed (Isaiah 53v5) and He sends us into a world full of wolves to be as wise as serpents and gentle as doves (Matthew 10v16).
Q25 How doth Christ execute the office of a priest? Christ executeth the office of a priest, in his once offering up of himself a sacrifice to satisfy divine justice and reconcile us to God, and in making continual intercession for us.