Genesis 31:14-32 Peacemaking puts an end to the devil’s devices and brings God’s blessing
Genesis 31:14-32 Peacemaking puts an end to the devil’s devices and brings God’s blessing
Rachel and Leah said to him, “Do we still have any portion or inheritance in our father’s house? 15 Are we not reckoned by him as foreigners? For he has sold us, and has also entirely consumed our purchase price. 16 Surely all the wealth which God has taken away from our father belongs to us and our children; now then, do whatever God has said to you.”
17 Then Jacob arose and put his children and his wives upon camels; 18 and he drove away all his livestock and all his property which he had gathered, his acquired livestock which he had gathered in Paddan-aram, to go to the land of Canaan to his father Isaac. 19 When Laban had gone to shear his flock, then Rachel stole the household idols that were her father’s. 20 And Jacob deceived Laban the Aramean by not telling him that he was fleeing. 21 So he fled with all that he had; and he arose and crossed the Euphrates River, and set his face toward the hill country of Gilead.
22 When it was told Laban on the third day that Jacob had fled, 23 then he took his kinsmen with him and pursued him a distance of seven days’ journey, and he overtook him in the hill country of Gilead. 24 God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream of the night and said to him, “Be careful that you do not speak to Jacob either good or bad.”
25 Laban caught up with Jacob. Now Jacob had pitched his tent in the hill country, and Laban with his kinsmen camped in the hill country of Gilead. 26 Then Laban said to Jacob, “What have you done by deceiving me and carrying away my daughters like captives of the sword? 27 Why did you flee secretly and deceive me, and did not tell me so that I might have sent you away with joy and with songs, with timbrel and with lyre; 28 and did not allow me to kiss my sons and my daughters? Now you have done foolishly. 29 It is in my power to do you harm, but the God of your father spoke to me last night, saying, ‘Be careful not to speak either good or bad to Jacob.’ 30 Now you have indeed gone away because you longed greatly for your father’s house; but why did you steal my gods?” 31 Then Jacob replied to Laban, “Because I was afraid, for I thought that you would take your daughters from me by force. 32 The one with whom you find your gods shall not live; in the presence of our kinsmen point out what is yours among my belongings and take it for yourself.” For Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen them.
Jacob, having noticed that Laban was no longer friendly towards him, decided to take flight. His actions not only endangered his own family by incurring the wrath of Laban, he risked putting future generations at war with each other. Today’s devotion teaches us that peacemaking puts an end to the devil’s devices. In the absence of infighting and strife, and in the spirit of peace and unity, God commands a blessing.
Surely all the wealth which God has taken away from our father belongs to us and our children.
After Jacob presented his case to his wives, they responded vehemently for Jacob has touched a nerve of discontent within them. Their resentment has to do with the dowry that Laban has withheld from them: For he has sold us, and has also entirely consumed our purchase price. In those days, daughters were not entitled to inheritance, but they did expect a dowry when they married. Thus, Rachel and Leah saw their prosperity at Laban’s expense as a divine act of justice.
Then Jacob arose and put his children and his wives upon camels.
As soon as Rachel and Leah agreed, Jacob acted quickly making preparations for their flight. This was a major undertaking as Jacob had become very wealthy which made fleeing from Paddan-aram much more difficult than fleeing from home 20 years ago. Note the green line in the map below which traces Jacob’s movement towards the country of Gilead. How Jacob could escape unnoticed was perhaps attributed to a very busy time of the year for sheep farmers for they were all away sheering sheep. And Rachel took occasion to steal household idols that were her father’s. It is customary among the people to have idols in the house and to take them along in their journeys. Normally, a father would supply his children copies of the idols to take with them. But in this case, because of the deception and haste that the departure was carried out, Rachel stole Laban’s idol. Jacob’s decision to deceive Laban by not telling him that he was departing was attributed in part to fear that Laban might hinder them by force. And in part due to his disgust towards Laban.
Then he took his kinsmen with him and pursued him a distance of seven days’ journey.
A quick calculation shows us that Laban and his men covered in seven what took Jacob ten days (see the meeting point in the map above). Jacob’s decision to depart in haste almost brought unimaginable harm to himself and to his entire family.
What have you done by deceiving me and carrying away my daughters like captives of the sword?
Laban’s opening line put Jacob on a back foot. Pulling off something like that actually breaks father-daughter and father-grand son relationships. Indeed, Laban has every right to demand a proper farewell and send off for his flesh and blood. While “I might have sent you away with joy and with songs, with timbrel and with lyre” may seem incredible given Laban’s temperament, Jacob was clearly in the wrong. Laban insisted that he had intended to inflict harm given Jacob’s behaviour, but was warned against it in a dream: It is in my power to do you harm, but the God of your father spoke to me last night, saying, ‘Be careful not to speak either good or bad to Jacob.’ However, Laban did appear reasonable when he concurred with Jacob’s desire to return home. But in the same breath, he accused Jacob of stealing his household idols.
Jacob, in response put up a weak rebuttal: Because I was afraid, for I thought that you would take your daughters from me by force. But concerning the household idols he defended his integrity vehemently but recklessly: The one with whom you find your gods shall not live, because he did not know that Rachel had taken them. Subsequently, Jacob put up a challenge in order to prove that Laban’s accusations were baseless: in the presence of our kinsmen point out what is yours among my belongings and take it for yourself.
Peacemaking puts an end to the devil’s devices and brings God’s blessing
Jacob took flight in part due to the fear of losing his family and possessions should Laban turn aggressive. For he could not bring himself to trust God even though God has promised to provide him safe passage home. Thus, he supposed the simplest way to keep the aggressor at bay was to run away. After all, out of sight, out of mind. However, Jacob’s hasty departure gave Laban reason to launch an attack against him. If God did not intervene, the consequences could have been unthinkable. If Jacob made peace with Laban before departing, he would have put an end to the devil’s devices. But his hasty departure has created potential feud with Laban for future generations. And Rachel’s dishonest act of stealing the household idol and Jacob’s reckless vow indirectly contributed to their hasty departure. Perhaps, Jacob harboured a sense of injustice and unforgiveness that prevented proper closure and reconciliation with his father-in-law.
Making peace involves acceptance; accepting one’s opponents despite unresolved issues, debts and differences. Making peace puts to rest all bickering, vengeance and character assassination. It is not just about withholding vengeance, it involves the willingness to forgive and to bless the other. What are the benefits of making peace with one’s opponents?
- Peacemaking brings God’s blessing – In the absence of infighting and strife, and in the spirit of peace and unity, God commands a blessing. The Psalmist wrote, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!… For there the Lord commanded the blessing—life forever.” Psalms 133.
- Peacemakers are honoured as sons of God – Jesus taught, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Matthew 5:9. A peace loving attitude is characteristic of those called the sons of God.
- Peacemakers are constantly filled with the joy of the Spirit – Peace loving people are always filled with joy. Proverbs 12:20 says, “Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, but counselors of peace have joy.”
- God holds peacemakers close to His heart – Peacemakers are able to sense God and His goodness more keenly than others. Hebrews 12:14 says, “Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.”
- God supplies peacemakers with perpetual wisdom – Peacemakers are given an additional measure of wisdom from above. James taught, “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.” James 3:17.
What are the hindrances against making peace with one another?
- Injustice and unresolved debts – feelings of injustice fuels the desire for immediate restitution and recompense. Since peace infers passivity to the current state of injustice,… until justice is served, there is no peace. However, Paul taught that justice belongs to God, “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. (Romans 12:19). Therefore, believers must make peace with all, bearing in mind that vengeance will in God’s time be served.
- Differences of views and convictions – differences in views especially in matters of grave importance hinders reconciliation. However, knowing that everyone will be held accountable for their convictions on the day of judgment, our minds can be at ease. Therefore, let us accept one another and make peace despite the differences. Paul taught, “Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.” 1 Corinthians 4:5.
- Envy and jealousy – An envious person puts his personal interests above all things, and even the things of God. Because such a person is engrossed primarily in self love, he cannot make peace with his opponent especially with one whom he deems as better off or as undeserving. However, if one’s primary goal is to love God and to love others, he rejoices at the prosperity of another and readily makes peace with them.
Are there people whom you detest despite their efforts to reconcile with you? Are you accustomed to avoidance as a way to deal with people whom you find repulsive? Perhaps, it is time to grow up as a son of God by making peace with all despite injustices, and differences. In so doing, you destroy the devil’s devices and give reason for God’s blessing to come upon your life.
Dear Lord, I confess that I am at times averse to certain people and prefer to keep them at a distance. Regenerate my heart and use me to draw the community together in peace and unity. Cause me to be like Jesus who forgave those who nailed Him to the cross. Give me the courage to make peace with those who has once hurt me. In doing so, I destroy the devil’s devices and inherit the blessing. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.