We reap what we sow, but in God's mercy He can take our lemons and make lemonade for our good and His glory

"THEN JACOB went [briskly and cheerfully] on his way [400 miles] and came to the land of the people of the East."  (V1. Amp) Like Jacob, when we encounter God (Chapter 28) our spirits are lifted and we "run the way of His commandments with enlarged hearts." (Psalm 119:32) Providence brought him to the very field where his uncle's flocks were to be watered and maybe even to the same well where Abraham's servant met Rebekah – Isaac's bride and Jacob's mother. God is at work redeeming Jacob's sin and blessing his life. He can take our lemons and make lemonade for His glory and our good. Rom. 8:28

"When Jacob saw Rachel daughter of Laban, his mother's brother, and Laban's sheep, he went over and rolled the stone  (a big stone) away from the mouth of the well and watered his uncle's sheep.  Then Jacob kissed Rachel and began to weep aloud." What is going on here? Is this just male testosterone showing off his strength to his new girlfriend and wailing like an animal in mating season? I think not. Scripture does not cover the long hard journey Jacob had to make alone (400 miles) to Haran, the homesickness, the reconnection with people and even family (his uncle Laban and his cousin Rachel), and the possibility that Jacob is realizing that Rachel is the bride God had promised to be part of His plan for him to have many descendants. (Gen. 28:14) All that is a lot to emote over!!!

"I'll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel." Note, Jacob clearly said he wanted to marry Rachel (the younger) and if Laban's later excuse was true (probably not) that the older always had to marry first, he should have told Jacob at this point. Also, in a fallen world it is best to put the deal in writing. And blood and money may not mix well in a business deal.

"They seemed to him but a few days, for the love he had for her." Oh that we could say the same about our love and service for our Lord. {"Love makes long and hard services short and easy; hence we read of the labor of love. If we know how to value the happiness of heaven, the sufferings of this present time will be as nothing to us in comparison of it. An age of work will be but as a few days to those that love God and long for Christ's appearing." Matt. Henry} "For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for Him and how you have shown your love to Him by caring for other believers, as you still do." Heb. 6:10.

"When morning came, there was Leah! So Jacob said to Laban, "What is this you have done to me? I served you for Rachel, didn't I? Why have you deceived me?" Poetic justice- Here Jacob gets a taste of his own medicine. He had cheated his own father when he pretended to be Esau, and now his father-in-law cheated him. The one who pretended to be the older when he was truly the younger is now tricked by the older pretending that she is the younger. Like Jacob disguised himself to deceive Isaac, Leah was a veiled bride and deceived Jacob. (And maybe Jacob had too many toasts with wine at the wedding banquet.) It seems Leah knowingly deceived Jacob and upstaged her sister. And she paid for it later. "Jacob lay with Rachel also, and he loved Rachel more than Leah."

Although Laban was unrighteous and the ultimate deceiver here (and he later gets his due as well) the Lord was not unrighteous in allowing this to happen and thereby opening Jacob's eyes to his own sin. If we find a "Laban" in our life it may be that God put him/her there to show us an unconfessed and unresolved sin (deceit in Jacob's case) that He wants us to see and turn from – as Jacob later did. Yet we know our Lord is full of mercy and even His discipline is done in love.

"Laban replied, "It is not our custom here to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older one. 27 Finish this daughter's bridal week; then we will give you the younger one also, in return for another seven years of work." Now Laban draws Jacob into another sin – polygamy. Laban disposes of both of his daughters and gets seven more years' service out of Jacob to boot.  Maybe God reminded Moses of this when he later recorded Leviticus18:18: "While your wife is living, do not marry her sister and have sexual relations with her, for they would be rivals." {"The polygamy of the patriarchs was, in some measure, excusable in them, because, though there was a reason against it as ancient as Adam's marriage (Mal. 2:15), yet there was no express command against it; it was in them a sin of ignorance. But it will by no means justify the like practice now, when God's will is plainly made known, that one man and one woman only must be joined together." Matt. Henry- 1 Cor. 7:2} And Jesus says in Matt. 19:4-6 that when a man and woman marry the two become one – not  three or four become one (polygamy). And the fruit and misery of this sin is seen so clearly in Jacob's family and earlier in the strife between Sarah and Hagar, Ishmael and Isaac.

Leah grieved because Jacob preferred Rachel, and Rachel was denied the blessing of children for many years as she saw Leah having four sons one after the other. Rachel lacks children, but is blessed with Jacob's love; Leah lacks Jacob's love but is given many sons. This was also a rebuke to Jacob, for making so great a difference between those that he was equally related to.

Notice how Leah's pain over this is expressed in the names she gives her four sons:  Reuben: "It is because "the LORD has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now." Simeon: "Because the LORD heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too." Levi: "Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons." Judah: This time I will praise the LORD." {Reuben sounds like the Hebrew for he has seen my misery. Simeon probably means one who hears. Levi sounds like and may be derived from the Hebrew for attached. Judah sounds like and may be derived from the Hebrew for praise. Bible Gateway Commentary}

Matthew Henry shows how Leah goes from hoping in man (Jacob's love) to putting all her hopes and praise in the Lord. "All our praises must centre in Christ, both as the matter of them and as the Mediator of them. He descended from him (Judah) whose name was praise, for He is our praise. Is Christ formed in my heart? Now will I praise the Lord."

When we rightly see God's love for us we will never dread His discipline but in fact see it as the most loving thing He can do for us both for this life and for all eternity.

                           Discussion Questions FOR APPLICATION OF GOD'S WORD

What did the Lord say to you through this message? 

If we find a "Laban" in our life it may be that God put him/her there to show us an unconfessed and unresolved sin (deceit in Jacob's case) that He wants us to see and turn from – as Jacob later did. Yet we know our Lord is full of mercy and even His discipline is done in love. How do we reconcile the following verses as it relates to Jacob, our own lives, God's discipline and how we should view His discipline?

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.  Gal. 6:7

7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8 If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! 10 Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Heb. 12: 7-11

10 He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.
Psalm 103:10

17 In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:17-18

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1 2-4

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade-kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that your faith-of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire-may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1 3-9

Scripture memory verse: " In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ." 1 Peter 1 6-7 NKJV

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