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22. God Tells Jacob to Return Home

June 25, 2009

Text:   Genesis 31:1-55

Key Verses:   Genesis 31:3, 13

Outline:                 I. Laban Sours Against Jacob’s Family      Gen. 31:1-16

                                 II. Jacob Leaves Secretly      Gen. 31:17-21

                                 III. Laban and Jacob Confront One Another      Gen. 31:22-42

                                 IV. Laban and Jacob Make Peace      Gen. 31:43-55

Context/Discussion/Comments:

Laban turns against Jacob and his sons claim Jacob is stealing all their wealth. God tells Jacob it’s time to go home and promises to be with him. Jacob summons his wives to the fields and explains what God has told him, how their father has changes his wages unfairly, and how God has blessed him because of his persecution and loyalty. Jacob explains how God came to him in a dream and instructed him in the mating process because of Laban’s underhanded dealings and has commanded him to return home. Rachel and Leah agree with Jacob. They too have seen how their father has squandered his wealth and their inheritance. They too feel they are treated like foreigners in their own household.

Jacob gathers all his possessions and begins to head toward Canaan. When Laban goes to shear his sheep, Rachel steals his idols to take with her. I believe she stole them for their value, precious metal covering wood, and not because she believed they were gods. Jacob and his family had been gone three days before Laban learns they had left for Canaan. Laban pursues Jacob and catches up with him in seven days. God warns Laban not to say anything stupid and make matters worse.

Laban confronts Jacob as to why he left secretly with his daughters and grandchildren, preventing him from throwing a party and saying goodbye. Laban still believes he holds power over Jacob and he accuses him of stealing his gods. Jacob says he left secretly because he thought Laban would use force to keep his daughters. Then he challenges Laban to search his tents to see if he can find anything that belongs to him. Laban enters Rachel’s tent but she refuses to move and reveal the idols claiming she is in the midst of her period.

Now Jacob confronts Laban regarding his claims that they had stolen Laban’s possessions. Jacob explains he has worked for Laban 20 years accepting all the loses from Laban’s flocks as his own. All Laban did was to refuse to carry out his end of their bargain concerning Jacob’s wages. Laban heard from God the night before because of his deceitful practices.

Laban says this is his family too and recommends they make peace. So Laban and Jacob set up two stone pillars and claim God as their witness. They agree not to go past this point to harm the other. This place was called Mizpah. God is their witness and judge. Jacob sacrifices to God and they all share a meal. The next morning Laban says goodbye and leaves.

Lessons/Applications:

     1. The practice of greed and deceit destroys even the closest of relationships.

     2. Listen to God and follow His lead. When we let God lead, He is always near us and He will always protect us.

     3. Involve your immediate family in discussions of mistreatment within the family so you can make decisions which are agreeable to all.

     4. Sometimes separation is the best and only solution to resolve bad family relations.

     5. Once again we have an example of deceivers being deceived. Deceivers usually follow “the god of deception” and avoid seeking the one true God Almighty.

     6. Unfair/mistreatment of one’s servants, children, family members, employees quickly breeds malcontent resulting in lack of trust and lack of loyalty. Relationships disintegrate and peace is a foreign concept. Do all that you can to confront the situation and bring peace. When peace is made, establish boundary lines on your behavior so as not to repeat your errors.

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