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Gen. 29:1-35 - The School of Hard Knocks - Part 1
The experience Jacob had at Bethel was only the beginning of Jacob’s education in the school of hard knocks! The Lord had gained his attention and had led him to a response of love and commitment, but there was much work to be done yet in this man and the Lord was busy putting him in the right place for the work to be done. He sent him to school under the tutelage of his Uncle, Laban. It was called the “School of Hard Knocks.”
Many of God’s people, including myself, have studied in this school! Most of us don’t wish to be enrolled in this particular school but the Lord is certainly in favor of putting His people through it, and most all of us eventually will - that is, if we are walking the narrow path! Have ya read or watched “The Pilgrim’s Progress?” Perfect example of the curriculum!
Let’s take some lessons from Jacob here in the classes he took as an example for us in walking into these same classes.
So, the next several chapters are going to read more like a soap opera than anything else! I think one of the things we tend to do, particularly with the O.T., is that when we read it we sort of read it through a filter by which we see these people as better than us, more spiritual than us, that they don’t have quite the problems, hassles, and struggles that we have! And we tend to evaluate these people to where we really don’t see things as they really were back then.
And as we continue to make our way through Genesis I pray that a couple things would happen. Firstly, that we would recognize that these people were an absolute mess! I don’t care how messy your life has been, or is, or may become - you’re going to have a heck of a time trying to outdo many of these people that we read about here in Genesis.
The second thing I would love for us to walk away with is sort of a fresh appreciation, a renewed appreciation for just the great grace and mercy of God! That we would come to a real understanding of just how gracious and how merciful of a God we serve. That our hearts would be encouraged as we recognize that these so-called “sacred cows,” that they are every bit the idiots that you and I are!
So if God can use them, then we should be encouraged that God can use us too!
You remember that Jacob, as we’ve been studying this man, he has deceived his father and he ripped off his brother. We’ve understood that it was really his mother, Rebekah, who was the driving force behind that - coaching and manipulating him.
Now Rebekah is going to learn the tragedy of manipulation. Remember, she manipulated his receiving the blessing and then she manipulated his leaving the land. She conned Jacob to leave and look for a woman in their old country and not this pagan land - and off he goes. She’s never going to see him again - and that is the tragedy of manipulation. That she ends up losing the very thing she was trying to protect.
So Jacob takes off, he got part of the way there, God appeared unto him and he sees the “stairway to heaven.” God appears to him and tells him it’s through him that this covenant is going to continue to flow. “The promise that I gave to your father Abraham and your father Isaac is now going to be moved through you.” That’s where we left off, so let’s dig in. Jacob is off to the races now:
Vs. 1-11 - “Then Jacob continued on his journey and came to the land of the eastern peoples. There he saw a well in the open country, with three flocks of sheep lying near it because the flocks were watered from that well. The stone over the mouth of the well was large. When all the flocks were gathered there, the shepherds would roll the stone away from the well’s mouth and water the sheep. Then they would return the stone to its place over the mouth of the well.
Jacob asked the shepherds, “My brothers, where are you from?” “We’re from Harran,” they replied.
He said to them, “Do you know Laban, Nahor’s grandson?” “Yes, we know him,” they answered.
Then Jacob asked them, “Is he well?”
“Yes, he is,” they said, “and here comes his daughter Rachel with the sheep.”
“Look,” he said, “the sun is still high; it is not time for the flocks to be gathered. Water the sheep and take them back to pasture.”
“We can’t,” they replied, “until all the flocks are gathered and the stonehas been rolled away from the mouth of the well. Then we will water the sheep.”
While he was still talking with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep, for she was a shepherd. When Jacob saw Rachel’s daughter of his uncle Laban, and Laban’s sheep, he went over and rolled the stone away from the mouth of the well and watered his uncle’s sheep. Then Jacob kissed Rachel and began to weep aloud.”
Jacob is a very interesting character, we see a very interesting mix of personality traits within him. He’s NOT a typical man because you’ll notice he DID stop and ask for directions! No road signs, no GPS, so he asks - “I’m trying to find Laban, do ya happen to know where I can find him?”
And they say - “Yeah, in fact, right there is his daughter coming with a herd of sheep.”
Notice the guy shows up on the scene and how bossy he is here? Doesn’t make any sense to him: “Why you got all these sheep here laying by the well? Get them out in the field man, and get to feeding them for heaven’s sake.” “Ya want them to be healthy, to be strong, to get a nice white coat? Then what ya doing just sitting around?”
He doesn’t know these guys, and yet he immediately starts barking at them, bossing them around and telling them how to do their job!
Then Rachel comes up, and he’s just a ball of emotion! He rolls away the stone by himself! Then he proceeds to water the sheep, and he get’s so excited he just kisses her and starts crying, and then he’s screaming - and he just can’t believe that God’s brought him to this place so quickly! And of course Rachel, she’s probably thinking - “What kind of nut-job is this that just sorta stumbled into my midst?”
Do ya see the sovereignty of God in this? What a picture of how God is just leading this man! Warren Weirsbe said: “In the life of a trusting Christian there are no accidents, only appointments.”
Here he is, he doesn’t know even where he is and just HAPPENS to wind up in Heran where he was sent to be. He just HAPPENS to meet people that know Labe. And he just HAPPENS to meet his future wife right there! God is just sovereignly leading this guy!
Join us next week as we continue Gen. ch. 29.
Blessings to you all.