Jacob, a master deceiver, meets his match in Uncle Laban who one-ups Jacob and turns the tables. He leaves Jacob no choice but to concede to his demands and work another seven years for the woman he loves. Jacob, filled with an irritation that probably turns to rage, finally must feel what his father, Isaac, and brother Esau unquestionably felt when he deceived them both. Jacob’s own deceit of stealing the birthright and the inheritance forced him to flee. His deceit has served as the impetus for this frustrating journey.
We use phrases like “what comes around goes around,” “reap what you sow,” and “come full circle” to describe what happens when a person’s actions result in consequences for the person. Unmistakably this is one of those moments for Jacob. Some would say Jacob gets what he deserves. One thing is certain. Jacob’s past decisions have finally caught up to him.
It is hard to imagine or feel the suffering dispensed by another until the giver of the suffering experiences it personally. Jacob, probably for the first time in his life, experiences a deep sense of wrongdoing and possibly even remorse for his collective transgressions.
Like Jacob, we have deceived others in one way or another. We’ve also probably experienced the consequences of our trickery. Perhaps the memories and the feelings unsettle us as we reflect on our actions. For this very reason we should not be too quick to judge Jacob and Laban for their individual trickery. And for this reason as well, we should quickly forgive when the tables turn and we find that we are the ones offended.
God, may I strive to be a righteous person. May I also be gentle and gracious to all those who are reaping what they have sown. Amen.
In the Genesis text, Jacob the trickster is tricked. Yet through a combination of patience and perseverance he ultimately wins Rachel, which sets the stage for all that follows in the story of Abraham’s family. Psalm 105 addresses a forgetful community that has lost touch with the God of the Exodus. Remembering becomes a powerful experience when it focuses on both God’s actions and God’s judgments. Romans 8 also serves as a reminder of God’s way, of God’s movements from knowledge to action, from saving grace to promised glory. The scribe of Matthew’s short parable brings out of the store- house both what is new and what is old. There is no true future without a remembrance of the past.
• Read Genesis 29:15-28. When have you experienced a setback due to poor treatment at the hands of someone you trusted? What did you learn?
• Read Psalm 105:1-11, 45b. How do you “seek God’s face”? How do you offer thanks to God?
• Read Romans 8:26-39. Consider Paul’s three questions and formulate a one- or two-sentence answer of your own.
• Read Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52. How do the parables about what the kingdom of God is like surprise you? How do they shock you?
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