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Jacob’s Start-Up

September 13, 2020

Genesis 30 : 22 - 36

 Having known the blessing of God in the past we can anticipate His continued blessing in the future no matter what obstacles stand in the way.   

By Pastor Josh Munan



 

Sermon Notes 

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Proposition: Having known the blessing of God in the past we can anticipate His continued blessing in the future no matter what obstacles stand in the way.   

 Application: Allow the Lord to bless you through your diligent labours, through the integrity of our conduct and through your obedience to His will. 


Introduction

Ted Engstrom and Edward Dayton, in a Christian Leadership Letter some time ago, talked about a young man who was appointed president of a bank. Daunted by his new duties, he nervously sought the advice of his gray-haired predecessor: “Sir, what has been the secret of your success?”  The older man replied, “The secret, young man, is two words: right decisions!”  Perplexed the young man asked, “But how do you make right decisions?” Again, the older man replied, “One word: experience.”

“But how do you get experience?” The young man asked.  The old man smiled. “Two words: wrong decisions.” 

Fourteen years have elapsed since Jacob joined Laban’s family.  He has learned from his mistakes.  He now has four wives and 10 children.  The Lord blessed Jacob but still he is not able to provide for his own family.  He wants to use his experience as a shepherd to venture out on his own. Knowing the past blessing of God, and that Lord would continue to bless Jacob’s diligent labours, he was willing to take the risk and start out on his own. 

Proposition: Having known the blessing of God in the past, we can anticipate His continued blessing in the future no matter what obstacles stand in the way.

 

  1. Starting a Family (30:22 – 24)

God Remembers (30:22): When our prayers are not answered after a long period of time, we tend to think the Lord has forgotten us; that our prayers are in vain. The phrase God remembers puts the focus on the work of God in Rachel’s life and in her womb.  The phrase suggests God is answering prayer. When He answers prayer, He does so in such a way that it is clear it is His doing and not some other cause.  It was God and God alone who opened Rachel’s womb.  He heard Rachel’s prayers, and after 14 years of waiting, He answered them, and brought her struggle to an end.

I believe delay teaches us two vital lessons: it teaches us the lesson of dependence on the Lord and the lesson of faith in the Lord. 

God Subtracts (30:23): Child are a gift from God and in ancient Israel childlessness was always seen as a tragedy. It was a painful thing to not be able to fulfill the role of motherhood.  Answered prayer awakened in Rachel an attitude of gratitude.  God in His mercy took away Rachel’s her shame.

God Adds (30:24): The name Yosaph is quite interesting.  In Hebrew Yosaph has a double meaning.   One meaning is to subtract and the other is to add.  One option of the Yosaph is asaph – which means remove, take away. 

In mercy God cast out Rachel’s shame. He removed her reproach.  He took away her disgrace.  And He also aroused in Rachel the desire for more children – which is found in the term yosaph.  After the birth of Joseph, Rachel’s faith reached out for more. 

So it is with us, when we know our prayers have been heard and answered we ask for more. 

As we will learn in a few weeks – Benjamin was born and with the birth of Benjamin the family of Jacob was complete.        

 

       2. Starting a Business (30:25 – 36)

Jacob Requests (30:25, 26): Jacob owed 14 years of service to Laban in exchange for Rachel and Leah as wives.  Joseph was likely born at the end of Jacob’s 14 years of service.  Now that his years of service are complete, Jacob realized Haran was not his home, even though his wives and children were born in Haran.  Jacob’s thoughts turn to his homeland to claim his spiritual inheritance.  Yet he does not wish to leave until he receives Laban’s blessing.

Laban Responds (30:27, 28):  Laban’s farming business reaped great blessing because the Lord worked through Jacob’s integrity and diligent efforts.  As a result, Laban wanted to delay Jacob’s leaving. 

Application: As believers in Christ Jesus, you are an asset in your place of work.  Your boss benefits because of your faith in the Lord and because He is with you in your labours. The Lord works through your faithfulness, integrity and diligent efforts to bring success in your workplace such that it will be recognized by others in one way or another that your success is from the Lord.  Your bosses will trust you and may entrust more to you.

Read Gen 39:2 – 4

However, there may come a time even in the midst of great success that the Lord calls you elsewhere.  Your colleagues or your boss, not wanting to lose someone of great value, may do everything in their power to get you to change your mind. 

Flattery is one thing they may use to attempt to get you to change your mind and keep you from following the Lord into new ventures.  A more effective tactic may be an offer to increase your pay, such that it may be too good to turn down.  When the Lord calls us to move on, we must follow regardless of the perks that may entice us to stay put rather than move forward into the greater things of God.

Jacob Reminds (30:29, 30):  Fourteen years earlier, when Jacob took over the role of herding Laban’s sheep, Laban had a small flock.  Now it had increased hugely.  Without Laban having to do any work. Laban went from rags to riches. 

Blessing came to Laban, not because of his efforts, but because the Lord caused his herds to greatly multiply through Jacob’s integrity and diligent labours. 

Read Prov 10:22

When your efforts bring blessing to others, do not ascribe the success to your own labour but recognize it is the Lord who gives you the skill and the ideas to bring about success without having to add worry to your work. 

Yet after 14 years of work, very little of God’s blessing went to Jacob. It all went to Laban.  Jacob increased Laban’s wealth but had little for his own household.  He had no livestock of his own.  Owning livestock was money in the bank.  Now it was the time for Jacob to do something for his own family.

He proposed a business plan that would allow him to build wealth and secure his financial future without having to depend on Laban.

Sometimes the Lord may call you to leave your job and move forward into the new ventures.  Or He may be want you move forward because your present boss is not trustworthy.  

In Jacob’s case it was a bit of both – the Lord was calling him back to the land of his forefathers and was breaking Jacob’s ties to Laban.

Jacob’s Proposal (30:31, 32):  Jacob presents a business plan which will free him from his boss Laban.  He assures Laban that he wants nothing that belongs to him.  In the natural order of things, it seems Jacob’s business plan would not give him much wealth.  It does not sound like a very good plan. 

But knowing the blessing of God in the past, and that Lord would keep on blessing Jacob’s diligent labours in a big way, Jacob was willing to build his wealth on an odd arrangement.  Here is how it went:  In the Middle East by far the most common type of sheep are all white, and the most common form of goats are all black.  Multi-colored livestock are not common. 

Jacob would select out of Laban’s herd the few multicolour animals that he had, give them to Laban’s sons to look after, and the left over unicoloured animals, Jacob would tend. Any multicolored offspring born from the unicoloured livestock would then belong to Jacob. 

Jacob’s Honesty (30:33, 34):   This arrangement was an act of pure faith on Jacob’s part as it highly favoured Laban and was on the surface a high risk venture for Jacob.

But just as the Lord increased Laban’s small flock into a multitude of livestock over 14 years so Jacob believed the Lord would bring about the same increase and enlarge Jacob’s few multi-coloured animals into a massive herd.  And that is exactly what the Lord did.  God caused a disproportionate amount of multi-colored animals to be born from unicoloured animals.  Something which is rare under the natural laws of genetics.

Laban was not the most honest guy in Haran, and he probably thought Jacob was as dishonest as he was and would do whatever it took to get ahead.  Should Jacob’s integrity be questioned as a result of the success of his business plan, any investigation into his practices would prove that Jacob acted with integrity.  Jacob would be vindicated.  Whatever wealth Jacob accrued would be God’s doing and not because of any dishonest practice.

Laban had no problem accepting this business deal.  The odds were stacked in Laban favour.  He knew how rare it was for multicoloured offspring to come forth from unicolored parents.  This was a slam dunk deal for Laban.  It was a bargain too good to refuse.  He probably looked at Jacob and thought within himself, “Jacob, are you crazy?”  So Laban quickly closed the deal before Jacob could change his mind.

On the surface it appeared Jacob got the short end of the stick, but Jacob had faith in the Lord that He would bring about incredible blessing.

 Laban’s Removal (30:35, 36): Laban did everything in his power to make sure Jacob would have a hard time growing his herd.  And because Laban did not trust Jacob to do the work of culling out the multicolored animals, Laban did the work himself and removed all the multicolored animals from the flock and put these few animals under the care of his sons.  Then he gave the many unicolored animals to Jacob – the white sheep and black goats – to tend.  An as an added precaution Laban separated the multicolored herd from the unicolored herd by three days journey so the herds would not interbreed and give an advantage to Jacob.

But all the offspring of the monochromatic animals under Jacob’s care gave birth to multicoloured offspring in violation to the basic laws of genetics. These multicolored offspring became Jacob’s wages. 

Just as the Lord open Rachel’s womb against the forces of nature, so the Lord blessed Jacob’s plan against the basic laws of genetics.  Jacob started with nothing but in six years he had acquired a massive amount of livestock. 

Conclusion

If we read on in the story Jacob uses some unusual techniques to encourage the livestock to mate.  Jacob used natural substances from trees to increase the mating practices between the unicolored animals. 

As Jacob used his knowledge to increase the mating behaviour between the unicolored animals, God used His power to manipulate the laws of genetics to make common what was rare.  It is like four blue eyed children from two brown eyed parents.  It is possible but highly unlikely.  As Jacob did his part and God did His part. 

The Lord completes His work through our works.   When we do our part, He does His part.  The difference between Laban and Jacob is that Laban did not consider God in his efforts.  Jacob did.  So what is the lesson can we derive from this passage? Having known the blessing of God in our past we can anticipate His continued blessing in the future no matter what obstacles stand in the way.  After the birth of Joseph, Rachel believed the Lord would continue to bless her in the future.  Seeing Laban’s livestock go from a small herd to a great multitude Jacob believed the Lord would continue to bless him in the future.  God is a God of blessing.  He blesses through our diligent labours.  He blesses through the integrity of our conduct.  He blesses through our obedience to His will.  As you do your part in accordance to God’s will, the Lord will do His part according to His power and cause your plans to succeed.


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Jacob’s Start-Up
Genesis 30:22 – 36
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