[Today: Genesis 31]. The Exceeding Increase of God’s Glory in Your Life. In this chapter we find the very first mention of the word “glory” connected with the increase and wealth that God had blessed Jacob with. Is God glorified in poverty? Does poverty provoke envy toward us among those who do not live for God? Laban and his sons are very envious and as a result Jacob decides to take his leave of Laban’s camp and return to his family.
In the previous chapter, we see Jacob amassing great wealth in spite of Laban, making a strong effort to defraud him at every turn. Because God was with Jacob v. 43 of Gen. 30 testifies that he “increased exceedingly.” Because of this, Laban’s sons (Jacob’s cousins) complain publicly and in so doing, establish the first reference to the word “glory” in the scriptures (v. 1).
What is the significance in the Bible of the “first mention” of any particular subject? Theologians state the following:
“The law (or principle or rule) of first mention holds that the first mention of a subject or word in scripture becomes an interpretive guide to understanding that word or subject throughout the scripture.”
The subject of glory or the glory of God, exists throughout the Bible, and this first mention of the subject uses a Hebrew word “kabad” meaning “weighty” or “heaviness.” The blessing of God upon Jacob was a demonstration of God’s weightiness in Jacob’s life, and it provoked the people around him to envy and slander. What can you learn from this first mention of glory in the Bible? What is the significance of God’s glory for us personally? First of all, let us consider how central the glory of God was to the apostle Paul’s teachings:
[Col 1:26-29 KJV] 26 [Even] the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: 27 To whom God would make known what [is] the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: 28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: 29 Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.
What is Paul saying here? He is making the point that the message of the glory of God in your life brought about by the indwelling Christ was a mystery that had been hidden for ages and generations. What is the mystery? That in the fullness of time, God would no longer live in a tent or a tabernacle but would live inside the hearts and human spirits of redeemed men and women. What are the consequences of this indwelling? The implication of this indwelling is that Christ in you would be a hope of glory? What glory are we talking about? We are talking about the same glory that provoked Laban’s sons to jealousy, where Jacob was concerned. Precisely what was that glory? Let’s read v. 43 of the previous chapter again:
Genesis 30:43 And the man (Jacob) increased exceedingly and had much cattle, and maidservants, and menservants, and camels, and asses.
When considering the subject of God’s glory, you cannot separate the idea of the effulgence of God from exceeding increase in your life. God gets glory to Himself when He moves to bring to you as He brought to Jacob His exceeding increase. Was the increase because Jacob was so godly? No, the increase came because God was so good and so loving. This is the very core tenet of the gospel expressed in John 3:16, “God so loved that he gave…”
God doesn’t get glory from your poverty. Laban’s sons were not jealous of Jacob’s poverty they were jealous of Jacob’s exceeding increase and as generous as the increase of God in Jacob’s life by the hand of God was it was only a shadow of the increase – the exceeding increase that God wants to bring in your life. This is the message that Paul taught. You cannot separate glory from increase if you are going to approach the scriptures without deviation according to the time honor principles of biblical inquiry that the law of first mention establishes.
What do you do in your life as in Jacob’s when those around you are jealous of what the glory of God is producing in your life? God speaks to Jacob in v. 3 to leave the house of Laban’s contention and his cousins (Laban’s sons) and return to His kindred. Why? Because when Jacob returned to his tribe, even Esau rejoiced to see the blessing upon his life. Who is your tribe? Your tribe is made up of the people who are as blessing and joyful as you are that you are increasing with the exceeding increase of God. Who isn’t your tribe?
I don’t care if we are talking about your next of kin if the people around you are not rejoicing at God’s benevolence and exceeding blessing in your life they are not of your tribe and sooner or later you are going to have to withdraw yourself and find the tribe that God has chosen for you that will rise up and call you blessed and be willing in their thinking to see you blessed, increased and multiplied exceedingly just as Jacob was before Laban and his sons.
We see in v. 4 Jacob doesn’t leave his wives out of the decision. It is important to him that they be prepared to support him in the decision he is about to make. Something else we see here is that Jacob didn’t tell Rachel and Leah this in their home place. He brought them out to his flock, where prying ears could not hear the conversation. When the blessing of God and the favor of God put you over the top, you must prepare yourself to keep close counsel and to be a gatherer of information and not a dispenser of information. It is human nature to rejoice when blessings come but realize that not everyone around you is going to be happy or pleased about what God is doing to elevate you with His exceeding increase.
Jacob makes his departure without saying his goodbyes and in due course (v. 22), Laban finds out about it and is very unhappy. When people are moving in jealousy against you, they will not be willing to leave well enough alone. They will move against you and make every effort to complicate your life, as Laban is determined to do in this instance. What happens next? God appears to Laban in a dream and warns him not to molest Jacob or to speak anything, either good or bad against him. Does God care for Laban? No Laban is a pagan and an idol worshipper and is therefore outside even the grace that was available in patriarchal times. This will be true in your own life when God warns and stands in opposition against those who stand in opposition to you. God will fight your enemies – even those of your own household.
Laban overtakes Jacob and accusing him of kidnapping Rachel and Leah at the point of the sword and stealing his household idols. Unknown to Jacob, it was his very own Rachel who dishonored him by stealing these pagan images. That tells us that at lease on Rachel’s part, she was not monotheistic in her worship of Jehovah. She worshipped other gods as well and was willing to put the entire family at risk in order to continue doing so. What is an idol? An idol or idolatry is any outward dependency on other than who Jesus is in your life. When you are looking to something or someone for what you ought to be looking to the Lord for – that is idolatry.
Notice in v. 34-35 Rachel’s excuse for not revealing the stolen items. She pleads incapacity because of her womanly nature. When you hear people pleading deference to God’s will or word because of alleged infirmity, that is a sure sign of underlying infidelity and idolatry against God. To say “I’m just an old woman…” or “you don’t know what I’ve been through…” or “you don’t know what I’m dealing with…” you can be sure you are dealing with hidden idolatry in that person’s life. Now there is a question whatever happened to Laban’s idols in Rachel’s possession? The original word for idol here is “teraphim,” and it means “disgraceful things.” The idol was disgraceful, and possession of it drove Rachel to act disgracefully and to bring disgrace on all her family and Jacob himself. The idol you allow in your life will dominate your life, your future, and your destiny if it goes unexposed and who is willing to have this level of scrutiny? Most Christians approach the concept of forgiveness as though God overlooks without requiring exposure, repentance, and contrition. Are you willing to have your idols exposed?
Jacob goes on to defend his integrity and to compel Laban to build a pillar of remembrance, a form of an altar as a heap of witness establishing the line of demarcation between them. The implied commitment was that Jacob would not cross that line to harm Laban, and Laban would not cross that line to harm Jacob. There are many of us in our walk with God that need to deal with the blurred lines of fellowship with those who are not of our tribe or who do not honor or serve the God that we serve. To fail to establish a “this far and no further” line of demarcation between you and others who are resentful of God’s blessing in your life is to invite problems. The two men complete the ritual of separation with commensurate vows and Laban departs not only from the scene but never to surface again in the biblical narrative as an active part of the purposes God.
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