The Cloud of Witnesses
Former title Lessons From the People of the Bible
Lesson 4: Jacob – Encounters Laban
All good relationships require trust, love, forgiveness and working at!
Jacob became extremely rich whilst working for Laban. First of all, he gained two wives and their maidservants, then he acquired vast flocks, herds, camels, donkeys and servants. As time went by, the inevitable happened - Jacob’s servants started arguing with Laban’s servants and jealousy and envy ensued. And Jacob, rather than seeking to ‘deal with the issue’, decided to secretly leave the area and return to his homeland without even saying “Good-bye”.
However, ‘issues’ rarely disappear or ‘go away’, do they? I think it could be because God doesn’t like deceit or ‘unfinished’ business. Rather, He is into reconciliation and wholeness, peace and love.
Laban chased after and caught up with Jacob and ‘laid into him’ on the pretence of Jacob having stolen something from him. (Actually, Rachel did, but that’s another story!)
The outcome was that Laban thoroughly searched the whole of Jacob’s ‘caravan’ and came up empty. Once Jacob’s innocence was re-established, both Laban and Jacob entered into a Covenant. Basically, Jacob agreed not to take any other wives and both of them agreed to a ‘pact of peace’. Interestingly enough, they invoked God into the agreement, making it an everlasting covenant of peace.
Reconciliation, forgiveness and trust were restored, sacrifices made and peace established. What a magnificent outcome! That’s just what God wants in each of our lives. He longs for an open and vibrant relationship between Himself and us. That is why He sent Jesus to die for us. To restore us to that place of peace and intimacy.
On the Cross, however, Jesus not only made a way to restore the upright relationship with God, He also made a way to restore our relationships with one another – the horizontal relationships.
Yes, God wants us totally reconciled to Him AND to one another. It can only happen by way of the Cross. It can and does only happen that way - we just need to recognise how much we have been forgiven. Then we can ‘give’ back some of that forgiveness to others. It’s the only way to peace!
Jacob would say to us today...
Families can be the hardest folk to love and maintain good relationships with but it is worth putting in the hard yards to remain in peace and live with respect for one another. Don’t ‘leave’ under a cloud!
Father, please help me to show the love I ought to all the members of my family and to the local ‘Family of God’ to which You have introduced me and of which I am a part. Help me to constantly seek their good and to make sure our lines of communication are clear, respectful, open and fully operational. Amen.
Psalm 133; Romans 12:3-21; 1 Corinthians 13.
Why are the relationships with our families the hardest and most vulnerable?
What are the ways we can nurture them?
What are the ways we can ‘harm’ them?