And he heard the words of Laban’s sons, saying, Jacob hath taken away all that was our father’s; and of that which was our father’s hath he gotten all this glory. And Jacob beheld the countenance of Laban, and, behold, it was not toward him as before. And the LORD said unto Jacob, Return unto the land of thy fathers, and to thy kindred; and I will be with thee. (Gen 31:1-3 KJV)
The last 5-6 years of serving Laban for a wage was not funny for Jacob. Though Laban’s flocks increased and prospered, but Jacob’s flocks also increased and multiplied. The children of Laban were not happy about this. They began to complain against Jacob saying that he had taken away all their father’s possessions and enriched himself with them. This was an unfair accusation, seeing that Jacob served 14 years for Leah and Rachel, and only served 6 years for a wage; and in these 6 years, his wages were changed by the cunning Laban 10 times.
That Jacob prospered was because God was with him; otherwise, it would have been difficult for Jacob to prosper. He was a lesson in the mercy of God; because he demonstrated the fact that even in the atmosphere of jealousy and oppression, a believer in Christ Jesus can still prosper through the mercy of God.
Had it not been recorded in scriptures that the just shall live by their faith. Thus, through faith in Christ Jesus, we can succeed even in the hard place. The circumstances of our residence and labours are not the limiting factors to our lives, but how well we have tapped into the grace and wisdom of the Almighty God (I recommend that you read this article SUCCEDING IN THE HARD PLACE).
However, note that despite the difficult situation that Jacob faced, he only left because the God of Bethel summoned him home. That is the central discussion for this episode. Why did Jacob leave Laban? Because Laban hated him? NO. Because Laban cheated him in business? NO. Because Laban’s children were envious towards him? NO. Papa Jacob left for one singular reason; the God of Bethel summoned him home.
So many of us think that the fundamental right of life is the right to happiness. The moment we feel misunderstood, cheated, not making much money or being uncomfortable in a particular place, we immediately begin to plan or leaving that place, or we simply leave. For a generation that had been told to “go where you are celebrated”, you cannot catch them dead in a place where they are being misunderstood and life is proving difficult there. But for the patriarchs, the presence of challenges was not a sign that they should leave a place, they always endeavored to await a word from God.
Many Christians today have left relationships just because they were angry or they felt they were misunderstood or falsely accused. Many have left jobs just because they felt they were being underpaid, or not appreciated. This is not to talk of those who have left marriages simply because “the love is no longer there”. However, the presence of challenges, difficulties and misunderstandings is not enough reason for you to leave a place. Every man must await, as a matter of first importance, a word from the Lord to leave.
At the very time when Jacob began to feel the pressure of Laban’s hatred and was hearing the murmurings of his children, it was not long before the God of Bethel summoned him. This is my personal opinion as to why this happened. Jacob began to seek the face of God concerning his situation. I must acknowledge that at times it takes negative circumstances for us to begin to reevaluate situations in God’s presence. We are like the proverbial eaglet who is quite at home in his comfortable nest and is unwilling to fly until the mother eagle takes away all comfort and makes the child restless in the nest and desirous to find new environment. That is how many of us are. Unless we are uncomfortable where we are, we would hardly pray and seek God for further instructions on how to go about our lives.
It must have been that the pressure that was upon Jacob caused him to bow low, and begin to pray. It caused him to start reaching out to the God that met him at bethel and promised to bring him back to his father’s land. His discomfort caused him to be sober and to check everything in the presence of the Lord; and it is an established truth that when we seek the Lord with all our hearts, we will find Him.
The God of Bethel thus appeared to Jacob and told him that it was time to go. That was what finally prompted his going. He called his two wives and discussed with them; after which he packaged his family and all his properties, and while Laban was away, Jacob secretly fled from his house.
We do not know if his action of secretly running away without telling Laban a good thing. In fact, I would believe that it is not. It is just like leaving a company or a former workplace without informing your boss. Even if the Lord told you to leave, and even if the boss was a wicked one, it is courtesy and also righteousness that you tell him. For this mistake, it took the intervention of the God of Bethel to prevent Jacob from being harmed by Laban. More of that in the next episode.
AND SO? It may be that where you are currently, you are uncomfortable because of one challenge or the other. It may be that there are some misunderstandings in some relationships that God had given you. Do not be in a hurry to go simply so as to make yourself comfortable again… rather, pray about these things. Seek the face of God; and only move when He tells you to. For the best place to be, the best job to work, the best relationships to have, are the ones God had given you.