Teaching Sermons For Pastors and Laymen, We Reap What We Sow,

 
Given at Laurens Memorial Home on 7-23-03
Tom Lowe
6-12-03

 

Title: We Reap What We Sow

Text: So it came to pass 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 you? Why then have you deceived me?”  (Genesis 29:25)


Introduction

Our Bible lesson is from the twenty-ninth chapter of Genesis, and I would like to place the following words at the beginning: “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.  For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life” (Galatians 6:7-8).

Scripture Reading: Genesis 29:16-28 (KJV)

16 And Laban had two daughters: the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel.
17 Leah was tender eyed; but Rachel was beautiful and well favoured.
18 And Jacob loved Rachel; and said, I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter.
19 And Laban said, It is better that I give her to thee, than that I should give her to another man: abide with me.
20 And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her.
21 And Jacob said unto Laban, Give me my wife, for my days are fulfilled, that I may go in unto her.
22 And Laban gathered together all the men of the place, and made a feast.
 23 And it came to pass in the evening, that he took Leah his daughter, and brought her to him; and he went in unto her.
24 And Laban gave unto his daughter Leah Zilpah his maid for an handmaid.
25 And it came to pass, that in the morning, behold, it was Leah: and he said to Laban, What is this thou hast done unto me? did not I serve with thee for Rachel? wherefore then hast thou beguiled me?
26 And Laban said, It must not be so done in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn.
27 Fulfil her week, and we will give thee this also for the service which thou shalt serve with me yet seven other years.
28 And Jacob did so, and fulfilled her week: and he gave him Rachel his daughter to wife also
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Probably the title that we ought to give to this chapter is “The Chickens Have Come Home to Roost.” It will become apparent as we read this chapter that Jacob is beginning to reap the harvest of his evil doings.

The verses that I put at the beginning were written primarily for Christians, but it expresses a universal law of God for every age.  It is true in any area of life.  You sow corn: you reap corn.  You sow cotton: you reap cotton.  You sow wheat: you reap wheat.  Examples of this principle run all the way through the scriptures.  For instance, Pharaoh slew the male children of the Hebrews, and in time his son was slain by the death angel.  Ahab, through false accusations, had Naboth slain and the dogs licked his blood.  God sent His prophet Elijah to Ahab with the message that, as the dogs had licked the blood of Naboth, they would lick the blood of Ahab.  And that was literally fulfilled. 

You remember that David found this to be an inescapable law which was applicable to his own life.  He committed the terrible sins of adultery and murder.  God forgave him for his sin.  Yet, the chickens came home to roost.  He reaped what he had sown.  His own daughter was raped and his son slain.  Even Paul the apostle felt the weight of this law.  He had given his consent to the stoning of Stephen.  Later, Paul was taken outside the city of Lystra and was stoned and left for dead.

Jacob is the classic illustration of this inflexible law.  Jacob had lived by his wits.  He was rather cocky and clever.  He had practiced deceit.  He would stoop to use shady methods to accomplish his purpose.  And he was proud of his cleverness.  But he will reap what he has sown.

At the beginning of this chapter, Jacob, who had fled his home because of his treachery against his father and brother has arrived in Haran.  He is working for his uncle Laban, who has a very beautiful daughter. 

The Bible says--Now Laban had two daughters: the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. (v. 16)

Laban watched this boy and he noticed that he was very much interested in his daughter Rachael, the younger of the two.  The next verse tells us why.

Leah’s eyes were delicate, but Rachel was beautiful of form and appearance. (v. 17)

Rachel was a very beautiful girl.  Leah had delicate eyes, which is another way of saying she is not beautiful at all.  So Laban has these two daughters, and it is obvious that Jacob is in love with Rachel.

Now Jacob loved Rachel; so he said, “I will serve you seven years for Rachel your younger daughter.” (v. 18)

We find that Jacob was quite moon-eyed over this beautiful young woman.  So that morning at breckfast, when Uncle Laban suggested that he go to work, he had something in mind himself.  He knew that the boy was in love with the girl; so I don’t think that he was at all surprised at Jacobs answer when he asked what his wages should be.  Jacob was willing to work for seven years for Rachel.  This man Laban was driving a hard bargain.

And Laban said, “It is better that I give her to you than that I should give her to another man. Stay with me.” (v. 19)

Laban accepted the bargain.  Now the next verse tells us one of the nicest things that are said about Jacob.  Frankly, in the early years of Jacob’s life, the only appearance of anything nice or fine or noble is his love for Rachel.

 So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed only a few days to him because of the love he had for her. (v.20)

You can just see this man working.  I tell you, Uncle Laban had him working hard.  He worked out in the cold, out in the rain and in all sorts of weather, but he always thought of that girl Rachel.  There she was to meet him after a hard day.  He was desperately in love with her.

Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife, for my days are fulfilled, that I may go in to her.”  And Laban gathered together all the men of the place and made a feast. (v. 21-22) Now notice what Laban is doing.

Now it came to pass in the evening, that he took Leah his daughter and brought her to Jacob; and he went in to her.  And Laban gave his maid Zilpah to his daughter Leah as a maid.  So it came to pass 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 you?  Why then have you deceived me?”  And Laban said, “It must not be done so in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn. (v. 23-26)

At the marriage ceremony in those days, the bride was veiled, so that she couldn’t be seen.  Poor Jacob didn’t see the girl he was getting until the next morning.  Lo and behold, it wasn’t Rachel—it was Leah!  At the moment that he saw he had been tricked, I wonder if he didn’t recall something of his own father when he, Jacob, had pretended to be the elder son when Esau was the actual first born son.  He deceived his father, and that was the reason he had to leave home.  You see, God does not approve of that type of conduct.  The chickens are now coming home to roost.  Jacob pretended to be the elder when he was the younger.  Now he thinks he’s getting the younger when he gets the elder.  The tables are turned now, and it has become an awful thing for Jacob. 

To Jacob, it is a criminal act that Laban has done, but notice how Uncle Laban passes it off.  He is an expert at this type of thing.  He tells Jacob that there was a little matter in the contract, a clause in the fine print that he had forgotten to mention to Jacob.  It was a custom in their country that the elder daughter must marry first, and the younger daughter could not marry until the elder daughter was married.  But Uncle Laban was willing to be very generous in his dealings; so he has an offer to make. 

Fulfill her week, and we will give you this one also for the service which you will serve with me still another seven years.” (v. 27)

This week, you see is another seven years.  Uncle Laban is getting his money’s worth, isn’t he?  And poor Jacob is really being taken to school.  But he is taking two wives, which he shouldn’t have done.  He will be in trouble for that, before it is over.

Then Jacob did so and fulfilled her week.  So he gave him his daughter Rachel as wife also. (v. 28)

Uncle Laban made Jacob serve twice as long as he originally agreed to.  Seven years was long enough, but, believe me, fourteen years is a long time!  This arrangement gave Jacob two wives.  God disproved of Jacob having two wives.  Just because it is in the Bible doesn’t mean that God approved of it.  It is included because it is part of history, and we can gain from reading about it.  This man Jacob had plenty of trouble in his family from here on and it can be traced back to his own methods which he has used.  The chickens are coming home to roost.

There are some great lessons for us in this story.  If we will just learn from them, we will be blessed. 

The first lesson is that GOD LEADS HIS CHILDREN ALONG.

We can see that if we go back to the first time that Jacob saw Rachel. Jacob set out on a dangerous journey, and many things could have happened to him.  However, God was with him, and the scriptures indicate that he came quickly to the country where his mother’s people lived.  He then happened upon several herds of sheep that belonged to his uncle Laban.  One of the shepherds, who had brought the sheep to the well to be watered, was Rachel.  The adrenaline must have been flowing in his system, because when he saw Rachel, he was able, by himself, to roll the stone from the well’s mouth, a task that usually required several men.  When he identified himself to Rachel, she was delighted to know him and ran to tell her father.  The fact that Jacob found Rachel right off the bat seems to be more than coincidence.  God was working in Jacob’s life. How interesting it is for us to know that in spite of our shortcomings and sins, God can use us.  The Lord had chosen Jacob as the channel through which the Messiah would come.  If we had been choosing, no doubt we would have chosen Esau, for in many ways he was a more likable person.  Yet Jacob, with all his unlikable traits, had a nature sensitive to God’s will.  He did not always act in accordance with his knowledge but he genuinely loved God in spite of his personal ambition and inconsistent nature.  Esau, on the other hand, was a worldly, wise sophisticate who felt no need for religious affiliation or divine support.

God blesses us when we are earnestly trying to do His will.  He will lead us if we will only keep ourselves in tune with Him.  He does not count our mistakes, but only our good intentions.  His mercy is always ready to wipe the slate clean and give us a fresh start.  His new home was a place of “beginning again” for Jacob.  We too can know the joy of starting afresh if we will honestly seek the Father’s face and will.

The next lesson that we can learn from this story is that THE WEB OF DECEPTION IS A TANGLED ONE.

A poet wrote, “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.”  Jacob learned this truth first hand.  He started out as a deceiver.  Nothing mattered to him except getting what he wanted.  He didn’t care if he hurt anyone in getting his hands on the things he felt he must have at a given moment.  Then he met someone that operated in the same manner.  Experts do not agree as to whether or not we inherit emotional qualities, but we cannot help but wonder if Jacob’s “craftiness” was from his mother’s side of the family.  After all, she aided him in deceiving Isaac, and now we discover that her brother has the same characteristics.  However, even Jacob the schemer was not going to gain the upper hand with Laban, because Laban had more resources to work with and therefore had Jacob at a disadvantage.

What do you imagine Jacob thought the morning after his wedding when he found Leah in his tent?  Do you suppose he saw any relationship between the darkness of the tent the night before, and the darkness of his father’s eyes when Jacob tricked him in order to get his blessing?  The similarities are too great to go unnoticed.  Jacob must have felt great remorse.  We do not, however, see any repentance at this moment.  Sin has stalked its victim!  Jacob was now getting a dose of his own medicine.

The last lesson that we can learn is this, GOD ALWAYS SENDS COMPENSATION.

The relationship between Jacob and his wives is an interesting one.  Naturally, Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah.  However, God blessed Leah with many children, which was the greatest honor that could come to a woman of that day.  It was a long time before Rachel bore even one child, and then she died giving birth to the second one.  There is a case that could be made that Leah was the better of the two, because Rachel was a “beauty queen” who did not want to work, while Leah tried hard to be a good wife.  We do not have dogmatic evidence of this, but the text appears to imply it. 

Rachel died before Leah and was buried beside the road near Bethlehem.  She never enjoyed the blessings and fruits of old age.  Leah, however, lived a long time and was finally buried in the cave of Machpelah with Jacob, her husband, and the other two patriarchs, Abraham and Isaac, and their wives.  Nearly four thousand years have passed, but the grave of Leah is still honored.  Also, God sent the Savior through one of Leah’s sons, Judah.  Life indeed has a strange way of sending compensating blessings for our inadequacies and adversities.  However, it’s not strange at all if you understand that it’s the providence of God.  God leads His children along.  He will always accomplish His purpose, even if we don’t see His hand in what happens.

Conclusion

Jacob’s life is a strange mixture, a paradox, a dilemma.  On one hand he was a schemer and suffered for it.  On the other hand, God stood within the shadows and kept watch over Jacob.  He overruled Jacob’s mistakes and sins and blessed him in spite of them.  Aren’t you happy that we serve a God who, because of His mercy, forgives our sins?  We don’t have to beg Him and we don’t have to ask Him more than once.  If we ask Him to forgive our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  He can so easily forgive because Jesus paid our debt of sin when He died on that rough wooden cross.  He will save us just as easily by His grace, if we will just have faith in His Son.  He will save all those who have faith in Jesus, no matter how great their sin.

Amen.

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