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July 26, 2020

Genesis 29:14-30

                                          “God is in Control”

I want to share with you a funny story I heard about a groom. During a rehearsal for his wedding, he came to the minister, saying, “I want to make a deal with you. If you leave the words “to bow” out, I will give you $100.” And he slid $100 in the minister’s hand and walked away smiling. The next day, during the wedding, the minister asked the groom, “Would you bow to your wife? Would you prepare breakfast for your wife, wash dishes, and clean the house?” The groom is bewildered and said, “Yes,” with a weak voice. After the wedding is done, the groom whispered the minister, “I thought we made a deal.” The minister said, “Yes, we did. But, your wife suggested a better one to me than yours.” And the minister gave him back $100.

It is a funny joke. I think no one makes a deal like that at their wedding. In the Scripture today, we found that Jacob makes a deal with Laban for his marriage.  Through his story, I want to talk about that fact that everything is in God’s control. Sometimes God uses people who have no good purpose to bring us to our destiny, which God plans. Even though you feel that someone who cheats on you, seems to achieve a successful life, do not complain to God. God watches over you. People are sometimes not fair, but God is in control. Our Lord is the God of justice and the God of fairness.

Jacob, after cheating his father Isaac, ran away from his brother toward his mother’s hometown. Jacob met God in his dream in Bethel. God promised to give him lots of offspring and to give him the land of Bethel. After he woke up from the dream, he anointed the stone and called it “Bethel,” which means “the house of God.” And then he made a vow to God, saying, “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I can return safely to my father’s house, then the Lord will be my God and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house” (28:20-22).

Listen carefully. God already blessed him, saying, “I am with you, and wherever you go, I will watch over you” (28:15). God is currently there for Jacob. Jacob made a deal with God, “if you will be with me, and will provide me food and clothes until I come back to my father’s house, you will be my God” (28:22). For Jacob, God is not his God yet until he gets back his father’s house. He tried to live with his deception. Remember that Jacob is a cheater. He cheated his brother to take the birthright. He cheated his father to take his father’s blessing. Even though he met God in the wilderness, he did not believe in God yet. Then he left the house of God. So, God starts to recalculate his way. God must be busy for Jacob to put him in the right place for the work. Jacob must be God’s most painful finger.

Let us listen, how Jacob uses his stratagem, and how God is in control. Jacob arrived at the well in the land of eastern people (29:1). He tried to figure out where he is. And he learned that it is the right place that he was looking for, where it is his mother’s hometown. How did he get there?  He never goes out especially not for a long distance. He is the person who is used to staying in a tent. God alone led him. God is an excellent GPS. God is in control.

Jacob saw Rachel, his uncle Laban’s daughter. As soon as Jacob saw Rachel, he got busy and rolled over the stone from the mouth of the well for Rachel’s sheep. He kissed her and cried out loudly. He told her that he is her relative, who is Rebekah’s son. It must be love at first sight for Jacob. Rachel brought Jacob to her father, Laban. After Jacob stayed in Laban’s house for a whole month, Laban asked Jacob for wages. Jacob says, “I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.” Their deal is made. But, when he was done in seven years, Laban cheated Jacob. Laban gave him Leah instead of Rachel. Jacob upset him, saying, “Why did you deceive me?” Laban says, “This is not done in our country-giving the younger before the firstborn. So you may serve me for Rachel for another seven years.” Jacob, who is a cheater, met a bigger cheater. But, because Jacob loved Rachel so much, he worked for seven more years. Finally, Jacob worked for about twenty-one years in Laban’s employ. If we live with our stratagem like a cheater, we may meet a stronger cheater than us like Jacob. Laban was an expert of the shady deal. He put Jacob to work for a month before discussing compensation. Laban is done examining Jacob already. Jacob, who was not known for missing tricks, immediately is taken in by Laban’s plot. And then, Jacob’s labor of love begins.

Nevertheless, God keeps the promise with Jacob; “I am with you. Wherever you go, I will watch over you.”  In the Song of Moses, we found how God takes care of Jacob; “God found him [Jacob] in the desert land, in the howling wilderness wasteland; God encircled Jacob, cared for him, guarded him as the apple of His eye” (Deuteronomy 32:10). Whatever the tough circumstances Jacob was going to encounter during the twenty-one years he spent in Laban’s employ. The Lord was committed to instructing him and keeping him as the apple of God’s eye. God found him, encircled him, cared for him, and guarded him as the apple of God’s eye.

Sometimes we think that the way God cares about us would be no suffering, no hard work, no struggle, and no pain. But, think of it from a different perspective; God is with us no matter what kinds of situations we face. God was with Jacob in the wilderness and in Laban’s employ. Through Laban’s cheating, Jacob has two wives. Through two wives’ jealousy, he has two more wives. Jacob has twelve sons through four wives, and his twelve sons became twelve tribes of Israelites. As God’s promise, Jacob’s offspring are prospered like the dust of the earth. God never changes His promise. God is with us in the steadfast love. Sometimes you feel suffering, and you may think God is not there. However, God is always there, whether you recognize or not. It is essential to pray for God’s presence. Try to sense God is with you. Invite God to your life, whether it is in concerns or joys. God is in control. Sometimes God uses people who have no good purpose to bring us to destiny, which God plans.

No one had a more unfair and unjust life than Joseph. Joseph didn’t do any wrong thing. On the way Joseph delivered his brothers’ lunch, his brothers betrayed and sold him. Joseph lived in a foreign land as a servant. Even though he didn’t do any wrong thing, he was imprisoned. In his long journey, he kept in the right things. The Scripture says, “The Lord was with Joseph, and he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master” (Genesis39:2). People mistreated him, but because he kept the right thing, God is with him. God bless people who were around Joseph because of Joseph. Finally, Joseph became the primary minister in Egypt. At that time, Israel’s land was ruined by the famine. Joseph’s brothers came to him to beg for food. Joseph had the power to take revenge on his brothers. His brothers have fear in front of Joseph, who has the power. Imagine how Joseph felt! Joseph could not control his feeling and cry out. But, Joseph says, “do not be distressed and do not be angry at yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you” (Genesis 45:5). Joseph knew the principle that God is in control. God uses people around Joseph to save Israelites.

God may not remove the wilderness. God may not change the world right now. Instead, God watches over everything. Your time is coming. Your children’s time is coming soon. If one door is closed, the other door will be open soon. God is in control. The Prophet Habakkuk cried out to God for an unfair world, “How long, O Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or Cry out to you, ‘violence,’ but you do not save?” (Habakkuk 1:2) Later on, he praises the Lord, saying, “Though the fig tree does not blossom, and no fruit is on the vines; though the produce of the olive fails, and the fields yield no food; though the flock is cut off from the fold, and there is no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will exult in the God of my salvation” (Habakkuk 3:17-18). He realized the principle that “The righteous will live by his faith” (Habakkuk2:4).  God is in control. So, if you feel things are unfair, keep your way in the right things. God watches over everything. If we do good for those who do good for us, how is that different from non-Christians? Christians live by faith that God is in control. Trust God. God makes it happen. God will pay you back. Thanks be to God. Amen.