For twenty years, Jacob has been a prodigal son, a fugitive brother, and a desperate sojourner seeking safety and provision in a foreign land. The consequences of his deceitful scheme have been hard for him to bear. For two decades he has been separated from his father, mother, brother, kinsman, and the Land of Promise. However, despite his sin and its consequences, he has not been separated from his Covenant-Keeping God. Despite his bumbling and stumbling, God has blessed him, and now he finds himself with safety, honor, wives, children, servants, and abundant wealth. The Lord has given Jacob far more than his fair share. The Covenant-Keeping God has been faithful and generous to his less-than-faithful son.
Jacob receives revelation and learns it is time for him to head back home. However, because he fears Laban and his sons, he determines to forgo announcing his departure. He waits until Laban and his men are away from home, and then quickly he gathers his family and belongings and hits the road.
But it is here that an odd and sad event happens:
Then Rachel and Leah answered and said to him, “Is there any portion or inheritance left to us in our father’s house? Are we not regarded by him as foreigners? For he has sold us, and he has indeed devoured our money. All the wealth that God has taken away from our father belongs to us and to our children. Now then, whatever God has said to you, do.” So Jacob arose and set his sons and his wives on camels. He drove away all his livestock, all his property that he had gained, the livestock in his possession that he had acquired in Paddan-aram, to go to the land of Canaan to his father Isaac. Laban had gone to shear his sheep, and Rachel stole her father’s household gods. (Genesis 31:14-19)
With her mouth she proclaims her acknowledgment of God’s favor, blessing, and leadership. With her mouth she encourages her husband to do whatever God has commanded.
But then, with her hands, she steals the familiar household gods of her family.
This is because in her heart, she trusts in God and her gods. She proves to have some measure of belief, faith, and trust Yahweh. However, just in case he doesn’t come through as she prefers, she doesn’t mind having some help from some other deities as well.
Rachel is not alone. She seemed to learn this from her father, because Labann also trusts in God and his gods. Upon learning of Jacob’s stealth departure, he determines to intersect and confront his deceitful son-in-law. Laban hits the road and he is hot behind the collar. However, on the way, he receives revelation from Yahweh. God instructs him to do no harm to Jacob, and Laban believes the God who spoke thus to him. Laban believes, and Laban obeys. However, despite his understanding of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, this will not cause him to forgo his household idols. Upon arrival, he states his desire to get them back and punish the thief. Jacob, not knowing that Rachel had taken them, promised to Laban the head of the one found guilty. Laban begins his diligent search. He is motivated to find his gods and take them back home.
But God is merciful …
Mercifully, God does not allow Laban to uncover the fact that Rachel was the guilty thief. It seems she is a deceitful as her father and husband. She can hide the truth with the best of them.
Mercifully, God does not allow Laban to find his little idols and bring them back home. God separates the vain-worshiper from his false gods, and this is always an act of God’s grace.
And mercifully, God later separates Rachel from her familiar household deities. This is recorded in Genesis 35:
So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods that are among you and purify yourselves and change your garments. Then let us arise and go up to Bethel, so that I may make there an altar to the God who answers me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.” So they gave to Jacob all the foreign gods that they had, and the rings that were in their ears. Jacob hid them under the terebinth tree that was near Shechem. (Genesis 35:2-4)
By the end of the story, Jacob and Rachel have cleaned their house and have come back home. The Covenant-Keeping God has loved them despite their foolish proclivity to idolatry. Even when they are faithless, he is so faithful.
Oh, how we are prone to trust in God and our gods. How often we prove our confidence is in God plus:
- Jobs, Income, Portfolios
- Intellect, Skills, Ingenuity, Work Ethic
- Youth, Beauty, Brawn
- Good Works, Religious Disciplines
- Trump, Pelosi, A Great Ameria
- Father, Mother, Husband, Wife, Pastor, Lover
- Food, Alcohol, Drugs, Social Media, Games, Teams, Sex
Yes, sadly, many are we who hold God with one hand and another idol in the other.
Well friends, it is time for us to ransack our tents, review our hearts, bury our idols, and come home … again.
Let’s not be bashful or superficial in our confession of sin. Jesus Christ knows the idols of yesterday, today, and forever. He knows them, for they were loaded upon his back on Calvary, and he died because of them. He knows we are never-ceasing idol-producers and followers. He knows it better than we know it, and he loves us so. So let us be thorough in our evaluation and confession. Let’s think deeply and talk intimately with the one who has already died for our heinous idolatry.
Then, let us look into his face with fresh delight. This is the way we bury our idols. We must have a greater affection to displace the lesser afflictions. So, get out your Bible and read of his beauty. Turn on some music and prayerfully sing of his attributes. Through meditation and praise, his stock will rise and the gods of this world will grow increasingly pathetic in our eyes. “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of his glory and grace,.”
Come on brothers and sisters; we have some Gospel-work to do. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to help us clean house as we come back home. The Covenant-Keeping God loves us so much, and he hates the fact that we are not enjoying and glorifying him as we can. He is helping us right now. He is keeping covenant with us right now. Mercifully, he is separating us from our puny gods. Again, he is calling us back home.