Series of 15 Sermons by Pastor Ron Thomas On
"The Life of Jacob"

801 West Buckingham Rd. - Garland, TX 75040

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Text: Genesis 31:17-18. "Then Jacob rose up, and set his sons and his wives upon camels;18 And he carried away all his cattle, and all his goods which he had gotten, the cattle of his getting, which he had gotten in Padanaram, for to go to Isaac his father in the land of Canaan."

Introduction: Here we see Jacob as he slips out of town. He is going home, back to Canaan, and he does so under a veil of secrecy. Notice Genesis 31:20-21. "And Jacob stole away unawares to Laban the Syrian, in that he told him not that he fled.21 So he fled with all that he had; and he rose up, and passed over the river, and set his face toward the mount Gilead."

Jacob is MAKING HIS MOVE, and he does so without the knowledge of his uncle and father in law, Laban. Why? Jacob is afraid that Laban will prevent him from doing so. We know that Laban had talked Jacob out of leaving earlier. Laban confessed that he prospered because of Jacob. In Genesis 31:31, Jacob confesses his fear to Laban, that he like Pharaoh of old, would not let him go. It says, "And Jacob answered and said to Laban, Because I was afraid: for I said, Peradventure thou wouldest take by force thy daughters from me." It is obvious that Laban is not pleased with Jacob's move or at the very least the manner in which he left.

Laban registers his protest in verses 26-28. "And Laban said to Jacob, What hast thou done, that thou hast stolen away unawares to me, and carried away my daughters, as captives taken with the sword?

27 Wherefore didst thou flee away secretly, and steal away from me; and didst not tell me, that I might have sent thee away with mirth, and with songs, with tabret, and with harp?

28 And hast not suffered me to kiss my sons and my daughters? thou hast now done foolishly in so doing." Give me a break! If Laban was so concerned about expressing his love for his family, why didn't he do so these twenty years Jacob was employed in his service? This seems at best hypocritical and maudlin.

Well, only the Lord knows if Laban is expressing his true intentions. Somehow I think Laban would have never let Jacob leave without a fight, nevertheless, Jacob is headed home. After some twenty years in the house of Laban, JACOB MAKES HIS MOVE.

How do we know that it is time to make a move? How do we know if and when God is in our move? Here in this chapter, we can gather some criteria for knowing the will of God.

First, when God is in a move, he begins to first move our heart.
It is typical for the Lord to move our hearts before He moves us. This is evident in the life of Jacob.

There was a desire in the heart of Jacob from the very beginning, to move back home. We see this desire in Jacob's heart back as early as his Bethel experience. Notice Genesis 28:20-21. "And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on,21 So that I come again to my father's house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God." Here we see Jacob not long after he has left home, and yet it is already in his heart to return. If you remember, Jacob was the home boy! Esau roamed the fields while Jacob stayed closer to home.

This desire to return home in peace, grew more intense as he spent time in Laban's house. Perhaps his experiences with uncle Laban motivated him to want to leave! This desire grew to the point that Jacob voiced it to his uncle Laban. Notice Genesis 30:25. "And it came to pass, when Rachel had born Joseph, that Jacob said unto Laban, Send me away, that I may go unto mine own place, and to my country." Jacob had fulfilled his obligation to his father in law, and was ready to leave. The heart of Jacob was moved back to the land of Canaan.

Psalm 37:4-5 reads, "Delight thyself also in the LORD; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

5 Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass."

Desire in and of itself not sufficient to warrant a move. We must not operate entirely in the realm of feelings or desire. We cannot always trust our emotions. There must be more to a move than emotion, however God can and does place desires in our hearts. When our desires are in line with the plan and purpose of God, we can see them fulfilled in our lives!

We need to point out here that just because God places a desire in our hearts, does not mean that it will be fulfilled immediately. Time proves all things! It was years later, after Jacob voices his desire to Laban, before it was time to make his move. Desire alone is not enough to cause us to move in God's will.

Second, when God is in a move, He begins to work through circumstances.
We can see this in Jacob's life. There were some things that happened around Jacob, that served to motivate him to make a move. God orchestrated and allowed some things in Jacob's life that began to heat up his desire to go home. It was as if God was stirring up the nest again, making things less comfortable. Someone said that while God will never make us do anything, He certainly knows how to make us willing!

The words and attitudes of Laban's sons were not encouraging. Notice Genesis 31:1. "And he heard the words of Laban's sons, saying, Jacob hath taken away all that was our father's; and of that which was our father's hath he gotten all this glory." His extended family was shall we say, less than friendly. There was a problem here with jealousy.

The blessings of God in the life of Jacob provoked these sons of Laban. These sons began to accuse Jacob of taking their father's wealth. There could be nothing further from the truth! It was Laban who was taking from Jacob! Jacob was made to feel less than comfortable in Laban's home. They were giving him "the treatment."

We all know what "the treatment" is about. When certain people have a problem with you, when they are offended at you, but will not confront you in a biblical manner, they resort to the treatment. The "treatment" is when people avoid you; won't look at you or when they do, they give you that drop dead look, or a scoul. It is when people talk about you behind your back. People who give "the treatment" are people who carry a load against you. Laban's sons where so disposed. They were definitely carrying a load against Jacob!

There was a change in the attitude of Laban toward him. When Laban first met Jacob, he welcomed him into the family with open arms. Later, Laban noticed that God was with Jacob, and blessed him because of Jacob. However, things had changed. Notice Genesis 31:2. "And Jacob beheld the countenance of Laban, and, behold, it was not toward him as before." Body language is a powerful thing. We communicate more through body language than by what we say or how we say it. Evidently the body language of Laban was communicating a message of contempt. The change was so drastic, Jacob talked it over with his wives.

Notice verses 4-5. "And Jacob sent and called Rachel and Leah to the field unto his flock,5 And said unto them, I see your father's countenance, that it is not toward me as before; but the God of my father hath been with me."

Here we see that families tend to share offenses. If one member of the family is offended, then the others pick it up, even though they are not involved. It is one thing to take a stand and protect a loved one, and another to take up another's offense. Notice Proverbs 26:17. "He that passeth by, and meddleth with strife belonging not to him, is like one that taketh a dog by the ears."

Along with the attitude, Laban's actions toward Jacob had not been fair or favorable. Notice Genesis 31:6. "And ye know that with all my power I have served your father.7 And your father hath deceived me, and changed my wages ten times; but God suffered him not to hurt me.8 If he said thus, The speckled shall be thy wages; then all the cattle bare speckled: and if he said thus, The ringstraked shall be thy hire; then bare all the cattle ringstraked." Laban was constantly trying to keep ahead of Jacob. He would change the rules, the wages, so to have an advantage.

The real clincher was that Jacob's wives were on the same page. Jacob called a family meeting and asked his two wives what they thought about moving away. Guess what? It was no split decision! For once they agreed on something!

Notice Genesis 31:14-16. "And Rachel and Leah answered and said unto him, Is there yet any portion or inheritance for us in our father's house?

15 Are we not counted of him strangers? for he hath sold us, and hath quite devoured also our money.

16 For all the riches which God hath taken from our father, that is ours, and our children's: now then, whatsoever God hath said unto thee, do."

These girls were obviously put out with their father. They resented Laban for his treating them more like strangers than his own daughters. He demanded an exorbitant price for them and rather than treating it like a dowry to provide for his daughter's future, he used it for himself, to build up his own holdings!

All these things, the disposition of Laban's sons, the change in Laban's countenance, Laban's deceitful ways, Leah and Rachel agreeing on the move, all served as motivation. We know and serve a God who can work in circumstances to help us to know His will. God can use people, places and things to speak to us, prod us, in positive as well as negative ways. However, circumstances alone are not enough to base a move in our lives. For twenty years, the house of Laban had served as the perfect environment for Jacob to face himself and grow. We are in trouble when we run from people and situations that are sent by God to try our faith!

The third and deciding factor in making his move, was a clear word from God.
Notice Genesis 31:3. "And the LORD said unto Jacob, Return unto the land of thy fathers, and to thy kindred; and I will be with thee."

Verses 10-13. "And it came to pass at the time that the cattle conceived, that I lifted up mine eyes, and saw in a dream, and, behold, the rams which leaped upon the cattle were ringstraked, speckled, and grisled.

11 And the angel of God spake unto me in a dream, saying, Jacob: And I said, Here am I.

12 And he said, Lift up now thine eyes, and see, all the rams which leap upon the cattle are ringstraked, speckled, and grisled: for I have seen all that Laban doeth unto thee.

13 I am the God of Bethel, where thou anointedst the pillar, and where thou vowedst a vow unto me: now arise, get thee out from this land, and return unto the land of thy kindred."

The desire for Jacob to make a move back to his homeland and people was in his heart; the circumstances that surrounded him seemed to point in that direction; however Jacob needed a clear word from God and it came! As it turned out, it was God who placed the desire in his heart; it was God who governed the circumstances around him; and it was the voice of God that settled the whole matter. God affirmed the move as His will in a personal way. God said, "Go."

How does God speak to us? God speaks to us in several ways.

God speaks through His Word, the Bible. We can be sure of this one thing, God's will for our lives will never conflict with His Word! He will never lead us contrary to His commandments. Psalms 119:105 says, "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path."

God speaks through His Holy Spirit. As believers in Jesus Christ, we have the person of the Holy Spirit abiding within us. His presence and voice always affirms the Word of God and the will of God. Romans 8:14 says, "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God."

God speaks through the voice of His people, through others. Proverbs 11:14 reads, "Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety."

Listen, we can be sure of God's voice, leading in our lives. David said, "The Lord is my Shepherd. He leadeth me beside the still waters. He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake." Jesus said, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me."

When we move in God's will, we can be sure God moves with us. We know that Jacob came to the house of Laban with the blessing and consent of his parents, and in the will of God. It is just as important that Jacob leaves in the same way. Why?

When we make our move in the Lord's will, we can be assured of His provision. In verses 7-9, Jacob speaks of God's faithfulness to take care of him, even though Laban was out to cheat him. "And your father hath deceived me, and changed my wages ten times; but God suffered him not to hurt me.8 If he said thus, The speckled shall be thy wages; then all the cattle bare speckled: and if he said thus, The ringstraked shall be thy hire; then bare all the cattle ringstraked.9 Thus God hath taken away the cattle of your father, and given them to me." As Jacob leaves the house of Laban, we get a sense that he is a man with many possessions.

When we make our move in the Lord's will, we can be assured of His presence. As Jacob pulled out, he did so with a heavenly escort. In verse 24, we find that the Lord came to Laban who was hot on his trail, and warned him not to over step himself when he overtook Jacob. It says, "And God came to Laban the Syrian in a dream by night, and said unto him, Take heed that thou speak not to Jacob either good or bad."

When we make our move in the Lord's will, we can be assured of His protection. Uncle Laban came after Jacob who had a three day heard start. Notice verses 22-23. "And it was told Laban on the third day that Jacob was fled.

23 And he took his brethren with him, and pursued after him seven days' journey; and they overtook him in the Mount Gilead." Obviously Laban was traveling lighter, and therefore could eventually catch up with Jacob. In a real way, the Lord protected Jacob. Listen to Laban's testimony in verse 29. Laban tells Jacob, "It is in the power of my hand to do you hurt: but the God of your father spake unto me yesternight, saying, Take thou heed that thou speak not to Jacob either good or bad."

What Jacob didn't know was that one of his wives had stolen Laban's property. Verse 19 reads, "And Laban went to shear his sheep: and Rachel had stolen the images that were her father's." Rachel evidencing some of her Syrian superstitions, had stolen a teraphim, which was a small household god belonging to her father. These idols were used as good luck charms.

Laban accused Jacob of taking his property, and Jacob ignorant of the offense, said in verse 32, "With whomsoever thou findest thy gods, let him not live: before our brethren discern thou what is thine with me, and take it to thee. For Jacob knew not that Rachel had stolen them."

Jacob placed Rachel in peril, however Rachel proves to be her father's child by thinking quickly off her feet and spinning a good cover story. God protected her, and her father never made the discovery.

When we make our move in the Lord's will, we can be assured of His peace. Feeling vindicated by God, having been accused of stealing by Laban, Jacob speaks his peace to Laban. Verse 36 says, "And Jacob was wroth, and chode with Laban: and Jacob answered and said to Laban, What is my trespass? what is my sin, that thou hast so hotly pursued after me?

37 Whereas thou hast searched all my stuff, what hast thou found of all thy household stuff? set it here before my brethren and thy brethren, that they may judge betwixt us both.

38 This twenty years have I been with thee; thy ewes and thy she goats have not cast their young, and the rams of thy flock have I not eaten."

Verse 41. "Thus have I been twenty years in thy house; I served thee fourteen years for thy two daughters, and six years for thy cattle: and thou hast changed my wages ten times.

42 Except the God of my father, the God of Abraham, and the fear of Isaac, had been with me, surely thou hadst sent me away now empty. God hath seen mine affliction and the labour of my hands, and rebuked thee yesternight."

Like a prosecuting attorney, Jacob gets a load off his chest! It is interesting to note that Laban offers no resistance to Jacob's case against him.

In Genesis 31:44-54, Jacob and Laban enter into a peace agreement. They end their feud by making a covenant between them, calling on God to be a witness. The agreement is followed by the usual sacrifice and feast. Laban and Jacob part in peace.

Are you thinking about making a move? Before you move, make sure you have more than a desire to move or a handful of legitimate complaints about the situation you are presently in. Wait for the definite, unmistakable voice of God in your life. Make sure God is in it.

Ephesians 5:17 says, "Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is." Verse 55 reads, "And early in the morning Laban rose up, and kissed his sons and his daughters, and blessed them: and Laban departed, and returned unto his place."

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