Daybreak: Genesis 31:1-55
“And the Lord said unto Jacob, Return unto the land of thy fathers, and to thy kindred; and I will be with thee.” (Genesis 31:3)
A promise from God can carry us through difficult circumstances. One morning as Saviour Nnodim, one of our Nigerian pastors, was praying, the Spirit of God prompted him to pray a Bible promise about protection. That evening when he left his office to go home, he was accosted by four armed robbers who shot at him many times, aiming at his head and body. He slumped to the ground, and the robbers sped away in his car. A few minutes later, God commanded him to stand up. When he obeyed and stood on his feet, the people nearby who had been watching were amazed. Once he arrived at home, he saw that none of the bullets had penetrated his body. God let him know that He had protected him in order that men might glorify His holy Name. God protected just as His Word had promised.
In today’s text, Jacob was also in dangerous circumstances. Jacob knew that Laban was a treacherous and selfish man and had turned against him. Seemingly afraid for his life, he sought God’s direction. God gave him permission to return to the land of his fathers, so Jacob and his family left Padanaram without letting Laban know they were going. Laban pursued when he learned of Jacob’s departure, but God had given Jacob the promise recorded in today’s focus verse, and He was fully aware of what was happening. God warned Laban not to harm Jacob. Divine protection was in place, just as it had been promised.
The Lord is faithful to keep His Word to each one of us as well. We can depend upon His promises! At times we may face difficulties, trouble, or danger, but we can know that He is with us. If we are following His will and directions, we can be sure of His care for us in the situations we face. God allows everything that comes to us, and He will fulfill His promises in our lives in His time and way.
Jacob had spent twenty years working for Laban when God told him to return to Canaan. Realizing that Laban would not be willing to let him go, Jacob chose to leave secretly.
The wealth of Jacob had increased. Laban’s sons were resentful of this, and Laban himself was not kind toward Jacob. God promised Jacob that He would be with him as he went back to Canaan. When Jacob called for Rachel and Leah to meet him in the field, he may have been making sure that they were some distance from their main camp. Perhaps he felt the space would help maintain secrecy and avoid some of Laban’s family overhearing.
Without hesitation, Rachel and Leah agreed to go to Canaan. Their father had treated them wrongly, just as he had Jacob. The custom was for the benefits of the dowry to go to the bride and her husband. This would mean that Rachel and Leah should have received the benefits of fourteen years of Jacob’s labor. When their father did not give them this, they knew there would not be anything coming to either of them from him. Thus, they were happy to leave with Jacob.
While Laban was away shearing his sheep, Jacob and his family left Padanaram. They went south to a place near the Sea of Galilee — a distance of approximately three hundred miles — before Laban overtook them. Once Laban reached them, he could not fault Jacob for his actions over the past twenty years. When the flocks had been attacked, Jacob had personally borne the loss, and he had continued working diligently when Laban changed his pay.
People of this culture often kept small idols called teraphim that were made of metal or wood. Rachel had taken her father’s teraphim (verse 19) and hidden them in the “camel’s furniture” — a saddle with areas for carrying items.
Verses 44-54 tell of the agreement that Laban and Jacob came to. They followed the typical procedures for a covenant — setting up a stone, making a heap of stones, taking an oath, and eating together. They agreed that Jacob would not ill-treat Laban’s daughters, that Jacob would not marry any other women, and that neither of them would travel beyond the place of the covenant with the intent to harm the other. The men named the place Jegarsahadutha in Aramaic, Laban’s language, and Galeed in Hebrew, Jacob’s language. Both names meant “the heap of witness.” They also called it Mizpah, which means “watchtower,” stating that God would watch to see that neither of them crossed the agreed upon boundary with the intent of harm.
Once Laban left, there is no further record in the Bible of any of Jacob’s family having communication with him or traveling back to Padanaram.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines – Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. The early history of the chosen race
3. Jacob’s sojourn with Laban
f. His flight from Laban (31:1-55)
(1) Laban’s behavior and God’s command (31:1-16)
(2) Jacob’s secretive flight (31:17-21)
(3) Laban’s search and accusations (31:22-30)
(4) Jacob’s reply (31:31-42)
(5) Jacob and Laban’s covenant (31:43-55)
A Closer Look
- Why was it possible for Jacob to take all his substance and leave without hindrance from Laban?
- Why was the covenant between Jacob and Laban a positive action?
- What can we do to encourage ourselves to hold on to God’s promises during hard times?
If you face challenging circumstances, take courage! God knows where you are, and He will be faithful to keep His promises to you.