Then Laban declared, “This pile of stones will stand as a witness to remind us of the covenant we have made today.” This explains why it was called Galeed—“Witness Pile.” But it was also called Mizpah (which means “watchtower”), for Laban said, “May the LORD keep watch between us to make sure that we keep this covenant when we are out of each other’s sight. If you mistreat my daughters or if you marry other wives, God will see it even if no one else does. He is a witness to this covenant between us. Genesis 31:48 - 50 (NLT)
The story line is “epic family turmoil”. Jacob tricks his brother Esau out of the birthright and has to leave town in the middle of the night because brotherly love is not working for them. Jacob winds up living with his uncle Laban, who carries on the tradition of being a deceiver. This time Jacob is the one who is fooled, thinking he is getting Rachel for a wife, but winds up with the “not so beautiful” older sister, Leah (her name means “weak eyes”).
Fast-forward twenty years and Jacob is leaving town in the middle of the night again. This time he’s leaving Laban’s lair with Rachel and Leah and their children and all the flocks and possessions Jacob has managed to skim off the top of Laban’s fortune.
Laban catches up with Jacob’s wagon train and demands to search the whole outfit for stuff that’s been stolen. Rachel is sitting on top of the pile of stolen goods and fools her father into not looking under the camel saddle. Everybody’s fooling somebody!
The scene ends with Jacob and Laban making a treaty; the pact is a separation agreement and calls God to witness between them and watch over them when they don’t have eyes on each other. Nobody trusts anybody. Talk about a dysfunctional family tree!
Moral lesson: Treachery breeds distrust…and rightly so.
It’s pretty clear from Jacob and Laban’s example, treating one another with anything less than truth and honesty leads to the emptiness of never being able to trust (or be trusted). Treachery breeds more of the same. Where’s the love?
How’s your family getting along?
Now…don’t answer that, it’s just a rhetorical question. I already know the answer. Your family is getting along better than you think – and worse than you let others see. We all have our masks for public behavior (except on Jerry Springer).
If you took the time to compare your family with Jacob, Esau, Laban and the lot, more than likely you could breathe a little easier about your situation.
But, before you close the door on ancient Jewish failures, consider what God did with the likes of Jacob. From Jacob’s line came leaders of the Jewish nation, prostitutes, murderers, conspiracy and kings.
And, about two thousand years ago, from that line a child was born in a cattle feeder. His parents were nobodies – a simple carpenter and his teenaged fiancé. And the carpenter from Nazareth, descendant of Jacob the deceiver, changed time and eternity.
Don’t give up on your family. God uniquely placed you in that group – delightful or dysfunctional – or both. And He does have some plan that will work together for good when you take time to trust him.
Title Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/naum/994514559/