Saturday, July 25, 2020

2020.07.25 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 30:25–43

Questions from the Scripture text: What event triggers Jacob’s request in Genesis 30:25? Where does he ask to be sent? What does he ask to be given (Genesis 30:26)? What point does he make for his request? What does Laban ask in Genesis 30:27? What reason does he give for his request? What offer does he make in Genesis 30:28? What point does Jacob make about the livestock in Genesis 30:29-30? What does Jacob say that he does not want to do (Genesis 30:31)? What does he request to receive instead (Genesis 30:32)? Why does he suggest that this will be a good way of dividing between the two (Genesis 30:33)? How does Laban answer in Genesis 30:34?  Whom would we expect (based upon verse 32) is taking the action in Genesis 30:35? Whom do we discover is actually doing it in Genesis 30:36? What does Jacob do in Genesis 30:37-38? What result does this have in Genesis 30:39? What does he do with the two flocks in Genesis 30:40? How did he decide when to do what in Genesis 30:41-42? What was the result for Jacob in Genesis 30:43?
It seems that Rachel finally bears Joseph after Jacob’s fourteenth year serving Laban (Genesis 30:25). He believes that he should be free to go and requests the official end to his hired service to Laban (Genesis 30:26). But Laban (Genesis 30:27) and Jacob (Genesis 30:29-30) both agree that Laban’s flock has prospered under Jacob’s hand.

Now that the Lord has prospered Jacob with a household, Jacob needs to make that household prosper (end of verse 30). But, he has come to know Laban to be a ruthless man, and we know from Exodus 21:4 (and other ancient near eastern documents) that it was widely accepted that children born to a man while in servitude do not necessarily leave with the man when the time of his service is done. There is some question over whether he will be able to take his own children with him, but the answer ends up being put off until Genesis 31:43, which occurs in the wake of Genesis 31:29.

Laban actually doesn’t even ask Jacob to stay (notice the italics on “stay” in Genesis 31:27 of the NKJV). He just asks to renegotiate the wages. “And Laban said to him, ‘Please, if I have found favor in your eyes—I have divined that Yahweh has blessed me because of you.’ And he said, ‘name your wages to me, and I will give.’” He avoids the question of Jacob leaving entirely.

It is interesting that Jacob, who gave lip-service to God’s opening and closing the womb in Genesis 31:2, puts so much conniving effort into making the strongest of the sheep and goats turn out speckled and spotted for himself (Genesis 31:37-42). Indeed, we’re not even sure that what Jacob did had anything to do with the prosperity of Genesis 31:43 (The NKJV’s “thus” is just a vav conjunction “and” at the beginning of the first word).

But, Jacob is Jacob after all. And, he has spent 14 years in the house of the great swindler, Laban, who has continued his dishonest ways in Genesis 31:34-36.

The great message of this passage, like so many that precede it in the book of Genesis and specifically in Jacob’s life, is that God is faithfully and generously keeping His promises by great grace and mercy and certainly not through any strength or worthiness on Jacob’s part.

Against Laban’s attempt to minimize Jacob’s gains, the Lord prospered him.

Over-against his own combination of manipulativeness, silliness, and superstition, the Lord was merciful to him. Oh that we would see ourselves rightly, so that we might see His mercy rightly!
How has God been merciful to you? What are some examples of why you don’t deserve it, or what He has overcome in order to give it to you? Why doesn’t this excuse foolishness or sin?
Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH433 “Amazing Grace”

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