Monday, August 10, 2020

2020.08.10 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 31:17–35

 Read Genesis 31:17–35

Questions from the Scripture text: What does Jacob do in Genesis 31:17? What does he carry away (Genesis 31:18)? What point does this verse make multiple times? To whom does he leave to go? To where? What had Laban gone to do (Genesis 31:19)? So, what does Rachel do? What does Jacob do (Genesis 31:20)? How does verse 20 explain saying that Jacob “stole” (same word as with Rachel in verse 19) away? Toward where did he head (Genesis 31:21)? How many days did it take for Laban to find out (Genesis 31:22)? Whom does he take (Genesis 31:23)? How long does it take him to overtake Jacob? Who comes to Laban in Genesis 31:24? How? What does He say to him? Where does Laban overtake Jacob (Genesis 31:25)? What does he ask Jacob (Genesis 31:26)? To what does he compare Jacob’s escape? What word does he again (cf. Genesis 31:19Genesis 31:20) use about Jacob’s secret escape in Genesis 31:27? What does he say he would have done for Jacob if he had told him? What else does he say that he wishes he had a chance to do (Genesis 31:28)? What does he say is in his power (Genesis 31:29)? What reason does he give for not doing anything to him? What does he call God? What had God said? What reasoning does Laban give for Jacob’s leaving (Genesis 31:30)? But what question does he now ask? What answer does Jacob give for running secretly (Genesis 31:31)? What does Jacob propose about the stolen gods (Genesis 31:32)? But what did he not know? Whose tents did Laban check first (Genesis 31:33)? Whose did he check last? Into what had Rachel put the gods (Genesis 31:34)? What did she do with the saddle? What did Laban do? What did he not do? What does Rachel say to her father in Genesis 31:35? What does she claim is her reason for not rising? What did he do? What did he not do?

In Genesis 31:30, Laban calls the little images that Rachel has taken “gods.” Apparently, these are the gods that Laban used for divination (Genesis 30:27, cf. Ezekiel 21:21). Perhaps Rachel thinks she can keep daddy from divining where Jacob has gone. That sounds ridiculous—almost as ridiculous as worshiping gods that can be stolen.

In the original, Genesis 31:21 tells us that Jacob stole something much more precious. It literally says, “Jacob stole the heart of Laban the Aramean.” And, in Genesis 31:26, he asks, “Why have you done this and stolen my heart?”

The little figures that would end up making a lumpy camel saddle for Rachel weren’t Laban’s only idol. His flock, his daughters, even all his property were what he lived for, what he found his joy in. And Yahweh had given them all to Jacob (cf. Genesis 31:9Genesis 31:16). Laban’s gods make a pathetic picture in this passage, but Laban himself makes a deeply sad picture.

Idolatry isn’t just foolish and fruitless, but it also corrupts. Laban obviously intended Jacob harm. He nearly says as much in Genesis 31:29, Jacob says that was his fear in Genesis 31:31, and ultimately God’s intervention (Genesis 31:24Genesis 31:29bGenesis 31:42b) confirms it. How often the wicked live their whole lives in something else, instead of the Lord, and end up willing to commit yet more wickedness rather than lose their idols!

And sometimes, it is actually our wickedness that endangers us of losing our idols. This is what happens to Jacob in Genesis 31:32. He calls down a sentence of death upon he knows not whom—but it turns out to be Rachel, the one whom he has idolized unto the hurt of many thus far. God builds the suspense by reminding us that it was Rachel, and then by the providential course which the search takes from Jacob’s tent, to Leah’s, and finally Rachel’s.

Rachel’s statement could either mean that she is pregnant or having her cycle. It seems that there are more than nine months before Benjamin’s birth (cf. Genesis 33:19), and the phrase is more often associated with a woman’s cycle, making everything that she sits upon unclean. This adds the final insult to injury, for she has plopped herself down right on top of Laban’s gods!

Oh how wretched is idolatry, that can avail nothing, and brings its adherents into such wickedness. But the true and living God gives every mercy that both the righteous and the wicked receive, and belonging to Him and following Him leads us into godliness.

What are you in danger of making an idol out of in your life? What do you do to guard against that?

Suggested songs: ARP16A “Keep Me, O God” or TPH16A “Preserve Me, O My God”

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