Jacob’s Comeuppance

In the morning, behold, it was Leah! And Jacob said to Laban, ‘What is this you have done to me? Did I not serve with you for Rachel? Why then have you deceived me?’” (Gen. 29:25).

- Genesis 29:21–30

Galatians 6:6–10 gives us an important principle for living life coram Deo — before the face of God. “God is not mocked,” Paul tells us, “for whatever one sows, that will he also reap” (v. 7). In context, the apostle is speaking primarily of eternal matters and our need to sow in the Spirit, continuing to trust and follow Christ alone so as to inherit eternal life. But the principle of reaping and sowing is also evident in how our sins often come back to haunt us in this life.

Jacob learned this truth the hard way. Yesterday we saw Laban agree to give his daughter as a wife to Jacob in exchange for seven years of his service. However, Laban does not mention Rachel by name in Genesis 29:19. Laban only says it is better to give “her” to his nephew without specifying who this “her” will be. Today’s passage shows us Laban was setting up Jacob for a fall with these words.

Following Jacob’s seven years of service, Laban holds a feast to celebrate his daughter’s wedding (v. 22). Marriage ceremonies in that culture included parades to and from the bride’s home, a large meal, and continued partying long after the couple consummated their marriage. The bride was veiled during the ceremony; thus, Laban was able to substitute Leah in place of Rachel (vv. 23–25a), especially since wine was likely consumed during the festivities.

There is poetic justice in this event, for Jacob the deceiver is now himself deceived. He has not gone unpunished for tricking Isaac into giving him the better blessing (27:1–29). Earlier, Jacob deceptively substituted himself, the younger son, in place of the older one before the face of his father. Now the tables have turned, for his father-in-law has hoodwinked Jacob, giving him his older daughter when Isaac’s son was expecting the younger. 

Jacob rightly complained about his treatment (29:25b), but God justly used Laban’s treachery to teach the patriarch an important lesson about the proper way to lay hold of His promises. It is as if the Lord said to Jacob: “Yes I have chosen you and am sovereignly using your transgressions for my purposes. But I do not approve of the way in which you have lived, and I now must discipline you for it.”

Coram Deo

As we have seen many times over, it is an undeniable truth that our Father will discipline His beloved children for their sins (Rev. 3:19). Job’s life shows us that not every misfortune comes as a result of the Lord’s chastisement, but we are right to look at our hardships and consider if God is using them to get us back in line just as He did with Jacob. Know that the Lord’s discipline is a sign of His love for you and take it as an opportunity to grow in your faith.

Passages for Further Study

Deut. 4:32–40
Ps. 94:12
Prov. 13:24
1 Cor. 11:32

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