God Told Me So
Jacob’s history is the stuff of reality television. Just imagine: “Maternity Ward Wars” starring Leah and Rachel (Genesis 29:1-30:24). The object: Who can have the most babies by Jacob.
Then we have the “Property Acquisition Challenge” of Genesis 30:25-31:55. The object: Get as much as you can, as quickly as you can, by any means that you can, and get out while you can.
Most of the time we tread lightly and move quickly though this whole sordid mess of Jacob’s early years. It’s dysfunction at its finest.
God gets a bad name because of Jacob’s actions and attitudes, often because Jacob himself names God as an accomplice to his crimes. For example, Jacob is quoted as saying: “…but the God of my father has been with me…God has not allowed him to harm me…So God has taken away your father’s livestock and has given them to me” (31:5, 7, 9, NIV). The context tells us that Jacob cheated his uncle to get his fortune and to increase his flocks and herds. Is that what God told Jacob to do, or is Jacob simply “sanctifying” his sin by adding, “God told me to do this?” Even the wives believed that line (Genesis 31:16).
There is no doubt that God was with Jacob, just as He had promised He would be. But did God so go against His own character as to facilitate Jacob’s sins? I don’t think so.
As the story continues, Jacob runs from his father-in-law. Rachel, having learned the lesson well from her husband, steals the household gods on her way out the door and then lies when Laban catches up to the fleeing family (31:35). Is that an act of God? Interesting to note that Laban has household gods in the first place and that Rachel should place such value on an idol that she would steal it. That doesn’t seem like a God-thing either. Once more Jacob sullies the name of God by attributing all his “success” at being a manipulator, a cheat, and a liar, to God. “If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had not been with me…” (Genesis 31:42, NIV).
God would later cover this situation with the third of His great commanments: “The Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name” (Deuteronomy 5:11, NIV). That's reality.