Friday, January 1, 2016

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday January 3, 2016

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(GOD uses divine retribution to bring us back into HIS Will)
(Genesis 29:1-30)

   It was customary in Old Testament times for the groom to present the father of the bride with a gift of money, or something of monetary value for his daughter’s hand in marriage. However, this was not considered as “buying and selling women”, but rather, it served as acknowledgement that the groom was extracting something of value from the father’s household. This in no way, of course, compensated for the life of the daughter, but rather, it served as a symbol that the groom placed a high value on his future bride.
    In Genesis 29, Moses writes of how Jacob came to marry, both Leah, and Rachel, the daughters of his uncle, Laban, at Padan-Aram. This all occurs after Jacob fled his father Isaac’s house, after he and his mother, Rebekah, had joined forces in order that they might cheat his brother, Esau, out of his inheritance as the eldest male sibling.
    When Jacob arrived in Padan-Aram he saw three flocks of sheep in the distance lying in an open field beside a well, waiting to be watered. There was a heavy stone covering the mouth of the well. It was a custom to wait until all the flocks arrived before the stone was removed by the shepherds. After watering all of the sheep, the stone would be placed back over the well to protect the water, perhaps, from wild animals and debris.
    When Jacob saw the shepherds, he went over to them and asked them, where did they live? They told Jacob that they lived in Haran, and so he asked them if they knew his uncle Laban, and they replied that they did. As the men talked, a shepherd girl named Rachel, arrived at the well with her father’s flock. She was the daughter of Laban, whom Jacob was looking for, and because she was his cousin and her father his uncle, he went over to the well and removed the stone, and watered her flock. Afterwards, Jacob kissed Rachel and tears fell from his eyes as he explained to her who he was. Rachel then ran home to tell her father and he rushed out to meet and greet his nephew, and invited him to stay at his home.
    In verses 15-30, after Jacob had been residing and working with Laban for about a month, Laban suggested that it was not right for Jacob to labor for him for free. And so he asked Jacob how much he wanted in return for his labor. Jacob, who by now, was in love with Rachel, Laban’s youngest daughter, offered to work for him for 7 years, if he would give him permission to marry her, after that time. Laban agreed, and so Jacob spent the next 7 years working for him to acquire the right to marry Rachel. The stage was now set by the LORD for Jacob to receive his divine retribution for his trickery against his brother Esau, and his father Isaac (Genesis 27:1-39).
    And so, as justice would have it, at the end of the seven-year period, Laban tricked Jacob, on a dark and festive night, into marrying and sleeping with his older daughter, Leah, instead of Rachel. It was a trick reminiscent of the time when Jacob had tricked his father Isaac into giving him his older brother, Esau’s, inheritance, and now Jacob knew first hand, just how his brother felt when he was cheated by him, and how his father felt when he took advantage of his near-blindness in his old age. In Laban, Jacob had finally met his match.
    History now records that Jacob spent the next twenty years in drudgery, affliction, and deception from his uncle Laban, his mother Rebekah’s brother. The LORD would use these coming experiences to shape and mold his character into what it ought to be, as the chosen father of the twelve tribes of Israel. Here we see a crystal clear example of the biblical principle that states, “As a man reaps, so shall he sew”.
    GOD often orders the affairs of men to set things right, and with Jacob, this deception by Laban seems altogether fitting, because it is the LORD WHO is, here in this passage, administering the vengeance that HE says, belongs to HIM. These tribulations were designed by GOD to bring Jacob’s own craftiness right into the forefront of his own mind, and allow him to spiritually see the error of his own ways.
    Spiritually, Jacob was able to see this for what it was, “divine retribution”. He accepted it, and was able to move on to greater heights. At times, GOD must teach us the hard way, that, we must be sensitive to the needs and rights of others. And while this certainly wasn’t an easy lesson for Jacob, it was indeed, a necessary one.
    GOD wants to show us that, HIS way is always the best way, and HE will often show us HIS control, during our worst situations. It is during hard times and struggles that we are readily willing, and seek to give GOD control of our lives. And certainly, a life submitted to GOD can never be seen as being “out of control”.
    Fortunately, Jacob had already given his life over to GOD that day in Bethel (Genesis 28:16-22), and that was the only thing that allowed him to be able to handle the twenty years of struggle that he would now face in the house of Laban. We should never become so preoccupied with the struggles of our own self-imposed circumstances   , that we forget that the LORD of the Faith we say we hold, is always near us, and in control of all aspects of our lives.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website

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