Memory Verse: Philippians 3:14 “I press on toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
We left off our last lesson with Jacob traveling to Haran to seek out his Uncle Laban to help him find a wife. He arrives at a watering well and talks to some shepherds, discovering that they are from Haran and they know his Uncle Laban. While he is talking to them, his cousin Rachel arrives with her father’s flocks to water them. Jacob meets her and introduces himself.
1 "Then Jacob hurried on, finally arriving in the land of the east. 2 He saw a well in the distance. Three flocks of sheep and goats lay in an open field beside it, waiting to be watered. But a heavy stone covered the mouth of the well.
3 It was the custom there to wait for all the flocks to arrive before removing the stone and watering the animals. Afterward the stone would be placed back over the mouth of the well. 4 Jacob went over to the shepherds and asked, “Where are you from, my friends?”
“We are from Haran,” they answered.
5 “Do you know a man there named Laban, the grandson of Nahor?” he asked.
“Yes, we do,” they replied.
6 “Is he doing well?” Jacob asked.
“Yes, he’s well,” they answered. “Look, here comes his daughter Rachel with the flock now.”
7 Jacob said, “Look, it’s still broad daylight—too early to round up the animals. Why don’t you water the sheep and goats so they can get back out to pasture?”
8 “We can’t water the animals until all the flocks have arrived,” they replied. “Then the shepherds move the stone from the mouth of the well, and we water all the sheep and goats.”
9 Jacob was still talking with them when Rachel arrived with her father’s flock, for she was a shepherd. 10 And because Rachel was his cousin—the daughter of Laban, his mother’s brother—and because the sheep and goats belonged to his uncle Laban, Jacob went over to the well and moved the stone from its mouth and watered his uncle’s flock. 11 Then Jacob kissed Rachel, and he wept aloud. 12 He explained to Rachel that he was her cousin on her father’s side—the son of her aunt Rebekah. So Rachel quickly ran and told her father, Laban.
13 As soon as Laban heard that his nephew Jacob had arrived, he ran out to meet him. He embraced and kissed him and brought him home. When Jacob had told him his story, 14 Laban exclaimed, “You really are my own flesh and blood!” After Jacob had stayed with Laban for about a month, 15 Laban said to him, “You shouldn’t work for me without pay just because we are relatives. Tell me how much your wages should be.”
Jacob found his family in Haran and they welcomed him. He stayed with them and helped his Uncle Laban, working for free. After staying with his relatives for a month, Laban offered to pay Jacob for the work he was doing for him.
16 "Now Laban had two daughters. The older daughter was named Leah, and the younger one was Rachel. 17 There was no sparkle in Leah’s eyes, but Rachel had a beautiful figure and a lovely face. 18 Since Jacob was in love with Rachel, he told her father, “I’ll work for you for seven years if you’ll give me Rachel, your younger daughter, as my wife.”
19 “Agreed!” Laban replied. “I’d rather give her to you than to anyone else. Stay and work with me.” 20 So Jacob worked seven years to pay for Rachel. But his love for her was so strong that it seemed to him but a few days.”
Jacob was not interested in money or livestock, he wanted Rachel for his wife, and was willing to work for his Uncle Laban for free for seven years for her. Laban agreed to those terms. They had a contract.
21 "Finally, the time came for him to marry her. “I have fulfilled my agreement,” Jacob said to Laban. “Now give me my wife so I can marry her.”
22 So Laban invited everyone in the neighborhood and prepared a wedding feast. 23 But that night, when it was dark, Laban took Leah to Jacob, and he slept with her. 24 (Laban had given Leah a servant, Zilpah, to be her maid.)
25 But when Jacob woke up in the morning—it was Leah! “What have you done to me?” Jacob raged at Laban. “I worked seven years for Rachel! Why have you tricked me?”
26 “It’s not our custom here to marry off a younger daughter ahead of the firstborn,” Laban replied. 27 “But wait until the bridal week is over, then we’ll give you Rachel, too—provided you promise to work another seven years for me.”
28 So Jacob agreed to work seven more years. A week after Jacob had married Leah, Laban gave him Rachel, too. 29 (Laban gave Rachel a servant, Bilhah, to be her maid.) 30 So Jacob slept with Rachel, too, and he loved her much more than Leah. He then stayed and worked for Laban the additional seven years.”
Finally the seven years are up and Jacob expects Laban to also fulfill his part of the contract by allowing Jacob to marry Rachel. Laban prepares the wedding feast and invites guests. Later that night Laban takes Leah in the dark to the marriage tent and Jacob sleeps with her thinking it is Rachel by his side. Imagine his shock the next morning to find out that Laban had tricked him into marrying and sleeping with Leah. His new wife was not Rachel but Leah. He didn’t love Leah, but now he was married to her. He angrily confronts Laban about the deception, but Laban offers a lame excuse about how it is the custom of that land to marry off the older daughters before the younger ones are allowed to marry. He offers Jacob Rachel as a second wife, if he will fulfill the marriage week with Leah and if Jacob will work for him for another seven years. At the end of the week, Rachel is given to Jacob as his second wife. This seems to be the first instance in the Bible of any of Abraham’s descendants having more than one wife. Jacob must have truly loved Rachel in order to be willing to work fourteen years for her, without pay. He also now felt what it was like being on the receiving end of a deception. Jacob honored the contract. Laban did not and even wrote in new conditions to be met. Jacob would have to work another seven years.
What would you do if someone tricked you into working seven years for something you wanted and then after you had worked those seven years they then tricked you into working another seven years to get it?
Jacob is a great example of how you are to interact with others. When you give your word you should keep it, even if it hurts you and even if the other parties to the agreement fail to keep their word. You are responsible for the promises you make. Jacob must have truly loved Rachel if he was still willing to work the additional seven years, after having already worked seven years without pay so she could be his wife. He didn’t give up. He kept his word and did a good job for his uncle, regardless of what his uncle did or didn’t do.
Jacob didn’t go off the deep end when presented with Laban’s deception. He got over his anger—it didn’t do him a whole lot of good to stay angry with Laban as he was more or less stuck between a rock and a hard place. He either agreed to work another seven years or he would give up ever marrying Rachel. Jacob was in no position to force Laban.
Even though Jacob didn’t love Leah, he stayed her husband. He didn’t abandon or divorce her. He honored his marriage covenant with her even though it was made under false pretenses. He didn’t blame her for her father’s deception, even though she had to go along with it to a certain extent.
Jacob did a good job for his Uncle. He worked the second set of seven years just as hard and honestly as the first seven. He didn’t slack off or take shortcuts. He didn’t cheat his Uncle. He could have just taken his two wives and left after the first week, but he honored his word to his Uncle, working seven more years without pay.
What do you think were some of the consequences Laban suffered for deceiving and tricking Jacob?
Laban lost the trust and to a certain extent lost the respect of his nephew. Jacob would never trust him again as he had during the first seven years. When you lose the respect of others because you have tricked, lied to or deceived them, it is hard to earn that trust back.
Jacob had a goal; he set his sights for that goal, Rachel, and did whatever was necessary to make her his wife.
2 Peter 3:17-18
17" I am warning you ahead of time, dear friends. Be on guard so that you will not be carried away by the errors of these wicked people and lose your own secure footing. 18 Rather, you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
All glory to him, both now and forever! Amen."
Your goal as a Christian should be to live your life to God’s glory in everything you do, say, and think. The ultimate prize is eternal life with God forever.
24 "Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. 26 So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. 27 I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified."
You have a race—your life—to run and win the goal—eternal life. The way you run that race will determine how others see you and treat you. The way you run that race determines if you have what it takes to finish and reach the goal. God had given you the tools to reach your goal – His Word, the Holy Bible and communication with Him through prayer. You have everything you need to reach your goal, but you still have to do your part.
Jacob reached his goal, he did his
part, and he won Rachel. Keep your eyes on the goal, especially when life throws
you a curve ball, or just plain treats you badly. Jacob kept his eyes on his
goal by working for Rachel’s father without pay for 14 years in order
to win her. What would you do, what would you give up to reach your goal?