Turn of Events

Genesis 29:14-30

14Then Laban said to him, “You are my own flesh and blood.” After Jacob had stayed with him for a whole month, 15Laban 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.”

16Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 17Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel had a lovely figure and was beautiful. 18Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, “I’ll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel.” 19Laban said, “It’s better that I give her to you than to some other man. Stay here with me.” 20So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.

21Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife. My time is completed, and I want to make love to her.” 22So Laban brought together all the people of the place and gave a feast. 23But when evening came, he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and Jacob made love to her. 24And Laban gave his servant Zilpah to his daughter as her attendant.

25When 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?” 26Laban replied, “It is not our custom here to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older one. 27Finish this daughter’s bridal week; then we will give you the younger one also, in return for another seven years of work.” 28And Jacob did so. He finished the week with Leah, and then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife. 29Laban gave his servant Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as her attendant. 30Jacob made love to Rachel also, and his love for Rachel was greater than his love for Leah. And he worked for Laban another seven years.

Introduction

How do you normally react when caught in a traffic jam caused by accident or road construction? Summer is always busy for road repairs, and many motorists are caught unaware of possible traffic congestion. Unexpected traffic delays caused by accidents or road constructions may reveal one’s character.

You may complain or grumble but it sure won’t make traffic flow faster.

It is very advisable to plan carefully the path to take, short or long. But still, there are surprising turns of events that we may encounter along the way. Students can identify with this reality very often. They dream, plan and pursue the career path they wish to take but even before they graduate, they have already shifted to a different direction or adjusted their timeline.

Keep in mind: With human limitation, we can never know the future.

It should remind us the all-knowing God. It says in Deuteronomy 29:29, 29The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.

But, as long as we are at the center of the will of God, and by His grace we live according to His standards, we’ve got peace that everything will turn out for our benefit, even when things seem out of our control. Trust that our Lord is in control of our future and circumstances, and we will never have to worry or panic.

It says in Isaiah 28:16, 16So this is what the Sovereign Lord says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who relies on it will never be stricken with panic.

The precious cornerstone is Christ Jesus. He told us not to worry but still we worry, why? He knows our tendency to panic and He wants to help us. When we seek His help, His Spirit bears fruit of peace, joy, self-control is us.

When we are placed in an unfamiliar situation, our natural tendency is to worry or panic. When we worry, we are actually disobeying our Lord’s command not to worry. Again, it points to our need to seek peace and self-control from the Holy Spirit. And, even when unexpected turns of events seem bad or shocking, our faith in Christ says: God allows them for our own good, and we don’t panic.

Let’s continue to track the pilgrimage of Jacob as he obeyed his parents’ instruction to find his wife from the relatives of his mother. God promised to bless, watch and provide for his need until he returns to Canaan. Jacob trusted God and eventually, he reached his destination safely, the land of the eastern peoples. His mother’s brother Laban warmly welcomed him into his home.

God or Jacob’s parents did not give him instruction on how he may choose the woman he should marry. Did God or his parents give him the right to choose the woman he should marry? It’s not mentioned. Maybe, it’s not necessary.

His father Isaac told him to marry his mother’s relatives. God seemed to be agreeable with Isaac’s instruction. Until God’s promise for him has been done, the Lord also told him that He will not to leave him, and Jacob believed it.

When Abraham sent his senior servant to find a wife for Isaac, Rebekah was at the well. Jacob met Rachel at the well, and she became his wife.

After one month, his uncle Laban, the father of Rachel may have observed that Jacob was very helpful and responsible. So, he offered to give him wages. Jacob took that opportunity as his chance to get Rachel as his wife.

1. Chance

14Then Laban said to him, “You are my own flesh and blood.” After Jacob had stayed with him for a whole month, 15Laban 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.” 16Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 17Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel had a lovely figure and was beautiful. 18Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, “I’ll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel.” 19Laban said, “It’s better that I give her to you than to some other man. Stay here with me.” 20So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.

For a month, Jacob may have taken every chance to figure out if Rachel was the right woman for him so that he readily told his uncle Laban that he wanted Rachel to be his wife in exchange for 7 years service. He could have asked for the current wages but he intentionally determined to get his wife.

And, Laban readily accepted the condition that Jacob presented him.

When Laban offered to give him wages, Jacob could have asked for a salary and just asked Laban to marry Rachel, right? Instead of making himself rich, Jacob was very decisive to accomplish his mission to get a wife. Moreover, he trusted God to bless him, watch over him, and provide for his needs.

Like Jacob, we have to be focused on our mission as believers, that is: To witness for Christ and make disciples. We don’t have to worry about daily needs.

The Lord Jesus commanded in Matthew 6:25-26, 25“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 

Many among us don’t worry about food but many would worry of not having the latest gadget, technology, car, trendy fashion, or recreation.

But why did Jacob choose Rachel instead of Leah? Was attraction to her beauty and lovely figure enough for him to decide that Rachel was right for him?

Jacob met Rachel tending sheep. It implies that, although, she’s beautiful and had a lovely figure, Rachel was also responsible and humble.

Leah with weak eyes may have been limited to household chores. A wife who is good with household chores is desirable but Jacob may not require that.

Why? It’s because Jacob didn’t mind doing household chores. In Canaan, Jacob loved indoors and took care of household chores, for sure. He was also a great cook. Remember? Esau sold his bright right for the food Jacob cooked.

In return for Rachel, why did Jacob offer to work for 7 years and not 2 or 5 years only? Did he estimate the time for him to reconsider if Rachel was the right wife for him? Did Jacob ever doubt whether he wanted to marry Rachel or not?

Speculations

Bible scholars speculate that Rachel was young, and in 7 years, she would be matured enough to be married. Others suggest that Jacob had to show love and affection to Rachel while tending the sheep of Laban, why? Jacob was already 70 years old, and had to prove that he can still manage to have a family. Indeed, Jacob was strong at 70. He rolled away the large stone cover from the mouth of the well alone while shepherds needed other shepherds to remove it.

Sounds logical but what is the spiritual implication for us and the next generation believers? Was it just another added spice of Jacob’s story? No!

Bible students recommend that 7 years represent enough time before believers take leadership responsibilities like church elder or deacon.

In 1 Timothy 3:4-6, 4 The elder or overseer must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. 5If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church? 6He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. 

And in 1 Timothy 3:12-13, 12A deacon must be faithful to his wife and must manage his children and his household well. 13Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.

The term “must” make the succeeding word or next word imperative. It is a necessary requirement. It is required for elders and deacons to manage the own family well and faithful to their wives. They must not be recent converts, why?

There’s tendency of being conceited, arrogant, proud—the devil’s downfall.

Therefore, these biblical requirements for elders and deacons are actually safety measures for them not to fall under the same judgment as the devil.

What’s biblical age requirement for elders or deacons? It’s implied that one should be matured enough to manage a family. But, is it absolute requirement for them to be married? Should it be a consequential provision for married people?

Leading a church as deacon or elder is comparable to managing a family.  Accordingly, the first 5 years are adjustment or honeymoon period for husband and wife. It requires more years to adjust to more people in the church.

How long is enough time to adjust in a church? Are 7 years enough time for recent converts to grow spiritually? Are 7 years enough time for transferee believers to learn and adjust to the tradition and custom of their new church?

Laban offered wages for his service. It implies that Jacob was responsible worker worthy of his wages, but Jacob had no experience as husband, father or head of a family. Waiting for 7 years before Jacob officially start his own family was also adjustment period to cultural lifestyle as responsible head of his family.

The lifestyle and culture in Canaan where he lived 70 years of his life may not be the same as the lifestyle and culture of the eastern peoples like Laban and his family. Surely, Jacob wanted to be accepted and not offend his future in-laws.

Many problems have been experienced when new pastors or transferees take leadership role in the church. Similar to marriage, there’s honeymoon stage for pastors, transferees and the church to adjust to one another comfortably.

Eventually, it seemed only few days for Jacob to complete 7 years service.

2. Completion

21Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife. My time is completed, and I want to make love to her.” 22So Laban brought together all the people of the place and gave a feast. 23But when evening came, he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and Jacob made love to her. 24And Laban gave his servant Zilpah to his daughter as her attendant. 25When 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 has servants. He had the means to hire or buy servants which may prove why he was well-known to the shepherds, from whom Jacob inquired at that well. And yet, Rachel chose to personally tend the sheep of her father.

Anyway, Laban readily gave his daughters to Jacob. He reasoned out that it’s better to give his daughters to Jacob in marriage than to other men he knew. Was it God who moved in the heart of Laban so that he willingly gave Leah and Rachel as wives to Jacob? But, why did God allow Laban to deceive Jacob?

Among the sisters, Rachel was beautiful and had a lovely figure. Leah had preferred staying home rather than joining her sister Rachel in tending the flock of their father. She has weak, delicate eyes or maybe poor vision. Perhaps, Laban presumed that Leah won’t be able to get marry so, he deceived Jacob.

Even so, God must have allowed Jacob to be deceived so that Leah and Rachel became the mothers of the Israelites. Deception has been observed in the narrative of Jacob’s pilgrimage. Did God allow Jacob to be deceived to remind when he deceived Esau to get the right of the first born, and when he deceived his father just to get the blessing intended for Esau?

See, Jacob was very honest in his 7 years service and he also joined the feast prepared by Laban before giving his daughters to him. Jacob must be drunk so that he did not recognized Leah that night. It teaches in Proverbs 23:31:

31Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly! 32In the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper.

Too much wine is not good testimony for believers. We accept that.

Jacob honestly served 7 years, but Laban intentionally deceived him.

Similarly, even when we do our best effort, others may not play fairly. It happens even among Christian community. What should we do when others deceive us?

Missionary

A missionary paid the rent and bills in the apartment he was staying with his family. Unknowingly, rent and bills were shouldered by the school where the missionary was teaching but the missionary was charged with the rent and bill. The person who collected the payment was a coordinator of missionaries.

The missionary took that as sign to move on to the next mission point.

What should you do, if you were cheated by supposedly believers?

Would you fight for your right and file lawsuit against the cheater?

It says in 1 Corinthians 6:7-10, 7The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? 8Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers and sisters. 9Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 

The swindlers, thieves, greedy, drunkards, and slanderers are in the same sentence with immoral people who will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Jacob was very complacent and trusted that Laban would be fair with him. It is not helpful to be complacent. Secure your valuable belongings all the time not allow others to be tempted of taking your belonging. When Laban deceived him, Jacob accepted a compromise that Laban told him to serve 7 years more.

3. Compromise

26Laban replied, “It is not our custom here to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older one. 27Finish this daughter’s bridal week; then we will give you the younger one also, in return for another seven years of work.” 28And Jacob did so. He finished the week with Leah, and then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife. 29Laban gave his servant Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as her attendant. 30Jacob made love to Rachel also, and his love for Rachel was greater than his love for Leah. And he worked for Laban another seven years.

Jacob may have been shocked when he woke up to see Leah beside him.

He expected Rachel to be his wife. Moreover, Laban agreed to give him Rachel in exchange for another seven years. Laban added two servants as bonus which may imply that he desired the better life for both of his daughters.

Jacob did not worry about household chores if he grew a family because he was given 2 servants. He just worked responsibly and the turns of events worked favorably for his benefit and betterment.

Would you agree that God allows events in life including difficult times to redirect us to a situation He designed for our betterment? Someone advise to take it as an opportunity for creativity when life is in difficulty.

Queen Esther

One biblical character who had a tragic life was Esther. She was an orphan, no father, no mother. Added to her undesirable difficulty, she was carried into exile and lived under the loving care of her cousin Mordecai.

It says in Esther 2:20, 20Esther continued to follow Mordecai’s instructions as she had done when he was bringing her up.

Eventually, Esther became queen. Was her tragic life experience prepared her to become queen? If she was not exiled will she ever become queen? Esther became instrumental for the safety of the exiled Jewish people. A man named Haman planned for the annihilation of Jewish people in the entire kingdom.

Mordecai persuaded Esther to help the Jews. It says in Esther 4:14,

14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

Even when Queen Esther became queen, she continued to respect the advice of her cousin/guardian Mordecai. The Jews were saved including Esther.

The story of Queen Esther teaches us that God allows even difficult situations in our life for our betterment. Your situation now is a crucial event that God has designed for your betterment.

When things seem like they are going against our expectations, it should remind us Romans 8:28-30, 28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

<‘)))>< ltsii/2018 ><(((‘>

 

 

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