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January 24 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: Genesis 28:10- 30:43

A Ferris Wheel Life

It is winter time. If you live in the northern part of the U.S. perhaps you wish to be at a theme park in Florida right about now. Life is sometimes like a Ferris wheel; what goes around comes around. What we do, good or bad, tends to come back our way. If we are kind or make good choices, it usually comes back to us. If we are unkind or make poor choices that usually comes back to us as well.

In our January 23 reading we studied Jacob's deception. Jacob had tricked Esau, his older brother, into trading away his birthright for some stew. Jacob caught him in a weak moment when he was very hungry from hunting all day. Now that the day of his father's blessing of the first born had arrived, Jacob and his mother, Rebekah, deceived Isaac his father into believing that Jacob was Esau, the firstborn. That was a poor choice; he and his mother, Rebekah, forced God’s will. The first result of that was Esau's hatred of Jacob. Esau hated Jacob for stealing his birthright and his blessing, and his hatred was so fierce that he wanted to kill him. His mother sought to protect Jacob, so he was sent away from his family to Haran (Northwest Mesopotamia) to find himself a wife from her brother Laban's family. Perhaps this would give Esau time to cool off and establish his own life without Jacob, which he did.

Another reason for Jacob to find a wife from Laban's family was possibly the preservation of God - fearing people. Rebekah was distressed with the Hittite women in Canaan, two of whom Esau married. God did not want his people mixing with people who worshipped idols of stone. Canaanites followed the worship of their sex gods and goddesses and were immoral. Isaac feared God and wanted His continued blessings on his descendants. Perhaps Jacob could find a wife from Laban’s family, the brother of Rebekah. Here is an application for the unmarried: because you may be lonely, are you willing to jeopardize God's blessings on you and your future children by marrying someone who is not a true Christian? How then would your children come to know God? Perhaps they would follow the godless ways of your spouse. If you are considering such a thing, don't sacrifice the need for companionship for someone who does not fear God. If you feel compelled to search for a mate, search in places where the godly are more likely to gather. Do not compromise with the world and lose out on the blessings of God. Make godly choices.

On his way to his uncle Laban’s house, Jacob saw a dream of angels ascending and descending a stairway that reached from earth to heaven.

When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven,” (Genesis 28:16-17, NIV)

Jacob called the place where he met God, Bethel, which means “house of God.” Here, God made an unconditional promise to Jacob in the dream. In Genesis 28: 13-15 God said,

“I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” (NIV)

How did Jacob respond to the generous offer God made in his dream? He responded with a conditional promise.

Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father's house, then the LORD will be my God and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God's house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.” (Genesis 28: 20-22, NIV).

Jacob did not know God and was bargaining with him. Do we bargain with God or do we trust him? God is good and fully reliable - He keeps his promises. There is no need to bargain with him. Just trust him. Do you know God? He promises eternal spiritual life, forgiveness, and peace to those who trust his Son to save them from their sins (more...).

Jacob deceived Esau and Isaac to obtain Esau's birthright and blessing, and now like a ferris wheel, what goes around comes around - Jacob would be deceived. Jacob went to Haran, met a young woman named Rachel and instantly fell in love. He asked his uncle if he could marry her, and he consented. Genesis 29:16-25 records how Jacob was deceived by his Uncle Laban. Jacob served seven years for Laban's daughter, Rachel, but when the wedding night came, Laban switched her for his older daughter, Leah! Jacob was confounded and furious! When he confronted Laban, Laban claimed it was his cultural duty to marry off Leah first. If Jacob would complete the seven day marriage ceremony week then he could have Rachel, if he agreed to work seven more years. Frustrated and in love, Jacob agreed to the terms. When his time of service was over, in return for his labors he wanted something for his own family. After Laban agreed to trade some flocks of sheep for Jacob's labor, he kept changing the terms of the agreement (ten times). Lesson: When you deceive others, you yourself are likely to be deceived. What goes around comes around.

As you might have guessed, having two wives caused a lot of trouble for Jacob (Genesis 29:28 - 30:24). Fierce competition and jealousy were in their home because of his two sibling wives and his favoritism for Rachel. Leah and Rachel began a competition for the number of children they might bear. It was a matter of jealousy and pride. They even married off their handmaids to Jacob so that the children they bore would count for them (this was culturally acceptable). Because God allowed Jacob to have four wives, however, does not mean God endorses polygamy or condones it. Later, God officially forbade the practice (Leviticus 18:18; Deuteronomy 17:17). From the beginning God approved monogamy and a loving relationship between a man and his wife (Proverbs 5:18-19; Malachi 2:15; Mathew 19:4-6; 1Timothy 3:2,12). Indeed, Jacob suffered much trouble for having multiple wives. A lesson we might learn from Jacob's family trouble is that if we want peace in our households, we must not show favoritism and set up competition between family members. As much as possible, though we may love each in different ways, we must try to love them equally. Let’s not give them cause to doubt it.

What else happens to Jacob? Stay tuned to our next lesson.

Lessons to live by:

  • God keeps his promises. There is no need to bargain with him. Just trust him. Do you know God? He promises eternal spiritual life, forgiveness, and peace to those who trust his Son to save them from their sins (more...).
  • Do not compromise with the world and lose out on the blessings of God. Make godly choices.
  • When you deceive others, you yourself are likely to be deceived. What goes around comes around.
  • If we want peace in our households, we must not show favoritism and set up competition between family members. As much as possible, though we may love each one in different ways, we must love them all equally.

Today’s Bible Memory Verse:

Luke 6:38 “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (NIV)

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