Genesis 29:1

I. THE TRUE LIFE is that which starts from the place of fellowship with God and commits the future to him. We can always find a pillar of blessed memorial and consecration. The Bethel.

1. Providential care.

2. Religious privilege.

3. Special communications of the Spirit.

God with us as a fact. Our pilgrimage a Bethel all through.

II. THE TRUE TESTIMONY that which erects a stone of witness, a Bethel, where others can find God.

1. Personal. The pillow of rest the pillar of praise.

2. Practical. The testimony which speaks of the journey and the traveler.

III. THE TRUE COVENANT.

1. Coming out of fellowship.

2. Pledging the future at the house of God, and in sight of Divine revelation.

3. Blessed exchange of gifts, confirmation of love. Jehovah keeping and guiding and feeding; his servant serving him and giving him a tenth of all he received. The patriarch's vow was the result of a distinct advance in his religious life. The hope of blessing became the covenant of engagement, service, worship, sacrifice. The highest form of religious life is that which rests on a solemn vow of grateful dedication at Bethel. The end before us is "our Father's house in peace." - R.







Then Jacob went on his journey, and came into the land of the people of the east.
I. THAT GOD'S PRESENCE WITH HIM MADE HIS DUTIES AND HIS TROUBLES LIGHT. He who casts his burden upon the Lord ceases to weary himself, and finds that even labour is rest and pain is sweet.

II. THAT PROVIDENCE WAS STILL HIS GUIDE. All his life through Providence had guided him, but he knew it not as he ought to know. Now, even in the most ordinary and likely events of life he learns to trace the hand of Providence. Providence brings to this spot the very woman who is designed to be the wife of Jacob. Surely he could not fail to see that even through all the strange trials of his journey, and through the most untoward events, the will of God was being accomplished.

III. THAT GOD'S GRACIOUS DEALINGS WITH HIM CALLED FOR GRATITUDE. Jacob was deeply touched by the kindness of God; and while he embraced Rachel, he " lifted up his voice and wept." They were tears started by the remembrance of his faithless misgivings, but they were also tears of joy at the thought that his difficulties were at an end, and that the great object of his mission had been gained.

(T. H. Leale.)

1. God's gracious appearances to a soul may encourage it to go any whither where God would have them.

2. Encouragements from God and engagements to Him will make a man speed in the way where God calleth.

3. Providence bringeth an obedient soul safely to the place appointed for him.

4. Providence sendeth to every part His servants to raise His Church. The East is not exempted, Abraham from hence, Job in this place were eminent, and now Jacob is sent to it (ver. 2).

(G. Hughes, B. D.)

Rich in distant hopes, but cheerless in his immediate prospects, Jacob left the land of promise. He was a true pilgrim; and his whole life was a wearisome and changeful pilgrimage. The gold of his capacious and lofty mind was to be purified from its strong alloy of dishonesty and cunning in the furnace of misery and toil; his moral education commenced at his departure from the parental house, and after many tribulations only, resulted in that peace of mind which is at once the surest symptom and the choicest reward of true virtue. Jacob's life has always been considered as a type; we see in it, indeed, the eternal image of man's protracted contests, both against the foe in his heart and with his destinies, till at last the internal enemy is either wearied out by his resistance, or expelled by his energy, or reconciled by his sufferings (see on Genesis 34:1-4). Among the earliest seeds sowed by Jacob were deceit and craft; and flight and exile were the first fruits of his harvest. While his grandfather's servants had undertaken the journey to the town of Nahor with ten camels laden with all the most precious treasures (Genesis 24:10); the offspring of the alliance concluded in consequence of that journey, left his father's roof, as a poor wanderer, without an friend or an attendant, and without an animal to lighten the fatigues of the way.

(M. M. Kalisch, Ph. D.)

1. Providence maketh God's servants to see in due time some characters of their being near their journey's end, and accomplishment of His promise.

2. Things of usual account by some may be made by Providence of special use to comfort others. So the welt, &c., here spoken of Jacob (ver. 2).

3. To seek community of good in neighbourhood is the very law of nature. Not each to prevent other.

4. Preservation of public commodities for life and comfort, is that which nature will teach men. It is unnatural to destroy (ver. 3-5).

(G. Hughes, B. D.)

1. Providence maketh questions means to the satisfaction of His.

2. Sons are best known by the most eminent of their ancestors.

3. Nahor and his descent, with their way and religion, were known in Syria (ver. 5).

4. It is but Nature's dictate to inquire of the welfare of related friends.

5. Providence orders peace to others, that with them His servants may have peace.

6. Providence orders meeting of friends and comforts which man cannot project, and doth little think of, Here Jacob meets Rachel (ver. 6).

(G. Hughes, B. D.)

Rachel his daughter cometh.

1. Providential meetings may justly occasion providential advice from strangers to others.

2. Time and business should be rationally managed to the improvement of both (ver. 7).

3. Ingenuity taketh not amiss occasional advice from strangers.

4. Ingenuous men, if they follow not counsel, will give their reason.

5. Impotency to duty justly may excuse it.

6. Iniquity must not be done to others for private advantage (ver. 8).

(G. Hughes, B. D.)

1. God's good hand sendeth the mercy sometimes to His servants while they inquire about it.

2. The eminent in His church God hath called from the lowest condition in the world.

3. It is not unbeseeming the greatest ladies to be found in honest labour. It was not to Rachel. It suits the mother of the Church to be a shepherdess (ver. 9).

(G. Hughes, B. D.)

1. Discoveries of such as are near in the flesh is enough in nature to move for doing them good.

2. Readiness and pains to show kindness unto friends in the flesh becometh both grace and nature (ver. 10).

(G. Hughes, B. D.)

1. Self-discovery is proper, when God sends friends to meet at unawares.

2. Ingenuity gladly receiveth the manifestation of near friends in the flesh.

(G. Hughes, B. D.)

I. THE STRANGER AT THE WELL Jacob.

1. The journey ended. Canaan, Bethel, and his father's house behind him. Mountains, deserts, rivers, and rocky wildernesses between. God had kept him (Genesis 28:20), so far, from wild beasts and robbers, and all " perils of the wilderness."

2. He arrives on the confines of civilized life once more; yet knows not how near the end of his journey he is. Finds flocks, and pasturage, and the dwellings of men.

3. Rests by the well side. Knows that it will soon be the meeting-place of men, from the flocks that are gathering round the spot.

4. The shepherds arrive. He converses with them. Finds they are of Haran, the place he is journeying to. Inquires concerning his kindred. Discovers that they are well, and that Rachel, the daughter of Laban, is on the way to water the flock.

II. THE SHEPHERDESS. Rachel.

1. Primitive habits, and pastoral life in the East. The daughters of large land owners, and men of substance, tending sheep.

2. Rachel approaches the well. Finds a stranger sitting near. Knows him not. He has been told who she is.

3. Though weary with his journey, Jacob rises, and rolls the stone away, and waters Rachel's flock for her. Rachel doubtless wondering at this unexpected kindness.

4. Jacob, having watered the flock, salutes the shepherdess after the common fashion of the country. A courteous and customary greeting.

5. Jacob weeps tears of joy that he has found the kindred of whom he is in search; and of thankfulness that God has so far guided and blessed him. Rachel wondering.

6. Jacob tells his story. Mentions the name of that Rebekah of whom she had heard, and who years before had gone across the great desert to her distant home.

III. THE WELCOME HOME. The home of Laban.

1. Rachel, full of joyful surprise, hastens forward, and tells the story of the strange traveller to her father.

2. Laban, also surprised, quickly goes to the well to meet him. Salutes him, as Jacob had saluted Rachel, and brings him home. Eastern hospitality.

3. Jacob repeats his story to Laban. Doubtless, while silent about many things, related that the birthright and the blessing were his; and described the vision he had by the way.

4. Laban cordially — because of his relationship especially — invites Jacob to abide with him. Learn:

I. That a good man's steps are ordered of the Lord, and He delighteth in his way.

II. If we commit our way unto the Lord, He will bring it to pass.

III. As Jacob watered Rachel's flock, so should we be self-denying and helpful.

IV. Aim, like Rachel, at living a useful life. It was when she was employed in her works of duty that she met with Jacob.

V. Like Jacob, acknowledge God as the giver of all good, and the guide of our life.

(Jr. C. Gray.)

We cannot, until all the flocks be gathered together.

A scene in Mesopotamia, beautifully pastoral. A well of water of great value in that region. The fields around about it white with three flocks of sheep lying down waiting for the watering. I hear their bleating coming on the bright air, and the laughter of young men and maidens indulging in rustic repartee. I look off, and I see other flocks of sheep coming, Meanwhile, Jacob, a stranger, on the interesting errand of looking for a wife, comes to the well. A beautiful shepherdess comes to the same well. I see her approaching, followed by her father's flock of sheep. Jacob accosts the shepherds and asks them why they postpone the slaking of the thirst of these sheep, and why they did not immediately proceed to water them? The shepherds reply to the effect: "We are all good neighbours, and as a matter of courtesy we wait until all the sheep of the neighbourhood come up. Besides that, this stone on the well's mouth is somewhat heavy, and several of us take hold of it and push it aside, and then the buckets and the troughs are filled, and the sheep are satisfied. We cannot, until all the flocks be gathered together, and till they roll the stone from the well's mouth; then we water the sheep." Now a great flock of sheep to-day gather around this Gospel well. There are a great many thirsty souls. I wonder why the flocks of all nations do not gather — why so many stay thirsty; and while I am wondering about if, my text breaks forth in the explanation, saying: " We cannot, until all the flocks be gathered together, and till they roll the stone from the well's mouth; then we water the sheep." This well of the Gospel is deep enough to put out the burning thirst of the twelve hundred million of the race. Do not let the Church by a spirit of exclusiveness keep the world out. Let down all the bars, swing open all the gates, scatter all the invitations: "Whosoever will let him come."

I. You notice that this well of Mesopotamia had a stone on it, which must be removed before the sheep could be watered; and I find on the well of salvation to-day IMPEDIMENTS AND OBSTACLES, which must be removed in order that you may obtain the refreshment and life of this Gospel.

1. In your case the impediment is pride of heart. You cannot bear to come to so democratic a fountain; you do not want to come with so many others. You will have to remove the obstacle of pride, or never find your way to the well. You will have to come as we came, willing to take the water of eternal life in any way, and at any hand, and in any kind of picture, crying out: "O Lord Jesus, I am dying of thirst. Give me the water of eternal life, whether in trough or goblet; give me the water of life; I care not in what it comes to me." Away with all your hindrances of pride from the well's mouth.

2. Here is another man who is kept back from this water of life by the stone of an obdurate heart, which lies over the mouth of the well. You have no more feeling upon this subject than if God had vet to do you the first kindness, or you had to do God the first wrong. Seated on His lap all these years, His everlasting arms sheltering you, where is your gratitude? Where is your morning and evening prayer? Where are your consecrated lives? O man, what dost thou with that hard heart? Canst thou not feel one throb of gratitude towards the God who made you, and the Christ who came to redeem you, and the Holy Ghost who has all these years been importuning you?

II. Jacob with a good deal of tug and push took the stone from the well's mouth, so that the flocks might be watered. And I would that this morning my word, blessed of God, might remove the hindrances to your getting up to the Gospel well. Yea, I take it for granted that the work is done, and now like Oriental shepherds, I PROCEED TO WATER THE SHEEP.

1. Come, all ye thirsty! You have an undefined longing in your souls. You tried money-making; that did not satisfy you. You tried office under government; that did not satisfy you. You tried pictures and sculptures, but works of art did not satisfy you. You are as much discontented with this life as the celebrated French author who felt that he could not any longer endure the misfortunes of the world, and who said: "At four o'clock this afternoon I shall put an end to my own existence. Meanwhile, I must toil on up to that time for the sustenance of my family." And he wrote on his book until the clock struck four, when he folded up his manuscript and, by his own hand, concluded his earthly life. There are men in this house who are perfectly discontented. Unhappy in the past, unhappy to-day, to be unhappy for ever, unless you come to this Gospel-well. This satisfies the soul with a high, deep, all-absorbing, and eternal satisfaction.

2. Come, also, to this Gospel-well, all ye troubled. I do not suppose you have escaped. Compare your view of this life at fifteen years of age with what your view of it is at forty, sixty, or seventy. What a great contrast of opinion! Were you right, then, or are you right now? Two cups placed in your hands, the one a sweet cup, the other a sour cup. A cup of joy and a cup of grief. Which has been the nearest to being full, and out of which have you the more frequently partaken? Oh, you have had trouble, trouble, trouble. God only knows how much you have had. It is a wonder you have been able to live through it. It is a wonder your nervous system has not been shattered, and your brain has not reeled. Trouble, trouble, If I could gather all the griefs, of all sorts, from this great audience, and could put them in one scroll, neither man nor angel could endure the recitation. Well what do you want? Would you like to have your property back again? "No," you say, as a Christian man: "I was becoming arrogant, and I think that is why the Lord took it away. I don't want to have my property back." Well, would you have your departed friends back again? "No," you say: "I couldn't take the responsibility of bringing them from a tearless realm to one of tears. I couldn't do it." Well, then, what do you want? A thousand voices in the audience cry out: "Comfort, give us comfort." For that reason I have rolled away the stone from the well's mouth. Come, all ye wounded of the flock, pursued of the wolves, come to the fountain where the Lord's sick and bereft ones have come. I gather all the promises to-day in a group, and I ask the shepherds to drive their flocks of lambs and sheep up to the sparkling supply. "Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth.", "Though He cause grief, yet will He have compassion." "Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivereth him out of them all." "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning." Oh, what a great flock of sheep God will gather around the celestial well. No stone on the well's mouth, while the Shepherd waters the sheep.

(Dr. Talmage.)

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