WHEN PRETENSES ARE REVEALED
Thus [Jacob] increased greatly and had large flocks, female servants and male servants, and camels and donkeys. Now Jacob heard that the sons of Laban were saying, “Jacob has taken all that was our father’s, and from what was our father’s he has gained all this wealth.” And Jacob saw that Laban did not regard him with favor as before. Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your fathers and to your kindred, and I will be with you.” Genesis 31:1-3
Laban set up Jacob to fail. He stole some of his spotted and striped animals and hid them with his own son’s flocks in order to mate them. He would then accuse Jacob of stealing. When God prospered Jacob anyway, all pretenses of love and friendship Laban had exhibited, dissolved. No longer able to hide his true feelings, he accused Jacob and things became adversarial.
At that point, God did not instruct Jacob on how to repair the relationship. He was told to leave and return to the land of his father. He was released with God’s blessing.
Time in Laban’s household was a spiritual school. Jacob’s past sins were paid for and he bore up well under discipline. He gave his conniving father-in-law every opportunity to prosper and to embrace Yahweh. In the end, motives that Laban had hidden rose to the surface. What had stayed veiled for over a decade was exposed when issues of greed, Laban’s stronghold, pushed him to the limit. It was clear that Laban was not going to change so God released Jacob to leave.
There are relationships that are tolerable for a while, sometimes a long while. Others perceive harmony but you know that beneath the surface, you are dealing with an adversary, not a friend. You may be in ministry with this person, or work for him. God has not released you to leave and you are straining under the pretense. Jacob’s story is a firsthand illustration that if we do what is right and bear up well under the pressure of unfairness, there will be a graduation day. Some issue will cause everything to blow up. What is hidden now will become clear for all to see and God will use their sin to release us to our next appointment.
For now, it can seem like you’re trapped. There is no such thing as ‘trapped’ in God’s purposes. Things might be uncomfortable, even excruciating. Your pride may be assaulted daily. Your coping ability might be pushed to the limits. Cling to God and allow this to strengthen your spiritual muscles of faith. One grand morning, God may just say, “Well done! Move on!”
I lived in oppression. It seemed endless. You taught me so much about my adversary and about myself. I remember the party our family threw when you said, “Move!” Oh Lord, You are a Deliverer! Amen
Journal Question: Make a list of 5 things you are learning in your Egypt. Can you appreciate the beauty of such wisdom? Tell God what you need to persevere.