The Deceiver is Deceived – Genesis 27-30

Our church family is reading through the first five books of the Bible together in ninety days. We invite you to join us as we believe this will be a time that will change our lives. 

Read Genesis 27-30

Just as quickly as Isaac’s life and story have appeared, we see him quickly fade away from the pages of Genesis. Isaac is both old and blind when his son, Jacob, tricks him with help from his mother. As we see Jacob’s plotting and his ridiculous disguise, we quickly discern he has the ethical makeup of a con artist. And while there are no heroes in this story, we soon see God shaping and remaking Jacob’s character.

Shortly after experiencing the vision of a ladder dropping down from heaven, Jacob journeys east. It is here he meets the beautiful Rachel and her scheming father, Laban – also a con artist. Jacob had met his match.

Remember, before leaving home, Jacob had tricked his brother. Now he spots the beautiful Rachel. In pursuit of this dream girl, Jacob agrees to work seven years for the beautiful Rachel’s hand in marriage. Yet, Laban was also father of the not so beautiful Leah, Rachel’s sister.

Jacob effectively tells Laban, “I’ll do anything for the hand of Rachel,” and Laban exploits the situation. First, Laban manages to become quite wealthy off the back of Jacob when he agrees to work for seven years for Rachel’s hand in marriage (Rachel must have been beautiful!). Then, Laban tricks Jacob into marrying Leah, Rachel’s older and unwanted sister. At the end of the seven years, Jacob demands to be given Rachel. Yet, after a night of revelry, he wakes up married to Rachel’s sister, Leah – evidently, too drunk to notice whom he had married in the dark. When the morning came, he is outraged at the deceit. As soon as Jacob realizes the deception, he confronts Laban who offers him a second deal: “Work for me for an additional seven years for Rachel’s hand.”

Consider Leah for a moment. Here was the girl no one wanted. She had to be part of the ploy set up by Laban. Consider this: where was Rachel during the wedding festival? Had Laban or Leah locked her away? Did Leah not correct Jacob when he referred to her by Rachel’s name? What did Jacob call his new wife on the first night of their marriage? Did Leah’s jealousy cause her to agree to this deception?

In the end, Jacob finally knew what it was like to be on the receiving end of the chicanery he played on his brother and father years before. His deceit of his brother Esau had boomeranged back to him when Laban said he must marry the older sister before he could have the younger sister. Could he now finally understand the pain he had caused his family?

The Series on the Ten Commandments: In Case You Missed It

Recently, I completed a series on the Ten Commandments. In the series introduction, I offered three reasons why the Ten Commandments remain important for our day:

1. The Ten Commandments communicate the character of God;

2. They show us the need for mediator;

3. They show us God’s grace.

In case you missed any of the series, here are the links to the series.

The First Command: You Shall Have No Other gods Before Me

Quick Summary: From the hit movie, The Life of Pi, to the gods of Mount Olympus, the Bible’s rationale for why worship should be exclusive.

The Second Command: Do Not Worship Idols

Quick Summary: Idols are not simply found on the silver screen of Indiana Jones movies or inside the pages of  National Geographic magazines.

The Third Command: Do Not Take the Lord’s Name in Vain

Quick Summary: More than profanity, God’s name is trademarked and copyrighted.

The Fourth Command: Remember the Sabbath

Quick Summary: Remembering our need for rest.

The Fifth Command: Honor Your Father and Mother

Quick Summary: Exploring the biblical stories of Noah and Joseph in how best to honor our parents.

The Sixth Command: You Shall Not Murder

Quick Summary: Thoughts on the practice of suicide, euthanasia, and abortion in looking at God’s rationale to protect human life.

The Seventh Command: You Shall Not Commit Adultery

Quick Summary: God designed sex as act that glues two people together. Sex is relational cement that belongs only in marriage.

The Eight Command: You Shall Not Steal

Quick Summary: Ask any mother of a preschooler and she will tell you children possess a keen sense of ownership.

The Ninth Command: You Shall Not Lie

Quick Summary: From former Notre Dame coach George O’Leary to the famous court cases of Casey Anthony and George Zimmerman, a look at the level of honesty in contemporary culture.

The Tenth Command: You Shall Not Covet

Quick Summary: The command that places handcuffs on our hearts in addition to our hands.

A Checklist on the Subject of Sex: Thinking Ahead

This Sunday, I’ll be preaching on the subject of sex at North Richland Hills Baptist Church. Every person who teaches or preaches regularly understands the discipline required in deciding what to include and what to omit when speaking. It’s no different for this upcoming message, “The Biblical Guidelines of Sex.” There will be much I will not include that may have been helpful to some; however, some questions will not be addressed because of the age range of our congregation that includes children and students. A pastor shouldn’t make his church blush.

Still, many thoughtful Christians want to know about the “grey areas” the Bible doesn’t directly address. Christians have questions related to sexual practices within marriage, as well as pornography, masturbation, birth control, and homosexuality (to name a few). Because of the sexually saturated culture we live in, we are faced with how to deal with sexual temptation on a constant basis and many want to know the fulness of God’s truth in all areas of life. I applaud such an effort.

So for individuals who are passionate about pursuing God’s will on all these matters and more, I point you to John Feinberg’s eight tests for making a moral decision where absolute right and wrongs are not presented in the Bible.

1. Am I Fully Persuaded that it Is Right? Paul says (Romans 14:5, 14,23) that whatever we do in these “grey areas,” we must be persuaded that it is acceptable before God. If we doubt that God will accept it, then this is sin (Romans 14:23).

2. Can I Do This as Unto the Lord? Whatever we do, the Bible calls on us to do it as unto the Lord (Romans 14:6-8).

3. Can I Do This without being a Stumbling Block to Other Christians? Much of Romans 14 calls on believers to watch out for another Christian’s walk with the Lord. If someone else sees us doing this, will he or she be offended? As much as possible, we should avoid offending other believers. Sometimes we will do this practice in privacy where only God sees and avoid doing it in front of others (Romans 14:22).

4. Does This Bring Peace? Certain practices may be acceptable for one person, but if others saw him indulge, it might stir up strife (Romans 14:17-18).

5. Does it Edify My Brother? Some activities may not create strife with another brother or sister in Christ, but they may not edify him or her either. You must choose activities that bring both peace and edify (Romans 14:19).

6. Is it Profitable? In 1 Corinthians 6:12 Paul addresses the issue of Christian liberty. He reminds believers that morally  indifferent practices are all lawful, but they may not all be profitable. If the act is unprofitable, I must refuse to do it.

7. Does it Enslave Me? Many things are good in and of themselves but they can master us (1 Corinthians 6:12). Christians must not love the world, but are to love God instead (1 John 2:15ff). It is not that everything in the world is evil and worthless. Rather, our devotion must be focused first and foremost on God. If we are to be enslaved to anything or anyone, it must be Jesus Christ.

8. Does it Bring God Glory? How do you know if your actions bring God glory (1 Corinthians 10:31)? If you answer no to any one of the first seven questions in regard to a particular activity, you can be sure you are not bringing God glory.

Source: John Feinberg’s Ethics For A Brace New World.