Speckled, Spotted and Spun

Genesis 31

Jacob’s landlord is not happy. He’s probably jealous: Jacob now has two of his daughters, has become immeasurably wealthy, and he has a God that favors him, even in times of blatant stupidity.

Jacob did not acquire this wealth by accident — Genesis 30 accounts his cunning methods to expand his wealth quickly. Jacob was promised any “speckled” or “streaked” lambs born in the flock he was told to take care of, so he encouraged their breeding and discouraged the breeding of the wholly white goats and lambs.

That’d be like having a factory that churns out cookies, and the owner tells you to go ahead and take all the misshapen cookies. So you tinker with the machines to make sure the majority of the cookies are misshapen. Now you get lots of cookies. Mmm.

Jacob has a legacy of deception starting at a young age. His wife Rachel also inherits this ugly character trait and takes Laban’s idols when he’s not watching. (v. 19) Rachel’s move just piles on the impurity dwelling in the house of Jacob: stolen blessings, polygamy, lies, and now idols.

But Rachel isn’t done.  Her dad catches up with Jacob and the clan as they try to escape unnoticed, and Rachel sits on the idols when Laban is looking for any possible stolen goods, saying she’s on her period to keep him away. (v. 35)

What a mess.

Fortunately, Laban and Jacob make amends, promising they won’t kill each other or take any more of each other’s stuff.

This looks like a big list of no-no’s. At first glance, this is all I could take away from this account of complete idiocy. But I got stuck on the sheep.

We don’t really see much value in sheep in our economy — most of our fabrics are synthetic, and we prefer beef, pork and chicken by far. But most Christians have read at least enough of the Bible to understand the value of sheep in that economy.  They also have religious value to the Jewish people: God requires the best-of-the-best sheep when the Jewish people make sacrifices in the OT.  And rightfully so — God always deserves the best.

Now, Jacob isn’t under Mosaic law at this point — the ordinance for sacrifice of pure white sheep isn’t established until centuries later.  But we recognize the symbolism — Jacob has an entire flock of “impure” sheep.  They’re spotted.  They’re stained. They’re permanently ruined.

Yet the Lord would bless Jacob.  Despite having kids with four women, two of which he never married, the Lord would bless the man.  Despite ruining Esau, destroying his father’s legacy, cheating his boss, and influencing his bride to carry on in deception, the Lord would bless him.

But not without changing his name.

You might have some issues: fires still smoldering from your past, stains on your shirt, blood still dripping from your knife. Everything is torn up, blemished, and broken. But the Lord will still bless you.

But he has to change your name. You must be reborn. You must start over.

God’s standards are lofty — and again, rightfully so, because God has a standard of holiness to uphold.

Psalm 24 gives us a cut and dry version of who is worthy in God’s sight:
– Those who have clean hands.
– Those who have a pure heart.
– Those who do not worship idols.
– Those who do not deceive others.
In other words, don’t do anything mean, don’t think up anything evil, don’t chase something other than God, and don’t lie to people to get your way.

If you are in any of those categories, you’re already stained. But the Lord can still use you. As I’ve said before, it’s not too late. You can be made whole once again.  Just let Him change your name.

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