Daily Reading – Genesis 29
In chapter 28 we saw Jacob’s conversion. God met with Jacob in his moment of despair and offered him hope through the promises of the Abrahamic Covenant. In Galatians, Paul explains that the promises contained in the covenant were the very promises of the Gospel.
Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.”
God preached the gospel to Abraham, and Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness. In Chapter 28 God preaches the gospel in advance to Jacob through the same promises, and Jacob believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness.
Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham.
Just as we do today, by faith Jacob became a spiritual child of Abraham, and thus a child of God.
26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Jacob’s identity is no longer physical but spiritual. He is a chosen son of God. And with that calling comes the promise of Philippians 1:6:
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus.
By nature, Jacob is a selfish, lying sinner. Now chosen by God, he has a new nature headed toward perfection through sanctification. He’s received the calling of Ephesians 4:22-24:
22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires,23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
God has begun the great work of sanctification in the heart of Jacob through the gospel promises of the covenant. Now he will continue the heart-work of sanctification until he brings him to completion at the day of Christ Jesus.
And this heart-work does not always come easy. Often our character is forged in the fire of affliction.
1 Peter 1:6-7
… now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
Peter is referring to the process of removing impurities from gold. In this process the goldsmith will place the gold ore in a crucible to shield it from the flames. The crucible is then placed in the furnace and heated to 1,100 degrees Celsius. The impurities inside the gold will rise to the surface. The goldsmith will periodically remove the crucible from the furnace and remove the impurities from the surface of the molten gold. He continues this process until all the impurities have been removed and he can see his face in the reflection of the gold.
In our case, God is the one who puts us in the crucible and places us in the fire. The heat causes the impurities to rise to the surface where they are exposed and can be removed. God continues this process until he can see his reflection. And thus we “are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)
The furnace does not sound like much fun, and it is not. But we ae able consider it pure joy because we know God will not leave us there. We also have the crucible of the cross to shield us from the flames, and the result of the process will be praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
In chapter 29 we see God place his son Jacob in the crucible and begin to refine his character.
Jacob has shown some character issues in the previous chapters that God begins to root out and work on in Chapter 29. Here Jacob meets his match in the area of deception. God uses Laban to test Jacob in the same areas of physical desire and deception that he used to manipulate Esau and Isaac.
Laban sees a desire in Jacob and uses it against him. Just as Jacob used the stew to take the birthright of his brother, Laban uses Jacob’s desire for marriage to take 14 years of indentured servitude from him. Out of the gate Jacob only committed to seven years, but the man who deceived his own father is now deceived by his father-in-law.
“And when the morning comes, behold it was Leah.”
Laban tells Jacob that it is not right to dishonor the firstborn. Jacob lied to his father about being the firstborn, and now he experiences the surprise and consequences of being lied to by his father-in-law about his firstborn.
God is giving Jacob an opportunity. It is not a situation that Jacob wanted or planned for, but it is a chance to be sanctified. When Jacob was with Esau he was too selfish and sinful to honor the firstborn the way he should have. Now God is teaching him through marriage and 14 years of difficult labor what it means to do this well.
Those God chooses he will purify.
It is important we recognize that Chapter 28 comes first in this story. We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19) God meets Jacob in the depths of despair in Chapter 28 and delivers the promise of the gospel and shows him a picture of Christ through the stairway to heaven. Then God slows down his redemptive agenda with Israel for two decades to work on the sanctification of his son. Jacob is still in the process of sanctification until the end of his life, but he is changing. Jacob does not seek vengeance against Laban. After his time in Paddan Aram he no longer practices deception. And later he humbly seeks forgiveness from his brother Esau.
Being found in the fire of the furnace is a good thing, because God is in control and the pain will produce in us the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
4 You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; 5 and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons,
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
Nor faint when you are reproved by Him;
6 For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines,
And He scourges every son whom He receives.”
7 It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. 11 All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
What are some areas in your life where you need to be transformed into the image of Christ?
How should we respond to someone who is treating us like Laban treated Jacob?
What should our attitude be toward God when we suffer unjustly?
1 Peter 2:13-25
The Emmaus Trail is a weekly devotional study that explores the Bible’s theme of God reconciling himself to the world through the redemption of his Son.
That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.