In the case of twin brothers named Jacob and Esau, the breach between them was widerthan the chasm of the Grand Canyon in Arizona, USA. Yet, the precious moment of their Reconciliation in this story will occur for them twenty years later in a surprise meeting on a country road far from their homes in the Middle East.
Step back twenty years earlier to the moment that Jacob, the youngest son, not Esau, the oldest one was appointed to be lead heir of the family inheritance. Genesis 28:2-4To our knowledge, no one has ever attempted to calculate the enormous value of the inheritance Isaac passed to Jacob that day. You may be asking, how, could this mistake have been made? You will find the answer in Gen. 27:1-29 (Only in a Middle Eastern culture could a true story end up like that!)
As we might suppose, Esau hated his brother and perhaps even his mother, for the trick they played on him through his blind father Isaac. Esau was not slow to announce to friends around the cattle ranch, what had happened. He also let it be known that when his Fatherdied, he planned to kill his brother Jacob! Gen. 27:41 Quickly, Esau’s threat reached his mother’s ears and she sent word for Jacob to come to her tent immediately. On Jacob’s arriving there, she told him she had just heard that his brother Esau was planning to kill him.
Furthermore, she did not want him to marry a godless Canaanite woman from the nearby people, like Esau had done. She urged him to flee at once to her brother Laban’s home in Haran, many miles away. Rebekah then gave all this information to her blind husband Isaac and he agreed that she must help Jacob get ready to travel and send him to his tent so he could say goodbye. Soon Jacob was ready to go and was standing by his troubled father.
In saying goodbye to Jacob, Isaac repeated to him the extensive blessings he had given him when he made him heir of the Family Estate just hours before. Then Isaac blessed Jacob and charged him: ”You shall not take a wife from the daughters of Canaan. Arise, go to Padan Aram, to the house of Bethuel your mother’s father; and take for yourself from there of the daughters of Laban your mother’s brother. May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and multiply you that you may be an assembly of peoples, and give the blessing of Abraham to you and your descendants…, that you may inherit the land in which you are a stranger, which God gave to Abraham.” Gen. 28: 1-4
Great assurance must have swept over Jacob seeing that he had received this blessing first by the trickery of his mother! Now he knew it was all for real. So, Isaac sent Jacob down the long lonely road toward Padan Aram.
Esau, his brother soon heard that Jacob had escaped from the farm and was now on a long journey to get away from him. He couldn’t have cared less! So, to console himself he took a short hike to their neighboring Canaanite community. There he had a fling with old friends and took home an additional wife knowing that his mother would not like her. Jacob trudged along the path pressing hard to get as many miles under foot as he could. No doubt, he felt the wrath of his older brother upon his shoulders as he went. But certainly, he must have cried out to the God of his father Isaac and grandfather Abraham. Each of them had had a vibrant relationship with Jehovah, God of heaven and it was time for him to experience that kind of relationship for himself.
Darkness overtook him and he decided to hang it up for the night. So, he found a specialstone there and placed it on the ground for a pillow… if you can call that a pillow. Weary from his long journey, he lay down and went to sleep. As he slept, God visited him in a remarkable dream. Gen. 28:12-22.
In that dream, Jacob saw a fabulous ladder somewhat like a beautiful modern day escalator that reached from earth to heaven. Angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And behold, above it stood the Lord who said: “I am the Lord God of Abraham your fatherand the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie, I will give to you and your descendants who will spread all over the earth.” Then God gave to him some very unforgettable promises saying:
“I am with you and will keep you wherever you go and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you!” v. 15
Those words of promise brought him right out of his sleep. And he responded:
“Surely the Lord is in this place and I did not know it…This is none other than the house of God and is the gate of heaven.” vv.1 6 and 17
Being on his feet now, he took the stone he used for a pillow and set it up as a pillarof remembrance. He also poured oil on the top of it and called that place Bethel meaning, “The Gate of Heaven.” In that moment, he made a very solemn vow to God and with himself saying:
“If God will be with me in this way I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, so I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God. And this stone that I have set up as a pillar shall be God’s house, and all that You give me, I will surely give a tenth to You.” Gen. 28:20
Jacob then went on his journey and came to the land of his father’s people of the East. To his surprise he saw a well with three herds of sheep lying there and some men standing around. Jacob learned from them that other shepherds with their sheep would soon be coming. Then he asked, “My brothers, where are you from?”
We are from Haran,” they said. He asked, “Do you know Laban the son of Nahor? And they answere, “We know him.” Jacob then further inquired, “Is he well?”
They answered, “Yes! Look, his daughter Rachel is coming with her father’s sheep.” (She was a shepherdess, in the absence of a male child in her family.)
My, my, my, when Jacob saw how beautiful Rachel was, he was swept off his feet and went into action. First, he rolled the stone from the mouth of the well and began to water the sheep for Rachel. Then Jacob ran to her and began to cry loudly for the joy at seeing her for the first time, and he gave her a big kiss! Then he told her that he was her relative.
Learning that, Rachel took off running to bring the news to her dad that Jacob, his nephew, was coming up the path. Hearing this news, aged Laban started running to meet him and gave him a royal welcome. When Laban really understood that Jacob was the son of his sister, Rebekah, he further welcomed Jacob with a traditional saying; “Surely you are bone of my bone.” Gen. 29:14
Jacob was then invited to take up residence with the family. In real confidence, Laban didn’t waste any time to offer him a job on his ranch and began talking about wages.
Knowing that he had been sent to this family to find a wife, Jacob had already been giving Laban’s two daughters a good once over. Leah was the oldest but was not beautiful, like Rachel. At his first sight of her back at the well, Jacob felt a deep love for her. So he said to her father, “I will serve seven years for Rachel, your younger daughter.”
Laban gave him an indefinite answer, but it was enough for Jacob. So, he started the next day seeking to fulfill his contract of seven years labor as the bride price for Rachel. Jacob’s love for her was so deep that those seven years seemed to be only a few days. Gen 29:20
The week of marriage came and Jacob said to his father in law to be, “Give me my wife, so I can consummate my marriage with Rachel.” But her dad said in effect, not too fast here young man, the men of the village will celebrate this proposed wedding for a week. On the seventh night of that week, I will bring the bride to you in the dark.
When morning came, Jacob turned over and discovered that Leah, not Rachel, was lying beside him! In anger, Jacob jumped up and ran to find his father-in-law and demanded: “Was it not for Rachel that I served you? Why have you deceived me?” Gen.29:25
In effect, Laban answered: Around here, we never give our younger daughter’s in marriage first. So, participate in the wedding festivities with the men of the village for a week, then I’ll give you Rachel also, if you promise another seven years labor as her bride price. Jacob honored Leah as his wife during the week of festivities. They got it all sorted out, and in a few days Jacob and Rachel were happily married.
I must note here that it was not God’s will for a man to have more than one wife or He would have made that clear in the beginning when He created Adam and Eve. However, in many parts of the world, local law makers ignore God’s laws and permit this practice of multiple wives. Most often, this practice brings great conflict in families. (My family and I worked among primitive tribespeople in the South Pacific who had many wives. There we encountered a lot of family conflict.)
Coming back to our story, it became very evident to Leah, that Jacob was far more affectionate toward Rachel than her. But Leah remained his wife throughout their years of their lives. The Lord in heaven saw that Leah was loved less by Jacob and blessed her, opening her womb to bear children. Soon she was able to conceive a child and she bore Jacob a son.
Over the years that followed, she gave Jacob six sons. Each was given a significant name that described Leah’s pain in feeling little affection from Jacob. With the arrival of babies being delivered by Leah every nine or ten months, this brought major conflict between those two sisters. This agonizing reality made Rachel feel the depth of sorrow, being unable to bear children. She became so desperate that she said to Jacob; “Give me children or I die!” Jacob answered her angrily saying: “Am I in the place of God that He has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?” Gen. 30:2
Rachel then took the traditional position of barren women in that culture who gave their maid servant to their husband as another wife, seeking to bear children in their place. So for Jacob, his two wives and their three maid servants birthed twelve sons, as well as a few daughters. In that way the Lord multiplied Jacob’s family line as He had promised.
At this time, the relationship with Laban, his father-in-law became very strained. God’s hand was upon Jacob as promised and the numbers of his livestock grew to be many more than Laban’s. Then one day, Jacob overheard his brothers-in-law accusing Jacob of stealing their father’s livestock…but this was not true. So, Jacob shared with Leah and Rachel what was going on. He said, “You know how hard I have worked for your father and how unfair he has been to us in changing my wages several times. But God has told me that we should return to my father’s family near Canaan and that He would to be with us on our journey.”
Secretly, they began to make plans to leave as soon as possible. In all the ups-and-downs of Jacob’s life, God faithfully worked to lead him. As Jacob followed God more and more, his story unfolded according to the promises God made to him and his forefathers Abraham and Isaac.
We, too, can be guided by the same faithful God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as we seek Him. You are special to us and our team is praying for you. If you desire prayer or spiritual counsel, please call Valley View Newlife Church at 614 272-2450. A Pastor will be gladly speak with you.