Theme:Sanctification (Part 4)
(Key Verses: Gen 30:25-43; Gen 31:9-13)
The life of Jacob was written down for us to see our own road of being sanctified to be God’s true servants. Jacob’s name means “heel catcher” or “supplanter” because that is the way he came out of the womb of his mother, Rebekah, holding onto the heel of his twin brother, Esau. In the scriptures a name relates to the nature of that person, and this nature of being a supplanter in Jacob was further manifested when Jacob took away the rights of the firstborn from Esau, and also, with the help of his mother, Rebekah, received the blessing of the inheritance of the firstborn (Gen 2:19; Gen 25:29-34; Gen 27:6-29; Gen 27:42-45). Fleeing from the fury of Esau, Jacob was sent to Haran to Rebekah’s brother, Laban, to also look for a wife there (Gen 27:43; Gen 28:2; Gen 28:10). On His way to Haran, God appeared to Jacob in a dream where God confirmed the promise of a land and an offspring to Jacob, as God also made this covenant with his grandfather Abraham, and his father Isaac:
Gen 28:12 And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.
Gen 28:13 And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed;
Gen 28:14 And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.
Gen 28:15 And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.
God works all things in our lives from start to finish, and this is also what Jacob will learn although we all, like Jacob, think that we can manipulate events to somehow ‘help’ God achieve His purposes in our lives. It is this delusion that needs to be removed from our carnal understanding of God’s sovereignty, which the foundational theme of sanctification deals with as God also sets His elect apart from the world for our correct position and righteous function in His plan (Lev 11:44; Mat 5:48; Mat 19:21; Joh 17:17-23; 1Pe 5:10; 1Pe 1:15-22). Jacob typifies the new man in Christ who indeed supplants the old man Adam in all of us (1Co 15:22; 1Co 15:45-46). But this sanctification process is done through our time in service of the old man first, as this evil selfishness in our fleshly nature will be purged by the fire of God to prepare His elect for their service to Him:
2Ti 2:21 If a man therefore purge himself from these [selfish deceitful heart and actions], he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.
In Haran Jacob met Rachel, his cousin and daughter of Laban, and was introduced into the family. Jacob loved Rachel and arranged with Laban to work seven years for her, but after the seven years Laban beguiled Jacob by bringing Leah, his older daughter, to Jacob in the evening as the veiled bride with whom Jacob then slept:
Gen 29:25 And it came to pass, that in the morning, behold, it was Leah: and he said to Laban, What is this thou hast done unto me? did not I serve with thee for Rachel? wherefore then hast thou beguiled me?
Gen 29:26 And Laban said, It must not be so done in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn.
Gen 29:27 Fulfil her week, and we will give thee this also for the service which thou shalt serve with me yet seven other years.
Gen 29:28 And Jacob did so, and fulfilled her week: and he gave him Rachel his daughter to wife also.
Gen 29:29 And Laban gave to Rachel his daughter Bilhah his handmaid to be her maid.
Gen 29:30 And he went in also unto Rachel, and he loved also Rachel more than Leah, and served with him yet seven other years.
Leah and Rachel, together with their two handmaids, gave Jacob eleven sons and one daughter while he was working fourteen years for Laban for his two daughters in Haran (Gen 27:43; Gen 28:2; Gen 28:10). The two seven-year periods Jacob worked for Leah and Rachel, respectively represent our service to God in the false church and then in the true church afterward. Joseph was born as Rachel’s first child after she was initially barren after ten sons were born to Jacob through Leah and the two handmaids, Zilpah and Bilhah. It is after the birth of Joseph that Jacob approached Laban with the request to leave Haran and return to Canaan which God promised He will do in Jacob’s dream in a place which called Bethel afterwards (Gen 28:15):
Gen 30:25 And it came to pass, when Rachel had born Joseph, that Jacob said unto Laban, Send me away, that I may go unto mine own place, and to my country.
Gen 30:26 Give me my wives and my children, for whom I have served thee, and let me go: for thou knowest my service which I have done thee.
Jacob is our type of being diligent and faithful in service, even when we are under the tutors and governors of this world, because it is here that our testimony is established when the world cannot point fingers at this aspect in our lives (Gal 3:22-25; Gal 4:1-3). If the world persecutes us, it must be because of our “good works which they shall behold” and not because of our evil works “as evildoers” (Mat 5:20; 1Pe 2:12-20; 1Pe 4:14-15). Here are a few verses from the mouth of Peter for our learning in this respect:
1Pe 2:12 Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.
1Pe 2:15 For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:
1Pe 2:16 As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.
Like all of God’s servants, Jacob is being sanctified by God through his righteous deeds and “well doing” even while he was in service to Laban:
Gen 30:27 And Laban said unto him, I pray thee, if I have found favour in thine eyes, tarry: for I have learned by experience that the LORD hath blessed me for thy sake.
Gen 30:28 And he said, Appoint me thy wages, and I will give it.
When God’s favour is on a person, even the enemies cannot deny that (Pro 16:7). Laban was blessed by God for Jacob’s sake and Jacob’s diligence in his service to Laban. Even though Laban “lifted up his heel” against Jacob by abusing his goodness in service for the two wives, Jacob showed no vile against Laban even when Laban benefitted from all of his service up until this point. This reminds us of the truth of why we should love our enemies as they and those who “despitefully use” God’s elect will not triumph over us in the end (Mat 5:44):
Psa 41:9 Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.
Psa 41:10 But thou, O LORD, be merciful unto me, and raise me up, that I may requite them.
Psa 41:11 By this I know that thou favourest me, because mine enemy doth not triumph over me.
Jacob submitted and did not resist the evil. God brings all evil and trials to us for a good purpose, as it is only if we can endure those trials through His strength and faith in us, that we will be found fit for His higher service in His temple (Gen 22:1-2; Luk 9:62; Act 14:22; 2Ti 2:21; Rev 15:8). Christ and His followers do not enjoy the trials they are put through, but when God brings the evil, they also learn progressively how to submit to God and give their backs to be beaten, give their cheeks to be smitten, and give their hands and feet to be nailed (Mat 5:39-48). The elect know why this is to be done:
Isa 50:5 The Lord GOD hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back.
Isa 50:6 I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.
Isa 50:7 For the Lord GOD will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.
Isa 50:8 He is near that justifieth me; who will contend with me? let us stand together: who is mine adversary? let him come near to me.
With the help of God, the elect of God see beyond the temporary things as there are so much more spiritual benefits to be gained when our focus is on the high calling in Christ (1Co 2:9-10; Php 3:14; Heb 12:1-8). Jacob also confirmed Laban’s testimony of the much increase in Laban’s flock while he was in service to Laban:
Gen 30:29 And he [Jacob] said unto him [Laban], Thou knowest how I have served thee, and how thy cattle was with me.
Gen 30:30 For it was little which thou hadst before I came, and it is now increased unto a multitude; and the LORD hath blessed thee since my coming: and now when shall I provide for mine own house also?
We will only move out of spiritual Babylon at the time when we personally hear the Word of God, even through the voice of an angel of God.
Rev 18:4 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her [“Babylon… the great whore”], my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.
Laban could not deny the claims made by Jacob and agreed with Jacob to establish his own household and his own flock away from Laban. Jacob then explained to Laban which of the new-born flocks he will take for his own:
Gen 30:31 And he [Laban] said, What shall I give thee? And Jacob said, Thou shalt not give me any thing: if thou wilt do this thing for me, I will again feed and keep thy flock:
Gen 30:32 I will pass through all thy flock to day, removing from thence all the speckled and spotted cattle, and all the brown [Hebrew: “chûm” = dark coloured] cattle among the sheep, and the spotted and speckled among the goats: and of such shall be my hire.
Gen 30:33 So shall my righteousness answer for me in time to come, when it shall come for my hire before thy face: every one that is not speckled and spotted among the goats, and brown among the sheep, that shall be counted stolen with me.
Laban thought he could even benefit much out of this idea coming from Jacob because from his perspective the chances of getting a huge flock of brown sheep and speckled and spotted goats were extremely slim. Laban further even removed the old “ringstraked”, “speckled”, “spotted” and brown among his current flock which were with Jacob and gave them to his sons:
Gen 30:34 And Laban said, Behold, I would it might be according to thy word.
Gen 30:35 And he removed that day the he goats that were ringstraked and spotted, and all the she goats that were speckled and spotted, and every one that had some white in it, and all the brown among the sheep, and gave them into the hand of his sons.
Gen 30:36 And he set three days’ journey betwixt himself and Jacob: and Jacob fed the rest of Laban’s flocks.
The name “Laban” means “white”, and here we find the negative spiritual application of this colour which God revealed to Moses as it also associates with the way Laban operated and dealt with Jacob:
Lev 13:1 And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, saying,
Lev 13:2 When a man shall have in the skin of his flesh a rising, a scab, or bright spot, and it be in the skin of his flesh like the plague of leprosy; then he shall be brought unto Aaron the priest, or unto one of his sons the priests:
Lev 13:3 And the priest shall look on the plague in the skin of the flesh: and when the hair in the plague is turned white, and the plague in sight be deeper than the skin of his flesh, it is a plague of leprosy: and the priest shall look on him, and pronounce him unclean.
Lev 13:4 If the bright spot be white in the skin of his flesh, and in sight be not deeper than the skin, and the hair thereof be not turned white; then the priest shall shut up him that hath the plague seven days:
“White” here associates with leprosy, and spiritually this connects with everything relating to flesh. In this separation between the flock of Laban and Jacob we also see a type of the separation between that which is of the flesh and that which is after the spirit – the latter relating to the “ringstraked”, “speckled”, “spotted” and brown flock which Jacob will take with him. It is only the flock of God who is called out of spiritual Babylon that will be used to mature further in the promised land. This is the most important separation the elected servants of God will be exercised in as they grow in their discernment on what is beneficial to them in spiritual terms. The three-day journey which was between the flocks of Laban and Jacob spiritually points to the intensifying process of judgment to reveal this separation in us to bring us to spiritual maturity:
Heb 5:14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
There has been much speculating about this method of Jacob, and as usual the interpretations according to the wisdom of the world are much more about human ingenuity than giving God the honour in all of this. It reminds us of the time Jesus wrote on the ground when the woman caught in the act of adultery was brought to Him to judge (Joh 8:1-11). In the annals of worldly exegesis more attention is focussed on the writing on the ground than on the words written down for us which Jesus spoke at that time that made the woman’s accusers to retreat:
Joh 8:7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
The world’s focus is always on the earthly things. The natural man is limited to his own human concepts and earthly designs as he can only trust his physical senses (Exo 8:7; Lev 19:31; Pro 3:7; Pro 21:2; Ecc 3:18; 1Co 2:14; 2Co 11:13-15; 2Ti 3:8; Rev 13:13-14). The natural man lives in Babylon which is spiritually “on the other side of the flood”, meaning he is not yet under the judgment of God as he cannot see how God works all things after the counsel of His will (Jos 24:2; Isa 26:9; Eph 1:11; 1Pe 4:17; Heb 9:27). Jacob, still “on the other side of the flood” in Haran, is also still led by the immature state of his natural mind, and is deluded by what his own eyes want to see through his own methods and manipulation:
Gen 30:37 And Jacob took him rods of green [Hebrew: “lach” = new/immature] poplar [Hebrew: “libneh” from lâban = white], and of the hazel [Hebrew: lûz = links to the almond tree with its white flowers] and chesnut tree [Hebrew: “armôn” = bare/stripped known for its high stature]; and pilled white strakes in them, and made the white appear which was in the rods.
Gen 30:38 And he set the rods which he had pilled before the flocks in the gutters in the watering troughs when the flocks came to drink, that they should conceive when they came to drink.
Gen 30:39 And the flocks conceived before the rods, and brought forth cattle ringstraked, speckled, and spotted.
Gen 30:40 And Jacob did separate the lambs, and set the faces of the flocks toward the ringstraked, and all the brown in the flock of Laban; and he put his own flocks by themselves, and put them not unto Laban’s cattle.
Gen 30:41 And it came to pass, whensoever the stronger cattle did conceive, that Jacob laid the rods before the eyes of the cattle in the gutters, that they might conceive among the rods.
Gen 30:42 But when the cattle were feeble, he put them not in: so the feebler were Laban’s, and the stronger Jacob’s.
Gen 30:43 And the man increased exceedingly, and had much cattle, and maidservants, and menservants, and camels, and asses.
If one believes that what we do in the natural world will steer God into action or cause Him to change His one plan which He concluded before the world began, we are in spiritual delusion (Num 23:19; Psa 139:16; Isa 46:10; 2Ti 1:9). The types of sheep and goats born to the flock of Jacob were all from God as Jacob only revealed this to his two wives after the six years for working for his own flock, as his eyes were opened to this truth:
Gen 31:9 Thus God hath taken away the cattle of your father, and given them to me.
Gen 31:10 And it came to pass at the time that the cattle [Hebrew: “tsô’n” / “tse’ôn” = flock/small animals] conceived, that I lifted up mine eyes, and saw in a dream, and, behold, the rams which leaped upon the cattle were ringstraked [Hebrew: “âqôd” = striped], speckled [Hebrew: “nâqôd” = marked], and grisled [Hebrew: “bârôd” = spotted by hail].
Gen 31:11 And the angel of God spake unto me in a dream, saying, Jacob: And I said, Here am I.
Gen 31:12 And he said, Lift up now thine eyes, and see, all the rams which leap upon the cattle are ringstraked, speckled, and grisled: for I have seen all that Laban doeth unto thee.
Jacob was told to “lift up” his eyes, meaning he must look beyond his natural understanding to see how God’s will is done and how things come into being on the earth (Isa 55:8-9; Mat 6:10). God told Jacob that it was God Himself who produced a significantly different type of flock from the ‘normal’. As this flock is linked to Jacob as a type of the elect, we can see why the flock of God is also distinctly different from what is ‘normal’ according to worldly standards. God’s people are indeed peculiar as He marked them to be different in their thoughts, words and behaviour to the world around them:
1Pe 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
1Pe 2:10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
Yes, the spiritual flock of God is indeed first the dark-coloured, “ringstraked”, “speckled”, and “grisled” ones as we all are marked and chosen by God even long before we knew about our election. The elect of God are first among all the fruitless trees of this world before they are “pilled” to bring forth the white raiment of His righteousness as they are connected to the tree of life to bring healing to the nations (Deu 20:19; Joe 1:12, 19; Eze 47:7):
Rev 19:8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.
Rev 19:14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.
Rev 22:2 In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
Jacob’s increase was not by his works and his methods, but by God who works this all behind the eyes of Jacob and the eyes of his flock. His flock and his increase was not in the kind of trees he used; it was not in the many stripes he cut in the rods of those trees; it was not in what the eyes of the flock perceived! It was all God’s work as He alone makes “ringstraked”, “speckled”, and “grisled” flocks as also revealed in the dreams Jacob had (Gen 28:12-15; Gen 31:10-11). God does not need counsellors for advice or our intelligence and insights to assist Him, but we do need Him and His counsellors all the time to remind us of our own spiritual blindness and inabilities (Pro 11:14; Pro 15:22):
Rom 11:34 For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?
Rom 11:35 Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?
Rom 11:36 For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.
Our dreams, vows, words, prayers, actions, among all other modes of communication with God and the world, are inspired by God Himself and have been established first in heaven as He also appoints the time of those communications to be fulfilled on the earth (Mat 6:10; Mat 18:18-19 CLV). It is not the mode of communication that is the focus, but the words of God. No person can do anything unless God causes that to happen – that is the order of things. Everything in the physical comes from “things which do not appear”:
Heb 11:3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.
It is the ultimate purpose of God to get us founded on the Word and not on the methods He devises to bring that Word to be established in our hearts. God speaks “in divers manners” with us, but in the final analysis, when we are in our “last days”, we only recognize the Word as the first and the last (1Co 10:11; Rev 1:8):
Heb 1:1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
Heb 1:2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
Heb 1:3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;
Heb 1:4 Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.
When Laban saw all of this happening to his flock, he kept changing the terms according to the colours of the animals which were birthed. Laban was there throughout this whole process and wanted to manipulate the offspring, or so He thought. But he was always too late with each round of births as God changed the outcome before Laban or Jacob could figure out what to do. God works long before we become aware of His actions – God acts, and we react. Laban tried to deceive Jacob ten times, but could not succeed in predicting the outcome as it was God who determined the colour of the newly born. This is also what Jacob later in humility acknowledged to his two wives. Even in this confession afterwards we see the process of sanctification in Jacob’s life as he progressively learns about God’s sovereignty in all things:
Gen 31:7 And your father hath deceived me, and changed my wages ten times; but God suffered him not to hurt me.
Gen 31:8 If he said thus, The speckled shall be thy wages; then all the cattle bare speckled: and if he said thus, The ringstraked shall be thy hire; then bare all the cattle ringstraked.
Gen 31:9 Thus God hath taken away the cattle of your father, and given them to me.