No One Can Keep God From Fulfilling His Promises (Genesis 30:25-31:55)
No power on Earth can thwart the Lord! God will accomplish His mission! God will take care of His people and even the most sly wickedness on Earth will not keep the Lord from fulfilling His promises to His people.
That definitely won’t keep people from trying to thwart God’s plan though. Individuals, rulers, authorities, and even entire countries have attempted to thwart the mission of God in this world. But God has made promises to His people and He intends to keep them.
In our present circumstances, however, we don’t often see that this is in process. We don’t live at a time in which we see those abundant blessings falling upon us. And Jacob didn’t either. But Jacob had been given a promise and he would seek to live by it. Jacob wasn’t always a man that sought the Lord, but after all he’d gone through it was time to go home. It was time to go back to the Land of Promise.
These promises had been made to Abraham, Isaac, and then Jacob.
“And behold, the LORD stood above it and said, “I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” (Genesis 28:13-15 ESV)
And despite Laban’s best attempts, God would fulfill His promises to Jacob.
These promises, as we have seen repeatedly, are promises that apply to you as well. God was doing something special in the life of Jacob, that cannot be argued. But these promises were promises that were fulfilled in Christ. All the families of the Earth are blessed in Christ. He fulfills these promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And we are the beneficiaries of them.
“Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.” (Galatians 3:7-9 ESV)
God the Son came to Earth, lived a perfect life on our behalf, and died on the cross as the substitute for sinners. He did so to bring us into God’s family, into this covenant with God. All nations are blessed in Christ because salvation and forgiveness of sins has gone out to all nations through this child who was born of the family of Abraham, who was the perfect God-man, perfectly achieved salvation for us. All those who trust in Christ are given these glorious promises. They are blessed along with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
And here is what I want you to see today. The powerful cannot stop God from blessing His people. There is nothing on Earth that can stop God from keeping His promises to His people.
Remember, Laban tricked Jacob. After seven years of labor, he was supposed to marry Rachel, but Laban slipped Leah into her place. Then Jacob worked seven more years as the fee for marrying the woman he actually loved, Rachel. And Laban had taken advantage of Jacob every step of the way.
And at this point Jacob had worked these 14 years and probably a few more. But now, at the birth of Joseph, he knew it was time to go home. This would be a dangerous endeavor, and he didn’t have anything. He was a part of Laban’s household and as such, nothing was really his. He had no ability to care for his family on the way home. But God made promises to Him and God commanded him to go. And because the powerful cannot stop God from blessing His people, Jacob would go home.
The Powerful Cannot Keep God From Fulfilling His Promises! (Genesis 30:25-36)
Rachel gave birth to Joseph and he longed to go home. It makes sense, for he knew that there was coming a day when he would need to leave and go back to the Promised Land. So, he said as much to Laban (Genesis 30:25-26).
If we consider Jacob’s situation for a moment then all the problems here become very clear. Jacob had nothing when he came to Laban. Jacob worked for Laban’s daughters and nothing else was agreed upon. So basically, Jacob was living in Laban’s household and had nothing of his own other than his wife and children. And to make matters worse, Jacob had not been treated by Laban as a family member but more similar to a slave that has no rights. Without Laban, Jacob had no ability to provide for his large family and Laban knew it. He knew that he had this power over Jacob. And if we know one thing about Laban, it is that he will exploit this to his advantage.
Jacob wanted to go but Laban did not want to let Jacob go (Genesis 30:29-31a). The reason for this is clear. God’s blessing was upon Jacob. And because of that Laban was reaping many, many rewards.
The reason for so many blessings in the house of Laban was that God had made a promise to Jacob. All nations would be blessed in him (Genesis 28:14). And Laban was receiving blessing after blessing because of his relationship to Jacob. I would argue that this is not unlike Christians within America. I would not say that America is Christian, but I would say that America has reaped mountains of blessings because of the Christians within the country. But unlike non-Christians in America, Laban understands that he will benefit from keeping Jacob around.
If we are summing up the issue at hand, it is this. Jacob doesn’t have anything to provide for his family. He is married and has children, but he has nothing else. Everything else is Laban’s. The work that Jacob has done and the prosperity that he has brought has just benefitted Laban. And now Jacob wants to go.
Jacob wanted to go, and God had promised him a land. So, Jacob made an offer that Laban could not refuse. Every speckled and spotted sheep would be Jacob’s, every black lamb would be Jacob’s and the speckled and spotted goats would be Jacob’s. These color combinations were rare. Therefore, Laban believed that this would be a small number of his flock. Jacob wanted to go and God had commanded him to do so. So, Jacob made an offer that Laban could not refuse. This would definitely not be enough for Jacob to provide for his family. Or would it?
God gave Jacob a vision before this event that told him the genetic makeup of the flock. Jacob had information from God that Laban did not have. He knew that there would be an abundance of these rare colors in this flock. Jacob would make a fortune in this deal.
“In the breeding season of the flock I lifted up my eyes and saw in a dream that the goats that mated with the flock were striped, spotted, and mottled.” (Genesis 31:10 ESV)
I must, for a moment, discuss the sticks. The peeling of the sticks, looking at sticks, etc. Really, I’m not sure, though many ideas have been put forward. It is very possible that the stronger of the flock were hybrid animals and more prone to producing striped, spotted, and mottled offspring. When you also consider that the trees here have been studied and shown to increase fertility rates and health when eaten or even drank when the water has been steeped in this wood, some very reasonable answers seem to reveal themselves. But, we don’t have a conclusive reason for it. We just know that he was using what he knew of the situation to make these decisions. God had shown Jacob what he needed and he made a game plan.
And so, Jacob ended up in a similar situation as his father and grandfather while in a foreign land. He was prospering.
The mighty today have this notion that they can disregard God and His people. The truly extreme people in our society today, by modern standards, are those that attempt to live godly lives and raise their families according to God’s standard.
I read an article just a few days ago that stated that three of 2022’s well known movies had Christians as their villains. The article was, of course, trying to get Christians to learn something about how people view them in society today. But I actually think this says more about where our society is today than where Christianity is. In other words, Christians being portrayed as villains more often tells us what our society really thinks of us.
But I’m also not surprised. Lawsuits and court cases are flying around today that attempt to harm or shut down Christian institutions. Christian adoption agencies have faced significant troubles over the last few years. And Christian schools and colleges have also faced a growing number of legal challenges. It is troubling to watch.
But here is the truth that we need to hold to and understand at this time. God will bot be thwarted. Christ and His people will be victorious.
“At least five times….the faith has to all appearance gone to the dogs. In each of these five cases it was the dog that died.” (G.K. Chesterton, “The Everlasting Man”) 
And his point should be one that we remember well and even think about in our day. Many people within our society see Christianity as this dying force in America. And they would like to do what they can to see it disappear. But the powers of this world will not defeat the Lord. His Church will stand. His Church will be on the move and everything the Lord has said that He will do will be done. The Church will storm the gates of Hell and will not be overcome. We will prevail just as God has promised. (Matthew 16:19)
The powerful in our day, the large anti-Christian sentiment, and even lawmakers will not thwart God’s plan. His Kingdom will expand. And there will be people from every tribe, nation, and tongue worshiping around the throne of God (Revelation 7:9).
Because of the powerful and crooked man, Laban, Jacob was in what seemed to be an insurmountable situation. But the Lord made a way.
And this way was not just a way, it was an incredible way. It was a way of abundance (Genesis 30:37-43). God didn’t just get him out of Laban’s house. God gave abundance much like he’d done with Abraham and Isaac.
And that is a story that we have seen time and time again. The powerful seek to silence Christians. They bring their violence and police forces to shut them down and God blesses His people.
In the Book of Acts and in Revelation, the Jews sought to destroy the Church. But rather than disappear, God grew His Church. And in one of the more incredible situations in Acts, one of the chief persecutors of the Church was converted, the Apostle Paul. And in AD 70, Rome overran Jerusalem and destroyed the temple. But the Christians had left town and were expanding.
Rome sought to destroy the church. But Rome died and the Church expanded. Through persecution, they sought to destroy God’s people but God blessed His people and multiplied them.
In modern times this happened in Russia, and is happening now in China and in Africa. And the lesson is quite simple. The powerful will not prevail over God’s people. The powerful will not keep God from fulfilling His promises to His people.
Why then do we become so discouraged? Why do we cower in fear when the powerful speak and act against us?
Is it because we believe that God will abandon us to the dogs. Remember, it is the dogs that will be destroyed, the enemies of the Church. God will keep his promises!
God Will Act On Behalf Of His People (Genesis 31:1-35)
Things were beginning to get scary for Jacob (Genesis 31:1-2). Laban’s sons were discussing the fact that Jacob had taken so much of Laban’s wealth. And Jacob also noticed that Laban was not too happy with him. His time with Laban was now even more uncomfortable than it was before their agreement. And it was at this point that God told him to leave (Genesis 31:3).
Jacob could not just pack up and go. He was no longer a single man. He had an entire family to think about. And, more importantly, he had wives to convince. So, Jacob rehearsed the interactions with Laban, though he left out the most atrocious of his interactions which would have been the Leah for Rachel swap that happened on the wedding night. But I guess that would have been a difficult topic among the three of them. But, in the end his wives wholeheartedly agreed and said that they themselves had been treated as foreigners, their father had sold them, and that he had devoured the money (Genesis 31:15). It seems that they hadn’t forgotten how their father had traded them for Jacob’s labor and the wealth that this brought to Laban.
And so, they left.
Leaving was no simple task. Now there was a flock to take as well as his growing family. But they left with everything that was theirs. But the time of their leaving could not have been worse for Laban. And to escape Laban, they left at a time when he would be very busy which would have been maddening to Laban. All available workers would have been sheering sheep from dawn to dusk when Jacob decided to flee. And by doing so Jacob tricked the trickster (Genesis 31:20).
We are told that Jacob and his family left with something that was not theirs. Rachel stole her father’s household gods. We are not told what this is exactly. There is some indication that this was possibly a likeness of family members that was used to see the future or find good fortune. This very well could be the “divination” that Laban references earlier in the story. Whatever the case may be, whether this is an idol that Laban has or a likeness of the family that he tries to divine good fortune from, it is bad for Laban to have and it was bad for Rebeca to steal.
But the big thing that happened here is that Laban and a group from his household caught up with Jacob and had the ability to do whatever he wanted. It seems that Laban had intentions on getting revenge. He was angry that he had been tricked. He was angry about a lot of things, but God intervened. Notice what Laban said,
“It is in my power to do you harm. But the God of your father spoke to me last night, saying, ‘Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.’” (Genesis 31:29 ESV)
Laban had the ability to do great harm to Jacob. And he probably felt justified since Jacob had left the way that he did. But God ensured that Jacob and his family would not be harmed. He did not leave Jacob’s flight to chance.
But there was one more matter to be settled and it was the matter of the household gods. These must have been very important to Laban, for he searched and searched for them. And Jacob obviously had no idea that they were in Rebeca’s possession for he proclaimed that anyone found with them would not live (Genesis 31:32). But Rachel told the story that has gotten many women out of trouble or a circumstance they don’t want to be in, she said it was her time of the month as she sat on the stolen goods (Genesis 31:32).
God kept Jacob and his family safe through all of this. God was with His people.
I wonder sometimes whether we actually believe that God is on our side.
When turmoil strikes us, we can grow distraught. But we have to understand that god is on our side. God is with us and that means everything.
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31 ESV)
When God commanded, Jacob began doing difficult things. He began trying to convince his wives to leave even though they all understood this could be dangerous. Jacob didn’t freeze. He went. He trusted that the Lord would care for him, even as the surroundings grew more and more difficult. He didn’t know how, but he trusted God would fulfill His promise to Jacob. He trusted, that, if necessary, God would intervene.
We read these stories over and over to children and don’t think of the implications for our own lives. What happened with Daniel when he obeyed God and not the king and was thrown into the lion’s den? What happened to Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego?
Do we believe that, even if faithfulness were to lead us to death, God would be with us? Isn’t that what we see in martyrdom of Stephen in the Book of Acts? Isn’t that what we see in many stories of Church history?
In the mid 1500’s Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley were burned at the stake for their faithfulness to Christ during the English Reformation and the persecution of Bloody Mary. They believed that, thought they be put to death, God would work in England. As legend would have it, as the flames were burning them Hugh Latimer said to Nicholas Ridley,
“Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man; we shall this day light such a candle by God’s grace in England as shall never be put out”.
That is faith in God who loves and cares for His people, even in death. Their death would not be in vain. God would intervene, and even use their faithfulness to accomplish His mission. God would use their death to keep His promises and bless the nations.
Do we have faith like that? Do we have faith that God will keep His promises, even as society grows darker? Do you believe that God will be faithful?
God Will Vindicate His People (Genesis 31:36-55)
Jacob had had enough. He was furious. After 14 years of labor, part of it he was tricked into, he was livid. He had grown Laban’s wealth and not received a share of it. And now he was being hunted down though he’d technically done nothing wrong. It was not Laban that had the right to be upset here, it was Jacob and his family.
Jacob understood that his relationship with Laban was one where he had been taken advantage of very much. But for 14 years he was unable to do anything about it. He had been tricked. And this was not the only thing that had taken place. But he understood that the Lord was with him, and if the Lord had not been with him Laban would have abused him until he was eventually destroyed.
Laban’s response to all of this was odd and untruthful. Laban claimed that Jacob was taking everything from him. But it is simply not true. Laban had bartered off his daughters for Jacob’s labor, since Jacob agreed and did the work these were Jacob’s wives. He had also made a deal for these flocks. They were Jacob’s not Laban’s. Jacob had earned them. But it is this way when someone who loves control loses control. But God had so arranged things that Jacob was leaving a foreign land with wealth, much like Abraham and Isaac had already done. And Laban was left with no option but to make a covenant with Jacob.
Even in this covenant the wickedness of Laban is revealed. Laban place the names of other “gods” alongside the One True God in the covenant. And he also shows a real lack of comprehending his own wickedness when he claimed the covenant would be broken if Jacob oppressed Laban’s daughters or took other wives (Genesis 31:50). It is as if he doesn’t realize that he forced Jacob into bigamy and treated his own daughers poorly as he did the swap of Leah for Rachel so that he could get another seven years labor out of Jacob. He had oppressed his own daughter’s through deceit.
Regardless of Laban’s wickedness, Jacob was vindicated. Laban was now forced to treat him as an equal in this covenant, and suddenly, because of God’s intervention, it was Jacob that held the power. And the family was allowed to go their way.
Again, this is something we see repeatedly throughout Scripture. And we see it coming to us in our future. Look at a rough outline of the Book of Revelation. After the letters to the churches we see the church being persecuted, then we see them avenged, and then we see the Church vindicated. The Church is show to have been right all along and it is they who are rewarded and remain with the Lord forever.
A person is vindicated when he chose a side of an issue, stuck with it, was thought to be wrong, and in the end is found to have been correct all along. And there is coming a day when the Church will be vindicated. We who have been mocked for our beliefs will be shown, in the end to have been on the side of right. And Revelation 19-21 tell us the story of the Church’s vindication. All the enemies of the Church will be defeated and we will enter into our eternal home where there is no pain, no shame, and no tears. And we will be with the Lord forever in a place of perfect righteousness.
And here is what that means for us today. Today you are called bigoted for your beliefs. Today you are seen as a narrow minded neanderthal by many people. Today you are viewed as holding people back. You are viewed as backwards. And tomorrow you will be shown to be 100% correct to have placed your faith in Jesus Christ. Tomorrow you will be shown to be in the truth. Tomorrow you will be shown to have raised your family as you ought and prioritized what you ought. Someday, you will be vindicated.
It is easy to just go along with society and the world. As I’ve often heard it said, only a live fish can swim against the current. It takes effort and strength to swim the other direction. But here is fuel for that effort. God is with you. God has made promise after promise to you and for you. And He will keep these promises. It feels like things are falling apart. Look to God’s promises. Trust His promises and walk faithfully in Him. No one can stop the Lord from keeping His promises, He will act on your behalf, and one day when the dust settles it is God’s people that will be vindicated. Trust the Lord and walk in faithfulness.
R. Dwain Minor