THE DECEIVED DECEIVER
Loving Father, may I never forget that You oversee all things. Trials remind me that I must worship You and trust Your sovereign will.
Read GENESIS 29:14b–30
14 Then Laban said to him, “You are my own flesh and blood.”
Jacob Marries Leah and Rachel
After Jacob had stayed with him for a whole month, 15 Laban 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.”
16 Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 17 Leah had weak[a] eyes, but Rachel had a lovely figure and was beautiful. 18 Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, “I’ll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel.”
19 Laban said, “It’s better that I give her to you than to some other man. Stay here with me.” 20 So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.
21 Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife. My time is completed, and I want to make love to her.”
22 So Laban brought together all the people of the place and gave a feast. 23 But when evening came, he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and Jacob made love to her. 24 And Laban gave his servant Zilpah to his daughter as her attendant.
25 When 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?”
26 Laban replied, “It is not our custom here to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older one. 27 Finish this daughter’s bridal week; then we will give you the younger one also, in return for another seven years of work.”
28 And Jacob did so. He finished the week with Leah, and then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife. 29 Laban gave his servant Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as her attendant. 30 Jacob 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.
- Genesis 29:17 Or delicate
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘Through floods and flames He leads me safely on, / and daily makes His sovereign goodness known.’1 Trust yourself afresh into God’s safe keeping.
The reading today starts where we left off yesterday. Family harmony reigns. Kind Uncle Laban refuses to play on the family relationship to freeload on Jacob. Instead, he agrees to pay him for his service. It is all going so well – but the storyline begins to go south very quickly, reflecting our messy and broken world. Jacob’s love and devotion are cynically manipulated by Laban for his own ends. Having been a master of duplicity, Jacob is now outschemed by Laban, who claims tradition as cover for his actions (26). Jacob shows remarkable faithfullness and perseverance in the circumstances, true love conquering a justified sense of injustice. Human love can have that transforming effect. But is there more? Jacob’s experience with God at Bethel has brought him to a point of submission that changes his whole perspective on his life. The hardships he faces are part of living out the vow he has made.2 God is watching over him, even in the unfairness of Laban’s underhandedness.
Is God really at work in the messiness of family life, the complexity of relationships and the deviousness of people who have authority over us? If God is truly the hero of the biblical narrative, then this is much more than the Jacob story. This is about God working out His promise through people’s mixed motives, self-interest, and frustration. Paul rejoices that Christ is preached, even when motives are suspect.3 Without condoning such attitudes, we are entirely confident that God is at work. We remain confident even when the process drags on. Is it significant that the long period for which Jacob serves Laban breaks into two periods of seven, the number of completeness? In the very worst of circumstances, God carries out His work to perfection.
What’s your greatest frustration now? Could God be at work, not despite it but through it? Reflect on what God may be doing. Express trust even if no answer emerges.
Loving God, I know there are so many people around the world trapped in appalling situations. Send those who can offer Your hope.
1 William Gadsby, 1773–1844, ‘Immortal honors rest on Jesus’ head’ 2 Gen 28:20,21 3 Phil 1:15–18