16 April 2015
'Then God came to Laban in a dream at night and said to him, 'Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad,' (Genesis 31:24). It was three days before Laban, busy shearing his sheep, (v19), discovered that Jacob with all his family and livestock had left. Laban was angry. It took him seven days to catch up with Jacob, claiming that his anger was the result of not being able to give Jacob a good 'send off,' with 'joy and singing to the music of tambourines and harps,' v27 Was that true? 'You didn't even let me kiss my grandchildren and my daughters goodbye,' he added, (v28). Tear-jerking stuff.
Sometimes we can come out with very persuasive arguments, things that seem both reasonable and plausible, leaving the listener feeling guilty for their attitude when the truth is that we took the course we did for quite some different reason to that which we claim. What is it that Jeremiah says, 'The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?' (17:9). Jacob knew from bitter experience that Laban was not an honourable man and he left secretly because he would not put it past Laban to forcibly take back his daughters from him, should he decide to leave, (31:31).
A prayer we each need to be constantly praying is the one that David voiced in Psalm 51:10, 'Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.' It is what goes on in our hearts that concerns God most. Others might be impressed by our words and our actions and our achievements or rather, our seeming achievements for God, but 'the Lord does not look at what man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart,' (1 Samuel 16:7). The key to seeing God at work in even the least of us is a pure heart. Jesus said as much, 'Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God,' (Matthew 5:8).
Finally, Laban, a wicked man, totally self-centred, now unable to continue misusing and abusing Jacob he set out to do him harm. But God knew Laban's heart and warned him in a dream to be very careful in his dealings with Jacob. Sometimes we are conscious of God's protective arm around us; we can all probably testify to experiences of his providential care, but I wonder how many times God has intervened and prevented what was about to happen and saved us from danger or disaster and we have been oblivious of it?
God bless you all.
God bless you all.