Throughout the past several months, we have been studying the people of the Bible and what lessons God taught them in the course of their lives. Because of that, we can learn from them and the mistakes that they made and the things God showed them. So far, we have looked at Eve, Adam, Abel, Cain, Noah, Abraham, Lot, Sarah, Lot’s Wife, Abraham’s Servant, Rebekah, Esau, Jacob, Leah, and Rachel. Today, we’ll be taking a deeper look at Laban.
Laban was Rachel and Leah’s father. Not only did he deceive Jacob and told him that he could marry Rachel, then secretly he married Leah to Jacob on the wedding night originally meant for Jacob and Rachel, but he changed Jacob’s wages ten times and deceived him. In Genesis chapter 31 verse 9 through 13, Jacob says, “’So God has taken away the livestock of your father and given them to me. And it happened, at the time when the flocks conceived, that I lifted my eyes and saw in a dream, and behold, the rams which leaped upon the flocks were streaked, speckled, and gray-spotted. Then the Angel of God spoke to me in a dream, saying, “Jacob.” And I said, “Here I am.” And He said, “Lift your eyes now and see, all the rams which leap on the flocks are streaked, speckled, and gray-spotted; for I have seen all that Laban is doing to you. I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed the pillar and where you made a vow t o Me. Now arise, get out of this land, and return to the land of your family.”’”
Because of what Laban was doing to Jacob, God saw and told Jacob to flee. This tell us that Laban was a crooked man, trying to get more of the flock, and thus more money, than Jacob. And then paying him less than what Jacob was rightfully due. The average person may not be crooked like that, but there pay be smaller things we try to do in life to get ahead. Even if we think it isn’t hurting someone else, it may. It could be anything as simple as maybe focusing too hard on getting a promotion at work that we get overly competitive with our coworkers. Or that we’re caught up on our social media and post something that may hurt someone else’s feelings, or even focus on promoting ourselves rather than helping out other people.
Even if we don’t have that particular problem, Laban doesn’t just let Jacob go. After Jacob flees with all he had—including his flocks, belongings, wives, and children—Laban pursued him. Genesis chapter 31 verse 23 says, “Then he [Laban] took his brethren with him and pursued him for seven days’ journey, and overtook him in the mountains of Gilead.”
Sometimes, when we disagree with others, we choose to pursue them by continuing the argument. This is one of my weaknesses and an area that I’ve been praying and asking God to help me with. But when we disagree with others, we can and should be able to calmly talk to them about our opposing ideas. And if an argument does break out, it isn’t our responsibility to prove ourselves right or keep it going. Most of the time that will actually make the other person, and the situation, worse. So, we should leave in peace.
What does Laban do?
God sends Laban a dream, telling him, “Be careful that you speak to Jacob neither good nor bad.” So, when Laban catches up to Jacob, while he does confront Jacob about running off and taking everything without letting Laban say goodbye, he does say, in Genesis 31 verse 29, “It is in my power to do you harm, but the God of your father spoke to me last night, saying, ‘Be careful that you speak to Jacob neither good nor bad.”
Laban believed Jacob had stolen from him. So, he searched all the tents but couldn’t find anything. He didn’t know that it was his daughter, Rachel, who had stolen the household idols from him. In the end, Laban made peace with Jacob. They formed a covenant together and agreed not to cross from one side or the other.
The next time conflict arises in you, even if someone else has wronged you and hurt you, do your best to make peace with them. Take your hurt feelings to God. Pray and tell Him what you’re going through, and like with Jacob, He sees what you’re going through. He understands and will take care of you. Sometimes, it takes obedience on our part, like how Jacob obeyed God and left, thus allowing God to work in Laban’s life. If Jacob had stayed and continued conflict with Laban, then perhaps Laban wouldn’t have listened to God.
Sometimes, we need to take a step away from a person or situation and let God handle it. God knows best—what’s best for us, and what’s best for other people, even the people that hurt us. Tell God your hurt feelings. He sees your hurt and will direct you on what He wants you to do. Believe that He will deal with the other person.
Trust Him with your conflicts and problems today.