While going through the book of Genesis, I read about Abraham and the call from God on his life to leave his home in Paddan-aram and go to Canaan. There was no indication in the Bible that he was fleeing a bad circumstance; rather, he seemed to be leaving on peaceful terms. Often when God calls us to a new place in our lives, it is peaceful just like that. However, sometimes He is calling us to leave and it isn't easy and peaceful; there can be stressful situations that you may even feel like you are running from. Sometimes God uses the bad situation to create discontent so we are willing to move on when He tells us, and other times He may be telling us to leave in order to protect us. Genesis 30 tells us that Jacob was sensing that it was time to go; however, the verses we are reading today in Genesis show us that it was finally God that pushed Him on his way. Please read Genesis 31:1-21.
Reading through these verses, I get a very strong sense of how oppressive the environment was for Jacob. By this point in his life, he was not using deception to gain what he wanted because he was trusting God. But that didn't make life easy for him, did it? I think many of us have been there and it is hard to stay encouraged while in an oppressive environment. Laban kept changing their agreement on Jacob's wages, yet God made him prosper anyway. But even so, you have to admit that working in a place where the requirements kept changing to make it harder to prosper would be so discouraging. Notice how the environment was so oppressive that he had to sneak out so Laban couldn't do any harm to him on his way out.
Have you ever wondered what caused Laban to react in this way toward Jacob? Notice what verse 19 says - Rachel stole her father's household idols on their way out. Okay, there are couple of things wrong in that verse with the first being that Rachel stole from her father. That is something that we will see comes back to her later. But, remember that Laban was part of the family of Abraham and Sarah! They had the same grandfather. These are people who are direct descendants of Noah and were raised to fear God. Why did he have idols? Somehow, the culture surrounding him influenced him and he allowed the idols in his home. Who knows the origin? We are not told. It could have been a servant or a wife or even a friend. The point is, because his heart was in other things he began to love other things. The things in his life became more important than the people in his life.
Boy, that is a scary thought, isn't it? This reminds me of how important it is to protect our hearts and keep them for God. God is love and when we are living for Him, we are living in love. That love will compel us to care more about others than our things. Look, anything can become an idol in our life if it is put in place of God. When our focus changes toward pleasing the desire for that item, we have put it in God's place and it has become an idol. It doesn't have to be a thing, it can be something with deeper roots such as comfort, pride, or self-reliance. For Laban, the result was bitterness toward Jacob because God was blessing him with the things Laban desired most. This caused him to bring heavy oppression on Jacob and I believe even himself.
Consider your hearts for a moment and ask God to reveal if you have idols in His place. Are they items that have caused you consider them above God and others? Do they bring a form of oppression over you and the people that surround you? God can heal your heart!
This post is linked with Word-Filled Wednesday and iFellowship Blog Hop.