When all is lost, go to the Rock

Published 6:30 pm Saturday, August 5, 2023

By R.A. Tea Mathews

Jacob was having a bad day. In fact, it was probably the worst time of his life.

He found himself standing in the middle of nowhere with his family and everything he owned. Jacob had great wealth, but men were coming to take it all away. Maybe worse. Why?

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Jacob, the grandson of Abraham, lived some 4,000 years ago. He had just fled from his in-laws, where he had worked for 20 years. He had tried to leave earlier, but what had happened instead?

  1. Jacob made a deal
  2. Jacob’s family refused to go
  3. Jacob had fallen ill 
  4. None of the above

Make your choice and I’ll show you the passage.

”…Jacob said to Laban, ‘Send me away, so that I may go … to my own country. Give me my wives and my children for whom I have served you, and let me go…’

…Laban said to him, ‘If it pleases you at all, stay with me; I have determined by divination that the Lord has blessed me on your account … Name me your wages, and I will give them.’

…Jacob said to him, ‘…let me pass through your entire flock today, removing from there every speckled or spotted sheep … and the spotted or speckled among the goats; and those shall be my wages.’” (Genesis 30:25-32) 

The correct answer is No. 1, “Jacob made a deal.”

Jacob then bred the animals so that Laban’s herds grew weaker, and Jacob’s grew stronger. Scripture says: “…(Jacob) became exceedingly prosperous, and had large flocks, and female and male servants, and camels and donkeys.” (Genesis 30:37-43)

That’s what caused the trouble. 

Laban’s sons recognized the treachery and Laban turned on Jacob. Here’s the passage:

“Now Jacob heard the words of Laban’s sons, saying, ‘Jacob has taken away all that was our father’s, and from what belonged to our father he has made all this wealth.’ And Jacob saw the attitude of Laban, and behold, it was not friendly toward him as it had been before.” (Genesis 31:1-2)

What to do?

The Lord told Jacob to return home. God said, “…and I will be with you.” (Genesis 31:3)

Jacob then took his family and all that he had, crossed the Euphrates River, and fled.  

Three days later Laban found out. He took his kinsmen and hotly pursued Jacob for seven days. As soon as Laban reached Jacob, Laban said, “It is in my power to do you harm…”

What happened next? 

  1. Laban took everything
  2. Jacob confronted Laban
  3. God killed Laban
  4. Jacob fled home alone

Make your choice and I’ll show you this dramatic ending. 

As it turned out, God had appeared to Laban the night before he reached Jacob. And God had warned Laban. (Genesis 31:29)

Jacob, who had fearfully fled, now boldly says to Laban:

“For these twenty years I have been in your house; I served you fourteen years for your two daughters, and six years for your flock, and you changed my wages ten times. If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the fear of Isaac, had not been for me, surely now you would have sent me away empty-handed.” (Genesis 31:41-42)

The correct answer is No. 2, “Jacob confronts Laban.”

Then Laban and his kinsmen return home, but the danger is far from over. Jacob discovers that his brother, Esau, is coming toward him with 400 men. That’s an army.

Did Jacob think they meant him harm? He did.

Understand that 20 years earlier, Esau had vowed to kill Jacob. Jacob had stolen Esau’s birthright; that’s how Jacob ended up far from home, living with his mother’s family and intermarrying with them. (Genesis 27-28:5)

What did Jacob do?

This is one of my favorite moments in Scripture. Jacob takes it to the Rock.

He wrestles with God and refuses to let go.

God says to him, “Let me go for the day is breaking.”

Jacob responds, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

And God did. 

Whatever Esau’s intent with those 400 men, Esau met Jacob, weeping with joy at the sight of him. (Genesis 32:22-33:4)

I’m grateful to my family. I learned from them, no matter the crisis, go to the Rock. 

Jacob had as well. As I said, Jacob was the grandson of Abraham, one of the most faithful men in Scripture. Jacob knew Abraham until he was 15. (Genesis 21:5, 25:7, 25:26)

Jacob learned where to go.  

When you’re having your worst day, do as Jacob did. Take it to the Rock. 

The Rev. Mathews, BA, MDiv, JD, is a newspaper faith columnist and the author of “Reaching to God.” Contact her at Hello@RAMathews.com to join her 1-Minute Bible Study.

Copyright © 2023 R.A. Mathews. All rights reserved.