In the ten years we’ve been married we’ve lived in five homes and moved four times. Not an absurd number (I don’t think) but quite possibly above average. Not sure. But I can tell you one thing…every time was A LOT of work. The purging, the packing, the cleaning, the moving, the unpacking, the organizing, the finding of a new home for every necessary and unnecessary item that made the cut. It’s exhausting!
Devotional Scripture: Genesis 31:17-55
Key Verse: “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” Prov. 16:9
Then there’s the inevitable first night in the new home. Filled with all kinds of weird deafening noises no longer noticeable after 87 days or so (give or take a few). And the first morning in which you’d give just about anything for a fairy godmother to show up, wave her cute little wand and wala! Gift you with a functional kitchen.
But I cannot imagine also moving flocks of goats and sheep and little lambs along with my camels, twelve sons and daughter (all under the age of 13), two wives, their tents, their servants, (and everything else that made the cut) as Jacob did. To a different country no less! Can you imagine the potty breaks? Or the number of times Rachel and Leah probably heard the words “are we there yet?”
And what about crossing the Euphrates river? I just cannot fathom that was easy. All with a growing anxiety because you left without telling your crazy-not-so-nice-wants-to-hurt-me father-in-law. (I’ll pass. Thank you.) But that’s the scenario the latter half of Genesis 31 when Jacob decides (by God’s urging) it’s time to leave Paddan-aram and return to the land of Canaan.
They’d been on the road ten days when Laban caught up to them. Accusing Jacob of stealing away his daughters “like captives of the sword” (v.26); taking his household gods; and cheating him out of the opportunity of throwing a fabulous good-bye party. (uh huh sure Laban)
Now if it were me I would have gotten hung up on the party thing. “No you would not have thrown us a party. Don’t even go there.” But Jacob apparently let it go, except for the part about stealing Laban’s little gods. That one he could not let go. Certain of his innocence Jacob declared “Anyone with whom you find your gods shall not live.”
And just like that Jacob commits his favorite wife to death. Because Rachel had in fact stolen them. Why? Commentators run the gamut with ideas: Because she thought they would bring good fortune. Because she wanted to stop Laban from finding Jacob and their entourage by divination. Because she was mad at her dad for taking their inheritance. Because she wanted to get back at him for tricking Jacob into marrying Leah.
The fact of the matter is we don’t know why she stole the household gods…whatever form they were. But I’d be very surprised if it were for religious purposes considering she sat on them pretending to have her period. (Nice one Rachel.) But it worked. Laban searched everything and found nothing.
I can’t help but wonder what she did with them after that. In chapter 35 Jacob instructs his household to rid themselves of all foreign gods. He then hides them under a tree at Shechem. Was this the moment Rachel confessed her deed to Jacob? “Oh by the way honey remember that little run in with my dad? Well…it was me.” Or did Rachel toss them aside long before then?
No matter it was God who protected Jacob that day – from unknowingly sending his wife to the grave. And from the wrath of a crazy father-in-law. The night before Laban arrived God spoke to him and instructed “Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad” (v. 29). In other words…don’t you dare lay a hand on on my man.
And with that we hit the pause button because THIS is the God of the Bible. A God who intercedes for his people. He is not a God that stands aloof from his creation. Yet that’s often how we feel. Alone. Left to our own defenses. Without help. Sending up prayers that seemingly do us little to no good.
But He did not take pleasure in creating us simply to bid us farewell. God is involved. “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps” (Prov. 16:9). And he loves us.
How do I know? Because He was willing to sacrifice his own Son on our behalf (Rom. 8:32) The King of Kings, Jesus Christ, who now sits at the right hand of God; constantly interceding for us, as he did for Jacob.
He cares. He really does. Regardless of what the world says. Regardless of our circumstances. Our losses. Our hard things. He cares. The outcome of a situation does not define God. Scripture defines God. And Scripture tells us He is merciful and gracious and abounding steadfast love (Ps. 103:8). He is our refuge and strength (Ps. 46:1). Our Redeemer and helper (Is. 41:13-14). And cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).
So when doubts pierce, let truth prevail. Let it win! Trust in the God of the Bible. A God who interceded on behalf of Jacob and is interceding for you.
Contemplate and Evaluate:
Is your definition of God based on the truth of Scripture or the outcome of a particular situation?
Do you view God as intricately involved in your life or more on the sidelines?
What cares or concerns do you need to trust God with today?
I’d love to hear from you! If something struck you, encouraged you, enlightened you, or just plain made no sense to you…please tell me! Thanks friends. You are a blessing to me. Stacey