There I was: by day the heat consumed me, and the cold by night, and my sleep fled from my eyes. These twenty years I have been in your house. I served you fourteen years for your two daughters, and six years for your flock, and you have changed my wages ten times. If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had not been on my side, surely now you would have sent me away empty-handed. God saw my affliction and the labor of my hands and rebuked you last night.” (Gen 31:40-42 ESV)
It was 3 days after Jacob had fled, that Laban was informed that his ‘in-law’ Jacob was nowhere to be found! This triggered the heart of Laban, and he gathered together his kinsmen, and pursued after Jacob. It took him 7 days of pursuit before he got closer to Jacob and his family. By the 7th day, he was already close to Jacob by the hill of Gilead; then something happened.
We do not know what Laban had planned to do to Jacob, but the God of Bethel stopped him. That night, in a dream, the Almighty God appeared to Laban and warned him not to say ‘anything’ to Jacob, either good or bad. Essentially, he was warning Laban that Jacob must be allowed to continue the journey he had begun. Laban must not use threats to try to make him to turn back, neither must he use promises. He must just leave Jacob alone to continue his journey.
Most times when we take decisions to embark on a journey with God, and more especially if that decision involves breaking away from certain relationships, we usually receive several kinds of oppositions from those affected by the break in relationship. Just like Oswald Chambers remarked, most times, the cost of discipleship is not in what it costs us personally, as we are already willing to lay down our lives for Jesus, but in what it costs those around us- our friends, family members and neighbors.
If the Lord had not warned Laban, he may have hatched plans on how to either use threats or promises in order to get Jacob to reverse course and follow him back to the house; and this is what many people face today. You will see a young person who heard the word of God which convicted him/her of an relationship he/she is in with a member of the opposite sex. Being touched by the word of God, he/she may decide to end the relationship and recommit himself/herself to sexual purity; but this will not usually go down with the other ‘friend’. He or she will tend to push, pull, plead, beg, encourage, make promises and even threaten in order to get the other one back into the relationship. However, if such a young person have understood that there is a destiny before him/her which he/she cannot afford to spoil under the auspices of a stupid, immoral relationship; then nothing will take him back to that relationship.
It also happens even with those who leave cult groups, or illegal drug pushing and taking groups. They usually receive threats as well as promises from their former colleagues in the ‘business’. Whichever group one falls into, we must take cognizance of the God of Bethel who fights for His own. When God calls you to follow Him, He is able to help you handle whatever be the consequences of that ‘following’ on those around you. However, we must not turn back from following Jesus simply because of threats or promises. No. There is no better place to be than to be where the Almighty God desires you to be.
Due to the warning that God had given Laban, he now only hammered Jacob on the way he left without giving him time to say good bye to his daughters and grandchildren. Then he also complained about his gods which Rachel took. However, when he was asked to search the whole caravan, he could not find any of his properties in Jacob’s hands- not even the idols (because Rachel hid them cunningly). Why Rachel took those idols, we cannot tell, but that foolish act and the curse of Jacob upon whoever is holding the idol may have contributed to her not reaching the promised land with the caravan- for she died on the way!
Jacob gave a strange name to God in this passage; he called him “THE FEAR OF ISAAC”. We may not know the full history behind this name, but we could guess that Isaac’s fear of God was so palpable that even his sons and those around him took note that there was this Person or Deity that Isaac dreaded and never wanted to displease. May such fear of God be restored again to us in this generation. AMEN.
At the end, Laban and Jacob cut a covenant not to hurt each other, either in this life or in the generation to come. They raised an altar of stones to be a memorial or reminder to the oath. Early the next morning Laban kissed his grandchildren and his daughters good-bye, and left to go back home.
Thus, Jacob was delivered from the oppressive hand of Laban; and thus, he was liberated to enter into his promised land- the destiny God had for him. It was not long after this before Jacob met with God again, and his life was changed forever!