Good morning!

Greetings in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.


Praying for you, your family, your community, and the rest of the world. Right now, the whole world is suffering because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Let’s pray together to God, Our Ever-Loving Father, His mercy and protection on all, and God’s healing on those who are infected by the COVID-19. We all believe God’s grace and love rest on all who look upon Him every moment with faith in Him.


The LORD is on my side; I will not fear.  What can man do to me? (Psalm 118:6)


“Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.” (Psalm 37:8)


Jacob became very angry, and he challenged Laban. “What’s my crime?” he demanded. “What have I done wrong to make you chase after me as though I were a criminal? 7You have rummaged through everything I own. Now show me what you found that belongs to you! Set it out here in front of us, before our relatives, for all to see. Let them judge between us!”


Jacob did not know that his wife Rachel had stolen the household idols. Jacob let Laban search through all that he had. Laban went first into Jacob’s tent to search there, then into Leah’s, and then the tents of the two servant wives—but he found nothing. Finally, he went into Rachel’s tent.


Rachel cleverly avoided Laban, her father, who was searching for the household idols. Before Laban came to her tent, Rachel had hidden the household idols in her camel saddle, and now she was sitting on them. When Laban had thoroughly searched her tent without finding them, she said to her father, “Please, sir, forgive me if I don’t get up for you. I’m having my monthly period.” So Laban continued his search and completed his investigation. But he could not find the household idols. 

Twenty years ago, Jacob fled from his brother Esau to Laban’s home. Esau wanted to kill Jacob after discovering Jacob stole his blessing from his father Isaac by disguising him as Esau. Isaac was old, and his eyesight was poor. Jacob wore Esau’s clothes, and Isaac could smell the scent of Esau. Jacob completely convinced Isaac that Jacob was Esau, and Isaac gladly blessed Jacob. Soon Esau and Isaac realized what Jacob did, and Esau decided to kill Jacob.


Jacob fled from Esau and took a long journey to his uncle Laban’s house, 700 km away (about 430 miles away). Jacob barely slept the first night by laying his head on a stone under the night sky. Jacob did not notice, but God was with Jacob, who was alone and in fear. God appeared in Jacob’s dream and comforted Jacob. Then God blessed Jacob and gave the very same covenantal promise that He made with Jacob’s grandfather, Abraham, and his father, Isaac. Jacob, for the first time, personally met God. 


Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I wasn’t even aware of it!” But he was also afraid and said, “What an awesome place this is! It is none other than the house of God, the very gateway to heaven!” Following early mooring, Jacob built an altar and worshipped God. He prayed to God authentically with a contrite heart, asking God’s help and His protection till returning to home again someday. God heard Jacob’s prayer and never forgot it. 


With the strength of God, Jacob hurried on, finally arriving at his uncle Laban’s house. Laban welcomed Jacob, and it was a great comfort to Jacob. Jacob felt at home. However, Laban was an equally tricky person as Jacob. Laban tricked Jacob and him work for fourteen years for his two daughters, although Jacob wanted to get married to the younger daughter, Rachel. Laban switched Leah, his older daughter, with Rachel on the wedding night. Jacob never forgot this.


After Rachel had given birth to Joseph, Jacob came to Laban and made a deal to get his own portion from Laban. Before seeing Laban, Jacob carefully planned to let Laban have an illusion to get more, but Jacob’s plan was designed to maximize Jacob’s share. Without knowing Jacob’s cunning plot, Laban gladly accepted Jacob’s offer. 


Laban was not an easy person. He also quickly devised his plan to secure Jacob’s excellent offer. He secretly told his sons to protect his property from any attempts from Jacob to steal his wealth. However, Jacob was smarter than Laban and all of his sons. Jacob fixated his revenge against what Laban did to him. Jacob, who once met God, forgot God and His grace received from God. Instead, Jacob was getting his thrill while maximizing his wealth at Laban’s expense. He did all these slowly and steadily so that nobody could notice what was really going on.


As a result, Jacob became very wealthy, with large flocks of sheep and goats, female and male servants, and many camels and donkeys. Jacob practically stole all of these from Laban. Laban’s sons finally realized what Jacob did and grumbled about him. “Jacob has robbed our father of everything!” they said. “He has gained all his wealth at our father’s expense.” And Jacob also noticed a change in Laban’s attitude toward him.  


Jacob got what he wanted, but again he did not know what would come next. Jacob realized that he was no longer able to stay with Laban. However, returning home was not an option. His brother Esau was waiting for Jacob’s return to kill Jacob. Jacob had no place to go. Jacob struggle, but Jacob remembered God, who was with him on the first night. 


Jacob realized that there was none but God to whom he could go. Jacob prayed to God with his contrite heart and asked for His help. He poured out all of his pains, concerns, and fears by spreading each one by one before God. God heard Jacob’s prayer. It was Jacob’s second true prayer. To God, Jacob was a prodigal son, who went out his own way without remembering God for twenty years, but Jacob returned to God. God, merciful and full of love, received Jacob and heard Jacob’s prayer. Then God comforted Jacob and gave His answer.


God said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your father and grandfather and to your relatives there, and I will be with you.” Jacob knew Esau was waiting for Jacob to kill him, but Jacob decided to follow God’s answer for this time. It was Jacob’s true courage and determination in faith. Jacob trusted God rather than relying on his own wisdom and conclusion, which was a gigantic step toward to God. What a stark contrast! When Jacob met God the first time, Jacob Just demanded what he wanted while essentially telling God, “if God gave me a good thing, I will give a good thing back to God.” Jacob was at the center of the world, and he demanded God to serve him. Now, Jacob was obedient to God.


Then Jacob quickly made into action. Jacob then ran from Laban without telling Laban. He left with his family and his belongings acquired from Laban’s house. At the time they left, Laban was some distance away, shearing his sheep. Jacob outwitted Laban the Aramean, for they set out secretly. Rachel stole her father’s household idols and took them with her without telling Jacob.


Three days later, Laban was told that Jacob had fled. So he gathered a group of his relatives and set out in hot pursuit. He caught up with Jacob seven days later in the hill country of Gilead. But the previous night God had appeared to Laban the Aramean in a dream and told him, “I’m warning you—leave Jacob alone!”


Laban was much stronger than Jacob, but he could not do anything to Jacob in fear because of God. As Laban approached Jacob, Laban gently argued why Jacob fled. Then Laban said that he just wanted his idols back. Without knowing what God did to Laban, and what Rachel did, Jacob initially bagged Laban’s mercy while pleading with his innocence about the stolen idols. Laban searched everywhere, but Laban could not find his stolen idols.


Jacob, who was still worldly, then exploded and became very angry. If Jacob knew what God did and Rachel did, Jacob would have had been silent. Instead, Jacob poured out to Laban everything that he did to Laban and with some extras, as usual, to put Laban into a corner. Jacob successfully overturned the situation with his earthly wisdom. However, as we know, it was not Jacob, but God let it happen. 


Soon Jacob found what God did to Laban. Then Jacob should have given thanks to God and been humble before God. Instead, Jacob used God for his own advantage by saying, “In fact, if the God of my father had not been on my side—the God of Abraham and the fearsome God of Isaac—you would have sent me away empty-handed. But God has seen your abuse and my hard work. That is why he appeared to you last night and rebuked you!” God was very patient with Jacob.


Being pushed by Jacob, Laban had nothing to do. Laban decided to listen to whatever Jacob said. Jacob still did not know what Rachel did. Jacob could have been gentle, humble, and forgiving as God did to Jacob.


Laban then pleaded with his blood relationship with his daughters and stressed the very source of all that Jacob possessed. In fear of God, Laban politely said to Jacob, “These women are my daughters, these children are my grandchildren, and these flocks are my flocks—in fact, everything you see is mine. But what can I do now about my daughters and their children? So come, let’s make a covenant, you and I, and it will be a witness to our commitment.” Laban became really defensive. God was good to Jacob not because Jacob was upright before God and men but because God loved Jacob unconditionally. Jacob believed he did right, and Laban did wrong, but it is not true as we know.


Jacob took a stone and set it up as a monument. Then he told his family members, “Gather some stones.” So they gathered stones and piled them in a heap. Then Jacob and Laban sat down beside the pile of stones to eat a covenant meal. To commemorate the event, Laban called the place Jegar-sahadutha (which means “witness pile” in Aramaic), and Jacob called it Galeed (which means “witness pile” in Hebrew).


Then Laban declared, “This pile of stones will stand as a witness to remind us of the covenant we have made today.” He continued, “May God keep watch between us to make sure that we keep this covenant when we are out of each other’s sight. If you mistreat my daughters or if you marry other wives, God will see it even if no one else does. He is a witness to this covenant between us.” 


“Here is this pile of stones and this pillar I have set up between me and you,” Laban said to Jacob.


Jacob responded. “This pile of stones and the pillar are reminders that I will not pass beyond this pile to come to harm you and that you will not pass beyond this pile and this pillar to come to harm me. May the God of Abraham and the god of Nahor, the gods of their father, judge between us.” Jacob clearly knew who God was. God was different from gods that their forefathers before Abraham worshipped. God of Abraham and Isaac was the God who was the true God, and who was always with Jacob and protected him from all harms, including Laban who was about to attack Jacob.


So Jacob took an oath before the fearsome and loving God of his grandfather, Abraham, and his father, Isaac, to respect the boundary line. Jacob experienced the awesomeness of God, which made Jacob one step closer to God. Now Jacob became much different from Jacob, who just left home after deceiving Isacc and Esau. Even so, we cannot say Jacob was perfect before God. Jacob was still a work in progress of God like us.


Then Jacob offered a sacrifice to God there on the mountain as he watched his father Isaac did. Then he invited everyone to a covenant feast. Both Laban and Jacob’s families ate together.  After eating, they spent the night on the mountain. God brought peace between Jacob and Laban. It was done by God, not by either Jacob or Laban. We know both Jacob and Laban did not know about the stolen idols. If they did, they could have gotten into a severe conflict between Jacob and Laban. Laban could have wiped out Jacob based on the clear evidence of stealing Laban’s most precious possessions: Laban’s idols. Instead, they were in peace, and the loving relationship came back.

What can we learn from the above? Our God is God of peace. Peace can come between enemies as long as people listen to God and follow what God says although people are deceiving and being deceived, hurting and being hurt each other like Laban and Jacob.

To bring peace, God sometimes directly intervenes as He did to Laban. Laban was about to hunt down and destroy Jacob for revenge on what Jacob did — stealing his possessions by deceiving him and taking away his precious daughter and grandchildren without telling even one single word to him.  


for God is not a God of confusion but of peace, (1 Corinthians 14:33a)


From Laban’s point of view, what he was about to do was doing justice. But, God prohibited it because it would not bring peace. Laban also had already forgotten what he did to Jacob. He felt that he gave fair shares for Jacob’s twenty-year work. Jacob got his two daughters as agreed. However, Jacob deceptively took more than what was fair to his eyes. Therefore, Laban was about to do justice. 


Jacob had a totally different view. He was a victim, and Laban was a monster who tricked him multiple times and lied to him. Here is Jacob’s view:


“For twenty years, I have been with you, caring for your flocks. In all that time, your sheep and goats never miscarried. In all those years, I never used a single ram of yours for food. If any were attacked and killed by wild animals, I never showed you the carcass and asked you to reduce the count of your flock. No, I took the loss myself! You made me pay for every stolen animal, whether it was taken in broad daylight or in the dark of night.


“I worked for you through the scorching heat of the day and through cold and sleepless nights. Yes, for twenty years I slaved in your house! I worked for fourteen years earning your two daughters and then six more years for your flock. And you changed my wages ten times!”


Jacob portrayed himself as a saint. Jacob did everything and did more than anybody would do. He was super honest. He sacrificed his life and his wealth for Laban. Even so, he did not make even one single complaint. Laban had never heard Jacob’s hardship and even losses that he took. But Jacob had never forgotten the switch of his bride on the wedding night. As a result, Jacob had to work for another seven years unfairly to get Rachel, whom he wanted. He also made an acquisition that Laban changed his wages ten times. This part is not clear because nothing about the wage changes was written in the Bible. Most likely, Laban might have changed Jacob’s wage once or twice, not ten times, based on Laban’s personality. However, Jacob felt that Laban changed his wage ten times. The Bible only records one conversation about Jacob’s wage, and Jacob took advantage of the wage discussion with Laban. Jacob secretly carved out more than the fair share as agreed.


What do we feel while reading Jacob’s story? Is it just Jacob’s story? Or is it our story too? Exaggeration to the limit by pushing to the borderline between honesty and dishonesty is for granted nowadays. It represents our sinful nature.


God knew all, even including the deepest part of our hearts. Thus, God knew all of Jacob’s heart, but God kept loving Jacob. Why? Jacob was God’s beloved child like us. Then why did God kept loving Jacob?  God wanted Jacob to be truly transformed into the Jacob whom God wanted — the true heir of His promise given to Jacob’s grandfather, Abraham, and father, Isaac. This is the reason why God keeps loving us under all circumstances.


God saved Jacob by bringing peace between Jacob and Laban. Both did not know what really happened, but in the end, both were in peace. Our God is God of peace, who brings in peace for all. However, His real heart is always on His own children. Are they any parents to fix their eyes on other children? No. Their entire attention goes to their children first. God brought peace between Laban and Jacob, but His eyes were always on Jacob because God loved Jacob. We are His children, and God’s eyes are always on us to protect us from all kinds of harm.  Nobody can harm us. Yes, nobody. God brings peace for us. Laban was much more powerful to wipe out Jacob, but God intervened and brought peace between Jacob and Laban to protect Jacob.


Neither Jacob nor Laban knew what Rachel did. Without knowing this truth, Jacob became very angry. Yes, Jacob was still God’s work in progress, but his anger only delayed and prolonged the time and duration of God’s hand on Jacob. 


When we feel that we are vindicated and proven to be right, we’d better be humble to God, who leads to our vindication. There is none who knows everything except God.  Instead, we see God and God’s merciful and loving hand that always works for His children. Then be gentle and gracious to others as God has done to us repeatedly rather than demanding or even angry at them without knowing what God did for us behind the scene.



Yes, the LORD is for me; he will help me.

       I will look in triumph at those who hate me. (Psalm 118:7)


But now, this is what the Lord says—

       he who created you, Jacob,   

       he who formed you, Israel:

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;

      I have summoned you by name; you are mine.

When you pass through the waters,

      I will be with you;

and when you pass through the rivers,

       they will not sweep over you.

When you walk through the fire,

       you will not be burned;

       the flames will not set you ablaze.

For I am the Lord your God,

       the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;  (Isaiah 43:1-3a)

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