Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Humanity In Sin Part 36 - Jacob at Laban's Place

This is my personal summary of the preaching of Rev.Dr.Stephen Tong on 25th November 2007 in Newton Life. It was preached in Chinese with English translation.

Passage: Genesis 29

Many years have passed since the day Rebekah left her household. When Laban recognized Jacob was his sister’s son, he immediately ran to meet him because since the day his sister left with Abraham’s chief servant to marry Isaac, she never returned home anymore.

Laban welcomed Jacob to stay with him and Jacob worked for Laban in tending his flock. Later on, Laban asked what Jacob wanted, and he honestly said he was willing to work for 7 years to marry Rachel. Laban was pleased with the arrangement. His love was really great so time passed by very quickly.

However, Laban was a dishonest man. The Bible said he cheated Jacob’s wages 10 times. Although they were relatives, he was crafty when it concerned profit and loss. Superficially speaking, it seemed that Laban had won and Jacob had lost. But from God’s point of view, He was chastising Jacob for all the deceits he had done to his father and his brother. Jacob now met another deceiver and it was painful when God allowed punishment to come to him.

He was overjoyed at his wedding night as he had waited for 7 years before he could marry Rachel, only to find out that Laban had given Leah to him. For Laban, it did not matter whom Jacob married. He wanted to solve his own issue first, that was to fulfill the tradition to let his eldest daughter marry first. Since Leah was already married to Jacob, Laban now offered Jacob to wait another 7 days before giving Rachel to him, and in return he asked Jacob to work for him another 7 years.

The household would always have emotional battles and dissatifaction from then on, as Jacob loved Rachel much more than he loved Leah. Later on both Rachel and Leah let their maidservants sleep with him in order to compete in childbearing, so as to win their husband’s love. It was not Jacob’s intention to marry Leah. Jacob only wanted to marry one woman, Rachel, but Laban gave him both his daughters. And Rachel and Leah gave Jacob another two women. So eventually Jacob had 4 women, that gave him 12 sons and one daughter, Dinah. The Bible did not talk about other daughters.

But all these 12 sons became 12 tribes of Israel. Levi was not included in one of the tribes as it was set apart for priesthood, but there are two tribes from Joseph’s sons (Ephraim and Manasseh), so completing the 12 tribes.

All the other descendants would never exceed the importance of Jacob’s direct descendants. God would call Himself by the names of three successive generations, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Seen from human point of view, Joseph had a better character than all three of them. He did not lie and deceive others. Both Joseph and Daniel were almost faultless young men in the Bible as the Bible never recorded their sins specifically. They became the best model for young people in all history. But God never declared Himself as the God of Joseph, instead He called Himself the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as He made His covenant with them.

Abraham was the father of all who had faith. Isaac was an example of the man of peace. Jacob was the man who represents the great power of the gospel. Through Abraham, a new race was born. The kingdom that came from the 12 tribes of Israel became a representation of the rule of God. The existence of the nation of Israel became the representation of the kingdom of God. The law Israel received become the foundation of the most important laws of men. The tabernacle and temple of Israel become the most important symbolic representation of God with us. Under the Law of Israel, Jesus Christ the Son was born as the only Holy One who fulfilled the Law of God. God’s promise to Abraham that his seed shall become a blessing to all nation is a singular term which refers to Jesus Christ.

Through these people, God prepared the world for the Savior. So God changed Jacob’s name to Israel. Among the three meanings, one is most important. Isra refers to the Prince, and El refers to God. So Israel means the Crown Prince of God (Elohim). So the Israel represent the Church. In Christ, we are children of God. The Church is like the 12 tribes coming together.

The book of Genesis reveals God’s creation, experiences of generations, God’s judgment to the entire world and how He elected a few to be remnant to continue a new generation. When men went against the will of God, God destroyed them. Again the remnants were formed and history continued. Finally God chose the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to represent the Kingdom of God. The Jews are the foreshadow of the Church. The true Kingdom is from Jesus Christ. The true Israelites are those who believe and are baptized into His kingdom.


At 11:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seen from human point of view, Joseph had a better character than all three of them. He did not lie and deceive others. Both Joseph and Daniel were almost faultless young men in the Bible as the Bible never recorded their sins specifically.

Joseph had hidden sin. Before he was sold as slave to Egypt, Joseph was a 'psychopath'. He never thought of impact of his actions to others. (in telling the dreams). And he was set for destruction.

If you want to learn more of Joseph. Check this (at least the first sermon):
Gospel according to Joseph


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