Up to this point Jacob has had four children through Leah, and Rachel is fuming. Jacob was right, not in his anger, but in his theology, his anthropology – God alone is the giver of life.
As a quick side-note, polygamy was practiced back in these days and culture, but from the beginning, it was never God’s intention.
Again, it’s difficult for us to fathom, but Rachel gives her maidservant to Jacob in order that she might have children on her behalf, and sure enough, Bilhah gives birth to Dan and Naphtali. I’m fascinated by the meaning of each of the names of the sons of Jacob, and what a story this is, but underneath it all, I can’t help but see God’s pure grace covering such a dysfunctional family.
Finally, Rachel gives birth to Joseph. The Bible says, “God remembered Rachel, and listened to her.” (Genesis 30:22). Not that God ever forgets us, it’s simply that He answers our prayers according to His perfect will and timing. It may “seem” like He forgets us during our difficult days, but He never, ever does (Isaiah 49:15). May that encourage you today.
The Bible says in:
Romans 8:31 (NKJV) “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”
Laban, Lucifer, and maybe even the circumstances of life were against Jacob, but since God was for Him, God was working out His plan for Jacob and his family; it was evident that the LORD was blessing through Jacob (Genesis 30:27), so Laban asked Jacob to stay with him…and he did, all together it totaled twenty years.
Some say there was a science to the multiplication of Jacob’s flock, but most say there’s no explainable science behind it – it’s just the Lord who chose to bless Jacob and multiply his livestock.
Fallen human nature tends to envy when others get blessed and such was the case with Laban and his sons. Circumstances were beginning to dictate that it was time for Jacob to go back to the land of promise, and then the LORD clearly confirmed it:
Genesis 31:3 (NKJV) “Then the LORD said to Jacob, ‘Return to the land of your fathers and to your family, and I will be with you.’”
It helps even more in discerning the will of God, when our wife is in complete agreement, and I love their response in:
Genesis 31:16b (NKJV) “…now then, whatever God has said to you, do it.”
A word to us all!
In Matthew 10 Jesus calls His Twelve Apostles by name, gives them power, and sends them out; but before they go, He teaches them (and us) many things about this type of ministry.
We don’t simply go anywhere, or to anyone, we only go where Jesus sends us. The Apostles were sent first to the lost sheep of the House of Israel. This was God’s order (Romans 1:16) for many reasons. Jesus wanted to identify with Judaism because He was the coming Messiah they should have been looking for – the whole world needed to know that. This was not some new religion, this was rooted in the monotheistic beliefs of Abraham and Moses. The Jews held to the Scriptures and under the old covenant, they should have been in right relationship with God, ready for the Gospel, so Jesus sent the guys to them first.
Jesus taught His Apostles to trust God for provision and to be aware of the fact that in all reality, they were sheep among wolves, so they would always need the Shepherd, His wisdom, and a heart to be as harmless as a dove, which speaks of being holy, blameless, and innocent.
In verses 11-15 we get a glimpse of the hospitality they would need as they traveled from village to village. They weren’t to jump from one place to another (searching for better accommodations). Imagine having an Apostle stay at your house! Those who receive their message receive peace, but those who don’t, receive a clear and heavy warning:
Matthew 10:15 (NKJV) “Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!”
Jesus warned of coming persecutions from authorities and even division among families. Jesus told them in advance because He didn’t want them (or us) to lose heart when we experience these things. May we never split or quit – that’s the only way we lose, “…he who endures to the end will be saved.” (22b)
In v. 23 we have another example of how God’s Word can speak of different ages in a single sentence. Warren Wiersbe comments, “Some of these instructions applied mainly to the Apostles (vv. 5–15) and some to those serving just before the Lord’s return (vv. 16–23). However, spiritual principles are here for all God’s servants.”
It was true then and it’s true now, the godly man and faithful person are rare commodities in this fallen world (Psalm 12:1). It makes me want to be faithful that much more.
This Psalm highlights the way people use their tongues as weapons against us. Ranging from trash talk behind our backs, to manipulative flattery in our face. They say their tongues are their own, that they can say whatever they want (Psalm 12:4) and they do, shooting from the hip of hardened hearts…but one day they will give an account for every idle word (Matthew 12:36).
Contrast man’s wicked word to God’s pure and perfect Word:
Psalm 12:6 (NKJV) “The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.”
God promises to keep, preserve, and protect His people, you can trust His Word on that! (Isaiah 54:17)
Proverbs 3:13–15 (NKJV) “Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding; 14 For her proceeds are better than the profits of silver, and her gain than fine gold. 15 She is more precious than rubies, and all the things you may desire cannot compare with her.”
The declaration – then the explanation.
If we find wisdom, we’ll find happiness; if we gain understanding, we’ll gain happiness.
That’s pretty important isn’t it? If you were to ask people that question, “What do you want most out of life?” I’m pretty sure most people would have happiness near the top of the list.
The founding fathers of this great nation even acknowledged this as a God-given right.
As we read in the Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
So that’s a given – we all want that – and I think that’s okay.
When I think of happiness, I think of smiling, I think of laughing, but primarily, I think of loving. It doesn’t necessarily mean that everything goes my way, but there’s a smile in the soul – even though life gets low, ‘cuz I know, God has a plan – even in the pain.
It doesn’t mean it’s easy, happiness has a way of eluding us. A recent poll revealed that only 33% of Americans are happy with their lives.
Of course we know the reason people don’t find happiness is because they’re looking for it in the wrong places.
Verses 14 and 15 are the most common perceptions of where happiness can be found, in profits of silver and gold and money and the things that money can buy; rubies were considered the most valuable commodity in the Jewish community. But wisdom, which brings happiness is more precious than profits – it’s not even comparable. What do you want? I want a faster bigger computer – I want a cooler car – I want clothes that are tailored. Have you seen some of those houses in Bel-Air. Don’t even look on YouTube – it’s crazy.
The formula for happiness is simple, learn God’s Word, and live it out, day by day, and moment by moment. This is wisdom, the application of God’s Biblical knowledge. Wisdom is better than winning the lottery, than having all the gold, silver, or rubies (of highest value in Jewish eyes) in the world – listen to what he says:
Proverbs 3:15 (NKJV) “…and all the things you may desire cannot compare with her.”
Wow! That statement stops me in my tracks, it rocks me in a world of endless materialism…help us Lord.
If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.