Thoughts on Jacob: 5. Genesis 28:20, 22

Genesis 28:20‑22  •  8 min. read  •  grade level: 6
Does Jacob chide in wrath when Laban feels his stuff, and finds not his stolen gods, saying, “Thy rams have I not eaten: that which was torn I bare the loss of it... In the day the drought consumed me, and the frost by night.... and my sleep departed from my eyes.... and thou hast changed my wages ten times?” So another “I” also will boast as in folly. Another servant! One who served in love, for love, not money; announcing God's glad tidings gratuitously; receiving no hire from man for shepherding the flock; in everything, at every time, keeping himself from being a burden, to cut off opportunity from false apostles, deceitful workers, transformed ministers of Satan, who sped themselves, ate the fat, and clothed them with the wool, but fed not the flock: but he instead received stripes in excess, from Jews five times the full tale, forty saving one; was thrice scourged, once stoned; three times suffered shipwreck; passed in the deep a night and day; in perils of rivers, of robbers, from his own race and nations; in city, desert, sea, and among false brethren he vent his spell of service; in labor and toil; in watchings oft; in hunger, thirst, and fastings oft; in cold and nakedness. Thus could he chide with them, denying as they did his title to shepherd them, though giving proof of power from God, love to man, and willingness to be spent utterly.
But more than this from man had these things come, and so indeed, that through a window in a basket by the wall was he let down; but such a one was caught up into the third heaven, into paradise; and now was given him a thorn for the flesh, a messenger of Satan, that he might buffet him.
Jacob could say, “Ye know that with all my power I have served your father, and your father hath deceived me, and changed my wages ten times, and Jacob was wroth, and chode with Laban.” Paul can say, “Most gladly therefore will I rather boast in my weaknesses. Wherefore I will take pleasure in weaknesses, in insults, in necessities, in persecutions, in straits,” but all “for Christ,” not Laban. Not for glory to himself, but for his Lord; not serving for a wife as Jacob, but filling up that which was behind of the tribulations of Christ in his flesh, for His body, the assembly, the bride of Christ. Jealous with a jealousy of God to espouse them unto One Man, to present them a chaste virgin to Christ: not keeping them for himself, not baptizing to perpetuate his own name; herding the flock, but eating not the milk of it; not for a wife, keeping it as Jacob. (Hos. 12:1212And Jacob fled into the country of Syria, and Israel served for a wife, and for a wife he kept sheep. (Hosea 12:12))
It needed a prophet to bring Israel out of Egypt, and by a prophet was he preserved; but here is more than a prophet, an apostle called of Christ, in whom Christ spoke, proved so in all endurance, signs, and wonders; and works of power. It wanted such a one to bring the flock of Christ from that which was spiritually Sodom and Egypt from Sinai, the place of law. The apostle who brought out the church of God has passed away, but God by His word of grace is able to build up and make wise unto salvation.
Jacob's service led God's flock to Egypt. Moses' message brought them thence, to leave them under law, a sorer bondage; a prophet like to him, a more than Solomon in wisdom, in preaching more than Jonas, stirred up unbelief, to cast aside and crucify the Savior. An apostle from the great Apostle in God's glory, Jesus of Nazareth, was sent to bring God's scattered children into one. The Son had come from the Father, died on the cross, and went to the Father, that they might be gathered. Now He reveals Himself from heaven to Saul; catches him up into the third heaven (whether in the body or out of the body he cannot tell, God knows), there to reveal unutterable things; gives him a thorn in the flesh, and sends him back to earth to effectuate His purpose.
Besought and urged in such a fashion, by such motives do they own the Spirit's unity! Nay, there are strifes. One says, I am this; another, I am of that; until schism, division, heresy is the universal character of Christendom: souls plunged in deeper sorrow, held in more cruel bondage, bound with heavier gyves, or scattered like sheep without a shepherd. Just as though Christ had never lived, and died, and risen again, nor sent from heaven the Holy Ghost to preach the gospel by the mouth of Paul.
Thus in his flesh he bears a thorn, a messenger of Satan—no messenger of God, as Jacob had. For this he thrice besought the Lord that it might depart from him, without avail. Thrice he prayed in trust and faith, the wish ungranted, that the grace of Christ might rest upon him, and His strength be perfected in His servant's weakness, a weakness such as hindered in the flesh His servant's work; so that, for his Master's sake, he earnestly besought it might depart from him, a pricking brier, a grieving thorn, that made him feel that flesh was there. (Num. 33:5555But if ye will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you; then it shall come to pass, that those which ye let remain of them shall be pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides, and shall vex you in the land wherein ye dwell. (Numbers 33:55).) Nor let remain supinely, but which made him feel he had a will apart from his Lord's mind, one minding to serve God, it might be, still of himself, and powerless for good. He needed, therefore, thorough brokenness, since a conscious acting will in man, whether the purpose be for good or ill, springs from revolt, and man born after Adam's likeness only can be used through self set aside, and reckoned dead.
How instructive is the difference in the Son come to do His Father's will; to raise up a temple, to save the world, to gather worshippers of the Father! His very food it was to do His will; it was His comfort, and the strengthening of His soul: sowing work indeed! unto the spilling of His life-blood upon the ground! yet doing, nothing from Himself, but whatever He sees the Father doing, doing in like manner. No need of brokenness, since able to do nothing of Himself because of perfect oneness with the Father; yet therefore working everything in perfect self-sufficiency and perfect power; but in the Son's obedient perfectness; Having life and judgment in and from Himself, given of the Father; in power over all to give life and deal out judgment.
He sought not His will, but the Father's that had sent Him; surely Himself doing the work, but works given Him of the Father; doing not His own will, but His that sent Him; casting out or losing nothing He had given Him. For this is His Father's will, that everyone who sees the Son, and believes on Him, should have life eternal, and He will raise him up at the last day. Because of the Father He lived: so they who feed on Him should live because of Him.
Thus by His power, through His Father's will, raising up a temple in Himself; giving His flesh for the life of the world, saving every one given Him of the Father; communicating eternal life, and the Holy Spirit, that they may be spiritual worshippers; and raising them up at the last day, an holy temple in the Lord.
Thrice prayed Jesus, in view of the cup He had to drink. Three aspects did it bear to Him as a man having to do with earthly things. The foremost thought was, “My Father, thy will be done.” (Matt. 26:4242He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done. (Matthew 26:42).) Then came in His will as Son; a will His Father was both able and all-willing should be done, “Abba Father, take away this cup from me.” (Mark 14:3636And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt. (Mark 14:36).) The second view it therefore bore for Him was His will set aside. “Not what I will.” But when “in conflict He prayed more intently; and His sweat became as great drops of blood falling down upon the earth” (Luke 22:4444And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. (Luke 22:44)), it is because these two desires mingle into one. He prays that His will, be it what it may, should be eschewed, the Father's only done; “Father, not my will, but thine be done.” (Luke 22:4242Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. (Luke 22:42).)
Thrice Paul besought, God's will unknown, it might depart from him, the thorn that found his flesh to rankle in, and made him know that flesh was there—the thorn the object, not the will of God—that which hindered his efficiency, the messenger of Satan sent to buffet him. Thrice Jesus prayed that not His own will, but the Father's, might be done. The cup mixed for others drunk by Him, and taking hold of Him, because it was God's wrath, came in but by the way, though pressed upon Him by the ruler of the world, the wielder of the power of death and darkness. And when, as Son in the Father and the Father in Him, He had poured out the fullness of communion in this oneness, saying, “Those thou hast given me I have guarded, and not one of them is perished” (John 17:1212While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled. (John 17:12)); and had drunk in spirit to its dregs, and wrung them out, the cup His Father gave Him, then He goes forth, saying, “I am he! If therefore ye seek Me, let these go their way."