Today, I want to tell you about Jacob's get-rich-quick scheme. Jacob had absolutely nothing when he first visited Laban, but to our great surprise within twenty years he had four wives, many sons, and a daughter. He also had a very large flock of sheep and goats. In fact he had many more sheep and goats than Laban had in his herds. How could that be?
The last verse in Genesis chapter 31 gives a summary of Jacob's increase in wealth. "And the man increased exceedingly, and had much cattle, and maidservants, and menservants, and camels, and asses."
Jacob’s get-rich-quick-scheme started after the birth of Joseph, for at that time Jacob wanted to leave Laban and return to Canaan to see his father. He had been away for 14 years by that time, so, he said to Laban, Let me go that I may return home to my own country and see my father.
But Laban stalled from letting Jacob go and pleaded with him to stay, for he knew that under Jacob's care His flocks had multiplied. Jacob was good at caring for animals, and God had blessed his work many times.
To win Jacob's heart, and to keep him as his herdsman, Laban asked Jacob how much he would need to pay him in wages to look after his flocks.
Jacob quietly answered that he wanted no wages, but he did want one thing! He wanted Laban to agree that whatever number of lambs or kids were born with brown or spotted wool would belong to Jacob's herds.
Now Jacob’s suggestion was a no brainer to Laban. He didn’t even take time to think about it because the number of times that lambs or kids were born brown or spotted were relatively few. Shepherds might have a flock of 100 sheep with only one born brown, or one born with spotted wool.
So, Laban jumped at this opportunity that seemed to be a great bargain. It meant that his daughters and their children would stay with him and he would have Jacob as his herdsman. It was a great deal that would cost him next to nothing. Laban was happy and Jacob got to work as a herdsman, work that he knew and loved so well.
But Laban was not happy for long, because with God’s blessing, Jacob found a way that many of the sheep and goats in his care were born with brown or spotted wool. Jacob used white sticks in the watering troughs to cause the sheep and goats to conceive in a way that they later gave birth to brown-coloured lambs or kids. Jacob even selected the stronger sheep and the healthy goats to conceive this way. So, before many years Jacob’s flocks were multiplying with strong, healthy, brown and spotted sheep, while Laban’s flocks grew smaller and looked sickly.
For years Laban had tried to use Jacob as cheap labour and keep him poor, so in His goodness God gave a great increase to Jacob. God even met with Jacob and confirmed that this increase of flocks was God’s blessing freely given to him. Jacob had the skills as a herdsman, but God had the power to multiply his herds with brown and spotted sheep. This went on for six years until Laban couldn’t handle it anymore. He was getting very upset. Jacob could see that Laban was angry and acted strangely toward him, all because Jacob was gaining more and more sheep, but Jacob was losing more and more of Laban’s friendship. What was he to do?
At that difficult time, God met with Jacob and said, “Return unto the land of thy fathers, and to thy kindred, and I will be with thee.” Jacob told his wives that the God of Bethel, who had spoken to him in a dream at Bethel, the place marked with the stones he had used for his pillow, that same God of glory had spoken again, saying, “…now arise get thee out from this land, and return unto the land of thy kindred.” It was God’s will for Jacob to go home to see his father Isaac. Thankfully, his wives, Rachel and Leah, were quite ready to obey God. They were ready to pack up and go with Jacob. So the journey south began.
The Bible says that Jacob put his wives and sons upon camels. He ordered his servants to round up all his sheep and his goats to move them out on the long journey to the land of Canaan. But did Laban not see what was happening?
At the time of Jacob’s departure, Laban had been busy shearing his sheep in another place. Jacob used his opportunity to get out of Syria and away from Laban to be free from his stern control. Jacob knew that Laban would have tried to stop him from leaving with his wives and children, and all those sheep and goats. By the time Laban found out that Jacob was returning to his father, Isaac, everyone was gone. God had been good to Jacob.
Truly, in twenty years Jacob had been greatly blessed by his God. God’s promises were real to guide and provide; God’s presence was also real to keep him safe.
The blessing of God had been upon Jacob’s life ever since his father Isaac had put his hand on his head to bless him. It was not because Jacob was better, or wiser, or stronger that he prospered. It was because the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob was faithful to keep his covenant promises. How do we get such blessings in our lives?
We need to know and trust in God’s Son, the Lord Jesus. The Bible says that all blessings flow down to us through the Lord Jesus, as the Saviour of sinners.
This is true because Jesus is God’s covenant Son. In him is every covenant blessing. The Bible says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:” (Ephesians 1:3).
Throughout his earthly life, everyone who met the Lord Jesus and received His grace were richly blessed. They have untold heavenly riches such as, pardon from sin, peace with God, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. They are given spiritual eyes to know and love God. This is the greatest blessing that you could ever receive. While some put their hope in making money or other earthly riches, Christians enjoy the true riches of God’s eternal kingdom.
The Lord Jesus said, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).
To be a member of God’s kingdom is to be very rich in grace.. It gives you power to live for God now in this world, and it guarantees you a home in heaven, where you will worship and serve the Lord for ever and ever. This is not because you are better, but because you have the Lord Jesus in your heart. Here is a beautiful song about the true riches every Christian possesses by faith in the Lord Jesus.
I'd rather have Jesus than silver or gold;
I'd rather be His than have riches untold;
I'd rather have Jesus than houses or lands.
I'd rather be led by His nail pierced hand
Than to be the king of a vast domain
Or be held in sin's dread sway.
I'd rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today.
Pastor Ian Goligher
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