If He Had Not Been On My Side . . .

You gotta admit that Jacob and kin make the Kardashians look like the Waltons. Consider again the family through whom God has chosen to bless all the nations of the earth . . .

Jacobs, scams the birthright from his brother, Easu. Isaac, Jacob’s dad, though God has told him His plans for his son, determines to give his blessing to Esau because he likes Esau’s cooking. So mom gets in on the act and we see which gene pool fed Jacob’s scheming tendencies. Rebekah masterminds a plot for Jacob to receive Esau’s blessing . . . and then Jacob out and out lies to his father, Isaac, to get the blessing. Enter Esau . . . and he’s so ticked that he determines to kill his brother. Thus, Jacob runs off to uncle Laban’s place . . . falls in love with his cousin, Rachel . . . and works 7 years for her hand in marriage.

But Laban, so obviously Rebekah’s brother and cut from the same cloth, secretly slips the older sister, Leah, into the marriage bed on night Jacob was to marry Rachel . . . and then he makes Jacob work another seven years for Rachel. So now Jacob has two feuding sisters for wives along with their two handmaids. Then, through an on-going battle of jealousy over who can bear the most children, the sisters start swapping themselves, and their handmaids, in and out of the marriage bed so that Jacob’s fathering children by four women. And after years of that and building up his flocks from cousin Laban, Jacob determines he has to flee because it’s generating resentment from Laban’s other kids. And so Jacob and his two wives and their two handmaids and their myriad of kids and flocks take off. But, just for good measure, and to make sure she gets all that she is due, Rachel steals the idols from her dad’s place. And then Laban comes after them in hot pursuit . . . and he’s ticked with Jacob . . . and Rachel sits on the idols so they won’t be found . . . and . . . aaaahhhh!!!! . . . crazy! Behold, God’s chosen family!

But, if you can look past the dysfunction of the family, you see the faithfulness of God. Through all this craziness, God is working in Jacob. The independent, self-made schemer realizes, more and more, that the God he met at Bethel has been the God who has watched over him, protected him, and prospered him while he has lived next to Laban. And one of the clearest indications of this, for me, is how Jacob responds to being confronted by his father-in-law.

“These twenty years I have been in your house. I served you fourteen years for your two daughters, and six years for your flock, and you have changed my wages ten times. If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had not been on my side, surely now you would have sent me away empty-handed. God saw my affliction and the labor of my hands and rebuked you last night.”
(Genesis 31:41-42 ESV)

The God of Abraham . . . the Fear of Isaac . . . If He had not been on my side . . .

Jacob, the independent deceiver, is being transformed into Jacob the indebted worshiper. Jacob, the self-made man, is recognizing that he is Jacob, the God-protected man. Jacob, the haughty, is becoming Jacob the humble. And his God is the Fear of Isaac. The One to tremble before . . . the One to revere . . . the One to bow before in utter awe. The man chosen by God is being made into a man of God.

God, in His patient and purposeful grace, works amidst all the dysfunction to complete the work He has begun in Jacob that He might fulfill the promise He has determined through Jacob.

Behold our God.

For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus . . .
(1Corinthians 1:26-30a ESV)

What abundant grace. To Him be all glory!


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