Last week in our look at the life of Jacob (through the book "Escaping with Jacob" by David Ramos), we looked at how Jacob's life is now entering a new stage. He and his family are packing up and preparing to move back to Jacob's homeland. It's been decades since he was home, and Jacob's welcome is uncertain. But God isn't done with Jacob yet,
Week 12: Read Genesis 31:22-55 (Our Fierce Protector)
"Only days after Jacob's escape, his uncle Laban catches up with him. The narrative is about to reach its climax as the two men confront each other. But not before God intervenes again. During the night, before the confrontation between Jacob and Laban, God visits Laban and tells him to back off Jacob. Though Laban doesn't seem deterred by the event, it's clear something has changed.
Jacob and Laban meet one another and begin to argue. Laban is mad not only that his gods were stolen, but also because he feels as if his family was stolen away from him as well. Jacob strikes back by recounting all of the punishment Laban had put him through during his years of service. Furthermore, Jacob is offended that his uncle would ever accuse him of stealing after all the time they spent together and so Jacob pronounces death over any thieves in his camp. He doesn't know that his wife, Rachel, is the one who stole her father's gods.
After a fruitless search, Laban agrees to make a treaty with Jacob and build an altar as a symbol of their agreement. The two men do so and thereby solidify Jacob's stance as Laban's equal. Finally, after the incredibly intense scene, Laban quietly returns home. Jacob is officially free; a rich and powerful man in his own right, with God's protection surrounding him. Yet the peace is short lived because his return home will be interrupted by the reason he left in the first place, his brother Esau.
This scene should have gone much differently. Laban and his entourage could have ridden in, killed Jacob, and rode back home with his children and grandchildren, and all of Jacob's wealth. But again, the promise of protection God made to Jacob shows itself coming true. God quells Laban's fury to a point, at least enough to where he can speak to his nephew. God also enables the scene to end peacefully, with a covenant and a symbolic heap. It's within this context that the name Jacob uses for God makes sense. In verses 42 and 53, Jacob calls God, "the fear of Isaac." Why that name?
Have you ever seen a mother bear protecting her cubs? When I hear Jacob calling God the "Fear of Isaac" this is the imagery that comes to mind. God is like the ferocious mother bear who sees someone wanting to harm her children. Time and time again we see God strike out like this - with the plagues of Egypt, heavenly armies, or mysterious sicknesses.
This scene in Jacob's life was much more peaceful than it could have been, because God is much fiercer than the enemies of God's people believe. And it is with this same jealous fury that God watches over us. We are God's children and it is an unbelievable truth that the Creator of the universe will come to our defense in our time of need."
Takeaway from today's lesson: God's protection is a promise. God promises, "I will be with you."
Prayer: God, thank you that you do not ignore those who try to harm me, but instead fight for me with incredible power. I may not see it or feel it or even understand it, but I have faith in you. Amen.