“And He Went Out”
Torah: Genesis 28:10–32:2 [3 Heb]
PROPHETS: Hosea 11:7–12:9 [10 Heb]
APOSTOLIC WRITINGS: John 1:43–51
These devotionals are designed to supplement, not replace, your Bible reading.
Torah 1 and 2
Instead of being called “and he (Jacob) went out” (from Beersheba), this portion could just as well be called, “Promised Land boomerang.” Jacob leaves the land of promise to avoid his brother’s wrath and returns 20 years later with a huge family and sizable possessions. Jacob sets out leaving southern Canaan for northern Mesopotamia.
How would you have felt if you were fleeing everything and everyone you knew under these circumstances? God knew Jacob. He appeared to him on his way out of the Promised Land and reaffirmed covenant promises.
In response to God’s visitation, Jacob worships (vv. 16–19) and makes an interesting vow (vv. 20–22). What security is Jacob seeking on his way out of town into the great unknown? What does he commit himself to if God upholds His part of the bargain?
When Jacob arrives (vv. 1–3; cf. the journey of his grandfather Abraham’s servant to perhaps this same place, 24:10–11) he quickly sizes up the situation (vv. 4–6) and tries to get the shepherds to leave the area perhaps so he can converse privately with Rachel (v. 7).
Though he is unsuccessful (v. 8), he represents himself as a perfect gentleman as well as extended family (vv. 9–12).
Laban welcomes this able bodied young relative into their home (vv. 13–14) and eventually offers to compensate him for all of his help (v. 15).
Notice how the text immediately introduces Laban’s two daughters (vv. 16–17).
Compare Jacob’s “faith-walk” in leaving his home with Abraham’s “faith-walk” in leaving his. There are similarities and differences. God knew them and knew what they needed in order to trust Him and follow Him obediently. He knows you too and knows what you need. In what area of your life is it hard to trust and obey God? Talk to Him about that area and seek the next “step of faith” that will bring glory to Him and good to you (cf. Psalm 143:8 & Proverbs 3:5–6).
Torah 3 and 4
Love and marriage
Jacob serves Laban 7-years to pay the “bride-price” (ancient near eastern “dowry”, cf. 24:53) for Rachel (vv. 18–20) but Laban gives him Leah instead (vv. 21–25).
Jacob sets out to serve another seven years for Rachel (vv. 26–30) and the “baby boom” begins (cf. 35:23–26).
Jacob has four sons through Leah (29:31–35—Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah), two sons through Rachel’s maidservant (30:1–8—Dan andNaphtali) and two sons through Leah’s maidservant (30:9–13—Gad and Asher).
The Inheritance of Children
Jacob has two more sons through Leah (vv. 14–20—Issachar [though her reasoning for this one in v. 18 is perhaps flawed] and Zebulun) as well as a daughter (v. 21—Dinah).
Finally, Jacob’s beloved conceives and Rachel gives her husband another son (vv. 22–24—Joseph).
Next, negotiations between Jacob and Laban begin! In the first negotiation, Jacob wants to go home, but Laban wants to be blessed. Read Isaac’s previous instruction and blessing over Jacob in 28:2–3. What motivated Jacob to want to pick up and go home after the birth of his son through Rachel fourteen years later (cf. 28:4 and 30:25)?
torah 5 and 6
The Inheritance of Riches and the Call to Return
In the second negotiation Jacob resists Laban’s deceitful tactics (cf. 31:7) to pursue his homeward longings.
In the third negotiation Jacob relents and makes Laban an offer he can’t refuse. This offer appears to be advantageous to Laban. Consider this: sheep were normally solid white (a lamb is a baby sheep; dark lambs were thus also rare) while goats were normally solid dark (black or brown). The point of all this is that multicolored sheep or goats (and dark lambs) were a rarity! And Jacob asks for these as his wages! Furthermore, he offers to continue to tend Laban’s flocks and presumably continue the previous blessings of prosperity for him.
During Jacob’s six years of tending Laban’s flock (cf. 31:41), his breeding practices yield him in wages (multicoloreds and dark lambs) not only a surplus of animals but also the strongest animals, the “crème-de-la-crème.”
As Laban’s hostility toward Jacob rises (vv. 1–2) God speaks to Jacob and tells him it is time to go home (vv. 3–13, esp. vv. 3, 12, 13, cf. 28:13–15). Rachel and Leah agree (vv. 14–16).
Fleeing in Fear but Vindicated by Faith
They secretly depart but only after Rachel secretly takes her father’s household idols.
When Laban discovers their departure, he sets out after them (vv. 22–23) but is intercepted by God who gives him a stern warning (v. 24)!
When he catches up to them, Laban waxes eloquent but impotent (vv. 25–30). Jacob’s unwitting defense (vv. 31–32) is followed by Laban’s unsuccessful search (vv. 33–35; Rachel’s report that it is her “time of the month” shields her from discovery).
Jacob then waxes eloquent in a cry of vindication that reveals both his hostility toward Laban and his faith in the Lord.
Even though Jacob had wanted to go home six years earlier, he submitted to God’s will and spent these extra years in Laban’s household. Though Laban meant the time for his own personal benefit, God meant it for Jacob’s good. For Jacob, serving Laban was an “enemy of his joy” (he didn’t like it) that God was actually using as a “servant of his good” (God fulfilled his seed promise and multiplied his wealth). What are the “enemies of your joy” (i.e. things that rob you of joy)? How may God be using those very things as the “servants of your good” (i.e. things that draw you closer to Him and Messiah-like maturity; cf. Psalm 119:67–68, 71-72, Romans 5:3, and James 1:2–4)?
torah 7 and
Laban relents and proposes that he and Jacob enter into a covenant agreement.
Jacob accepts the proposal and they begin to make arrangements.
Laban sets out the covenant stipulations (vv. 48–52) and then they formalize the covenant by swearing an oath (v. 53) and eating a meal (v. 54).
Laban goes on his way and returns home (v.55).
Jacob goes on his way and God welcomes him back (cf. 28:12 where God’s angels first visited him upon departure from the Land).
Walk or Stumble
Hosea 11:7–14:9 [10 Heb]
Hosea is one of the earlier prophets who preached to the Northern Kingdom, Israel (often referred to as Ephraim), before Assyrian conquest and captivity. Hosea is calling the nation back to covenant faithfulness to their covenant keeping God. He reminds them of Jacob and his walk with God as a way to point them to He Who blesses His chosen (12:3–5, 12) but also judges for sin (12:2, 14). Hosea’s passionate call for repentance was surely a labor of love borne through many tears.
Read verse 13:6. It is a snapshot of the pattern of God’s dealings with his people (cf. Deuteronomy 8:11–18). How does this pattern show up in your own life? What can you do about it? (cf. 2 Timothy 2:11–13).
Climb and Ascend!
In the tradition of the prophets, John calls Israel back to covenant faithfulness to their covenant keeping God. Some of John’s disciples follow John’s instructions and become followers of Yeshua. One of these disciples is Nathanael. Nathanael surely knew of Jacob’s Bethel dream very well (Genesis 28:12) where God used a ladder to connect heaven and earth. Yeshua claims to be this ladder and as such is trying to teach the mind blowing truth that he connects heaven and earth! (The truth that He actually is God is too profound to even attempt teaching at this point in Yeshua’s ministry).
How does Yeshua connect heaven and earth? What difference does this make in your own life? Can you “see” heaven? Can you “ascend” even while stuck here on earth? God is standing on this ladder and speaking to you…what is He saying? (cf. Psalm 95:7a–8b)
Rest. Fellowship. Discussion.