It was 14 years after Jacob left home, when he was supposed to be gone just months while Esau's anger calmed, that Jacob finally decided to bring his family to his hometown.
However, his father-in-law, Laban, realizes that his successful flocks were due to Jacob, and he didn't want Jacob to leave. Laban had profited from Jacob's work, but he hadn't shared his wealth with anyone. Jacob's family was still poor, and he didn't like that he wasn't providing for his family the way he wants to.
So Laban decided to share with Jacob, and Jacob just asked for the spotted, speckled and dark sheep and goats. Laban agreed, but he went back on his word and took all the speckled and spotted animals out of the flocks himself and gave them to his sons instead of to Jacob.
Can you imagine how mad Jacob was when he went out to get his animals and they were gone?
"Seriously Laban? I'm trying to take care of your daughters and grandchildren. You won't let me?" Aaaah! I'm sure Jacob yelled in frustration.
Jacob tried to get more speckled and spotted lambs and kids by putting speckled and spotted sticks by the sheep and goats that were procreating. They thought it worked like that in those days --- we know that doesn't work today, but they didn't know how genes worked then.
In difficult situations, we have to figure out how to respond. That response should be trust God and work hard. One doesn't work without the other.
God saw how Laban was trying to take advantage of Jacob, and he decided to bless Jacob by providing him with more speckled and spotted lambs and kids than the perfect ones that went to Laban.
Laban's sons were jealous of Jacob's success. Laban was jealous. Jacob was uncomfortable and decided once again to leave. His wives had seen all their father had done to Jacob and how their father treated them badly and stole their inheritance, and they were fine with following their husband back to his hometown.
Just think, Rachel and Leah agreed on something. They bonded over the fact that their father treated them like dirt.
When they left, Rachel stole her dad's household gods, little gods of Laban's making. These gods were so powerless that Laban had to go after them and save them, while Jacob's God saved him. Jacob's God appeared to Laban and told him to leave Jacob alone.
1. Work for an audience of one. Work hard and trust God. Even if your situation is difficult, God is in charge and will treat us right even if it takes 20 years for us to see the rewards of our hard work.
2. Seek the God who can actually change your life. We may not have hand-crafted gods at home but we certainly have household gods that we pursue, places we pour out time that are not worth it. Seek the God that can make a difference.
3. God wants to set me free from slavery. Whether it's slavery at work, slavery to a certain sin, slavery to illness --- God can set free those who trust him.