The Restored Orchard

Deeper Roots – Genesis 31:36-42

photo of an open book on a tree s roots

A humbled and open heart is fertile soil for God’s seeds of wisdom. Establishing deeper roots requires analyzing God’s word to discover truths, values, and lessons for application to our lives. Periodically, a scripture or passage calls for further exploration, like Genesis 31:36-42.

36 Then Jacob became very angry, and he challenged Laban. “What’s my crime?” he demanded. “What have I done wrong to make you chase after me as though I were a criminal? 37 You have rummaged through everything I own. Now show me what you found that belongs to you! Set it out here in front of us, before our relatives, for all to see. Let them judge between us!

38 “For twenty years I have been with you, caring for your flocks. In all that time your sheep and goats never miscarried. In all those years I never used a single ram of yours for food. 39 If any were attacked and killed by wild animals, I never showed you the carcass and asked you to reduce the count of your flock. No, I took the loss myself! You made me pay for every stolen animal, whether it was taken in broad daylight or in the dark of night.

40 “I worked for you through the scorching heat of the day and through cold and sleepless nights. 41 Yes, for twenty years I slaved in your house! I worked for fourteen years earning your two daughters, and then six more years for your flock. And you changed my wages ten times! 42 In fact, if the God of my father had not been on my side—the God of Abraham and the fearsome God of Isaac—you would have sent me away empty-handed. But God has seen your abuse and my hard work. That is why he appeared to you last night and rebuked you!”

Genesis 31:36-42 NLT

Our Deeper Roots passage in Genesis demonstrates how God’s protection and provision are present even when we’re mistreated. First, a little back story, Jacob had received instruction from God to return to his homeland. Fearing that Laban would interfere, he gets together with his wives and creates a plan to leave quickly and unnoticed. Once Laban, his uncle/father-in-law, finds out that they’ve left, he sets out in pursuit of them. It’s here that God intervenes via Laban’s dreams to warn him to leave Jacob alone. So once Laban catches up to Jacob and his daughters, Leah and Rachel, he accuses them of having stolen his idols and slipping away in secret. Our scripture selection begins with Jacob getting angry about Laban’s accusations of stealing his idols (talismans) because they were unable to be found. Unbeknownst to Jacob, Rachel actually had them, but that’s a whole different storyline. With Laban’s inability to find the idols, Jacob begins to explain what the last 20 years have been like working for Laban.

Jacob gave insight into his character as he shared his experiences. He dedicated 20 years of service in exchange for his wives and for the animals to support them. He didn’t try to negotiate for less time worked or fail to fulfill his part of the agreement. He was out tending someone else’s animals and taking the hit whenever things did not go well. He dedicated his energy and skill to Laban’s benefit and he was not treated well. But God saw Jacob’s true character, he was faithful with very little and was rewarded with much more (wives, children, flock). When it was time, God spoke clearly with instructions on Jacob’s next move.

It can be challenging to remain faithful and upright when someone is mistreating you. Enduring someone’s manipulation, lies, and schemes can make you question why you’re having to put up with them or wonder why God hasn’t scooped in to save you yet. The key is to remember that God’s protection and provision are with you in every season. Tap into the truth whenever times get challenging. Don’t get anxious to exit early because God may be using the hard times to teach you some really important lessons in preparation for where He’s taking you next. Be patient and steadfast in the pruning season so that you will be ready for your next instructions.

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