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January 15, (Day # 15) – Deception Leads to Complications

Our readings today reveal how prone we are - as human beings - to take matters into our own hands and then attempt to manipulate or to shape the outcomes to our own selfish advantage. This situation is especially true when things don’t go our way. As Genesis 29 opens, things seem to be going Jacob’s way, but not for long. In chapter 28, at the stairway to heaven, Jacob met with the LORD Who reaffirmed to him His Covenant with Abraham and Isaac, so Jacob “erected and anointed a monument stone and then made a vow to give the LORD a tenth” of everything (cf., 28:20-22). However, in Paddan Aram (Genesis 29), Jacob the deceiver is about to be outfoxed. Jacob meets Rachel, falls in love with her, and agrees to serve Uncle Laban for seven years to get her. We note that Laban magnanimously “gave a feast … gave Leah … and he gave his servant girl” (verses 22-24) – none for which Jacob agreed to work. “When evening came” (cf., verse 23) … it seems that the cover of darkness is also a friend to deception. But “when morning came, there was Leah!” (verse 25). In the light, everything becomes clearer. Laban tries to lay all the blame for his deception on their culture, but actually, Laban is the culprit; now, Jacob feels the sting … and it really hurts. However, Jacob still has a lot to learn – the deceptions are not over. In chapter 30, we see the dissention and the disorder that exist in the house of Jacob – similar to that in Isaac’s house before. The two sisters, their servant girls, the in-laws who are also employers, the wages changed ten times, the sheep and goats, the young children, and the mandrakes (of all things!) – these all become sources of discord and daily irritation for Jacob. Who wants to live with all that? No wonder he “became angry” and wanted to “go back to his homeland” (cf., verses 2 and 25). So Jacob takes matters in his own hands and figures out a way to … more deception. A few days ago, we talked about the compounding nature of sin, and Jacob is now in the middle of it. Notice Jacob’s concern: “When may I do something for my own household?” (verse 30). However, in this chapter we see no crying out to the Lord. More lessons to be learned … Jacob needed Psalm 9.

In Psalm 9:7-12, David tells us that “the LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble” (verse 9). We can “praise God because He Who avenges blood remembers; He does not ignore the cry of the afflicted” (verse 12). We know, of course, that God eventually did avenge Laban for all his deceptions and afflictions against Jacob, but we should “cry out to God” before things begin to turn south.

In the Matthew passage, we see how the people rejected both John and Jesus - showing that they were never satisfied and couldn’t be pleased. In the Genesis passage, all of the characters are looking out exclusively for themselves and their own interests. Nevertheless, God is still able to carry out His purposes and plan regardless of and even through our foolish actions. We can make life easier for ourselves, but not by taking things into our own hands and manipulating or shaping outcomes. The best practice is to discover the will of God for our lives and - then with all expedience - subordinate our own wills to His. If we do this, our lives will be a lot less complicated.

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