Theme: Sanctification (Part 5)
(Key Verses: Gen 31:1-55)
The foundational theme of sanctification is helping us to see our own road from being created a marred vessel of clay with a deceitful heart to be conformed in the spiritual image of God having His mind (Gen 2:7; Jer 17:9; Jer 18:4; Rom 8:20; 1Co 15:22-28; 2Ti 2:21). Jacob is given to us as one of the types of this process of sanctification as he started off as a deceiver and manipulator to be taken through his time of service for his two wives and for his flock to become God’s trusted servant (Gen 2:19; Gen 25:29-34; Gen 27:6-29; Gen 27:42-45). Every aspect of our lives will go through this Jacob-process as it will be repeated several times throughout our lives to get all aspects of the old Adam’s carnal heart in us exposed and supplanted by the new heart of Christ (Eze 11:19; Eze 36:26; 1Co 2:9-10). After Jacob worked fourteen years for the two daughters of Laban, Leah and Rachel, he also arranged to work another six years to build up his own flock (Gen 29:25-30; Gen 30:27-36). God ordained that Jacob supernaturally bred a huge flock through the unusual brown, ringstraked, speckled and spotted offspring from the flock of Laban, which Jacob received in a dream but only told this revelation from God to Rachel and Rebekah just before they left Haran:
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.
Gen 31:10 And it came to pass at the time that the cattle conceived, that I lifted up mine eyes, and saw in a dream, and, behold, the rams which leaped upon the cattle were ringstraked, speckled, and grisled.
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.
Gen 31:13 I am the God of Bethel, where thou anointedst the pillar, and where thou vowedst a vow unto me: now arise, get thee out from this land, and return unto the land of thy kindred.
Laban’s own fickle and manipulative nature caused him to believe he could determine the outcome of the offspring of the flock as he tried ten times to intervene in the birthing process, but he was always too late as God determines things long before we become aware of it (Mat 6: 10; Mat 18:18; Rom 11:33-36; Eph 1:11; Heb 11:3). Yet in all of these workings of God which was hidden from natural eyes, Jacob was perceived by Laban and his sons as an opportunist and cheater:
Gen 31:1 And he heard the words of Laban’s sons, saying, Jacob hath taken away all that was our father’s; and of thatwhich was our father’s hath he gotten all this glory.
Gen 31:2 And Jacob beheld the countenance of Laban, and, behold, it was not toward him as before.
While God indeed is directing every step of every creature He made, including all of Jacob’s life from start to finish, it was actually Jacob who was on the short end of the stick during the twenty years he worked for Laban (Pro 20:24; Jer 10:23). The world and carnality in our own natural hearts cannot accept the sovereignty of God in all things in this creation as it will also perceive the decisions and choices of God as unrighteous and unfair. In our own time of spiritual blindness we, too, think we ‘deserve’ what we achieved and possess, and we have a right to be unhappy when things are not going according to our understanding of things. Out of this carnal pride flows envy and comparisons which then give rise to all the human battles and wars we see on this earth (Psa 2). This is also now the case in the families of Laban and Jacob. Divisions and mistrust have been established, and it was obvious that God’s favour was on Jacob. God indeed provides in all things for all of His creation, but it is the elect of God who benefit first in terms of spiritual provision. God sanctifies His elect in this process to be in the right position for them to function in a righteous way after their darkness have been exposed and dealt with (Ecc 3:1-11; Lev 11:44; Mat 5:48; Mat 19:21; Joh 17:17-23; 2Ti 2:21; 1Pe 5:10; 1Pe 1:15-22). God will bring the obedience in the hearts of His people to do what He will persuade them to do:
Gen 31:3 And the LORD said unto Jacob, Return unto the land of thy fathers, and to thy kindred; and I will be with thee.
Gen 31:4 And Jacob sent and called Rachel and Leah to the field unto his flock,
Gen 31:5 And said unto them, I see your father’s countenance, that it is not toward me as before; but the God of my father hath been with me.
Gen 31:6 And ye know that with all my power I have served your father.
God’s elect is prepared for service while being in Babylon where they also learn to serve “with all [their] power” as this is the work ethic or diligence we need to have in the doctrine of Christ when we serve God and His kingdom (Exo 15:26; Ezr 7:23; Luk 6:27-19; 2Ti 2:15; 2Pe 1:5-10; 2Jo 1:8-10). Servanthood is the calling of the elect as we are not called to lord over others and be served, but to be the least of all:
Mat 20:25 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.
Mat 20:26 But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;
Mat 20:27 And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:
Mat 20:28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
The ministers in Babylon do lord over the flock and indeed fleece their own flock for their own benefit (Eze 34:1-10). Rachel and Leah were the two witnesses of the greed and unfairness of their father toward Jacob and themselves. They also were in agreement with Jacob to move with him out of the house of Laban:
Gen 31:14 And Rachel and Leah answered and said unto him, Is there yet any portion or inheritance for us in our father’s house?
Gen 31:15 Are we not counted of him strangers? for he hath sold us, and hath quite devoured also our money.
Gen 31:16 For all the riches which God hath taken from our father, that is ours, and our children’s: now then, whatsoever God hath said unto thee, do.
Gen 31:17 Then Jacob rose up, and set his sons and his wives upon camels;
Gen 31:18 And he carried away all his cattle, and all his goods which he had gotten, the cattle of his getting, which he had gotten in Padanaram, for to go to Isaac his father in the land of Canaan.
When we physically move out of the false churches because of this abuse, we usually are unaware that we take the old spiritual family’s false doctrines with us. But in Rachel’s case she deliberately stole the images or idols of her Father:
Gen 31:19 And Laban went to shear his sheep: and Rachel had stolen [Hebrew: “gânab” = thieve/deceive] the images [Hebrew: “terâphı̂ym” = idols/family idols] that were her father’s.
Our departure out of Babylon is never accompanied by them blessing us and wishing us well with “mirth, and with songs, with tabret, and with harp” as Laban later claimed he would have done (Gen 31:27-28). No, the doctrine of Christ repeatedly commands us to flee from the things of the flesh and the voice of the strange shepherds (Mat 10:23; Mat 24:15-16; Joh 10:5; 1Co 6:18; 1Co 10:14; 1Ti 6:1-11; 2Ti 2:22). Jacob and his family indeed had to flee to get “over the river” of separation from Babylon, which was the river Euphrates which separated Canaan from Babylon (Mat 24:16; Gen 15:18; Deu 11:24):
Gen 31:20 And Jacob stole away [Hebrew: “gânab” = thieve / deceive] unawares to Laban the Syrian, in that he told him not that he fled.
Gen 31:21 So he fled with all that he had; and he rose up, and passed over the river, and set his face toward the mount Gilead.
When Jacob started the breeding of his own flock, Laban set a space of three days between his flock and Jacob’s flock. Now he only heard of Jacob’s sudden departure three days later, which means Jacob had a six day advantage on Laban who decided to pursue Jacob when he heard of Jacob’s departure. It is on the seventh day that Laban overtook Jacob and his family:
Gen 31:22 And it was told Laban on the third day that Jacob was fled.
Gen 31:23 And he took his brethren with him, and pursued after him seven days’ journey; and they overtook him in the mount Gilead.
As long as we are in this body of flesh, Babylon will always have its tentacles enticing us to bring us back into carnal rule and dominion. But God appeared to Laban to give specific instructions about Jacob as even our fleshly adversaries cannot go beyond the boundaries and instructions God gives them (Job 1:12; Job 2:6):
Gen 31:24 And God came to Laban the Syrian in a dream by night, and said unto him, Take heed that thou speak not to Jacob either good or bad.
Laban had two issues with Jacob that he wanted to be cleared, and it also connects with this Hebrew word “gânab” which appears eight times in this one chapter in Genesis. The elect of God is perceived to be thieves and deceivers by those who are the true liars and deceivers in the world:
Gen 31:25 Then Laban overtook Jacob. Now Jacob had pitched his tent in the mount: and Laban with his brethren pitched in the mount of Gilead.
Gen 31:26 And Laban said to Jacob, What hast thou done, that thou hast stolen away [Hebrew: “gânab” = thieve/deceive] unawares to me, and carried away my daughters, as captives taken with the sword?
Gen 31:27 Wherefore didst thou flee away secretly, and steal away [Hebrew: “gânab” = thieve/deceive] from me; and didst not tell me, that I might have sent thee away with mirth, and with songs, with tabret, and with harp?
Gen 31:28 And hast not suffered me to kiss my sons and my daughters? thou hast now done foolishly in so doing.
God’s elect is also seen as being foolish by Babylon when we do not want to abide with them in their delusion and deception. They actually believe they do possess power over us, even as Pilate shamelessly confessed his authority over Jesus to do with him as he pleased (Joh 19:10-11). This is also Laban’s belief in the delusional power of his gods over him and over his household:
Gen 31:29 It is in the power of my hand to do you hurt: but the God of your father spake unto me yesternight, saying, Take thou heed that thou speak not to Jacob either good or bad.
Gen 31:30 And now, though thou wouldest needs be gone, because thou sore longedst after thy father’s house, yetwherefore hast thou stolen [Hebrew: “gânab” = thieve/deceive] my gods?
Jacob explained to Laban why he had to leave without notice. But Jacob then unknowingly spoke a death sentence over Rachel, his beloved wife, because he had no idea that she was in possession of these gods of Laban:
Gen 31:31 And Jacob answered and said to Laban, Because I was afraid: for I said, Peradventure thou wouldest take by force thy daughters from me.
Gen 31:32 With whomsoever thou findest thy gods, let him not live: before our brethren discern thou what is thine with me, and take it to thee. For Jacob knew not that Rachel had stolen [Hebrew: “gânab” = thieve/deceive] them.
Jacob will learn, as all of us and so many in the scripture also, that speaking and acting in haste is not the spirit of the wise (Num 20:10-12; 2Sa 12:5-7; Pro 18:13; Ecc 5:2; Ecc 7:8; Luk 9:54-55; Luk 21:19; Act 19:36; Jas 1:19-20):
Pro 13:3 He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction.
Pro 21:23 Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.
When we usually open wide our lips and speak in haste, we do not know what hides within our own tents, even our own heart. When our mouth are not kept and focussed on God’s Word, we are not even aware that we are clinging to worldly idols in our hearts and we, like Rachel in this case, surely have a death sentence over our head. The spirit of the world (all the pride and lusts in our hearts) is the spirit of death, and it is in total opposition to the life-giving spirit of God (Rom 8:6-8; Gal 5:17):
1Jn 2:15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
1Jn 2:16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
1Jn 2:17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
These lusts and pride are housing the many idols which all in the first Adam ignorantly cling to at the appointed time. Rachel in her immature faith at this stage cannot see that idols are nothing in and by themselves, but are given a life by man himself (Isa 2:8; Isa 31:7; Hab 2:18-19; 1Co 8:4; 1Co 10:19-20). Idols reside in a variety of forms in natural man’s heart and keep those enslaved who believe in its power (Eze 14:3-7). This was also the problem the apostle Paul had to address in the church in Corinth among those who publicly showed false maturity in the faith after they physically came out of Babylon, yet internally still adhered to hidden fleshly desires (1Co 3:1-3; 1Co 8:4-7). The mature know that there is only one God, the Father, of who are all things and all other concepts of prosperity and protection are delusional idols of the carnal heart:
Psa 127:1 A Song of degrees for Solomon. Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.
Psa 127:2 It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep.
The maturing Jacob at this time had no need for these idols of Laban because he knew and was given the faith to believe these words of God above all else:
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.
Gen 31:3 And the LORD said unto Jacob, Return unto the land of thy fathers, and to thy kindred; and I will be with thee.
If the Word of God is revealed to a person, God will also reveal His protection and all blessings as coming from Him (Psa 4:6-8; Psa 62:10-12; Mat 16:18; Joh 19:11; Php 4:13; 2Th 3:3). Laban first searched the tent of Leah and the tents of the two maidservants, before he went to Rachel’s tent:
Gen 31:33 And Laban went into Jacob’s tent, and into Leah’s tent, and into the two maidservants’ tents; but he found them not. Then went he out of Leah’s tent, and entered into Rachel’s tent.
Gen 31:34 Now Rachel had taken the images, and put them in the camel’s furniture, and sat upon them. And Laban searched all the tent, but found them not.
Gen 31:35 And she said to her father, Let it not displease my lord that I cannot rise up before thee; for the custom of women is upon me. And he searched, but found not the images.
The words of Rachel, “….the custom of women is upon me”, are also significant in terms of her spiritual understanding of God’s protection and provision at this stage, as this points to the time of uncleanness on a woman which was later codified under to the law of Moses:
Lev 15:19 And if a woman have an issue, and her issue in her flesh be blood, she shall be put apart seven days: and whosoever toucheth her shall be unclean until the even.
Rachel was unclean more in terms of her false ideas and beliefs that these idols could actually protect them and bring prosperity. The very images that were supposed to bring prosperity and give protection are now the reason why she is unknowingly under a death sentence. It is also ironic that these idols were now in need of protection which again shows the tragedy of trusting in false gods, even in our own “strong holds”, our “imaginations”, and “every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of [the one true] God” (2Co 10:4-5). But while Rachel was sitting on these idols within this time of uncleanness, her touching these idols also witnesses to the truth of these idols of her father:
Lev 15:20 And every thing that she lieth upon in her separation shall be unclean: every thing also that she sitteth upon shall be unclean.
Our twisted thoughts and self-righteous deeds are the seat of the beast in us as he blasphemes and opposes the clean and pure thoughts and ways of God (2Th 2:3-4; Rev 16:10-11):
Isa 55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
Isa 55:9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Now Jacob had the chance for the first time to also confront Laban on his dealings with him in the twenty years he worked for Laban:
Gen 31:36 And Jacob was wroth, and chode with Laban: and Jacob answered and said to Laban, What is my trespass? what is my sin, that thou hast so hotly pursued after me?
Gen 31:37 Whereas thou hast searched all my stuff, what hast thou found of all thy household stuff? set it here before my brethren and thy brethren, that they may judge betwixt us both.
Gen 31:38 This twenty years have I been with thee; thy ewes and thy she goats have not cast their young, and the rams of thy flock have I not eaten.
Gen 31:39 That which was torn of beasts I brought not unto thee; I bare the loss of it; of my hand didst thou require it, whether stolen [Hebrew: “gânab” = thieve/deceive] by day, or stolen [Hebrew: “gânab” = thieve/deceive] by night.
Gen 31:40 Thus I was; in the day the drought consumed me, and the frost by night; and my sleep departed from mine eyes.
Gen 31:41 Thus have I been twenty years in thy house; I served thee fourteen years for thy two daughters, and six years for thy cattle: and thou hast changed my wages ten times.
Jacob was fully committed now to separate from his old life as God worked in his heart to keep him safe from the subtle influences of Babylon. Our dedication in Babylon will indeed stand us in good stead as they cannot speak evil of our well doing while we live in their presence (Gal 6:9-10; 2Th 3:12-13; 1Pe 2:13-17). We need to correct the wrong perceptions when the opportunity arises to help those who have false ideas and wrong doctrines. But we must also know that God brings delusions and shows Himself froward to those who should perceive Him like that (Psa 18:25-26; Pro 26:4-5). There is also a time we do not answer our accusers a word about their perceptions about us in order for our crucifixion to be concluded (Mat 27:11-14; 2Th 2:11). But now is the time for Jacob to openly confess his position and faith in God and His provision for Jacob. Although Laban worked against this truth, it was clear to him in the blessings he personally received because of Jacob, which were also confirmed in a dream Laban had in which God Himself testified of His servant Jacob. Although this truth is despised by the flesh, God is on the side of His elect in this age and will bring them through every humbling storm for His glory (Psa 124):
Gen 31:42 Except the God of my father, the God of Abraham, and the fear of Isaac, had been with me, surely thou hadst sent me away now empty. God hath seen mine affliction and the labour of my hands, and rebuked theeyesternight.
Laban had no choice but to agree with Jacob’s testimony, even while he was still deluded to see his ownership on things. Flesh cannot give God the honour in all things, but always wants to be affirmed and acknowledged when self needs praise, but point fingers to others when evil is detected:
Gen 31:43 And Laban answered and said unto Jacob, These daughters are my daughters, and these children are my children, and these cattle are my cattle, and all that thou seest is mine: and what can I do this day unto these my daughters, or unto their children which they have born?
The separation from our old life is a significant turn for all to witness. In this sense it was important for Laban to see a memorial which he wanted to be set up as a sign of a covenant between him and Jacob. The flesh wants to continue in its comfort and will always set up false peace agreements, when there will be no peace in this world or in their hearts (Jer 8:11). Laban called this memorial by a Babylonian name (in the Chaldean language), but Jacob named it in the Hebrew language. Although both these physical languages are carnal and human vehicles of expressions, they do point out the two types of languages we must encounter – that of the spirit in the world and the spirit of God. This is just to point out again how the spiritual language of Babylon is totally different from the language of the spirit of God:
Gen 31:44 Now therefore come thou, let us make a covenant, I and thou; and let it be for a witness between me and thee.
Gen 31:45 And Jacob took a stone, and set it up for a pillar.
Gen 31:46 And Jacob said unto his brethren, Gather stones; and they took stones, and made an heap: and they did eat there upon the heap.
Gen 31:47 And Laban called it Jegarsahadutha: but Jacob called it Galeed.
Gen 31:48 And Laban said, This heap is a witness between me and thee this day. Therefore was the name of it called Galeed;
Gen 31:49 And Mizpah [meaning “watchtower” in Hebrew]; for he said, The LORD watch between me and thee, when we are absent one from another.
Gen 31:50 If thou shalt afflict my daughters, or if thou shalt take other wives beside my daughters, no man is with us; see, God is witness betwixt me and thee.
Gen 31:51 And Laban said to Jacob, Behold this heap, and behold this pillar, which I have cast betwixt me and thee;
Gen 31:52 This heap be witness, and this pillar be witness, that I will not pass over this heap to thee, and that thou shalt not pass over this heap and this pillar unto me, for harm.
Gen 31:53 The God of Abraham, and the God of Nahor, the God of their father, judge betwixt us. And Jacob sware by the fear of his father Isaac.
After spending the night with his family, Laban returned to his place the next morning:
Gen 31:54 Then Jacob offered sacrifice upon the mount, and called his brethren to eat bread: and they did eat bread, and tarried all night in the mount.
Gen 31:55 And early in the morning Laban rose up, and kissed his sons and his daughters, and blessed them: and Laban departed, and returned unto his place.