What a blessing is ours to be Seventh-day Adventists Christians, to believe that Jesus is our God, our Savior, and God our Father loves us and the Holy Spirit empowers us. How great it is! And I appreciate the praises Word of God, and I love to preach from it.
Now, this morning is the third in a series of sermons on Jacob. We're in Genesis 29, so I'd like for you to come over to the book of Genesis, the twenty ninth chapter.
Jacob just fled from his brother, Esau. That's where we left him last week. And he had the dream, we call, "Jacob's Ladder." And he continues on his way after that dream, full of confidence. His feet are lifted up. He's in a good mood because God is going to be with him.
And he walks 450 miles on this trip. Imagine walking from Chattanooga to Jacksonville, Florida! That's about the extent of this journey. Lonely footsore Jacob followed the Fertile Crescent over there in Palestine and what is now called, Iraq, and crossed the Euphrates river up to the north east to Mesopotamia, arriving in the vicinity of Haran, his mother's home town. He had no possession except his staff and his God. And I submit to you that if you had God, that's all you need. So he had additional merchandized the he didn't need because he had God.
The Bible says here in Genesis 29:2 that when he arrived in the land of his forebears, he looked and there was a well in the field. He happened to come to this place by chance. At this well there were three flocks of sheep with their shepherds. And he just happened to drop by there. Do you believe that? I don't think it was by chance. I believe God directed Jacob to that spot. I don't think it was a chance in the world. It was about like the Ishmaelite camel traders coming along when Joseph was down in that well. That wasn't by chance. That was Divine Providence. That's what God did. And it was not by chance that Pharaoh's daughter came down to the river to bathe in that certain spot that certain day. But that was God's providence. And it is not a chance that you like in Collegedale, that you came to this church today. It's not by accident. You are here for a divine purpose. You have an appointment with God today. That's why you came here.
Now, there appeared to be a problem at the well. The sheep were thirsty but the well was covered up with a stone. Nearby were the shepherds but they were not watering the flocks. These were not your Christmas card variety shepherds but rough tough leathered men with slings, staves, and daggers under their vestments. They were self-sufficient men able to ward off Lions, wolves, bears or thieves. Shepherds were men who carried a staff and a sling and a dagger. They are able to contend with anything that comes by. They are a rough and a hardy lot. And Jacob just walks right up to them. Why? He's a shepherd, too. He's just as tough as they are. So, you've got a meeting of the shepherds.
Genesis 29: 2 (NLT) says the stone was large and heavy. Now as you read this, I want to ask you a question: Why were the thirsty sheep made to wait for their water? Maybe they waited by arrangement until everybody arrived so the precious water supply would be fairly distributed. Or maybe these shepherds were lazy, lollygagging in the shade. You don't want a lazy shepherd. Notice something positive here about Jacob. How many times have you seen a group of men leaning against the wall while there is work to be done all around. Jacob is different. He is not afraid of work. That's a wonderful quality. Jacob removes that heavy stone by himself, singlehandedly. I would submit to you that a person who loves to work is the person who is going to be successful in life. Don't be afraid of hard work.
I think the real reason those shepherds were waiting was companionship. Solitary shepherds savor social seasons. Do we? Do you? When you get to your dining room table when your whole family is seated there do you wait until everybody is there so that you can spend that time together? Or do you just barge in and start eating? "Well, I 've got to go. I'll see you later. It doesn't happen that way at your house, does it? I hope not! And do you kind of linger after you've eaten so that you can talk and visit with each other? You know, the family that talks together walks together. They are going to stay together, too, if you pray together.
Do you wait at the table until everybody arrives or do you eat and run? In your home, do you wait for all to take their seats before eating just so you can have some family time? Do you linger afterwards just to talk and visit? You should! The family that talks together walks together!
In a few short questions Jacob strikes gold! Notice Genesis 29:5. "Do you know Laban, Nahor's grandson?"
"Yes, we know him," they answered." They knew him all right! Everyone there knew old Laban. Laban the green-eyed guzzling greedy grasping cheapskate. That's what he was like. The cold within his frame froze his features, stiffened his pointed nose, paled his cheeks, and gnarled his grasping fingers. He was the forefather of Ebenezer Scrooge. This man was a penny-pincher.
Now notice verse 6. Then Jacob asked them, "Is he well?" Yes, he is," they said, "and here comes his daughter Rachel with the sheep."
Then Jacob makes a strange statement to his new friends. Notice verse 7. "Look," he said, "the sun is still high; it is not time for the flocks to be gathered. Water the sheep and take them back to pasture." "Get these sheep out of here." That's pretty brazen. That's pretty bold, isn't it, for a shepherd that just got acquainted with these men. Why is he so bossy?
Why? Because he sees a future wife walking up here. You can't date when you're surrounded with chaperons. He's trying to get rid of those people. Maybe this lovely lady is going to be his bride. He wants to meet Rachel alone! Jacob knew she was his cousin. Jacob remembered how his own father's servant obtained his father's future bride here in North West Mesopotamia. Maybe this lovely lady would be his future bride.
Genesis 29:9-11 While he was still talking with them, Rachel came with her father's sheep, for she was a shepherdess. Who said that ladies can't be shepherdesses? When Jacob saw Rachel daughter of Laban, his mother's brother, and Laban's sheep, he went over and rolled the stone away from the mouth of the well and watered his uncle's sheep. Then... Then... Then... I'd better not read verse 11 think. You wouldn't do what he did, would you? I mean, she was his first cousin. I guess they were kissing cousins. That's exactly what he did here. Jacob kissed Rachel and began to weep aloud. Let's comment on the kiss, I guess. He stole a kiss. This birthright stealer steals a kiss. He's a stealer. He'd be a good baseball player I guess. His behavior sounds exceedingly ambitious, doesn't it, and aggressive for somebody of that culture way back there? Maybe that is their culture. Maybe that's how they all treated each other. But it was love at first sight. I know that. And when did Jacob stop loving his wife? Do you know that he loved her to the day of his death. He thought she was the greatest woman that ever lived. If you think that of your wife, you're going to have a great marriage.
What did Rachel do after he kissed her? She ran away. That's pretty interesting. She left him with the sheep and all and ran away over the nearest hill. She went to tell her daddy what happened. You know, when you're a girl and something happens to you, you need to tell your daddy. You young ladies need to communicate with your parents. You need to tell them. Don't be afraid. Rachel told her father everything.
Genesis 29:13 As soon as Laban heard the news about Jacob, his sister's son, he hurried to meet him. He embraced him and kissed him (I guess it was a custom.) and brought him to his home, and there Jacob told him all these things." He told him everything. He said, "The reason you see me here, I have inherited the birthright. I'm actually rich, but all I have is this staff. And because I'm fleeing Esau...." He told him the whole story. You know, I appreciate that about Jacob because Jacob is honest. When you are honest, you can have a future. And what Jacob does, he's not afraid to share his life. That's what makes him a great patriarch. Jacob wasn't perfect yet, but he was growing. He was gaining moral ground every day. That didn't save him, but it made him a wonderful man.
At his point Jacob probably thinks he is the luckiest man alive. "I just met my future wife. I'm going to marry her. And her daddy is rich. She's beautiful. Here I will be safe from Esau, I won't have to worry about him. He's not going clear up here to get me. And besides being beautiful, Rachel is not afraid of hard work. She's a shepherdess. Fantastic! God has led me here. What a dynamic duo we're going to make! We both work hard and we both love the Lord."
In reality though, he is not the luckiest man alive. Jacob is about to begin reaping all those wild oats he had been sowing. You see, God can forgive us, but sometimes He does not remove the consequences of our sins. I want you to see that. Galatians 6:7 says, Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Payday for Jacob's deception was drawing nigh. What does "Jacob" mean? Deceiver. So, the deceiver is about to be deceived. You need to be sure that your sins will find you out even if you are hiding in far off Mesopotamia. Here's an interesting text: Job 4:8 (NLT) My experience is that those who plant trouble and cultivate evil will harvest the same. So you're going to get what you plant.
This law runs through the pages of Scripture. Pharaoh the King of Egypt gave orders that every Hebrew baby should be drowned. How did Pharaoh die? By drowning! Ex. 14:28.
Like Jacob stole the birthright, Uncle Laban was about to steal the marriage-right. Jacob deceived his father and would now be deceived by his father-in-law. Jacob deceived Isaac by allowing his mother to cover his hands and neck with "the skins of the kids of the goats" (Gen 27:16). Later Jacob's own sons deceived him by dipping Joseph's coat of many colors in the blood of a "kid of the goats" - Gen 37:31. Can you see that what goes around comes around? If you plant the wild oats, you're going to have to face them some day. Hebrews 2:2 every violation and disobedience receives its just punishment.
The price of Jacob's sin was high. How high? What he bought for one bowl of lentil soup, now he has to pay fourteen years to pay for it. It's a high price.
Genesis 29:14,15 ...After Jacob had stayed with him for a whole month, Laban said to him, "Just because you are a relative of mine, should you work for me for nothing? Tell me what your wages should be." "i"ll pay you whatever you say."
And Jacob was a hard worker. He wasn't afraid to work. He arrived there. He rolled up his sleeves. He started working on the farm and pretty soon Laban thought, "You know, I've struck gold here. I'd better keep this young man around." So, Laban offered him a full-time job. Now, I believe hard work will pay off. Every now and then as a pastor I'm called upon. Somebody says, "I'm working down here at Walmart, or I'm working over here someplace. And they're giving me a rough time getting the Sabbath off." And I say, "Well, are you a hard worker?" "Well, I come home tired. I don't really have a heart in it, but I'm there." I have a hard time helping people like that. But when a hard worker comes to me, and this hard worker says, "I'll do anything to get off on the Sabbath," I can go to bat for a person like that because that employer respects that person. He want that person. He is going to let him have the Sabbath off because he's a great worker and God is going to help him.
Genesis 29:16 Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. These sisters have interesting names. The word, Leah, means "cow." And the name, Rachel, means "sheep" or "ewe." I kind of like the name, Rachel, a little better. I think they are exceptionally appropriate for their daddy being a farmer.
These sisters have very interesting names. Leah means "COW"; Rachel means "Sheep" or "EWE", exceptionally appropriate for an animal farmer!
Gen 29:17 Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel was lovely in form, and beautiful.
I don't know what Leah's problem was, maybe she needed glasses. Whatever it was, there would be no optometrists available for hundreds of years. Forget weak eyed Leah. I'm going to go with Rachel.
Gen 29:18 Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, "I'll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel." Now keep in mind something here. This certainly prevented a hasty marriage because they dated seven years. In fact, how long were they engaged? Seven years! You could pretty well figure out a person in seven years. Now, am I suggesting that you date for seven year? No, I'm not. But I am suggesting that a good many people are virtually strangers at their wedding. Take time to get acquainted.
Maybe Jacob offered to work so many years for her because he knew that Laban was going to have to break the tradition of the older deserves to get married first. He doesn't want her, Leah, he want the younger, Rachel, and he would have to work for seven years. It kind of reminds me of "The Seven Cow Wife." Have you ever seen that film?
Would Laban agree? Yes, Laban was quick to agree. Gen 29:19 Laban said, "It's better that I give her to you than to some other man. Stay here with me." "Let's shake hands on this. I'm going to get seven years free for this."
Do you realize the value of 7 years of labor? Today that would be tantamount to a figure between $125,000! Or if he makes what a lot of people make, it could be a third of a million dollars, or more that he's going to get for his daughter! That's a tremendous amount of money! Laban did not have to think very long before being willing to ignore customs. He quickly shook hands on that deal.
Genesis 29:20 So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her. Isn't that a beautiful verse? You know, when you're doing something for somebody you love, it's pretty easy.
Would you agree with this statement: "Love is the strongest motivational force in the world." When you love Christ our God, our Savior, and you realize that He loves you, your love is just going to grow. That's the way it goes. Love makes a husband want to help with the diapers or the dishes, you name it. Love makes a wife do almost anything for her husband. I think those 2520 days passed so quickly because he was in love.
Gen 29:21 Then Jacob said to Laban, "Give me my wife. My time is completed, and I want to lie with her." You know, I like the Bible. It is so honest. He said, "I've waited seven years. I want her for my wife."
Notice that after seven years of dating, she was still a virgin! They were morally pure. No wonder Jacob was a great patriarch. He wasn't perfect, but he was gaining moral ground each day. You could tell that his heart was right.
So he asked for his wife. Now keep in mind here, how ole is Jacob? He is eighty four years old. I don't want you to picture some teenager. He is actually eighty four years old when he gets married to Rachel or who he thinks is Rachel. Jacob should have specified by name which of the two women he wanted. He should have said, "Give me my wife, Rachel," but he didn't and Laban thought, "Ah, here's the answer. So he had worked for Rachel. But alas, Rachel was not to be his.
Gen 29:22 So Laban brought together all the people of the place and gave a feast. These occasions usually lasted a full week. I imagine Uncle Laban may have said: "Jacob, my boy, here our custom dictates that your bride be fully veiled during the wedding. I have some heavy vail and she will be veiled all week. You realize that's the custom here." "Okay," Jacob probably thought, "I'll do anything to get Rachel." You can see something else in verse 23. But when evening came, he took his daughter Leah and gave her to Jacob, and Jacob lay with her. When what came? "When evening came." Laban planned that he would give his daughter after dark. You gentlemen always want to pick up your wife in the daytime. You make sure you're carrying the right person over the threshold. The wedding ended in the dark of the night. Oh, that Jacob had owned a flashlight. Oh, for a full moon, but Laban probably chose the time of a dark moon. I imagine Laban had that all planned. He was also a master of deceit.
Gen 29:23-26 But when evening came, he took his daughter Leah and gave her to Jacob, and Jacob lay with her. And Laban gave his servant girl Zilpah to his daughter as her maidservant. When morning came, there was Leah! So Jacob said to Laban, "What is this you have done to me? I served you for Rachel, didn't I? Why have you deceived me?" Laban replied, "It is not our custom here to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older one." So what happened?
The old deceiver was deceived big time. "Be sure you sins will find you out." Old penny pinching Laban knew how much Jacob loved Rachel. He could get seven more years of free labor. Fourteen years to get Rachel.
I have often wondered about how Jacob could ever believe that Leah was Rachel. You've thought about that, haven't you? How could that ever be? Wouldn't they have talked before consummating their marriage that night? Did the two girls have voices that sounded identical? Where was Rachel? Why wasn't she screaming and shouting for Jacob? Was she purposely put in a tent and expected him to come in any minute, and waited and waited? Did Rachel worry that Jacob might just head back to Canaan with Leah once she found out, and leave her behind? I'll bet her heart was just mortified. Did Leah secretly love Jacob and finally got what she wanted anyway? Where was the mother in all of this? Was their mother a part of this scheme?
Not until the next morning did Jacob wake up to the fact that he was married to the wrong woman! Some of you may have gotten married and you truly believe in your heart, "I'm married to the wrong woman." "I married the wrong man. He isn't what I thought he was. I thought he was somebody else." "I thought she was Rachel, and I got somebody else that I don't want." So, what do you do? You read here that Jacob divorced Leah, right? No, it doesn't say that. What did he do? He stuck with it. He made the best he could out of the situation he had. I don't think Leah and Jacob had a terrible marriage. They had some problems, but they had plenty of kids, so they must have loved each other some. Did God approve of Leah being Jacob's first wife? Yes, He did. How do we know that? Because it was Leah, not Rachel, that was the great, great, great, great great grandmother of Jesus Christ, our Savior and our God. Isn't that beautiful? It was Leah, so God did approve of that.
Gen 29:27 (Laban said:) "Finish this daughter's bridal week; then we will give you the younger one also, in return for another seven years of work." Who was going to give the younger one? "We." That tells you that his wife, Mrs. Laban, was privy to this plan. She was a part of this scheme. Many times Jacob must have pictured himself in his mind standing before his old blind father pretending to be Esau. Innocent Isaac had poured out his blessing upon the wrong one. Now Jacob had poured out his blessing for the wrong one. He repeated the act.
Jacob could have not missed the similarities in his nefarious past. Rebekah was the youngest while Leah was the oldest. Once more the older would serve the younger. Was God punishing Jacob for his sins? I don't think so. I think Jacob was totally forgiven. But Jacob would still have to suffer the consequences of his own sinful actions. God was allowing him to reap the consequences of his sin.
Matthew 7:2 (NLT) Jesus said: "For others will treat you as you treat them. Whatever measure you use in judging others, it will be used to measure how you are judged." So I think what I would learn from this is: I' going to always follow the golden rule. God treats us as He wants us to treat Him. Trust your life into God's generous hands. Surrender everything into the keeping of Jesus. God will take care of you.
Hymn of Praise: #557, Come, Ye Thankful People Scripture: Genesis 29:16.20 Hymn of Response: # 99, God will take care of You 001118Gettys#488
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last updated 11/20/2000 by Bob Beckett.