God Promises - Jacob Believes

At the end of a father's life it is customary for him to call in the eldest son and bestow on him a blessing from God. The blessing is revelation from God--a prophecy. When Isaac had grown old he had lost is eyesight and God told him to bless his sons (Genesis 27). Isaac told Esau to prepare for him some venison for Isaac to eat and then he would give him the blessing. Well, Rebekah overheard them and decided to step in and help out. It is possible that Isaac didn't know that Esau sold his birthright to Jacob but Rebekah did. However, God still knows what is going on. Rebekah prepares the meal and disguises Jacob to resemble his hairy brother Esau and sends him in to Isaac. God knows who is standing there when Isaac delivers the blessing.

Genesis 27:22 And Jacob went near unto Isaac his father;
    and he felt him, and said,
    The voice is Jacob's voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau.
:23 And he discerned him not,
        because his hands were hairy,
        as his brother Esau's hands:
    so he blessed him.
:24 And he said, Art thou my very son Esau?
    And he said, I am.
:25 And he said,
    Bring it near to me,
    and I will eat of my son's venison,
    that my soul may bless thee.
    And he brought it near to him,
    and he did eat:
    and he brought him wine,
    and he drank.
:26 And his father Isaac said unto him,
    Come near now, and kiss me, my son.
:27 And he came near, and kissed him:
    and he smelled the smell of his raiment,
    and blessed him, and said,
    See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field which the Lord hath blessed:
:28 Therefore God give thee of the dew of heaven,
    and the fatness of the earth,
    and plenty of corn and wine:
:29 Let people serve thee,
    and nations bow down to thee:
    be Lord over thy brethren,
    and let thy mother's sons bow down to thee:
    cursed be every one that curseth thee,
    and blessed be he that blesseth thee.

The blessing is revelation from God. God knew who was standing there to be blessed. We will see later that Jacob listened to God and God talked with Jacob. And remember, Esau despised his birthright, he had little interest in the things of God.

When Isaac and Esau had discovered what had been done they were very distraught. Isaac trembled with a great trembling greatly (according to the emphasis on the words in vs. 27:33). Esau cried with a great and exceeding bitter cry and sought a blessing also. Isaac's recognized that God had given Jacob that blessing and that it stood. God's Word says that Esau hated Jacob to the point that he wanted to kill him (vs. 27:41). When Rebekah heard it she told Jacob to go to her father's house, Laban in Padanaram (back up north).

God did prosper Jacob greatly and continued to edify him with the promises that he made to Abraham and Isaac.

Genesis 28:1 And Isaac called Jacob,
        and blessed him,
        and charged him,
        and said unto him,
    Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan.
:2 Arise, go to Padanaram,
    to the house of Bethuel thy mother's father;
    and take thee a wife from thence of the daughters of Laban thy mother's brother.
:3 And God Almighty bless thee,
    and make thee fruitful,
    and multiply thee,
    that thou mayest be a multitude of people;
:4 And give thee the blessing of Abraham,
    to thee,
    and to thy seed with thee;
    that thou mayest inherit the land wherein thou art a stranger,
    which God gave unto Abraham.
:5 And Isaac sent away Jacob:
    and he went to Padanaram unto Laban,
    son of Bethuel the Syrian,
    the brother of Rebekah,
    Jacob's and Esau's mother.

The blessing of Abraham and Isaac now falls to Jacob. Jacob is the one who carries the seed of the Christline. So far we have only seen Isaac speaking the promises of God to Jacob. God is going to make things personal now:

Genesis 28:10 And Jacob went out from Beersheba,
    and went toward Haran. [which is a city in the area called Padanaram up north]
:11 And he lighted upon a certain place,
    and tarried there all night, because the sun was set;
    and he took of the stones of that place,
    and put them for his pillows,
    and lay down in that place to sleep.
:12 And he dreamed,
    and behold a ladder set up on the earth,
    and the top of it reached to heaven:
    and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.
:13 And, behold, the Lord stood above it, and said,
    I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father,
    and the God of Isaac:
        the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it,
        and to thy seed;
:14 And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth,
    and thou shalt spread abroad to the west,
    and to the east,
    and to the north,
    and to the south:
    and in thee
    and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.
:15 And, behold, I am with thee,
    and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest,
    and will bring thee again into this land;
        for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.
:16 And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said,
    Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not.
:17 And he was afraid, and said,
    How dreadful is this place! 
        [afraid and dreadful; same Hebrew word yare?- morally to revere]
    this is none other but the house of God,
    and this is the gate of heaven.
:18 And Jacob rose up early in the morning,
    and took the stone that he had put for his pillows,
    and set it up for a pillar,
    and poured oil upon the top of it.
:19 And he called the name of that place Bethel:
    but the name of that city was called Luz at the first.
:20 And Jacob vowed a vow, saying,
    If God will be with me,
        and will keep me in this way that I go,
        and will give me bread to eat,
        and raiment to put on,
:21 So that I come again to my father's house in peace;
    then shall the Lord be my God:

Jacob has already been told that he will have 'a multitude of people'-now his 'seed shall be as the dust of the earth and thou shalt spread abroad?' This must be a comfort to Jacob-he is important to God. God also promises to help him return to his father's house. Think about, Beersheba, where he is from, is about 500 miles away from Haran. This is a very long trek. We can cover it in a day in our cars, a few hours in a plane but he was riding a camel most likely. The Word doesn't say that he took servants with him but it would be unusual if he went alone. Nevertheless the average distance covered in a day was only 20 miles. The journey was probably not a stroll in the park either. He would have faced wild animals and marauders. So, to hear that God will make sure he returns is a great boost.

Jacob ends up finding Laban's household and falling in love with the younger daughter Rachel. He pledges seven years of work for Rachel which seemed to him but a few days. When his time was up Laban sent Leah the older daughter into the wedding tent and deceived Jacob. Jacob still wanted Rachel and agreed to serve him another seven years. God prospers Jacob and he ends up with 12 sons and at least one daughter. Following is the list of sons, the meaning of their names and who the mother was. (Genesis 28-30)

Name Meaning of Name Mother
Rueben  Behold a Son Leah
Simeon  Hearing (God heard she was hated) Leah
Levi  Joined (now Jacob will be joined with Leah) Leah
Judah  Praise (now Leah will Praise the Lord) Leah
Dan   Judged Me (God has judged Rachel) Bilhah, Rachel's handmaid
Naphtali  My wrestling (Rachel has wrestled with her sister) Bilhah, Rachel's handmaid
Gad  A troop or Company (Leah said a troop comes) Zilpah, Leah's handmaid
Asher  Happiness (Leah is happy, she be called blessed) Zilpah, Leah's handmaid
Isachar  To Hire (Rachel hired Jacob to lie with Leah) Leah
Zebulun  To Dwell (Now will my husband dwell with me) Leah
Joseph Adding (Lord has added to Rachel another son) Rachel (other sons were hers by Bilhah)

First 11 sons born to Jacob while he is in Haran, next son born to him after they lived in Canaan

Benjamin  Son of my right Hand (Jacob named him ) Rachel
  Rachel called him Benoni - Son of my Sorrow because she died giving birth

This is quite a family that Jacob has now. He is working on the multitude alright. Jacob now feels the need to return home (Genesis 30:25). All the time that Jacob has been working for Laban God has given them abundance. Laban said himself that he had little when Jacob came and now there was much. By all rights the prosperity belongs to Laban and Jacob cannot leave with just his family, they would starve. So Laban convinces Jacob to stay and earn enough sheep to support his (large) family. Jacob agrees and puts forth that he will separate the speckled, spotted and ringstraked cattle (sheep) for himself and leave the solid colored ones for Laban. It must have looked like a good deal to Laban in the beginning for he agreed. So Jacob took his flock and went three days journey away from Laban's flocks. God continues to prosper Jacob and his sheep multiply where Laban's were not as prosperous. Laban must not be doing something right before God otherwise God would have prospered him also.

After Jacob had served Laban another 6 years* God told him to go home to Canaan (Genesis 31:3 - 13). By this time Laban's sons are complaining about Jacob's abundance and accusing Jacob of stealing from their father. Laban is also starting to have misgivings. So Jacob and his family leave without letting anyone know.

In Genesis 31 we are told why Laban did not prosper and why Rachel didn't have but only one son.

Genesis 31:
19 And Laban went to shear his sheep:
and Rachel had stolen the images that were her father's.

Rachel had taken the idols that her and her father worshipped. Laban had also not kept his word with Jacob, he had been deceitful in his dealings.

After Laban finds out that Jacob and his daughters and grandchildren are gone he pursues and catches up with them seven days later. There trail was probably easy to spot and they couldn't go very fast because they were driving sheep. Laban could travel more swiftly. During Laban's pursuit God spoke to him in a dream:

Genesis 31:24 And God came to Laban the Syrian in a dream by night,
and said unto him,
Take heed that thou speak not to Jacob either good or bad. [Hebrew: from good to bad]

So when Laban finally catches up with Jacob he does him no harm. He just accuses him of stealing his idols and searches all of Jacob's stuff for anything that belongs to him. However Rachel has hidden the idols in the camel's furniture and was sitting on it saying she couldn't move because 'the custom of women was upon her' (Genesis 31:34-35). So they make a covenant and set up a pillar swearing that neither of them will cross into each other's land to do harm.

Jacob is now freed from the servitude to Laban. God has taken care of him as He said He would. He is also returning to his father's house just as God had promised. God's promises didn't come to pass in a few days. This is learning for us, unless God specifically states the time frame we do not know. So when we are told things by God and we read the promises in His Word, it is always up to God and His perfect timing to bring His Word to pass. We, with patience, wait, continue to pray, give praise and trust in Him-- believe like Jacob .


* Genesis 31:41 Thus have I been twenty years in thy house; I served thee fourteen years for thy two daughters, and six years for thy cattle: and thou hast changed my wages ten times.