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Genesis 30:1-43 - Spiritual prosperity and Enriching Others - part 2
From vs. 25 on is how God is moving Jacob back into the promised land after this time of learning and growing and rooting out his impatience and manipulation.
Vs. 25-31 - “ After Rachel gave birth to Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, “Send me on my way so I can go back to my own homeland. Give me my wives and children, for whom I have served you, and I will be on my way. You know how much work I’ve done for you.”
But Laban said to him, “If I have found favor in your eyes, please stay. I have learned by divination that the Lord has blessed me because of you.” He added, “Name your wages, and I will pay them.”
Jacob said to him, “You know how I have worked for you and how your livestock has fared under my care. The little you had before I came has increased greatly, and the Lord has blessed you wherever I have been. But now, when may I do something for my own household?”
“What shall I give you?” he asked.
“Don’t give me anything,” Jacob replied. “But if you will do this one thing for me, I will go on tending your flocks and watching over them:
So Jacob will go through and describe a process by which what he is proposing to Labon in vs. 32-46.
What he is describing here is Jacob says: “Look, I don’t want to be on your payroll, so here’s what I’m proposing.” I am going to take all the imperfect animals. In this culture, understand down the road that there is a distinction in the quality of animals.” If they were unblemished, unspotted, unmarked, they were considered pure. And only those animals, down the road, could be used for sacrificial purposes in Israel’s sacrificial system. You didn’t want the brown, spotted, marked ones, they were considered impure or not kosher.
So what Jacob is proposing is that he will separate from Labon’s flock all of the impure animals and take them 3 days journey and get them out of town so there’s no potential for shenanigans. And whatever is left in Labon’s flock is just pure and white, and he is going to breed them, and whatever spotted, speckled or marked animal comes forth from those pure ones - those are mine, the rest are yours. So Labon’s thinking he can’t lose!
So this is God’s way of stacking the deck against Himself. God always does that in order that, when He moves, His hand is miraculously seen!!
So that’s what Jacob is pitching in vs. 25-36. “I’m going to take all the bad animals out of here, and I only get to keep the production from the good animals that are bad.”
Well, then notice in vs. 37 - “Jacob, however, took fresh-cut branches from poplar, almond and plane trees and made white stripes on them by peeling the bark and exposing the white inner wood of the branches.”
Jacob got so close! So here’s how he going to get this pure pool of animals to breed imperfect animals. He didn’t have to do anything!! All he had to do was let God be God and it would have happened. We're going to see in the next chapter that He came to him in a dream and told him what was going to happen.
Vs. 37-43 - “Jacob, however, took fresh-cut branches from poplar, almond and plane trees and made white stripes on them by peeling the bark and exposing the white inner wood of the branches. Then he placed the peeled branches in all the watering troughs, so that they would be directly in front of the flocks when they came to drink. When the flocks were in heat and came to drink, they mated in front of the branches. And they bore young that were streaked or speckled or spotted.
Jacob set apart the young of the flock by themselves, but made the rest face the streaked and dark-colored animals that belonged to Laban. Thus he made separate flocks for himself and did not put them with Laban’s animals.
Whenever the stronger females were in heat, Jacob would place the branches in the troughs in front of the animals so they would mate near the branches, but if the animals were weak, he would not place them there. So the weak animals went to Laban and the strong ones to Jacob.
In this way the man grew exceedingly prosperous and came to own large flocks, and female and male servants, and camels and donkeys.”
Who knows the miry details of a man’s trade! This was kinda like a superstition in the same way that this whole mandrake, “love-apple” things was. Jacob did not have to do this, in fact at a later date he’s going to acknowledge - “This was all the Lord, this had nothing to do with what I did.” But it’s interesting the Holy Spirit chose to record this detail. And I think what is interesting is the idea that what is beheld in the eye over time bears a relationship with what kind of quality of production there’s going to be.
Isaiah says this in Isa.53:5, 1 Peter 2:24 - “By His stripes we are healed.”
As you and I beheld in our mind’s eye and our heart the stripes of the cross as we think upon that and keep that in view, that that is going to bless what we produce in our lives.
In Luke 11:32-36 Jesus does say: “Your eye is the lamp of the body.” And when your eye is good your body is full of light, but if your eye is bad your body is full of darkness.
So I think the Holy Spirit might be playing upon that - what we behold in the eye there’s a direct relationship with what kind of fruit and the quality of fruit that we produce.
The reality is this - the reason he’s going to prosper so mightily, is because God is blessing him. It is just the hand of the Lord. There’s alot of things we can say about Jacob, alot of negative things we’ve seen over the weeks, but there is no doubt, by God’s design, a real maturing going on here, a real rooting out and refining process taking place within the life of this man.
And I think there’s a number of positive things to mark here in Ch. 29-30. First of all, there’s a real patience and humility coming froth from Jacob. Here’s 14 years of hard work, and God blesses that.
Understand was NOT making prosperity his sole goal! Because there’s enough Christians who are more in love with prosperity than they are with Jesus Christ!
But Jacob’s not making that his goal. He’s saying: “I gotta get my family outta here and I’m going to need to be prosperous.” He’s NOT being prosperous in order that he might accumulate wealth - his goal for prosperity is to get he and his family back to where God wants him, and God wants him in the promised land - so its going to take some money to make that happen.
The second thing I think we see is that Jacob was not afraid, was not upset about, he has no problem being used in the service of enriching others! HUGE lesson! In other words - he was a faithful employee. He had been schooled by God in the art of enriching others! 14 year crash course, wasn’t it?
So this guy worked hard in order that someone else might be enriched. What did Paul say to the Collossians in Col. 1:17, 23? Specifically addressing work, he said: “You do it as unto the Lord.”
You do your job as best and as diligently as you can. Not because you're looking to enrich yourself, but because you're looking to honor God. I know businesses who are run by Christians and other businesses who run their business according to God’s standards and who give a portion of their profits to missions and such, and it might be easy (or easier) to work “as unto the Lord” in these kinds of businesses.
But take note that Labon was not that kind of a man or run that kind of a business, so there are not ‘stipulations’ on ‘working unto the Lord.’ The world’s not going to get that, your co-workers aren’t going to get that - and that’s the point!
“Man, what’s going on with that guy?Why does he have this remarkable attitude about everything - Why is this guy so free from all of this garbage and all of this hassle that’s eating me up? I gotta get with this guy...
And then, lo and behold, the Lord has opened up an opportunity for you to share the truth of the Gospel!
Finally, I think we see that Jacob is starting to trust the Lord. Of course, 14 years ago he was totally incapable of doing that! We see him working hard and God blessing it, but his goal isn’t prosperity. We see him having no problem at all being used in the service of enriching another, and we see a real trust beginning to build in this man. And we also see some very hard, drawn out lessons that he didn’t necessarily have to learn if he just would have ran God’s program.
So let’s not be in a hurry to charge ahead and help God out with His plans for us. Let’s not get ahead of God as Jacob had done, and go through that drawn out 14 year plan that our patriarch did here. Rather, let us trust in the Word of God that these things were written for our instruction. Let us put our trust in the Lord and begin yielding to the Spirit and yielding to God and not our flesh.
I think what we discover in the life of Jacob is that - man, it doesn’t have to be this way! You don’t have to go through years of heartache and grief in order to learn that which God wants to impress upon your heart. Just press into the Lord, stay on the path of being in His Word, yield to the Holy Spirit, yield to His leading, allow His kindness to lead us to repentance and we can prosper without all this “Stuff” happening.
And I mean prosper spiritually! Blessings to you all.