37 Jacob, however, took fresh-cut branches from poplar, almond and plane trees and made white stripes on them by peeling the bark and exposing the white inner wood of the branches. 38 Then he placed the peeled branches in all the watering troughs, so that they would be directly in front of the flocks when they came to drink. When the flocks were in heat and came to drink, 39 they mated in front of the branches. And they bore young that were streaked or speckled or spotted. 40 Jacob set apart the young of the flock by themselves, but made the rest face the streaked and dark-colored animals that belonged to Laban. Thus he made separate flocks for himself and did not put them with Laban’s animals. 41 Whenever the stronger females were in heat, Jacob would place the branches in the troughs in front of the animals so they would mate near the branches, 42 but if the animals were weak, he would not place them there. So the weak animals went to Laban and the strong ones to Jacob. 43 In this way the man grew exceedingly prosperous and came to own large flocks, and female and male servants, and camels and donkeys.
To read this passage by itself is a bit weird. But to read it as “a day in the life of” Jacob makes more sense. Jacob is known as “the deceiver” and here we see why. He has crafted a plan to ensure his success at the expense of his family.
He’s plotted. He’s exploited. He has done things to suit his own purposes.
Maybe if Jacob was sitting with us here today, he’d be embarrassed by such behaviour. But then it would actually be Israel sitting with us because – spoiler alert – as we find out later, Jacob becomes Israel and from his children a nation is formed. Despite such behaviour Jacob is used by God to bring about His purposes.
I find this encouraging because it means that God didn’t disqualify Jacob based on his behaviour found in this passage. This challenges my wrong thinking and beliefs that I disqualify myself by moments/days of poor behaviour and choices.
Instead, knowing that Jacob is used by God speaks of God’s patience and grace towards him. Towards me. God isn’t stuck in this one moment in time, this “one day” in Jacob’s life. Nor is He with mine.
Father, I am forever grateful that You are patient and gracious towards me. Your grace allows me space to live and learn – without condemnation when I do the wrong thing. Thank you!
Written by Gab Martin