In today’s passage, we see what the atmosphere that deception breeds. Among Laban, Jacob, Leah and Rachel, it is all going downhill fast.
Then God speaks into the situation: “Return to the land of your fathers and to your relatives” – the very thing that had driven him to this situation. But God does not send him back on his own. In His graciousness, He promises: “I will be with you”.
So Jacob obeys, but does it his way (with deception). The results are sins among all three people: (1) Fear on his part; (2) Anger on Laban part and (3) theft on Rachel part.
But, amazingly enough, God’s character does not change. He protects Jacob from Laban. In a moment of anger, Jacob rashly promises to kill anyone who had in fact stolen Laban’s household idols. He never knew how close he came to killing his own favourite wife, Rachel! It shows how seldom our anger achieves the righteousness of God.
So both Jacob and Laban make an oath before God at “Mizpah”, also translated as “watchtower”. They want God to be their witness who could be the only acceptable witness to both of them as they went their separate ways.
God is bringing Jacob in full circle. Jacob finally acknowledges openly that God has blessed and protected him, regardless of his own character flaws and his own bargain. But before God starts building anything fresh and new, He brings him back to the reason he had to flee. He needs to face his brother and to admit what He has done and who he is.
Jacob calls out to God, “Save me”. But like many of us, he has a plan “B” and “C” just in case as well. Despite this, God answers his cry, going so far as to come and struggle with Jacob in human form. But before God grants Jacob’s request to bless him, He asks him one Question: “What is your name?”
Remember that originally Jacob only gained his blessing from Isaac under false pretense. Jacob now comes clean with God: he answers “Jacob”: remember his name means, “he deceives.” At this point in the story, I think some of us would be nodding our heads – yes, very aptly named. But God in His graciousness then changes his name to Israel, meaning “God Wrestler.”
It is like one of the devotions I read today stated:
“It is so comforting to know that our circumstances cannot change the character of God. His grace is still in full force; He is still for us, even when we do not feel it. “
What circumstances in your life is God bringing you “full circle” to?