Reaching The Goal
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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?
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