Have you ever been promised a job promotion only to have it slip away at the last minute? Have you had to work for a boss who treated you unfairly? Has your child yelled at you, “But that’s not fair!” As Americans, we have a culture that demands fairness and justice. In light of this, we are sometimes impatient to let God be in control of the situation.
- When were you in a situation where you had unjust things done to you? How did you respond? Have you ever been unjust?
READ THE WORD: GENESIS 31:36-55 (ESV)
36 Then Jacob became angry and berated Laban. Jacob said to Laban, “What is my offense? What is my sin, that you have hotly pursued me? 37 For you have felt through all my goods; what have you found of all your household goods? Set it here before my kinsmen and your kinsmen, that they may decide between us two. 38 These twenty years I have been with you. Your ewes and your female goats have not miscarried, and I have not eaten the rams of your flocks. 39 What was torn by wild beasts I did not bring to you. I bore the loss of it myself. From my hand you required it, whether stolen by day or stolen by night. 40 There I was: by day the heat consumed me, and the cold by night, and my sleep fled from my eyes. 41 These twenty years I have been in your house. I served you fourteen years for your two daughters, and six years for your flock, and you have changed my wages ten times. 42 If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had not been on my side, surely now you would have sent me away empty-handed. God saw my affliction and the labor of my hands and rebuked you last night.”
43 Then Laban answered and said to Jacob, “The daughters are my daughters, the children are my children, the flocks are my flocks, and all that you see is mine. But what can I do this day for these my daughters or for their children whom they have borne? 44 Come now, let us make a covenant, you and I. And let it be a witness between you and me.” 45 So Jacob took a stone and set it up as a pillar. 46 And Jacob said to his kinsmen, “Gather stones.” And they took stones and made a heap, and they ate there by the heap. 47 Laban called it Jegar-sahadutha, but Jacob called it Galeed. 48 Laban said, “This heap is a witness between you and me today.” Therefore he named it Galeed, 49 and Mizpah, for he said, “The Lord watch between you and me, when we are out of one another’s sight. 50 If you oppress my daughters, or if you take wives besides my daughters, although no one is with us, see, God is witness between you and me.”
51 Then Laban said to Jacob, “See this heap and the pillar, which I have set between you and me. 52 This heap is a witness, and the pillar is a witness, that I will not pass over this heap to you, and you will not pass over this heap and this pillar to me, to do harm. 53 The God of Abraham and the God of Nahor, the God of their father, judge between us.” So Jacob swore by the Fear of his father Isaac, 54 and Jacob offered a sacrifice in the hill country and called his kinsmen to eat bread. They ate bread and spent the night in the hill country.
55 Early in the morning Laban arose and kissed his grandchildren and his daughters and blessed them. Then Laban departed and returned home.
English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
- Jacob was upset in verse 36 because Laban unjustly accused him of stealing. List the things Jacob did for Laban (vss. 37-42).
- How did Laban respond in the first part of verse 43? Why do you think he changed his mind from pursuit to peace?
- What was Laban’s attitude toward Jacob in setting up the covenant and heap of stones? Did Jacob need this covenant?
- In what area of your life is God calling you to remain faithful and wait on his timing?
RESPOND TO GOD
God was with Jacob in his loneliness, in the heat, and in the long, cold nights. God did not forget his promises to Jacob and rewarded his faithfulness. How hard it must have been for Jacob to serve Laban and then be chased down and accused of stealing. Rightly, Jacob challenged Laban by recounting his own righteousness and God’s favor. Twenty years was a long time to work for someone while enduring injustice. Yet, Jacob persevered in this contentious arrangement, even when it was hard, because he wasn’t serving Laban, he was serving God.
- Pray that God would give you faithfulness and patience to endure in unjust situations, even when it seems hard.
- Thank God that he does see all your difficult situations and is with you in them.