Now Jacob heard that Laban's sons were saying, "Jacob has taken away all that belonged to our father and built all this wealth at our father's expense."
I. The PROMISE TO GUIDE, protect, and bless fulfilled in connection with the employment of ordinary faculties and instrumentalities. Jacob's craft partly natural, but in this instance specially assisted that he might be helped in an emergency. The "supplanter" in this case represented the better cause.
II. HUMAN DEVICES only apparently, and not really, thwart the purposes of God. Jacob represents the people of God. The victory is appointed them. Their interests must be served by the kingdoms of this world, though for a season the advantage appears on the side of the mere calculating, selfish policy. The true wisdom is that which cometh from above.
III. INCREASE in the best sense is God's promise. It will be sent as he wills and when he wills, but will be found the true answer to prayer and the true manifestation of love. On all that belongs to us the blessing rests. Spiritual prosperity carries with it all other. Though the individual may be called to suffer for the sake of the community, the promise to the Church must be fulfilled. "It is our Father's good pleasure to give us the kingdom." "The meek shall inherit the earth." - R.
I. JACOB'S ARRIVAL AND RECEPTION AT HARAN.
And the Lord said unto Jacob, Return unto the land of thy fathers.I. IT WAS HASTENED BY PERSECUTION.
II. IT WAS PROMPTED BY A SENSE OF OFFENDED JUSTICE.
III. IT WAS AT THE COMMAND OF GOD.
IV. IT ILLUSTRATES THE IMPERFECTIONS AS WELL AS THE VIRTUES OF JACOB'S CHARACTER.
(T. H. Leale.)
I. THE SUMMONS TO DEPART. Whether there was voice audible to the outward ear I cannot tell; but there was certainly the uprising of a strong impulse within his heart. Sometimes on a sultry summer day we suddenly feel the breeze fanning our faces, and we say that the wind is rising; but we know not whence it comes, or whither it goes: so does the Spirit of God frequently visit us with strong and holy impulses. There is a Divine restlessness; a noble discontent; a hunger created in the heart, which will not be satisfied with the husks on which the swine feed. We cannot always understand ourselves; but it is the Lord saying to us, Arise and depart; for this is not your rest.
II. THE TENACITY OF CIRCUMSTANCES. When the pilgrim-spirit essays to obey the voice of God, the house is always filled with neighbours to dissuade from the rash resolve. "As Christian ran, some mocked; others threatened; and some cried after him to return." There was something of this in Jacob's case. The bird-lime clung closely to him, as he began to plume his wings for his homeward flight. He was evidently afraid that his wives would hinder his return. It would have been natural if they had. Was it likely that they would at once consent to his proposal to tear them from their kindred and land? This fear may have greatly hindered Jacob. He at least thought it necessary to fortify himself with a quiverful of arguments, in order to carry his point. In those arguments we catch another glimpse of his cowardly and crafty nature. They are a strange medley of lies and cant and truth. He might have saved himself from all this, if he had only trusted God to roll away the stones from the path of obedience. For God had been at work before him; and had prepared their hearts, so that they at once assented to his plan, saying: "We have no further ties to home; now then, whatsoever God hath said unto thee, do?" If we would only go forward in simple obedience, we should find that there would be no need for our diplomacy; He would go before us, making the crooked straight, and the rough smooth. In the endeavours of Laban to retain Jacob, we have a vivid picture of the eager energy with which the world would retain us, when we are about to turn away from it for ever. It pursues us, with all its allies, for seven days and more (ver. 23). It asks us why we are not content to abide with it (ver. 27). It professes its willingness to make our religion palatable, by mingling with it its own tabret and dance (ver. 27). It appeals to our feelings, and asks us not to be too cruel (ver. 28). It threatens us (ver. 29). It jeers us with our sudden compunction, after so many years of contentment with its company (ver. 30). It reproaches us with our inconsistency in making so much of our God, and yet harbouring some cunning sin. "Wherefore hast thou stolen my gods?" (ver. 30). All, friends, how sad it is, when we, who profess so much, give occasion to our foes to sneer, because of the secret idols which they know we carry with us!
III. THE DIVINE CARE. Well might Jacob have thrilled with joy, as he said to his wives, "The God of my father has been with me." When God is for us, and with us, who can be against us? Blessed is he who is environed by God, and for whom God fights. He must be more than a conqueror. So Jacob found it; and, at the end of his encounter with Laban, he was able to repeat his assurance, that the God of his father had been with him (ver. 42).
(F. B. Meyer, B. A.)
1. God's revelations of Himself, of His love and purposes, are incentives to action and encouragements to duty.
2. Notice the similarity and difference between Eliezer's arrival at Haran and reception by Laban, and Jacob's.(1) Both met the object of their quest as well.(2) Laban welcomed Eliezer because of his presents, and sent Rebekah away with him. He welcomed Jacob as a kinsman, but, with keen foresight that he should not be a loser, practically enslaved the heir of Isaac.
II. THE LESSONS OF JACOB'S SERVITUDE AND PROSPERITY AT HARAN
1. Even a wise custom is no justification of untruth or deceit (Genesis 29:26).
2. There is a law of retribution and of compensation in life. Jacob's love for Rachel sweetened his servitude.
3. The danger of taking narrow views of life.
4. Faith is proved by patience rather than by retaliation (Genesis 30:37-43).
5. The faithfulness of God is irrespective of man's desert.
III. JACOB'S FLIGHT FROM HARAN, LABAN'S PURSUIT OF HIM, AND THE COVENANT WITH WHICH THEY SEPARATED.
1. Mutual distrust produces estrangement.
2. Suspicion leads to angry accusation and recrimination.
3. The use and misuse of solemn words (vers. 47, 48).
(A. F. Joscelyne, B. A.)
2. It is no rare thing that the saints of God should hear ill of evil men for their best doings.
3. Slanderous tongues are usually to be found in the houses of the wicked.
4. Children are the natural heirs of parents' corruptions; Laban's sons have Laban's heart.
5. Covetousness is discontented at any good that passeth unto others.
6. Heat of wicked youth is apt to break forth into railing upon the most upright.
7. Covetous, envious spirits transfer the blessing of God on His to base reproaches (ver. 1)
8. Old subtle sinners keep their tongues and vent their hatred in their looks.
9. As God changeth His providences from one to another, so the wicked change their carriages.
10. It is Christian prudence to observe the discontented and angry faces of wicked rulers.
11. Carnal respects from the wicked to the righteous are but momentary (ver. 2).
12. God sometimes useth the unjust carriages of wicked men to move His saints unto respect of Him.
13. God calleth His saints at last in His set time out of bondage to the wicked.
14. God's call alone warrants souls as to leaving of their stations.
15. God's gracious presence is ever with them, who are obedient to His call (ver. 3).
(G. Hughes, B. D.)1. God's call will put men upon honest endeavours to accomplish it.
2. It beseems godly husbands to communicate God's will to their wives about household affairs.
3. Prudence imparts counsel in fittest places.
4. Sedulity in men's calling will not suffer them to lose time (ver. 4).
(G. Hughes, B. D.)1. Just occasions of moving place may be urged by husbands to wives for their concurrence to and comfort in it.
2. Real and undeserved disrespects from men are justly to be complained of, though fathers.
3. The gracious presence of God with His innocent ones is enough to counterpoise the frowns of men.
4. It is rational to leave fathers with their unjust frowns, and follow God with His smiles (ver. 5).
(G. Hughes, B. D.)1. No fraud, lying, or deceit, come amiss to covetous worldly spirits for their own ends.
2. Multiplied falsehoods and oppressions are usual with wicked men, to oppress the innocent and to help themselves.
3. The greatest service is of no account with wicked worldly men.
4. Safe are those faithful ones who are taken into God's charge.
5. Men may invent many ways to hurt the righteous, but God giveth them not up to their hand (ver. 7).
6. God's power and justice turneth the very purposes of the wicked to His saints' good and their evil.
7. The subtlety of man can never prevent the power and wisdom of God (ver. 8).
(G. Hughes, B. D.)1. Providence orders the best seasons of comforting His servants against their fears.
2. Saints must take their comforts in the way wherein God will impart them. In dreams, if God will.
3. The saints have real proof of God's care of them, and goodness in suiting to them their consolations (ver. 10).
4. God alone is the comforter of His people.
5. God calls by name to poor souls, in application of comfort, to prepare them thereunto.
6. God's servants answer at His call to receive His consolations (ver. 11).
7. God showeth His afflicted ones the way of His consolations for their support.
8. God's observation of the oppressions of men cannot but stir Him up to work His saints' relief (ver. 12).
(G. Hughes, B. D. .)
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