What does it say?
Rachel desperately cries out to God for children (Gen 30), and he opens her womb (third divinely opened womb in Genesis). The sisters’ rivalry to bare Jacob children heats up and includes their servants as with Sarah and Hagar. Excluding Benjamin, Jacob’s 12 sons are born by the end of this chapter. Observe the descriptive meanings of their names. As the sisters compete for children, Jacob and Laban compete for flocks and herds. Jacob’s wild selective breeding scheme appears successful, but God is simply blessing him as already promised.
God again appears to Jacob and tells him to return to the Promised Land (Gen 31). Jacob sets out to return, but the path is filled with plotting, lies, jealousy, theft, misunderstanding and threats between Jacob and Laban. They finally agree to a peace pact “in God’s name.”
What does it mean?
God’s story is setting up a theme of miraculous birth, realized in the virgin birth of our Savior and our own “new birth” as followers of Christ.
God’s promise to Abraham to become a great nation will be fulfilled by Jacob’s 12 sons. Jacob will later be named Israel and he, despite his manipulative nature and immaturity, will grow to become emblematic of the nation that now bears his name.
These two chapters (along with Gen 39-50, Exo 1-2, Esther and Daniel) depict Israel outside the Promised Land among the nations where they have no altar and no temple. They are often persecuted and treated unjustly, yet preserved and prospered by God to bring his blessing on others, just as he has promised. This is the story of God’s mission.
How will I respond?
Do I know with certainty that I have experienced the supernatural new birth that Jesus spoke of in John 3, or Peter in 1Pet 1:23? Can I biblically defend my forgiveness of sin and eternal life? If not, I will speak with someone immediately that can guide me to a genuine relationship with God through his Son Jesus Christ.
Regardless of my level of spiritual maturity or obedience to God, his purpose is to bless me to bless others. My life always goes better when I am cooperating with this purpose instead of trying to swim against the current. What will I do today to be a blessing to another human being?