Several chapters back in Genesis we read the story of the birth of Jacob and Esau. We heard God saying to Rebekah that Esau would serve Jacob, that Jacob would be the stronger and Esau would be the weaker. The reversal of the birth order would happen. This was a blessing upon Jacob that he would receive while still in the womb of his mother. What precipitated this blessing? Nothing but divine prerogative.
Then Jacob and Esau grew up and Jacob preyed on the weakness of his brother to get the birthright. Years later, Jacob lied to his father, pretended to be Esau, and managed to secure Isaac’s blessing and the conferral of the promises of Abraham to himself. And we are left thinking. Is God going to give him all these things and let him get away with all his deception and lies?
Then we see Jacob having to leave everything to leave home. A small setback because on the way God appears to him in a vision and encourages him and confirms the fact that he is the chosen one. Then he arrives and Rachel almost literally falls into his lap and he falls in love. Did God care about Jacob’s sin? Is he being rewarded for evil? Are there consequences for his sin? That’s what we find in the story today.
We look at our Western culture and we see the approval of sin that once was frowned upon. The sin was happening but it was more or less hidden. The culture decades ago, in general, said that what is happening today was immoral. And now they feel that they are throwing off the shackles of a backward and oppressive morality and are stepping into a more enlightened era. But is this true? Has culture evolved to a higher standard? No, that is foolishness.
The world has and always will be evil. The standards they live by, unless they coincide with God’s, are evil. And even living by God’s standards apart from faith in God is meaningless for it is only by faith that you can please God. Whether sin is practiced openly or in the closet, whether sin is given a month of national recognition or is still taboo to the culture matters little to the judge who sits on his throne and whose eye sees all.
Thankfully, for the child of God, he does not tread out his wrath on us, but he does discipline us as the unruly children that we are. Today we are going to see the Answer to Sin in verse 21-30 and the Blessing Amidst the Discipline in verses 31-35.
What is love? How do you define love? If you were to ask most people it would have to do with feelings. The phrase “love is love” has been offered by our culture suggesting that feelings of affection toward anyone or anything is love. All of these feelings of affection are equally valid and good. One expression of affection is indistinguishable from another. Of course, this is complete nonsense because no one actually thinks or acts according to this idea. The world’s definition of love is completely meaningless and worthless.
Love is found in the God who is love. All other loves are subservient to his love and always reference back to His love. I would argue that everyone knows this and does this even though they cover the truth with a lie. God’s love is original and exhaustive and so if any other love exists it must reflect God’s love. It is unavoidable.
In our text today, we have the beginning of a love story between Jacob and Rachel. If it is truly love then we should see much of God’s love mingled in the affections and actions of these sinful people.
As we consider the story, we will reflect on the love of God and the love of people. In verses 1-8 we will look at the providence of God in the journey of Jacob to Haran. In 9-12, we have love at first sight as Jacob meets the lovely Rachel. Finally, in 13-20, we will see Jacob’s discipline for love and how Jacob is disciplined for love.
“Those that are treacherous and deceitful in their dealings with God, and passionate and outrageous in their conduct towards men, will justly be made a derision to their neighbors, for they make themselves ridiculous.” Matthew Henry. This is a very true statement and one we must pay attention to. Now, we know that history is cyclical. It’s tempting to look at the state of our culture and nation and think that the end is near or that this is the worse it’s ever been. It might be the worse it’s been in our lifetime, but if we are careful students of history we know that things can get a whole lot worse. Some of the vile and horrific things that have occurred in the past would make our culture seem godly in comparison. It’s true. When we examine the nation of Israel at this time, we see a nation more depraved than our own. Now, do I believe our country has become more treacherous and deceitful in our dealings with God as of late? Yes, absolutely. Have we reached Israel’s level? No. We are nowhere near it. But passages like the one we have before us are a warning. They were a warning to the people of Israel and they are still a warning to us. If we continue down this path we will be made a derision to our neighbors and we will make ourselves ridiculous.
As we come to the close of 2020 we could say a lot about it. We could talk about the virus. We could talk about the election. We could talk about the riots. We could talk about economics. We could talk about race relations and gender confusion. We could talk about the exodus of people from our church and the church as a whole. A lot of topics have been forced into the public arena this year. Whether we liked it or not, we are in the conversation.
As I was thinking about all the things, I wondered if there was a common theme running behind them all. The Bible tells us that we know the schemes of the devil. So I wondered, what old scheme has he used to stir up all this trouble? Is there a common evil amid all these issues? Is there a language that is being used? There has been.If you look at the secular media and, unfortunately, many Christian sources as well, you will find one idea being peddled. It’s fear. Not the fear of God, not rational fear of danger but fear of man. It’s the fear of man. But you already knew that, right? Think about it for a moment and I think you’ll agree with me. What has been the underlying ideology that has driven most of the issues and evil today? The fear of man.
All the issues that have been brought to the forefront this year have all been driven by the fear of man. Intimidation is everywhere. Side with us, say that we are right, accept what we believe and doing is morally good or else! Say Black Lives Matter or we will punch you in the face. Wear a mask or we’ll yell at you and run you out of the store, or even arrest you. If you vote for this candidate you are the problem and will be dealt with. If you meet as a church then you are unloving and setting a bad example. If you don’t believe that there are 70+ genders and that a person can change from him to her to they whenever they choose regardless of their biology then you are hateful and phobic and you deserved to be silenced. We’ve all felt it this year. There is no wonder why domestic abuse and suicide numbers are up this year. Not only has the normal been changed but we are swimming in a flood of the fear of man. A culture can only go down this path for so long. Either it will implode or a different answer will have to come and replace the fear of man.
Proverbs 29:25 says, “The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.” Of course, Scripture has something to say about this. This is not new and the solution to the problem is older than the problem. On one side we have the fear of man on the other trusting in the Lord. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were to trust in the Lord. They walked with him and talked with him. There was trust. But that trust was destroyed by a lie and an act of rebellion and in its place came the fear of man and the sinful pair sewed fig leaves together to hide their nakedness from each other. The fear of man would be passed down through the ages but the cure to that disease has been passed on as well.