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 29:18-35."And Jacob loved Rachel; and said, I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter. 19 And Laban said, It is better that I give her to thee, than that I should give her to another man: abide with me. 20 And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her. 21 And Jacob said unto Laban, Give me my wife, for my days are fulfilled, that I may go in unto her. 22 And Laban gathered together all the men of the place, and made a feast. 23 And it came to pass in the evening, that he took Leah his daughter, and brought her to him; and he went in unto her. 24 And Laban gave unto his daughter Leah Zilpah his maid for an handmaid. 25 And it came to pass, that in the morning, behold, it was Leah: and he said to Laban, What is this thou hast done unto me? did not I serve with thee for Rachel? wherefore then hast thou beguiled me? 26 And Laban said, It must not be so done in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn. 27 Fulfil her week, and we will give thee this also for the service which thou shalt serve with me yet seven other years. 28 And Jacob did so, and fulfilled her week: and he gave him Rachel his daughter to wife also. 29 And Laban gave to Rachel his daughter Bilhah his handmaid to be her maid. 30 And he went in also unto Rachel, and he loved also Rachel more than Leah, and served with him yet seven other years. 31 And when the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren. 32 And Leah conceived, and bare a son, and she called his name Reuben: for she said, Surely the LORD hath looked upon my affliction; now therefore my husband will love me. 33 And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Because the LORD hath heard that I was hated, he hath therefore given me this son also: and she called his name Simeon. 34 And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Now this time will my husband be joined unto me, because I have born him three sons: therefore was his name called Levi. 35 And she conceived again, and bare a son: and she said, Now will I praise the LORD: therefore she called his name Judah; and left bearing."

Introduction: We know who Jacob is, that he is rightly named. The name Jacob means supplanter or cheater. He has a propensity to cheat, to reach from behind, to not always play fairly. While at home, Jacob took advantage of his older brother Esau, exploiting his weakness, and gaining Esau's birthright in exchange for a bowl of his "Big Red," something Esau later regretted. Then, Jacob was involved in a plot to deceive his father. Isaac thought he was dying and sent Esau off to kill game and prepare a special venison dish. Rebekah overheard their plans, and schemed to get her favorite son Jacob the blessing as well as the birthright. It worked. Jacob ended up with the blessing, lying to his father in the process, but doing so, he put his life in danger. Esau was now waiting for the opportunity to kill him.

Jacob flees home and travels far away, sent by his parents to Padanaram, to the household of Laban. There he met the love of his life. He has fallen in love with Rachel, the younger daughter of his uncle Laban, his mother's brother. In verse 18, Jacob offers to work seven years for Laban, and the right to marry Rachel. Laban agreed, they shook on it, and somewhere in Heaven an angel shouted, "Let the games begin!"

There is a law stated in the New Testament, recorded in Galatians 6:7-8. It says, "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting." So, here is the law. It is the law of sowing and reaping.

This law implies several truths. We reap what we sow. We reap later than we sow. We reap more than we sow. Jacob is about to meet his match. His uncle Laban has welcomed him into the family with open arms. It would be just like Laban to embrace Jacob warmly and as he does, go through his pockets all the while saying, "My boy. My boy. My flesh and blood." Jacob is about to start reaping. The seeds of lying, manipulation, and deception sown at home, are about to sprout in his own life. In the house of his uncle Laban, Jacob is soon to get a good dose of himself. It is payback time.

Living in the house that Laban built, Jacob reaps through his wives. What a story. Jacob agrees with uncle Laban to work seven years for his younger daughter Rachel. There is no discussion of Leah. Jacob has no interest in her, she is not part of the prenuptial agreement. His love for Rachel is so strong, that those seven years flew by. Genesis 29:20 says that they seemed but a few days! At the end of the seven years, there was a wedding. Everything was going as agreed upon, as planned. The bride was veiled and brought to the groom's chamber in darkness where the marriage was consummated. Then came Jacob's morning discovery!

This turned out to be a Haunted Honeymoon! Notice verse 25. "And it came to pass, that in the morning, behold, it was Leah: and he said to Laban, What is this thou hast done unto me? did not I serve with thee for Rachel? wherefore then hast thou beguiled me?" He had married the wrong woman! The word "beguile" in the Hebrew is ramah (raw-maw') and means to deceive, mislead, trick; to deal treacherously with or betray.

Laban becomes the first to introduce the small print tucked away on the bottom of the contract. Notice his response to Jacob in verse 26. It is classic. "And Laban said, It must not be so done in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn." This guy is good. Laban smiling all the while says, "Oh yes, didn't I tell you that we have a custom here in the East? Here it is, ...written on the contract in small print. I was sure I told you about it."

Jacob is now on the receiving end. He is beginning to understand how Esau felt, or how Isaac felt, when deceived. All Jacob can do is grin and bear it! Laban works out another deal with Jacob, giving Rachel to him for a second wife as he works another seven years. Notice verses 27-28. Laban says, "Fulfil her week, and we will give thee this also for the service which thou shalt serve with me yet seven other years. 28 And Jacob did so, and fulfilled her week: and he gave him Rachel his daughter to wife also." Uncle Laban is smooth! He unloads both of his daughters and gets fourteen years of labor for them!

How interesting that Jacob thought he had escaped an unhappy, competitive home, and ended up with one of his own. Here begins the first daytime Soap Opera, a steamy little show called, "Passion In Padanaram." Leah gives Jacob four sons! Soon there are four women in the baby derby. A literal baby war erupts in this household between Leah and Rachel! Two wives compete for the love and affection of one husband!

The real tragedy is found in verse 31. It says, "And when the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren." Perhaps Jacob is getting what he deserves, however he is not the only one who will suffer. When we sow to the flesh, we reap of the flesh, but there is more. When we sow to the flesh and reap the same, we always involve the lives of others. Leah loves Jacob, but it is obvious that she does not have his heart. Leah is locked in an unhappy marriage. She will suffer for a lifetime, because of the sins of others.

Living in the house that Laban built, Jacob reaps through his wages. Jacob ends up working fourteen years for the woman of his dreams. Uncle Laban's deception and manipulation did not stop with his daughters, Jacob's wives, but extended into his wages. At every turn, Laban took advantage of Jacob. Even Laban's daughters Leah and Rachel were witnesses.

Notice Genesis 31:4-7. "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. 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."

We are not given the details of all these wage changes, however we are given enough background to know that every time Jacob seemed to be getting the better end of the deal, Laban would change the rules. Back then, wages had to do with cattle. Money and wealth were measured by cattle. Uncle Laban could not stand it when Jacob increased. We can assume that uncle Laban used every trick in the book to keep Jacob down.

Having lived with and worked for his uncle Laban for some twenty years, there soon came a time in the life of Jacob, when he began to evidence growth. We see this in Genesis 30:25. It says, "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." It is obvious that Jacob has had enough of Laban. He is ready to venture out on his own. Without doubt, living with and working for Laban is getting to Jacob. Why? In a real sense he is having to face himself, and he doesn't like what he sees. As it turns out, he is not ready. There are a few more lessons to learn in life, while living and working for uncle Laban, however he is on his way to becoming the person God has in mind.

We must remember that uncle Laban is only a tool, an instrument in the hand of God to mold and fashion Jacob. God is the Master Potter, Jacob is the clay, and the house of Laban is the potter's wheel, the potter's oven. Jacob is not at the point in life where we can say that he has totally learned his lesson, that he has his act together, that he is a finished vessel. He is still on the wheel and in the oven and will continue to be after he leaves Laban's house.

You see, Jacob lives his life pretty much like we live ours. We learn lessons along the way. We grow along the way. We begin to exercise a measure of faith along the way, only to go backwards as we face the next chapter in our lives. Like Abraham, we have great faith to offer up Isaac, and then we find ourselves lying about something before the lost world, motivated by fear! Two steps forward, one step backwards. This is the life of Jacob, and this is our life as well.

LIVING IN THE HOUSE THAT LABAN BUILT has been good for Jacob even though it has not been pleasant. The truth here is that we grow more in our lives when life is unpleasant, than when we are comfortable. Ecclesiastes 7:2 2 says, "It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart." Already we can chart some positive steps in Jacob's life.

Step One: Jacob evidences growth in his identity.
Jacob wants to leave the house of Laban and start a life for himself. Notice verse 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. 26 Give me my wives and my children, for whom I have served thee, and let me go: for thou knowest my service which I have done thee." Jacob now has eleven sons and one daughter. He is viewing himself as the head of his own household, rather than as an extension of Laban's house.

Also, Jacob refuses to be in debt to Laban. Verse 31a. "And he said, What shall I give thee? And Jacob said, Thou shalt not give me any thing." Jacob had fulfilled his obligation to Laban and no longer wanted to be indebted to him in any way. He refused to be given any animals whether they be solid, speckled, or spotted. There are always strings attached to gifts!

Listen, it is healthy and necessary for each of us to establish our own identity. This is especially true of married couples. Jesus said in Mark 10:7-8 "For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; 8 And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh." When children grow up and get married, parents must learn a new language, enter into a new relationship, a new way of viewing and relating to their children.

Step Two: Jacob evidences growth in his dependency.
It is interesting that uncle Laban has put together Jacob's connection with God. Notice Genesis 30:27. "And Laban said unto him, I pray thee, if I have found favour in thine eyes, tarry: for I have learned by experience that the LORD hath blessed me for thy sake." Evidently there was something to that vow Jacob made with God back at Bethel. Jacob is keeping his vow. He is living his life in such a way that God can bless him. Matthew 6:33 says, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."

Laban asks Jacob to stay and set his own wages. Verse 28 Laban says, "Appoint me thy wages, and I will give it." Jacob responds in a most untypical fashion, by making the worst possible deal for himself. He put himself in a situation of total dependance on the Lord. How? Jacob agreed to supervise Laban's flocks for only those unborn animals that would be undesirable, because of their markings.

It would be entirely up to God as to how many animals would become Jacob's. The dominate color traits of Laban's flocks were the solid color animals. To make things even more generous for Laban, Jacob would not receive spotted or speckled animals from those few that were presently of that variety. His future wages would be those spotted and speckled animals that were born to the solid color pairs!

This was such a good deal, uncle Laban quickly took Jacob's offer. Just for insurance however, Laban put all the spotted and speckled animals under the care of his sons and removed them a three days journey from Jacob. There was no way, baring the intervention of God that Laban could not come out on top of this deal!

In a real sense, Jacob is abandoning himself to God. He is living by faith, placing his future in God's hands.

Step Three: Jacob evidences growth in his acceptance.
It is clear that Jacob is not living on sour grapes. He has not been treated fairly by his uncle Laban, yet is getting on with his life, accepting what has happened to him and making the most of the present situation. Jacob is not trapped in the past, he is looking to the future! Part of our accepting what has happened to us, no matter how unjust it might be, is seeing our own part in it. Laban's ways and deception of Jacob, is linked in part to Jacob's ways and deception of his brother Esau and father Isaac.

It requires a level of maturity not to get sidetracked by life's hard knocks and injustice. The apostle Paul expressed this in Philippians 3:13-14. "Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." We cannot live in the past and claim the future. We cannot move to second base and at the same time hug first base. Instead, we must learn from the past, we must come to terms with our past, and press on!

Step Four: Jacob evidences growth in taking responsibility.
Notice verses 29-30. "And he said unto him, Thou knowest how I have served thee, and how thy cattle was with me. 30 For it was little which thou hadst before I came, and it is now increased unto a multitude; and the LORD hath blessed thee since my coming: and now when shall I provide for mine own house also?" How refreshing it is to see someone who is willing to take responsibility. Jacob is acting as the head of his household. He is responsible to provide for his wives and children, rather than let his father in law carry him.

Jacob has placed his success and failure in the hands of God, but obviously he does not sit idle. He has learned some things along the way concerning cattle. In Genesis 30:37-43, he uses methods known at the time to either encourage certain animals to breed, and or alter the color trait of their offspring. There are some who say that Jacob is not at all violating his trust in God for his situation. Faith requires action on our part. While we are living in dependance upon God, we are not to be idle. There are some things we must do. Someone has said that we should believe as if everything depended upon God, and act as if everything depended upon us!

There is a song that says, "I'm not what I want to be, I'm not what I'm gonna be, but praise God I'm not what I was."

This is Jacob's testimony. Is it our testimony? Are we taking steps in the right direction? Are we living our lives in a way that God can bless us? How are we doing LIVING IN THE HOUSE THAT LABAN BUILT? What are we sowing? What are we reaping? What are we learning?

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