Jacob And Laban

“So it came about in the morning that, behold, it was Leah! And he said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? Was it not for Rachel that I served with you? Why then have you deceived me?””(Genesis 29:25)

Some call it Karma. Some call it poetic justice. Others use expressions like the chickens have come home to roost; what comes around, goes around; just desserts; or, as my grandma used to say: Gettin’ your comeuppance. Whatever name you want to call it, it’s something that seems to happen far too often to ourselves and far too seldom to those who have wronged us. Yet in God’s program, it is something that we are assured will happen to all of us eventually. Sooner or later, we all must pay the piper.

Far, far too many Christians go about their lives with the unspoken, underlying belief that since our sins have been covered by the Blood of Jesus Christ, then our sins carry with them no consequence. Nobody ever really comes right out and says this, but it is not hard to see that a great many professing Christians believe this by the way they live. Since the fear of Hell is alleviated by the promises of God’s Word, many believers conclude that no other penalty worth mentioning awaits further sin and that they are now free to transgress the commandments of God with complete impunity. But God’s Word assures us all that our misdeeds have a nasty way of coming back to bite us later:

“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.” (Galatians 6:7)

“Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.” (Matthew 26:52)

Back when we were in Genesis 3 in this study, we talked about the Ironic Nature of God’s Judgments; how the holy judgments of the Lord seem to always be filled with poetic justice and “comeuppance.” This is a lesson that Jacob learned under the apt tutelage of his Uncle Laban. Not only was the self-styled master of deceit himself hoodwinked, the pure irony of it all had to leave him with the heartsick realization that he was, in fact, getting exactly what he deserved. Not so long ago Jacob, the younger sibling, had posed as his elder brother; sneaking into the tent of his father pretending to be Esau (Genesis 27). Now, the elder sibling of his beloved Rachel comes into his tent; posing as her younger sister (Genesis 29:23). The wedding veil concealed from Jacob what the blindness of old-age had hidden from the sight of his father Isaac. Jacob’s own words of protest had to have lacked any real conviction, even as he spoke them (Gen. 29:25), for Laban had done no differently to him than he and Rebekah had done to Isaac.

Jacob’ sin of deceiving his father and taking advantage of his brother Esau did not cause him to cease to be a child of God. He did not earn himself a spot in Hell through his actions. But I believe if we were to ask him he would say that his conduct was hardly without consequence. In fact, he would likely tell us that the judgment that came on him was in direct proportion and in the very same manner to what he had done. The punishment fit the crime, as it were. A lot of Christians learn this same lesson long after it becomes too late to stop the chain of events that they themselves have put into motion. Though their sins are forgiven and their relationship to God is unchanged, they learn that the Lord does indeed “chasteneth those whom He loves” (Hebrews 12:6 KJV).

But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world.” (1 Corinthians 11:31-32)

Praise God that there is hope that we can escape some of the consequences which our sinfulness earns for us. If we judge our own sins, confessing them to the Lord and turning from them, then we can avoid many of God’s judgments on our lives. When we “judge ourselves”, then it is not necessary for the Lord to bring our sins to our attention. Yes, we may still have to deal with the other consequences of our actions, but the Lord’s chastening hand will not be one of them.

May we all live before the Lord in such a way that we shall rejoice in the fact that we will reap what we have sown — not despair of it.

To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published June 17, 2010]

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]

**Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission.

Lot Was “Sent Out Of The Midst Of The Overthrow”

“Thus it came about, when God destroyed the cities of the valley, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when He overthrew the cities in which Lot lived. (Genesis 19:29)

Genesis 19:29 summarizes what God has just done in judging Sodom and Gomorrah and what He has done for Lot. God “sent Lot out from the midst of Sodom” before He judged it. What profound truths are carried in that statement! “God sent Lot…” It is God Who is in complete control of this entire process of judging the cities and rescuing Lot. Abraham participated in Lot’s rescue from the armies of Chedorlaomer back in Chapter 14, though God strengthened him and enabled him to do so, this time, Lot is saved entirely by the movement of God alone.

“God sent Lot… ” Life and death is ultimately in the hand of God Almighty, whether we live or die, and it is by His mercy that Lot is spared. God literally cast him out of Sodom and put him in a place of safety. Verses 22-24 make it clear that Lot was completely out of Sodom before judgment began. “God sent Lot out of the midst…” Lot was not living on the outskirts of Sodom, but right in the midst of it, among all of the others. God did not just push him a little to the side so that he could be safe during the judgment, nor did God decide to leave him there during the judgment in order to “test” him. It is worth noticing that God also did not begin to pour out some judgment on the city and then decide that Lot had had enough, taking him to safety after it had begun. Finally, “God sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow.” This was not an ordinary natural disaster that occurred, this was the direct judgment of God upon a sinful people.

I have taken the time to briefly break down the elements of what is said here in Verse 29 because I personally believe that Lot’s rescue from Sodom before its judgment is a picture of the believer’s rescue from this Earth before the Great Tribulation. I do not see this passage as being a conclusive “argument”, so to speak, proving a pre-Tribulation Rapture of the True Church. But I do see the implications as being quite intriguing, to say the least. Obviously, there are some definite distinctions between the judgment on Sodom and God’s final judgments on an unrepentant world, as described in the Book of Revelation. However, they are both judgments directly from the hand of God. They are both instances of God’s wrath being poured out on mankind which has rejected Him. Those who have accepted the Lord Jesus Christ are not appointed to receive His wrath (e.g., Romans 5:9, 1 Thessalonians 1:10). So what will happen to those trusting in Christ when the time of His wrath is upon the world?

“Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.”  (Revelation 3:10)

He will keep us from the very hour (season, time-frame) of the Great Tribulation. The only conceivable way that the Lord Jesus Christ could do this is to remove those who belong to Him before He pours out His judgment. We simply cannot be kept from something if we are still around in the midst of it, can we? The Lord Jesus did say that we would face trials and tribulations in this world (John 16:33), but those are trials and tribulations that come as a result of living in a fallen world. Those trials He shall not keep us from, nor has He ever promised to. But the purpose of His wrath being poured out is to judge those who have rejected Him and, as in the case of the Great Tribulation, to extend mercy to those who will receive Him during that time. There is no purpose in pouring out His wrath on those who have not rejected Him, and we have His promise that He shall not do so. As Lot was, I firmly believe that God will send us out from the midst of this world before He pours out His judgment upon it.

To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published January 25, 2010]

**Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission.

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]

Shall Not The Judge Of All The Earth Do Right?

“That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25)

In verse 25, we have the second profound rhetorical question of Genesis 18: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? Last time, the Lord posed the question: Is anything too hard for the Lord? Now, Abraham poses this one. I call them both rhetorical questions, those which are asked only to emphasize, not to gain new information. They are questions that need no answers, for the answers to them are already known and settled. Or are they?

For a great many skeptics of the Bible, this question of the Judge of all the earth doing right is something known and already settled, too. But in their viewpoint, the answer is a resounding No! One of the most common objections to the veracity of the Bible being raised in our generation (and it does really go back much farther) is what has been called the “character assassination” of God. Entire books have been penned by prominent atheistic philosophers and scientists ridiculing what they call the cruel, vindictive, and capricious nature of God. They take issue with the justice of God’s judgments as described in the Bible (particularly the Old Testament) and have even accused God of being immoral in His actions.

But it seems that Abraham put a little more trust in God’s ability to distinguish between right and wrong. Apparently, Abraham, having a very real and intimate knowledge of God, reached a different conclusion than those who prefer to smugly dissect the Word of God and cherry-pick a verse here and there that they personally find distasteful. Maybe Abraham learned a great deal more about the God of the Universe through his personal encounters with Him in the wilderness of Canaan than we are able to ascertain in a musty library 30 to 40 centuries later? At any rate, Abraham was convinced enough of God’s justice that he is emboldened to raise the question of whether or not God will arbitrarily destroy the righteous and the wicked when He judges Sodom and Gomorrah.

“And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?” (Genesis 18:23)

It’s worth noting that Abraham drew near before he posed any question about the Lord’s impending actions. Before any of us can hope to make any kind of intercession with God, we must be close to Him. God is simply not going to hear the prayers from a heart that is far from Him, save the prayer that seeks to come closer to Him. Abraham does not question the righteousness and justice of God, but “reminds” Him of it. Abraham is not trying to determine whether or not God will judge the righteous and the wicked, all he really has in mind is knowing whether or not his nephew, Lot, who lives in Sodom is among the righteous that will not perish. Thus he begins his countdown of asking if the Lord shall spare the city for the sake of 50, 45, 40, and so on, righteous people. I believe that he certainly had his doubts about whether or not Lot was really a saved man or not, and this prevented him from just coming right out and asking. As the numbers got lower and lower, I think he became more and more concerned.

“Touching the Almighty, we cannot find him out: he is excellent in power, and in judgment, and in plenty of justice: he will not afflict.” (Job 37:23)

Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? Abraham knew that God will always do what is right and just. Job and his friends learned this lesson, too. We could probably use this very question as the summarizing phrase for the entire Book of Job, in fact. It might be easy to stand far back and look at God’s actions and decide whether or not we feel that what He has done is right or not. But if we do as Abraham did, if we draw near to God, if we get to know Him, we will see that the Judge of all the earth invariably does what is right.

“The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.” (Psalm 19:9)

To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published January 18, 2010]

All Scripture quotations in this post are taken from the King James Version (KJV) of the Holy Bible

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]