Genesis 29: It Runs in the Family

Songdove Books - Sunset on Okanagan Lake during forest fire
Songdove Books - local forest fire
Forest fire as seen from my dining room window, potentially human-caused

Life has a way of dealing harshly with us at times.  Other times, we bring that harshness on ourselves.  In Jacob’s case, he was experiencing both by the time we come to Genesis 29.  It would seem that lies and half-truths ran in the family, but consequences would follow.  So many times we think, “how can that person get away with this?!” as it appears they go on with life with no immediate consequences.  Abraham’s white lies were both caught, and potentially dire consequences were averted each time he received reprimand.  Rebekah’s encouragement to have Jacob steal Esau’s blessing did work, but ensuing strife tore the family apart.  Now Jacob was at his uncle’s house, and after working seven years for Rachel, he was cheated out of his desired marriage by that self-same uncle and had to work seven more years for the bride he wanted at the beginning.  Even back then, we see examples of the saying, “what goes around, comes around” or as we’d learn later in Deuteronomy, “be sure your sins will find you out”.  But remember, this is all pre-law we’re talking about here.  Preparing the patriarchs for a future nation of God’s Chosen People was proving troublesome already.

Songdove Books - Sunset on Okanagan Lake during forest fire
Sunset on Okanagan Lake during forest fire

If there is one redeeming point to be made so far in these early days, it is God’s determination to see His plan come to fruition regardless of how badly mankind might mess up along the way.  Some would look at the cast so far on this stage of life and say, “but they’re liars, cheaters, supplanters, insecure, jumping ahead of God” etcetera.  Does that sound any different to how many of us act today?  How many times have you been tempted to jump ahead of God because it seemed His promise was coming about too slowly?  How many times have you felt insecure and to protect yourself or others, you gave a half-truth instead of the full truth, because the apparent potential consequences of the full truth scared you?

When we look at these very human beginnings of these very human patriarchs, we must remind ourselves that we are human too.  Just like them, we have our own failings and our own faults to deal with.  But, just like them, God doesn’t give up on the plans He has for us.  Our thoughts, words and actions may bring about consequences that derail God’s plan for a time, or throw in needless complications that didn’t have to be there, but God doesn’t give up on us.  Eventually, each of these early players in history learn that God’s ways really are the best ways, and we would be wise to learn that for ourselves.

Jacob’s redeeming characteristic, as we will see played out in coming chapters, is his persistence.  His dogged determination to achieve goals he sets for himself and see them through to completion in spite of how others around him behave.  God would bless this determination and persistence, and it is a character trait that has defined his descendents right down through history to present-day.

The next time life hands you a difficult time, ask yourself if you brought it on by your own thoughts, words or actions, and if so, seek God’s forgiveness and remediating hand in this situation before things get too far out of hand.  Sure, we are not always our own worst enemy, but many times we are.  In the past number of chapters, we’ve learned that sometimes, bad behaviour runs in the family and we can be victim to the words and actions of others just as much as our own.  Turn those situations over to God in a whole-hearted manner and see what He does with them.

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