Well, you know, we're in a verse by verse study of the book of Genesis, and we've been studying the story of Jacob and Esau. We've seen how Jacob schemed against Esau and stole his blessing, and how Esau then plotted to murder Jacob, and how Rebekah, their mother, told Jacob, you need to get out of Dodge, son, until your brother calms down a little bit, and she sent him to her brother, his uncle, a man named Laban, living up in the city of Haran, where Rebekah was originally from. Now, let me show you a map so that you can see where Jacob's journey took him.
He left Beersheba in the south, as you see on the map, and traveled all the way to northern Mesopotamia to Haran. Now, what we want to do today is pick up and see what happened when he got to Haran, and then talk about what difference it means for your life and my life today. So we good to go?
All right, let's do it. Genesis 29, verse 1. Then Jacob went on his journey and came to the land of the eastern peoples. And he looked and saw a well in the field with three flocks of sheep lying there. And Jacob said to the shepherds, My brothers, where are you from?
And they said, We're from Haran. Jacob's like, Oh, I'm here. And Jacob said to them, Do you know Laban?
And they said, We know him. In fact, here comes his daughter, Rachel. And when Jacob saw Rachel, he rolled the stone from the mouth of the well and watered her sheep. Then Jacob kissed Rachel and lifted his voice and began to weep out loud. Then Jacob told Rachel that he was a relative of her father, that he was Rebecca's son, and she ran and told her father. Now, let me summarize and just say that Laban welcomes Jacob, takes him in his house for a month. And then in verse 15, Laban said to Jacob, Even though you are my relative, it is not right that you should serve me for free.
Tell me, what shall your wages be? Now, Laban had two daughters. The name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel.
And Jacob loved Rachel. So he replied to Laban, I will serve seven years for your younger daughter, Rachel. And Laban said, Well, I'd rather give her to you than another man.
I mean, that's a ringing endorsement, isn't it? Okay, I guess I got to give her to somebody. I guess I'll give her to you. So stay with me. And they struck a deal. So Jacob served Laban for seven years for Rachel. But look at this precious line. But they seemed to him but a few days because of his love for her.
Wow. Now let's skip seven years ahead. And Jacob comes to Laban after he served him and says, My time of service is up. Please give me my wife that I may have marital relations with her. So Laban gave a feast, a big wedding party, and invited all the people of the place. And it came about in the evening that Laban took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob. And Jacob had marital relations with her.
Now it came about in the morning that behold, there was Leah. You say, Now, wait a minute. You don't really think that this could have happened.
Do you like this? You know? Well, I don't know.
Yeah, I believe it. You know, you say, Well, Lon, how could that happen? I don't know. You tell me. Maybe it was really dark in there.
I have no idea. All I know is that when old Jacob rolled over in the morning in bed, man, he had a big surprise. There was Leah, not Rachel. And so Jacob said to Laban, What in the world have you done to me? It was for Rachel that I served you.
Why have you what's the next word schemed against me like this? And Laban replied, It is not our custom to give the younger daughter in marriage before the firstborn daughter. Now, may I say that we have never found any evidence of any such custom reflected in any of the archaeological documents from this time.
So it must have been a local custom. Assuming that Laban is telling him the truth and it was a local custom. Still, Laban should have warned Jacob about this custom before he made the deal with him, shouldn't he?
Yeah, you bet. Well, Laban now says, Hey, Jacob, got another deal for you. Here's my other deal. Complete my older daughter's bridal week, seven days.
And then I will give you my younger daughter, too, in exchange for seven more years of service. So Jacob did as Laban said when he had completed Leah's bridal week, Laban gave him Rachel as his wife, too. So Jacob had relations with Rachel. And indeed, he loved Rachel more than Leah. And he served Laban for another seven years. They said, Lon, there's something here I don't quite get.
I mean, Laban like flim flam, Jacob, right? Yes. I mean, he bamboozled him. He deceived him. He connived against him and conned him, right?
Yes. Say, well, what I don't understand is why Jacob wasn't angrier. I don't understand why Jacob wasn't like, you know, completely infuriated with him. It seems here like Jacob just takes this treatment sort of lying down.
Well, I think the answer to that, my friends, is very simple. I think what happened is that Jacob could see he realized that divine justice was happening here. He realized that God was giving him a dose of his own medicine. He realized that Laban had done to him exactly what he had done to his brother Esau and that God was disciplining him for his sin against his brother.
And I believe it was this realization that took all the fight out of him and caused him to be so docile in being treated this way. All right. That's the end of our passage. But we're going to stop now and ask our most important question so we know what this is. Yes.
Mm hmm. Good. OK. Everybody ready? All right.
Nice and loud now. Come on. Here we go.
One, two, three. Oh, you can do better than that. Come on. Let me take a sip of water. And then we're going to try one more time. Here we go. Come on.
One, two, three. Oh, that was sweet. OK. You say, Lon, I mean, it's a nice story. I understand the story.
I still don't get the Leah thing, to be honest with you. I don't see how that could happen. But you know what? Nobody else knows how it could have happened either. So don't worry about it.
But you say, I don't really see what this has to do with me at all. Well, folks, let's look for a minute and ask the question, what was the greatest character flaw that we see in Jacob when he was a young man? Well, the answer is he was a schemer. It was scheming. He schemed against his brother twice for the birthright and the blessing. He schemed against his father. He schemed against his mother.
The guy was just a manipulator and a schemer. And since we live here in D.C., which is the scheming capital of the world, it seemed to me that this would be a good topic for us to look and see what the Bible has to say about it. Now, the way it seems to me, there are two different kinds of scheming. We find them both in the Bible.
The first is scheming that has a malevolent intent, scheming that is aimed at doing violence to people, injuring people, harming people, even killing people. Nehemiah, for example, in Chapter six, said while he was up rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem, he said, Sanballat and Geshem sent me this message. Come, let us meet together on at one of the villages on the plain of Anno, but they were what's the next word scheming to do evil to me. We learn later on in Chapter six, they were actually out to kill him and even the Lord Jesus. Matthew Chapter 26. The Bible says, then the Jewish chief priests and elders gathered in the court of the high priest Caiaphas.
And what's the next word? They scheme together how they could seize Jesus by stealth and kill him. Now, obviously, this kind of scheming is evil and wrong and sinful. And you and I, as believers, have no business even thinking about doing this kind of scheming to other people. But there's a second kind of scheming that's not nearly as nefarious as this first kind.
It's not nearly as malignant as this first kind. This is the kind of scheming where the intent is not to hurt people or injure people, but rather to manipulate them in order to get something that we want. Now, this is the kind of scheming that Jacob had done to Esau. He wanted Esau's blessing, so he schemed against him and manipulated him to get it. And this is the kind of scheming that Laban had just done to Jacob.
He wanted Leah married, so he schemed against Jacob and manipulated Jacob. And can we be honest here? Every one of us have done this kind of scheming, haven't we?
Yeah? Praise the Lord. One person says yes. Okay. All right. Every one of you have done this.
I've done this. We all did it knowingly. We all did it intentionally. We all did it deliberately. And we all knew we were doing it.
Yeah? Well, you know what? The Bible says that God doesn't want us doing this kind of scheming either. Look what he says. He says in Ephesians 4, verse 25, Therefore, laying aside falsehood.
The Greek word here is the word pseudos, from which we get our English word pseudo. Laying aside pretense, laying aside fakery, laying aside scheming, laying aside being pseudo with other people. Let every person speak truth with his neighbor.
Why? Well, because and don't miss this, because our God is so big and our God is so powerful and our God is so sovereign that we don't have to scheme in order to get what we need. Amen? We can tell the truth and our God can still take care of every need we got.
Right? And this is why the Bible says Psalm 75, not from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. And may I add, nor from our own scheming comes exaltation. But God is the judge who puts down one and who lifts up another. Friends, anything you and I are going to get in this life, any position, any possessions, any honor, anything we're going to get in this life, it's going to be because God sovereignly decided to give it to us. And God is omnipotent enough, listen to me, to give it to us all by himself without us having to help him by scheming and conniving and manipulating people and lying. This is why God said to Jeremiah chapter 32, he said, Jeremiah, behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh is anything too hard for me. I can get you wherever I need to get you, Jeremiah, and I don't need your help.
Nothing is too hard for me. Hey, God made Joseph the prime minister of Egypt without Joseph having to scheme to get there. And God made Moses, the leader of the exodus without Moses having to scheme to get there. And God made Joshua the leader of the armies of Israel without Joshua having to scheme to get there, and God made David the king of Israel without David having to scheme to get there.
And God made Esther the queen of Persia without Esther having to scheme to get there. And God can make you anything he wants to make you and put you anywhere he wants to put you He wants to put you in me without us having to scheme to help him. Praise the Lord. I love Chris Tomlin song where he says, our God is greater, our God is stronger, God, you are higher than any other. And then he goes on to say, and if our God is for us, then who could ever stop us?
And if our God is with us, what can stand against? Listen, folks, don't you worry about that person who's conniving against you in your workplace? Don't you worry about that person who's scheming against you in your family? Don't you worry about any person doing anything to you to try to lift you up or bring you down?
Usually it's the latter. You just put your trust in Jesus because he's the one who decides who goes up and he's the one who decides who goes down. Friends, if you have someone scheming against you in your office, let me tell you, all of his scheming in the world is not going to keep you from going up if Jesus wants you to go up and conversely, all of your scheming back at them in order to see them go down is not going to take them down unless Jesus wants them to go down. So if you're scheming and your involvement in this isn't going to make a bit of difference one way or the other, what are you doing in it? Don't you go down and mud wrestle with these people. Don't you lower yourself to this kind of behavior?
Scheming, lying, manipulating, deceit behind the scenes. Don't you do that? You don't need to do that. Not with the great and sovereign God we got.
No, no, you don't need to do a thing except trust him to put you right where he's going to put you. And I promise you, a thousand people scheming against you is not going to make one bit of difference, friends. So let me say in closing, you stick with Jesus on this and you live a life of integrity, my friends, you take the high road and you will find when all the dust settles, you're going to be exactly where the Lord Jesus wants you to be. I promise you that. So let's go out there and live like we've got a God the size that the Bible says he is, huh?
Let's go out there and live like we've got the huge God that the Bible tells us about. And if somebody comes by you and they're scheming and they're conniving and you know what they're doing, just smile at them. Big smile.
Big smile and do good to him, return good to him. You say, Lon, you don't know how hard that is. It's not I know it's hard, but friends, why not?
Why not? God's not going to let them make one difference in your life that he doesn't want made. Be nice to them. Live like you got a huge God. And if they say, why are you being nice to me? You know, I'm out to get you.
Just say, well, you know what? You're about this big. And I got a God who's about this big. So I can be nice to you because it ain't going to make one bit of difference what you do in terms of where God puts me. That's the beauty of living in connection with the living Christ.
That's the beauty of having a big God on our side. Amen. All right. Let's pray. I want to give us just a moment before I close in prayer. I want you to take a moment to think about people in your life that are doing this to you, scheming, conniving, trying to hurt and affect you, take you down.
And right here, right now, you know what? I want you to let it go. I want you to turn them loose. Stop plotting against them.
Stop mashing your teeth against them. Make them a nonissue in your heart. No malice, no hatred because they are inconsequential, my friends. If you're walking with Jesus, let it go. And let Jesus have them.
Let's take a moment, do that. Lord Jesus, I certainly know what it's like to be schemed against. The first 11 years I was at this church, that's all that happened here of any significance. And now I know how much it hurts to be treated that way. And Lord, I know how it can wear you down to be treated that way. But Lord Jesus, I thank you that in those years it was only by your grace, but you gave me the grace not to scheme back against them and God, when you were done at the 11th year point, it was all over and this church has never looked back.
Look where we are today, Lord. And you taught me a lesson, a very important lesson. And that is, I can take the high road. I can act with integrity. And Jesus is big enough to take care of me. And Lord, that's true for every one of us here.
We can act with integrity. Jesus is big enough to take care of us. So, Lord, change the way we go to work Monday morning, change the way we act when we're around family members, or change everything about our relationships with people. Let our focus and our trust be on Christ and not on them. Thanks for the word of God, Lord. Use it in our hearts today in a mighty way. And we pray this in Jesus name.
And what do God's people say? Amen. Amen. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-06 09:01:26 / 2023-03-06 09:09:39 / 8