Genesis 31 — God’s Providence and Protective Presence

by | Sep 22, 2020

READ Genesis 31

“If the God of my father, the God of Abraham, the Fear of Isaac, had not been with me, certainly now you would have sent me off empty-handed. But God has seen my affliction and my hard work, and he issued his verdict last night.” (Genesis 31:42)

At this point in Genesis, Jacob had served his father-in-law Laban and his two daughters and flock for twenty years. In return, Laban’s attitude towards him had changed, deceiving Jacob all along by changing his wages ten times. God then urged Jacob and his family to flee Laban and return to Canaan, his native land. In Genesis 31, we see who God is through the eyes of Jacob. Jacob’s faithful response is a model for us to follow as believers of Jesus Christ.

Who was God in Jacob’s eyes? Jacob glorified God for protecting him while serving Laban (vv. 5-7). He heard God pledging to be with him in his return home (v. 3). God proclaimed Himself as the “God of Bethel” (v. 13), recalling the vow Jacob made to Him in Genesis 28. Jacob addressed the Lord as “the God of Abraham” and “the Fear of Isaac” (v. 42). Jacob acknowledged his father Isaac’s fear and faith in God. Jacob wasn’t necessarily afraid of God, but he expressed reverential fear of God’s holiness and inconceivable greatness. In spite of Laban deceiving and eventually overtaking Jacob en route to Canaan, Jacob was praising God for seeing his affliction and hard work. Meanwhile, Jacob knew that God responded to Laban’s evil act by issuing him a verdict, commanding him in a dream to not say anything to Jacob (vv. 24, 42). Other Bible translations describe this verdict as God rebuking or rendering judgment on him. God disciplined Laban as he shielded and saved Jacob, but what do these acts have to do with us?

God protected and rescued Jacob from Laban’s sin of deception and lies, and He freely gives us the same grace. He has already saved us from the wages of sin which is death into eternal life in Christ (Rom. 6:23). God our Father disciplines us in ways He rebuked Laban for his sin (Heb. 12:5-11). God does all this because He loves us. How will you respond to His love?

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