Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Genesis Bible Study notes- Chapter 31

Genesis 31

-Jacob takes notice that Laban’s attitude toward him has changed and that he is no longer friendly toward him as before. The ill will springs from jealousy on Laban’s part. He sees that Jacob is blessed in whatever he does no matter what it seems like in his mind. There is no indication of him having a repentant heart or desire to follow the God of Jacob in sincerity. What a shame for him to be that close to a believer and not accept the One-true Living LORD.

-The LORD appears to Jacob after 20 years of serving Laban and tells him it is time to go back to the land of his fathers and relatives. God reminds him that He is with him and that Joseph has made a vow to Him (Genesis 28:20-22). Jacob obeys the LORD and gathers his wives, his children, his animals, and his possessions and heads out toward Canaan by way of crossing the Euphrates and going through Gilead without telling Laban.

-This fleeing is yet another deception by Jacob toward Laban. Laban is told three days after Jacob had left that he was gone. Immediately he gathers up his kinsmen and pursues Jacob. On the seventh day of the journey he overtook him in the hill country of Gilead (Gilead is a 60 mile or so stretch from the Sea of Galilee to the north side of the Dead Sea to the east of the Jordan River in what is today Jordan).

-That night the LORD appeared to Laban the Aramean in a dream and told him to be careful not to speak good or bad to Jacob. Therefore, when Laban caught up with Jacob he simply questioned him as to why he left without giving him a chance to say good-bye and kiss his sons and daughters. He told Jacob he had acted foolishly as one who would carry away his daughters like captives of the sword. He told Jacob he had the power to do him harm, but God had prevented him from that kind of action.

-Jacob tells Laban he was afraid because he thought Laban would take his daughters back by force. Whether or not this was paranoia or not is unclear. But Jacob uses it as an excuse for fleeing.

-Then Laban rightly accused him of stealing his household idols. Rachel had actually done this and not told anyone. Therefore, Jacob had no idea and told Laban if they found his idols (gods), that person who stole would not live. He invited him to search through all of the possessions to see if anything they found was not his. Laban searched but did not find anything. Rachel hid them in the camel’s saddle and sat on them. Then she lied about her being on her period as an excuse not to get up from her spot in her tent. *Application* This is a sad testimony of following and protecting false gods in a person’s life. How often do we hide and protect those things in our own lives that keep us from serving and completely surrendering to the true God. Money, possessions, vacations, entertainment and many others things can be erected in our own lives as idols if we are not careful. The Bible is a true history without any propaganda as we see here. Nothing is hidden from us that is important for our sanctification. This is a warning to us that we need to look for character in our relationships over outward beauty. Jacob was deceived by Rachel’s charm and beauty (Proverbs 31:30). He was unequally yoked it appears from the text.

-At the end of the confrontation Jacob is hot and questions Laban as to what his transgression or sin has been. He relates all the good and honest things he had done in the time he served his uncle even though his wages were changed ten times. He takes note that the LORD was surely with him and has seen his affliction and the toil of his hands, rendering judgment last night. *Application* Making a habit of doing more than is expected pays off. It 1) pleases God, 2) earns recognition and advancement, 3) gives you a good reputation, 4) builds others respect and confidence in you, 5) gives you understanding and knowledge and empathy, and 6) develops your spiritual maturity. God allowed Jacob to go through all these troubles to purify him for the call on his life.

-A covenant for peace and well-being is established between Laban and Jacob there in Gilead. It is called the “heep of witness” each in their own language, Laban in Aram (Jegar-shahadutha) and Jacob in Hebrew (Galeed). Laban kissed his sons and daughters and blessed them. Then he departed and returned to his place. *Application* Even in tough situations we can act in good Christian character and be blessed. Always work for reconciliation in circumstances as far as it depends on you and love people in the LORD’s strength (Romans 12:18, Hebrews 12:14-15).

Verse to memorize: Genesis 31:13

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