“Then Jacob went on his journey, and came into the land of the people of the east” (Gen. 29:1).
Grace forgave Jacob and confirmed to him the promises. We will find in this scenario that even though Jacob has had a great revelation from the Lord, still, spiritually speaking, he has yet a ways to go.
Self is the culprit; no one can really enjoy God until he gets to the bottom of self.
This journey, even as we shall see, was to last for some 20 years. In it, Jacob would learn much but would still need another revelation before the total change would come. More than anything else, these 20 years were to make him see the need for change.
God will not really begin to reveal Himself until the end of the flesh is seen. If, therefore, I have not reached the end of my flesh in the deep and positive experience of my soul, it is morally impossible that I can have anything like a just apprehension of God’s character. Regrettably, it takes a long time to come to the end of self-will.
This is what this journey is all about!
We will find in the coming scenario that the problem of deception is still with Jacob, and an old sin is an easy sin!
Jacob was now in Mesopotamia, about 450 miles from Beer-sheba.
“And he looked, and behold a well in the field, and, lo, there were three flocks of sheep lying by it; for out of that well they watered the flocks: and a great stone was upon the well’s mouth” (Gen. 29:2).
As we shall see, it is obvious that this well could only be used at fixed times. A great stone covered its mouth, which probably required two or three men to remove it.
From the way the scenario unfolds, more than likely, Laban, the father of Rachel, owned this well because immediately upon her arrival with the sheep, the stone was rolled away. Her sheep were watered first while the rest had to bide their time until her sheep were watered though they had been there long before her.
Considering the value of wells of that particular time, this is probably the truth of the matter.
Jacob comes upon this well and sees sheep and shepherds gathered by it. They are evidently waiting for the stone to be rolled away so their sheep can be watered.
“And there were all the flocks gathered: and they rolled the stone from the well’s mouth, and watered the sheep, and put the stone again upon the well’s mouth in his place” (Gen. 29:3).
This verse plainly tells us how the sheep were watered at this particular well. As stated, it probably belonged to Laban and was only opened at certain times.
Jacob is now coming to the end of his journey, but yet, spiritually speaking, it is a journey that will continue.
To be brought to the place where the Lord desires that we be is not done quickly or easily. As it regards the child of God, every action plays a part in the sanctification process. Wells with their water always presented a place of refreshment, especially in a climate such as that in which Jacob now found himself. Thank God the Lord always has a well at the desired place.
“And Jacob said unto them, My brethren, where do you live? And they said, Of Haran are we” (Gen. 29:4).
In those days, signs were not on every corner giving directions. As well, one did not ask just anyone concerning distances or directions. Robbers were lying in wait for those who were lost or disoriented.
So, when Jacob asked these shepherds where they were from, with their reply being, “Haran,” which was actually his destination, he knew he was close. This, no doubt, reminded him of God’s promise to guide him on his journey.
For the Lord to be with one - to guide, to lead, to give direction, and to help in that which at first seems to be but small things, but which quickly leads to large things - is the greatest blessing that one could ever know. This which the Lord promised to do for Jacob, as wonderful as it was, is available to all believers, irrespective as to whom they might be. Paul quotes the Master when He said: “I will never leave you, nor forsake you."
“So that we may boldly say, the Lord is my Helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me” (Heb. 13:5-6).
However, such relationship is not automatic with the believer. The believer must actively want and desire such relationship and must ask the Lord to provide such. It is a prayer that the Lord will definitely answer. However, He will not push His way in but, most of the time, is waiting for the initiative to be taken by the believer.
“And he said unto them, Do you know Laban the son of Nahor? And they said, We know him” (Gen. 29:5).
Laban, it is remembered, is Rebekah’s brother. He is the one who primarily dealt with Eliezer, the servant of Abraham, who had come to find a bride for Isaac, which took place approximately 80 to 90 years before (Gen., Chpt. 24). This would mean that Laban was over 100 years of age, which was not uncommon in those days.
The language spoken then by the shepherds was probably Chaldean. Jacob, who spoke Hebrew, was evidently able to converse with them either because he had learned Chaldean from his mother or, as is more probable, because the dialects were not then greatly dissimilar.
He called Laban the son of Nahor though he was actually the grandson. In both Hebrew and Aramaic, there is no separate word for grandson. “Son” means any descendant down the line.
“And he said unto them, Is he well? And they said, He is well: and, behold, Rachel his daughter comes with the sheep” (Gen. 29:6).
This is the first mention of Rachel in the Bible. She will figure very prominently in the great plan of God, being the mother of Joseph and Benjamin. She was the ancestress of three of the great tribes of Israel - Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh - the latter two being the sons of Joseph. She and her sister Leah were honored by later generations as those “who together built up the house of Israel” (Ruth 4:11).
The evidence is that Laban was not so well-to-do financially. His daughter was serving as a shepherdess. She was evidently raised to do her part in the family and, thereby, was taught responsibility and industry. From such, the Lord drew the mothers of Israel.
In all of this we see the hand of the Lord working, which is a pleasure to behold. Jacob, who must have a wife in order for the great plan of God to be brought forth, is led to this particular well even at the exact time that Rachel appears. What a mighty God we serve!
“And he said, Lo, it is yet high day, neither is it time that the cattle should be gathered together: water the sheep, and go and feed them.
“And they said, We cannot, until all the flocks be gathered together, and till they roll the stone from the well’s mouth; then we water the sheep” (Gen. 28:21).
Knowing that the shepherds have brought the sheep for water, Jacob wonders as to why they are not attending to the task but seemingly waiting.
More than likely, as stated, the reason was that Laban owned the well, and the flocks could not be watered until Rachel had watered her flock.
Wells in those days were very valuable, especially in the places of hot, dry climates, which this was. So, a system for watering undoubtedly was worked out with the various different flocks in the area.
The stone at the well’s mouth, which is so often mentioned here, was to secure the water; for water was scarce - it was not there for everyone’s use.
RACHEL, THE SHEPHERDESS
“And while he yet spoke with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep: for she kept them” (Gen. 29:9).
We readily see the hand of the Lord working in this situation regarding the meeting of Jacob with Rachel. I think the Holy Spirit immediately informed Jacob that this young lady was to be his wife. However, as we shall see, Jacob’s way was fraught with difficulty.
At this point, Laban had no sons, although later, he would have. As the younger daughter, Rachel was assigned to the task of keeping the sheep, which she did. How old Rachel was at this time, we have no way of knowing; however, she was probably in her late teens.
LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT
“And it came to pass, when Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother’s brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother’s brother, that Jacob went near, and rolled the stone from the well’s mouth, and watered the flock of Laban his mother’s brother” (Gen. 29:10).
Three times the Holy Spirit has Moses to repeat the term, “His mother’s brother.” It is not done unintentionally. The idea is, Jacob has met with his own relations, with “his bone and his flesh.”
This is some proof that Laban owned this well in that Rachel waters her sheep first, or at least Jacob waters them for her.
It is highly unlikely that Jacob would have acted here as he did had he not learned from Rachel, or possibly the waiting shepherds, that the well belonged to Laban and that no sheep were to be watered until Rachel had first watered hers.
The Scripture says, “When Jacob saw Rachel.” Every evidence is that it was love at first sight.
RACHEL AND THE SPIRIT OF GOD
“And Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice, and wept” (Gen. 29:11).
The patriarch is overcome with emotion, and I think mostly at the joy of seeing the hand of God working in his life. Truly, the Lord was with him. While he was very happy to have met his relatives, which means that his long journey was now over, I think the greatest joy of all was that of a spiritual note. As well, he may have known at that very moment, and informed by the Spirit of God that Rachel would be his wife. He, of course, would not have told her that then, but more than likely, the Spirit of the Lord definitely informed him of such, at least at some point.
“And Jacob told Rachel that he was her father’s brother, and that he was Rebekah’s son: and she ran and told her father” (Gen. 29:12).
Jacob was actually the nephew of Laban. Terms of relationship were used in a very indefinite way among the Hebrews.
We will find that Jacob’s love for Rachel is one of the Bible’s outstanding examples of human love - seven years “seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her” (Gen. 29:20).
When she told her father Laban about Jacob, I wonder if he did not recall when his sister Rebekah, those many years before, had come to him when Eliezer had come on behalf of Abraham as it regarded a bride for Isaac?
LABAN AND JACOB
“And it came to pass, when Laban heard the tidings of Jacob his sister’s son, that he ran to meet him, and embraced him, and kissed him, and brought him to his house. And he told Laban all these things” (Gen. 29:13).
Laban now did almost exactly what he had done those many years before when he was told by Rebekah of Eliezer. As he ran then to meet Abraham’s servant, he now runs to meet Jacob.
The patriarch now relates to Laban all the things which had happened between him and Esau. No doubt, he especially gave all the information which Laban required about his mother Rebekah, who was Laban’s sister.
Laban would have been well over 100 years of age at this time.
“And Laban said to him, Surely you are my bone and my flesh. And he abode with him the space of a month” (Gen. 29:14).
Jacob is now about to begin to reap the bitter fruit of his sin. At the outset, he is deceived exactly as he deceived his father, and was deeply wounded in the deepest affections of his heart.
It is a popular mistake to suppose that Jacob did not marry Rachel till the end of the seven years, or even the second seven years. Every evidence is, however, that he took her immediately for his wife, serving the term after the wedding.
After Jacob related everything to Laban, the uncle admitted that Jacob was indeed who he had said he was, for the simple reason that no one else would have had the knowledge of so many details.
Jacob abiding with Laban for the space of a month means that he lived with Laban for this particular period of time, and then went out and obtained his own place after that.
“And Laban said unto Jacob, Because you are my brother, should you therefore serve me for nought? tell me, what shall your wages be?” (Gen. 29:15).
Jacob, the dealer, meets now with Laban, the dealer, and they both are seen, as it were, straining every nerve to outwit each other.
Evidently, during the month that Jacob spent in the house of Laban, he applied himself to serve his uncle even as he had begun when he watered his flock. So, Laban wanted to strike up a bargain with him that Jacob might be in his employ.
Due to the manner in which Jacob had to leave his home, he was destitute of money of any nature and so was at the mercy of Laban to a great degree.
“And Laban had two daughters: the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel."
“Leah was tender eyed; but Rachel was beautiful and well favoured."
“And Jacob loved Rachel; and said, I will serve you seven years for Rachel your younger daughter."
“And Laban said, It is better that I give her to you, than that I should give her to another man: abide with me."
“And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed to him but a few days, for the love he had to her” (Gen. 29:16-20).
Would the deception that Laban was now planning to carry out on Jacob have been carried out if, in fact, Jacob had not tried to practice deception on his father Isaac?
I think not! The Scripture emphatically states that we reap what we sow (Gal. 6:7-8). Even though the passage in Galatians is speaking of sowing to the flesh or sowing to the Spirit, still, the principle is the same.
SOWING TO THE FLESH
In its most simplistic form, this refers to trying to live this Christian life by means other than faith in Christ and what Christ has done for us at the Cross.
Even though believers were not referred to as Christians during Jacob’s time, the principle was the same. Jacob all too often was trying to follow the Lord by the means of self-will instead of trust in the Lord.
However, we have far less excuse today than did Jacob. The Cross through which everything comes to the believer from the Lord is now historical. In other words, it’s a fact. The Cross with Jacob was prophetic, meaning that it was yet in the future. Still, as we receive everything presently from the Lord by looking back to the Cross, in Old Testament times, everything was received from the Lord by looking forward to that coming time of the Cross. In fact, the sacrifices of old represented Christ and His Cross. Faith in those sacrifices per se would have done little good; however, faith in who and what they represented was the secret of all victory and power.
Let’s say it another way: Any effort made other than faith in Christ and the Cross is sowing to the flesh, which means that such will never bring forth the desired result.
SOWING TO THE SPIRIT
Sowing to the Spirit refers to the Holy Spirit, and refers to placing our faith and confidence totally and completely in Christ and the Cross through which the Holy Spirit works (Rom. 8:1-11).
Many Christians have the idea that sowing to the Spirit refers to doing spiritual things. It really doesn’t! While those things we do might be good, helpful, instructive, and informative; still, our walk with God is not so much in what we do, but rather what we believe (Jn. 3:16).
As we look at Jacob, we might possibly think that we would never do such a thing as Jacob did as it regards the practicing of deception. While deception may not be our direction, to be sure, some other wrong is. In other words, we don’t come to the place of walking after the Spirit very quickly or very easily. As well, we can’t come there at all if someone doesn’t teach us the truth.
Jesus said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (Jn. 8:32).
While it’s not possible to eliminate the growing process in the hearts and lives of believers, we can save ourselves much grief if we are blessed enough to come under correct teaching.
So, Jacob loved Rachel and agreed to serve Laban some seven years for her hand, so to speak.
It would seem from these statements that Jacob served Laban for seven years before Rachel became his wife; however, the terminology employed rather refers to a contract or agreement. Jacob married both Leah and Rachel immediately, the first in which he was deceived into doing so, and the second by intention. Now he must serve 14 years, which he did.
This message was taken from the Jimmy Swaggart hardback book, Jacob.