Title: The Deceiver is Deceived.
Text: Genesis 29.1-30
Where we left off: Jacob had deceived his brother; stealing his birthright and his blessing. So Jacob was left with some decisions to make. Last week he looked at his Dilemma – stay and risk his life; His Departure and His Dream – God’s activity there in that place with Angels coming down from heaven and going up to heaven on this later, this flight of stairs (an escalator); and His Declaration – kind of conditional if I recall. In this chapter we hear God’s unconditional promise: rd 28.13-15; When he woke up, he made a vow to always serve the Lord, if the Lord would do as he promised.
Transition: This evening we’ll look at Chapter 29 through verse 30. I’ve divided this passage up into 4 parts:
- Jacob’s Arrival
- His Extended Family
- A Deal is Struck
- Laban’s Deception
Let’s begin with his arrival in v 1;
1. Jacob’s Arrival (29.1-8)
exp.: rd v 1; lit.: He lifted up his feet; Set up the scene: rd v 2-3; So, he strolls into Haran and meets these Shepherds waiting with their flocks; rd v 4-6; So, Jacob has come to the right place after such a long journey. Maybe he’s had this conversation before, at other towns getting to this one. Dunno. Now, however, he’s at the right place. But these guys seem to be uncomfortable with this fellow from the West. What a great opportunity to dump him on Rachel, who just happens to be coming up the way to water her sheep.
Transition: Now, he asks them a good question: rd v 7; the implication is that it’s still early. You should have watered your sheep by now and be out there pasturing them, so that they can eat. Lazy bums! Rd v 8; Now, let me preface this next part with a statement about men: Guys, don’t we just get goofy around our girls? I mean in the beginning, when we first meet them.
So, we read of Jacob’s arrival. Now we’ll meet his family – beginning with Rachel.
2. Jacob’s Extended Family (29.9-14)
exp.: Rd v 9-10; So, what usually takes a bunch of shepherds to take care of – rolling away the stone – Jacob, does on his own. There is an interesting wordplay in this passage; Rachel means ewe lamb; So it’s basically saying here comes a lamb with her lambs; Rd v 11; One commentary I have said that it was love at 1st sight. That may have been true, but I don’t think you can take that from this verse, because kissing was the customary greeting (cf. v 13).
There is something interesting to note here – I can find no other instance in the Bible where a man kisses a woman who is not his wife or his mother. Can you think of any?
Rd v 12;
- So he meets his cousin – his mother’s, brother’s daughter.
- Now, he meets his Uncle. Rd v 13; Jacob basically fills Laban in on what has brought him here; I guess he left out the part about the deceiving and all! Rd v 14; whatever it was that Jacob told Laban, it convinced him that Jacob was truly apart of his family; And, so he stays a whole month;
Transition: I wonder what this month was like? Is Laban thinking that Jacob is here to stay? Will he leave soon? Laban then takes matters into his own hands and strikes a deal with his Nephew…
3. A Deal is Struck (29.15-20)
exp.: rd v 15; it’s a good question; Jacob needs to start earning his keep; I wonder if Laban is disappointed by this time, because the last time this happened with Abraham’s servant, the servant shelled out some coinage. That hasn’t happened here! Rd 24.53;
The biblical narrative breaks away to inform us of some very important details; rd v 16-18a; a comparison is made; soft vs beautiful; most commentators (as opposed to uncommon tators) think this means that there was no fire in her eyes; the opposite of Rachel; rd v 18b; 7 years wages; That’s a lot of money! Take your yearly salary and multiply it by 7! One commentary (NIV Application) says that the going rate was 3-4 years wages. The Law teaches that all debts were canceled after 7 years, but this is before the Law. So, maybe Laban thinks about it for a moment and realizes he’s getting the better end of the deal; rd v 19; I’m not so sure this is a compliment! Rd v 20; awe! That’s deep! Listen to Hughes:
Truly, Rachel became the love of Jacob’s life, despite the fact that he would father children by Leah and the two wives’ concubines when they used their maids as pawns in a birth war. Years later as Jacob lay dying he said to his sons, “As for me, when I came from Paddan, to my sorrow Rachel died in the land of Canaan on the way, when there was still some distance to go to Ephrath, and I buried her there on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem)” (48:7).
Transition: Jacob must feel blessed to work so hard and it seem like nothing, because of what he’s getting! This brings us to our final section and brings us to our last point…
4. Laban’s Deception (29.21-30)
exp.: rd v 21; He sounds impatient! I wonder if the emphasis isn’t so much on the impatience of Jacob (after all, he has waited and worked for 7 years!), but rather on the impudence of Laban? Has Laban been holding out on Jacob, maybe making him go a little longer and getting more out of him? There must be something to this because rd v 22-23; The deceiver has been deceived! Tell me how this is possible? Wait for responses:
- The Feast – my guess is wine would be involved
- The Veil – my guess is the garments and the veil hid who she really was
- The Night – my guess is it was late and all was done in darkness
- The Bride – she had to be a willing accomplice; I wonder if she secretly loved Jacob, maybe despised her sister’s beauty?
- Rachel – how did Laban get her to be silent? Was she party to the deception? Did Laban restrain her?
I wonder what Jacob’s 1st reaction was when he awoke to the morning light and there was this unwelcomed guest in his bed! I wonder, too, if he felt for Esau any? Rd v 26-30;
Transition: Where was God in all of this? 14 years – two wives and two concubines!
Observations & Implications:
- God is at work, even when we don’t see it. Remember the ladder?
- It seems to me that God allows great slots of time to pass between his personal encounters. Do you think we expect God to give us supernatural experiences to close together?