•  4 min. read  •  grade level: 8
Genesis 31:13-4213I am the God of Beth-el, where thou anointedst the pillar, and where thou vowedst a vow unto me: now arise, get thee out from this land, and return unto the land of thy kindred. 14And Rachel and Leah answered and said unto him, Is there yet any portion or inheritance for us in our father's house? 15Are we not counted of him strangers? for he hath sold us, and hath quite devoured also our money. 16For all the riches which God hath taken from our father, that is ours, and our children's: now then, whatsoever God hath said unto thee, do. 17Then Jacob rose up, and set his sons and his wives upon camels; 18And he carried away all his cattle, and all his goods which he had gotten, the cattle of his getting, which he had gotten in Padan-aram, for to go to Isaac his father in the land of Canaan. 19And Laban went to shear his sheep: and Rachel had stolen the images that were her father's. 20And Jacob stole away unawares to Laban the Syrian, in that he told him not that he fled. 21So he fled with all that he had; and he rose up, and passed over the river, and set his face toward the mount Gilead. 22And it was told Laban on the third day that Jacob was fled. 23And he took his brethren with him, and pursued after him seven days' journey; and they overtook him in the mount Gilead. 24And God came to Laban the Syrian in a dream by night, and said unto him, Take heed that thou speak not to Jacob either good or bad. 25Then Laban overtook Jacob. Now Jacob had pitched his tent in the mount: and Laban with his brethren pitched in the mount of Gilead. 26And Laban said to Jacob, What hast thou done, that thou hast stolen away unawares to me, and carried away my daughters, as captives taken with the sword? 27Wherefore didst thou flee away secretly, and steal away from me; and didst not tell me, that I might have sent thee away with mirth, and with songs, with tabret, and with harp? 28And hast not suffered me to kiss my sons and my daughters? thou hast now done foolishly in so doing. 29It is in the power of my hand to do you hurt: but the God of your father spake unto me yesternight, saying, Take thou heed that thou speak not to Jacob either good or bad. 30And now, though thou wouldest needs be gone, because thou sore longedst after thy father's house, yet wherefore hast thou stolen my gods? 31And Jacob answered and said to Laban, Because I was afraid: for I said, Peradventure thou wouldest take by force thy daughters from me. 32With whomsoever thou findest thy gods, let him not live: before our brethren discern thou what is thine with me, and take it to thee. For Jacob knew not that Rachel had stolen them. 33And Laban went into Jacob's tent, and into Leah's tent, and into the two maidservants' tents; but he found them not. Then went he out of Leah's tent, and entered into Rachel's tent. 34Now Rachel had taken the images, and put them in the camel's furniture, and sat upon them. And Laban searched all the tent, but found them not. 35And she said to her father, Let it not displease my lord that I cannot rise up before thee; for the custom of women is upon me. And he searched, but found not the images. 36And Jacob was wroth, and chode with Laban: and Jacob answered and said to Laban, What is my trespass? what is my sin, that thou hast so hotly pursued after me? 37Whereas thou hast searched all my stuff, what hast thou found of all thy household stuff? set it here before my brethren and thy brethren, that they may judge betwixt us both. 38This twenty years have I been with thee; thy ewes and thy she goats have not cast their young, and the rams of thy flock have I not eaten. 39That which was torn of beasts I brought not unto thee; I bare the loss of it; of my hand didst thou require it, whether stolen by day, or stolen by night. 40Thus I was; in the day the drought consumed me, and the frost by night; and my sleep departed from mine eyes. 41Thus have I been twenty years in thy house; I served thee fourteen years for thy two daughters, and six years for thy cattle: and thou hast changed my wages ten times. 42Except the God of my father, the God of Abraham, and the fear of Isaac, had been with me, surely thou hadst sent me away now empty. God hath seen mine affliction and the labor of my hands, and rebuked thee yesternight. (Genesis 31:13‑42)
God called Himself “the God of Bethel.” He brought Jacob right back to the point where he had gone to sleep and when the sun had set upon him. If we wander away from the Lord, we have to go back to the point of departure before there can be restoration. Bethel means the house of God, and when we get away from the place where the Lord has placed His Name, there is sure to be failure come in. When David had sinned, he could say, “He [the Lord] restoreth my soul” (Psalm 23:33He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. (Psalm 23:3)), and this the Lord is willing to do for any of His erring children.
The Necessary Steps to Restoration
There are three things we should notice here, as they are the necessary steps to restoration. First, there must be an awakening in the conscience as to where we are, and this is the result of letting God speak to us as He did to Jacob, only that He now speaks to us through His Word.
Then the next thing was, “Get thee out of this land.” We that are children of God by faith in Christ Jesus should get out, and stay out, of anything that is not pleasing to the Lord. We have to “cease to do evil” before we can “learn to do well” (Isaiah 1:16-1716Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; 17Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. (Isaiah 1:16‑17)). If you are connected with something which you know to be dis­pleasing to the Lord, then the word to Jacob is for you too, “Get thee out  ... ”
The third step for Jacob was, “Re­turn unto the land of thy kindred.” God was calling him to get out of Haran because He wanted to bring him to a better land — the land of Canaan, and so the reason He calls us to give up the things of this world is because we are going to a Better Land above. We who are saved are part of the family of faith, and we should choose their company (“our kindred”) even as we shall share it forever in the glory with Christ.
Strangers in This World
Rachel and Leah realized, like Jacob, that there was no part for them in Haran. They said, “Are we not counted  ...  as strangers?” It is a good thing when even young believers learn that we are strangers in this world. If we do not learn it by walking in the love of God, then He has to allow trials, and teach us the hard way. So here, after God had allowed a few difficulties to arise, then Rachel and Leah said, “Whatsoever God hath said unto thee, do.” It sometimes takes a long time for us to be made willing to obey the voice of God.
At last they started off on their jour­ney, but it certainly was not the right thing for them to “steal away” without even saying “good-bye.” Some­times we do a right thing, but we do it in the wrong way. If we have to part company with some friend who is hin­dering us from pleasing the Lord, we should be courteous about it, and tell them why we are doing it. These little things in the Christian’s life (which many of us forget) are very important and are honoring to the Lord. Rachel was very wrong in stealing the images from her father too, but our consciences can become very lax and careless about many things when we are away from the Lord in our souls.
Laban then pursued after Jacob, in­tending to do him harm, but the Lord overruled and told him not to. Laban told Jacob that he should not have gone away secretly, and Jacob admitted that he had the fear of man in his heart which made him afraid. How much better if he had had the fear of the Lord which is the beginning of wisdom!
Further Meditation
1. Why did God call Jacob out of Haran?
2. God is continually at work for our blessing. There is no moment of any day that He isn’t doing exactly what is needed for our true joy. How did the Lord use Laban’s pursuit of Jacob to do Jacob good?
3. The book God’s Restoring Grace by W. T. P. Wolston provides a simple and brief introduction to the wonderful subject of how the Lord reaches down and works to restore our souls when we have wandered away from the Good Shepherd.