After 20 years of life with Laban, Jacob doesn’t trust him in the slightest, so he takes his family and runs away. This is a good example of doing the right thing the wrong way (yes that is possible). Eventually Laban finds out and catches up to him. Did Jacob actually think he could run away from his problems?
But God went before Jacob and protected him by warning Laban in a dream as he shares in:
Genesis 31:29 (NKJV) “It is in my power to do you harm, but the God of your father spoke to me last night, saying, ‘Be careful that you speak to Jacob neither good nor bad.’”
Laban had the ability and was no doubt persuaded he had the right, to judge Jacob, but God commanded him to stand down…and once again we see God’s protection over the nation.
Both men were upset with each other, and both men had valid points. They eventually declared a truce, which is better than a war, but not as good as simply dwelling together in unity (Psalm 133; Ephesians 4:3).
The whole concept of stealing someone’s god has always puzzled me. We’re not sure why Rachel stole her father’s idol; apparently it was special to her, which is a huge red flag indicating something carnal and common (even in the lives of God’s chosen people), secret idols in their hearts. John the beloved warned us of this in:
1 John 5:21 (NKJV) “Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.”
God repeatedly revealed to Jacob that He was with him, even allowing him to see the angelic realm (Genesis 32:1-2) but Jacob’s fear refused to fade. Jacob’s scheming was the story of his life (his name means heel-catcher, conniver, and even deceiver). It’s hard to say you trust God when all along you’re trying to trick man. It’s not really possible to be a believer in God and a manipulator of people simultaneously. Jacob needed to change.
Warren Weirsbe said this about Jacob, “He saw the army of angels protecting him, but even that didn’t encourage his faith. One minute Jacob prayed for God’s help, and the next minute he devised some new way to appease his angry brother. He reminded God of His great promises and then acted as though God had never spoken. This is the conduct of a believer who needed to be broken before God. He prayed to be delivered from Esau, but his greatest need was to be delivered from himself.”
Don’t we all need to be delivered from ourselves? The three enemies we war against, are this fallen world, these fallen angels (the devil and his demons), and my fallen nature – and of three – the greatest enemy is me.
Lots of bullet points in this section.
If we’re faithful disciples of Christ, we will actually be like Him. The world hated Him, they will therefore hate us as well, but don’t let that strike any fear within you or stop you from preaching (Matthew 10:27).
The hostile world hates the message of salvation so it inevitably leads to persecution, but don’t be afraid! Fear only God!
Matthew 10:28 (NKJV) “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”
Matthew 10:29-31 are some of the most comforting passages in all the Bible. God is so sovereign that not a single sparrow falls to the ground apart from our Father’s will. If such is the case for every single sparrow, how much more so for us, God’s sons and daughters? God even knows the very number of our hairs. Wow! Every single one, even though there is somewhere around 100,000 of them (on average). I wonder if the Lord shared this with us because worrying causes hair loss? Don’t worry, He’s watching over you as if you were the only one to watch.
Don’t let anything stop you from being bold and obedient in your faith. Preach the Gospel. Confess Christ openly. Don’t hold back because you think that type of compromise will promote peace – that’s not the kind of pseudo peace we should be interested in. Please, don’t be obnoxious in your witness, but do speak the truth, just do it in love (Ephesians 4:15), even if it creates friction in the family (Matthew 10:35).
A healthy Christianity means there are no rival thrones in our hearts, we must love God more than anyone else; we must love God more than ourselves (which is why we take up our cross), and we must be willing to lose our lives for Christ’s sake (Matthew 10:37-39).
Jesus closes His teaching in this section with an encouragement to serve, and a reminder that even what may be perceived as the smallest and most insignificant form of service (giving a child a cup of water) is registered in heaven and will one day be rewarded (Matthew 10:42).
John the Baptist had been imprisoned, and it had been quite some time since the day he saw the Spirit descend upon Jesus. Time and trials have a way of ebbing away at our faith through the vehicle of experience. It can happen to even the best of men. John was wondering why it was taking so long for the Messiah to do His thing. Jesus’ response was simply to say that the signs of the Christ were clearly manifested and, “John you’ll be blessed if you’re not offended at My timeline.”
David asks the LORD four times, “How long?”
For David it was around 10 years.
For Joseph it was 13 years.
For Abraham it was 25 years.
For Moses it was 40 years.
Wait on the Lord, even in the most trying times.
My heart goes out to David as he writes in:
Psalm 13:2b (NKJV) “…having sorrow in my heart daily.”
Some of you are there. We all go through those seasons of life. Please – don’t stop believing, don’t stop doing the right thing, for the day will come when God will reward your long obedience – it happened to David and it will happen to us – the “how long” for all the wrong, will become a deep and meaningful song one day.
Psalm 13:6 (NKJV) I will sing to the LORD, because He has dealt bountifully with me.
Proverbs 3:16–18 (NKJV) “Length of days is in her right hand, in her left hand riches and honor. 17 Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. 18 She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, and happy are all who retain her.”
The general principal (v. 16) is that you’ll live a longer life, an honorable life, and yes, as we touched on previously in the Proverbs, if you’re a good steward of the finances, God may entrust more to you. You’ll definitely have everything you need, and you might even be blessed to bless others in that way (“riches” v. 16).
Ultimately, we see that being rich and having possessions is not a sin, it only becomes sin when those possessions possess us – when we make idols of them. It’s not money that’s evil, it’s the love of money…that can lead us astray.
1 Timothy 6:10, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”
Find wisdom, gain understanding, take hold of her, it’s there that you’ll find pleasure and peace (big things huh?) (v. 17).
Proverbs 3:18 describes wisdom as A Tree of Life! (see Genesis 2, 3; Revelation 2:7; 22:2, 14). Not a leaf or a limb, not fruit or a root, but a TREE OF LIFE! Wisdom will be a perpetual source to bless you with LIFE – and that more abundantly.
O the benefits of wisdom – not always binding precepts but beautiful principles, often leading to a long life, riches and honor, good pleasures and peace; not just the fruit of the day but a tree of life granting us happiness!
Proverbs 3:18 (NKJV) “She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, and happy are all who retain her.”
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.