Friday, October 31, 2014

a promise between thieves

But God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream by night and said to him, “Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.”
Genesis 31:24

God intervened in this broken, dysfunctional, manipulative family relationship. He helped two highly dominant deceivers make peace. Jacob is the original slick salesman. He had a nickname: deceiver. But he met his match in his father-in-law Laban. Laban used Jacob and changed the rules of the relationship beginning with a bait-and-switch wedding night, and continuing for decades. Jacob was tired of the constant insecurity of being used.

When Jacob had seen enough of this treatment, his plan was to sneak away with his family and herds under the cover of night and return to his father Isaac in Canaan. But that deceit was discovered and by the time Laban confronts Jacob, God intervenes to cool down the irate father-in-law who himself does not like being deceived!

There are several lessons to be learned from this moment. One is that God will use our own sins to get our attention. The natural course of consequence of sin is a mechanism that can draw the conscience back to God. After Jacob had spent so much time being deceived and continuing to deceive, he was ready to abandon the practice. From here forward in his story he has abandoned his constant manipulative behaviors. It took being manipulated to understand his own need for repentance.

In the end, Jacob and Laban made a promise to not treat each other this way any longer. Yes, it was an uneasy covenant between thieves, but it did reset the relationship. Jacob moved on to live back in the Promised Land with a large family. After settling these sinful differences with his father-in-law, Jacob actually begins pursuing faith duties with his own family, worshiping God in a new and better way. The reconciliation of the horizontal relationship, abandoning selfish ways of living with people, enhanced Jacob's relationship with the Lord.

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