Explore the Bible Sunday School Lesson April 7

Here’s the Explore the Bible Sunday School lesson commentary for April 7, written by Ben Stubblefield, Ph.D., visiting assistant professor of Christian Studies, University of Mobile.

Explore the Bible Sunday School Lesson April 7

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By Dr. Ben Stubblefield
Visiting assistant professor of Christian Studies, University of Mobile


Genesis 30:25–34, 41–43

Past (25–30)

Our focal passage this week picks up following the infamous “birth wars” in Jacob’s family — a childbearing race among Bilhah, Zilpah, Rachel and Leah. Jacob the trickster, having now been tricked by Laban, has completed his work arrangements as payment for Laban’s daughters. And he is all too eager to leave Laban, build wealth for his own household and see God’s promises fulfilled through his lineage.

While there are lots of points to make about these few verses, what’s astonishing about Jacob here is that he is willing to take a huge loss to leave Laban’s household. Note Verse 26. He just wants his wives and children, though the law would later stipulate that he could be entitled to so much more (Deut. 15:13–14).

How could Jacob, the conniving, greedy younger brother, be willing to take such a loss? I think it is because he knew that God was with him and would take care of his needs no matter where he went.

Jacob had seen God’s provision for him, he had witnessed God’s hand of protection upon him and he understood the sacred covenant God had made with his forefathers.

Just like we can have an inner confidence in God’s ongoing provision for us because of what He’s already done for us, Jacob knew his future was sure because of what God had accomplished for him in the past.

Present (31–34)

While Jacob certainly isn’t free from his prior conspiratorial habits, in this instance he is not trying to steal anything from Laban.

While I would hardly call his effort to tilt the herd in his favor a justified effort in fair trade and practice, it is clear that he has shifted tactics. The old Jacob — the wanderer — might have just absconded with livestock that he felt was owed to him. But here, he decides to remain, to work and to trust the Lord (and some new methods in husbandry) to reward him for his labor. (See also Gen. 31:10–13.)

Again, this author doesn’t find Jacob’s motives entirely ethically justifiable. But Jacob’s trust in the Lord to right the wrongs of Laban’s abuse of his labor is entirely right.

In the same way, the Lord’s people must always entrust ourselves to the Lord by doing right and remembering that our God is just, and He will one day therefore make all things right either in this life or the next.

Future (41–43)

I’m not a reputable expert in veterinary sciences, but it sounds to me like Jacob is following some home remedy-styled advice to get his goats to be better than Laban’s goats.

Y’all know that kind of folk wisdom — how castor oil will cure a cold, kill off warts and make you smart. Even if castor oil does work miracles, I still don’t think sticks make goats better.

I think what’s happening is God is choosing to honor Jacob as the son of the covenant. He’s training Jacob. He used to be the deceiver; he used to not trust the Lord; he used to get his way. But having now endured a season of suffering at the hands of another deceiver (Laban), God is ready to bless and prosper his future.

As Kent Hughes says, God is “greening” Jacob, as He does all His people. He puts us, like Jacob, in a trial or challenge to prepare us for a future of reward.