Just another night (11)? No! – this was a night to remember, a night Jacob would never forget. God came to him with His wonderful promise of love: ‘I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you’ (15). At Bethel (‘the house of God’), powerfully transformed by the presence of God – ‘Surely the Lord is in this place’ (16) – , Jacob consecrated himself to the Lord. ‘If’ (20) means ‘Since’. See Romans 8:31 – ‘If (Since) God is for us, who can be against us?’. Giving the tenth (22) – this is not legalism, a kind of repayment scheme. There can be no ‘salvation by works’. We are saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8-9). Our giving must always be a heartfelt expression of thanksgiving to the God of grace: ‘Loving Him who first loved me’. We are saved ‘to do good works’ (Ephesians 2:10) – not because we do good works!
The tables are turned on Jacob. The trickster is tricked! The ‘trick’ was according to the ‘custom’ that the elder daughter should be given in marriage before the younger one (23,25-26). Seven years became fourteen years (18-20,27,30). Jacob did receive his heart’s desire, but there was a lesson to be learned: Going God’s way is better than getting your own way. ‘All things work together for good to those who love God’ (Romans 8:28) – this doesn’t mean that we always get what we want. We must learn to ‘let go and let God have His wonderful way’, and to say, ‘This God – His way is perfect’ (Psalm 18:30). Out of love for Rachel (18,20), Jacob served Laban for an extra seven years. We would serve Christ better if we loved Him more. Jesus still asks the question, ‘Do you love Me?’ (John 21:15-17).
Leah progressed beyond her own concerns (32-34) to the most important thing: ‘This time I will praise the Lord’ (35). Of the many children, the most significant, in terms of God’s purpose of redemption, was Joseph (22-24). An answer to prayer, it was the work of divine grace (22). ‘Rachel was barren’ (31) yet the Lord gave her this testimony: ‘God has taken away my disgrace’ (23). We move from one Joseph to another – the husband of Mary, the mother of Jesus. We see an even greater work of grace: the birth of our Saviour. Rachel was to have a second son, Benjamin (24). Through Christ, God has many sons and daughters (Galatians 4:4-5). Rachel rejoiced in the gift of a son, her son. We rejoice in the gift of the Son, God’s Son. Through the Spirit of God’s Son living in our hearts, we are God’s children and He is our Father (Galatians 4:6).
Jacob was still a complex character, trying to arrange his own prosperity (37-43). There is, however, another, better reason for his prosperity – God had promised to bless him, and God did bless him (28:15). Inner desire, favourable circumstances, the divine Word – all three were present in Jacob’s decision to leave Laban and ‘go to his father Isaac in the land of Canaan’ (18). (a) Inner desire – Jacob had been badly treated by Laban, and he did not want to work for him any longer (2); (b) Favourable circumstances – Jacob had grown ‘exceedingly prosperous’ (43). He didn’t need to keep on working for Laban; (c) The divine Word – Inner desire and circumstances were not enough to confirm God’s guidance to Jacob. He needed God’s command and promise (3). Let God ‘guide’ by His ‘light and truth’ (Psalm 48:14; 43:3).