Friday, July 18, 2014

Friday, July 18th

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 2 Chronicles 25-26, Psalm 122, 1 Corinthians 10
Today's scripture focus is Genesis 30:25-31:16

Genesis 30:25-31:16English Standard Version (ESV)

Jacob's Prosperity

25 As soon as Rachel had borne Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, “Send me away, that I may go to my own home and country. 26 Give me my wives and my children for whom I have served you, that I may go, for you know the service that I have given you.” 27 But Laban said to him, “If I have found favor in your sight, I have learned by divination that the Lord has blessed me because of you. 28 Name your wages, and I will give it.” 29 Jacob said to him, “You yourself know how I have served you, and how your livestock has fared with me. 30 For you had little before I came, and it has increased abundantly, and the Lord has blessed you wherever I turned. But now when shall I provide for my own household also?” 31 He said, “What shall I give you?” Jacob said, “You shall not give me anything. If you will do this for me, I will again pasture your flock and keep it: 32 let me pass through all your flock today, removing from it every speckled and spotted sheep and every black lamb, and the spotted and speckled among the goats, and they shall be my wages. 33 So my honesty will answer for me later, when you come to look into my wages with you. Every one that is not speckled and spotted among the goats and black among the lambs, if found with me, shall be counted stolen.” 34 Laban said, “Good! Let it be as you have said.” 35 But that day Laban removed the male goats that were striped and spotted, and all the female goats that were speckled and spotted, every one that had white on it, and every lamb that was black, and put them in the charge of his sons. 36 And he set a distance of three days' journey between himself and Jacob, and Jacob pastured the rest of Laban's flock.
37 Then Jacob took fresh sticks of poplar and almond and plane trees, and peeled white streaks in them, exposing the white of the sticks. 38 He set the sticks that he had peeled in front of the flocks in the troughs, that is, the watering places, where the flocks came to drink. And since they bred when they came to drink, 39 the flocks bred in front of the sticks and so the flocks brought forth striped, speckled, and spotted. 40 And Jacob separated the lambs and set the faces of the flocks toward the striped and all the black in the flock of Laban. He put his own droves apart and did not put them with Laban's flock. 41 Whenever the stronger of the flock were breeding, Jacob would lay the sticks in the troughs before the eyes of the flock, that they might breed among the sticks, 42 but for the feebler of the flock he would not lay them there. So the feebler would be Laban's, and the stronger Jacob's.43 Thus the man increased greatly and had large flocks, female servants and male servants, and camels and donkeys.

Jacob Flees from Laban

31 Now Jacob heard that the sons of Laban were saying, “Jacob has taken all that was our father's, and from what was our father's he has gained all this wealth.” And Jacob saw that Laban did not regard him with favor as before. Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your fathers and to your kindred, and I will be with you.”
So Jacob sent and called Rachel and Leah into the field where his flock was and said to them, “I see that your father does not regard me with favor as he did before. But the God of my father has been with me. You know that I have served your father with all my strength, yet your father has cheated me and changed my wages ten times. But God did not permit him to harm me. If he said, ‘The spotted shall be your wages,’ then all the flock bore spotted; and if he said, ‘The striped shall be your wages,’ then all the flock bore striped. Thus God has taken away the livestock of your father and given them to me. 10 In the breeding season of the flock I lifted up my eyes and saw in a dream that the goats that mated with the flock were striped, spotted, and mottled. 11 Then the angel of God said to me in the dream, ‘Jacob,’ and I said, ‘Here I am!’ 12 And he said, ‘Lift up your eyes and see, all the goats that mate with the flock are striped, spotted, and mottled, for I have seen all that Laban is doing to you. 13 I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and made a vow to me. Now arise, go out from this land and return to the land of your kindred.’” 14 Then Rachel and Leah answered and said to him, “Is there any portion or inheritance left to us in our father's house? 15 Are we not regarded by him as foreigners? For he has sold us, and he has indeed devoured our money. 16 All the wealth that God has taken away from our father belongs to us and to our children. Now then, whatever God has said to you, do.”
Accompanying Bob Deffinbaugh sermon: Jacob Gets Laban's Goat

In our passage today we see God blessing Jacob in spite of his scheming, not because of it.

The 14 years of working for Laban as a dowry for his two wives is now over, and Laban wants to renegotiate the terms of their deal so that Jacob will continue to work for him.  There is no love lost between these two men that's for sure.  It seems that at this point Laban had had sons of his own, and no longer considered Jacob his heir.  They strike a deal that both feel will benefit themselves.

However, Jacob is blessed by God simply due to grace, not Jacob's efforts.


God had not commended him for his attempts to manipulate matters against Laban to his own advantage. In fact, the prosperity which he experienced had nothing to do with his fervent efforts. All of his poles and peeling and segregating were of no profit whatever. A careful look at the words describing the dream will make this clear. Notice how God drew Jacob’s attention to the fact that the males that were mating were striped, speckled, and mottled (verse 10, 12).

Previously we asserted that all of Jacob’s efforts were based upon a faulty premise—that a visual impression during conception would influence the animal born. In the vision which Jacob had from God there were no peeled poles, no segregated flocks, but only male goats mating that were striped, speckled, and mottled. Now what lesson was God getting across to Jacob, or at least to us?

What determined the offspring of the flocks was not the circumstances (visual impressions) at conception but the characteristics of the male that mated with the female goats. Jacob’s attention was drawn to the fact that all the male goats which were mating were striped, speckled, and mottled. To put it another way, only the striped, speckled, and mottled males were mating, none of the rest.

Now this we know to be a very significant factor in determining the characteristics of the offspring. “Like father, like son,” we say. While Jacob operated upon an entirely false premise, God was working on a premise that is scientifically proven. How was it that only the striped, speckled, and mottled males were mating? Simple. God appointed it to be so in order that Laban’s wealth would be passed on to Jacob.

Think of it. All of Jacob’s efforts were of no benefit. All that time peeling poles and separating flocks and striving to outdo Laban was all for naught. What seemed at the moment to be the work of Jacob’s hands and the outcome of his schemes was nothing of the sort. It was the hand of God in spite of his scheming, not because of it.

Self effort is useless to us when it comes to salvation.

Countless men and women are trying to work their way into God’s heaven by their own devices. Some of these would include church membership, baptism, confirmation, communion, church leadership, charity, and so on. Now all of these activities may have great value to the one who is already a Christian, but they are useless to the one who is trying to win God’s approval and blessing by doing them. The appearance of benefit may be there but not the reality of it. People may think we are Christians. They may commend our devotion to duty. But self-effort is mere pole-peeling so far as God is concerned.

The only way to enter God’s heaven is to recognize that we are undeserving of it. We must come to distrust anything we are or do to merit the favor and blessing of God. The work of salvation is God’s sovereign work. It has been accomplished by His Son, Jesus Christ. He bore the penalty for our sins. He provided the righteousness which God requires. Salvation comes when we trust in nothing more and nothing less than the sufficiency of Jesus Christ for our eternal blessings.

I think people often confuse fruit with success.  I have often heard people justify immoral activity by using their success as proof - after all, God would not bless them for immorality, and the Bible itself says that we will be known by our fruits.  But fruit does not equal success.  When the Bible talks about fruit it is talking about spiritual fruit, not worldly success.  Just because a ministry is growing in numbers, does not been it is Bible based.  Just because a church is growing doesn't mean it's pastor isn't a false teacher.  We are to judge based on spiritual fruit.  And to remember that material or worldly success does not imply God's blessing.

We also need to remember that our job is not to out con a con.  We are to work diligently with integrity, even when we have an unethical boss, and leave the results to God.

We are called to live by trusting in the grace of God, not self-effort.
We are called to live by faith, doing good works out of thankfulness to God for His grace, and to bring glory and honour to Him, not us.
We are called to live counter-culturally.

Monday's scripture focus: Genesis 31:17-55
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: 2 Chronicles 27-28
Sunday's passage: 2 Chronicles 29-30
Monday's passage: 2 Chronicles 31-32, Psalm 123, 1 Corinthians 11

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