Send Me Away, That I May Go Home

Yes, this too is in the Bible. A man wants to go home. A man who has been gone for fourteen years, one month and one week wants to go home.

Yes, this too is in the Bible. Another man wants him to stay. He who had little fourteen years, one month and one week ago, but now has an abundance wants him to stay.

Yes, this too is in the Bible. A man still wants to go home. But after fourteen years, one month and one week and two wives, eleven sons and one daughter, he has very little…to get home.

Yes, this too is in the Bible. A man with very little still wants to get home. So, he has a plan. He will breed striped and spotted and speckled sheep and lamb and goats.

Yes, this too is in the Bible. Another man with very much wants him to stay. So, he has a plan. He gets rid of every striped and spotted and speckled sheep and lamb and goats.

Yes, this too is in the Bible. A man still with very little still wants to get home. So, he has another plan. He will breed striped and spotted and speckled sheep and lamb and goats using sticks. He will put peeled, striped sticks in the drinking water. And it works. He gets striped and spotted and speckled sheep and lamb and goats by putting peeled, striped sticks in the drinking water. And he gets rich!

Yes, this too is in the Bible and at the very first it sounds so strange. So, perhaps the big question to ask is, why is this too in the Bible?!

Should You Serve Me for Nothing?

Genesis 30:25-43 is about Jacob. Jacob is on a journey, a journey that sent him away from home (cf. Genesis 28:6). This journey would take Jacob the furthest he had ever been away from home and it was because he had most likely never been away from home! But Jacob was on this journey for two reasons. It was because of his mom. His mom sent him on this journey for his own good. It was for his own safety. His brother Esau had planned to kill him, and Esau slept every night under the comfort that one day soon he would kill his brother.

But Jacob is also on this journey because of his dad. His dad sent him on this journey for his own good. Jacob was single. So, his dad sent him away to find a wife. Jacob found two wives.

The journey was a five-hundred-mile journey, a journey that Jacob’s mom promised would only be for a short while (cf. 27:44). And as the journey began to unfold, Jacob kept his eye on returning home (cf. 28:20-21). His eye was kept on returning home by the bare Word of God (cf. 28:20-21; 28:15).

But this journey which was initially promised to be only for a short while quickly turned into a month. A month turned into seven years. Seven years were extended by one week. And the one week led into another seven years. As Genesis 30:25 picks up, Jacob has been gone from home for fourteen years, one month and one week.

What had Jacob been doing for fourteen years, one month and one week? We know that he got married twice in about a seven-day period. He also had lots of kids, eleven sons and one daughter. So, Jacob multiplied. But what had Jacob being doing all this time? It began with watering a flock of sheep. These were Laban’s sheep (cf. 29:10). Then Jacob tended or pastured a flock of sheep. These too were Laban’s sheep. And then Jacob tended his father-in-law’s sheep. These too were Laban’s sheep.

But why was Jacob tending his father-in-law’s sheep? I know that this is review, but it is really important. Look back and listen to Genesis 29:15. Laban asked Jacob, “Because you are my kinsman, should you therefore serve me for nothing?” The word we want to pay attention to is the word serve.

When Rebekah was pregnant with her twin boys Esau and Jacob, God revealed to Rebekah that the older, Esau, shall serve the younger, Jacob, (25:23). Prior to Jacob’s journey his dad Isaac blessed him saying, “Let peoples serve you” (27:29). And this is the same word as in Genesis 29:15. The word serve itself means to serve or to be kept in bondage. And the point is Jacob was a man to be served, but so far Jacob is the one doing all the serving! And Genesis 29:15 through Genesis 30:24 it is emphasized six times that Jacob served Laban.

Send Me Away, That I May Go Home

And after fourteen years, one month and one week of serving Laban, Jacob wants to go home. The big idea of Genesis 30:25-43 is home and the man who wants to go home and how this man plans to go home. And it begins with Jacob telling Laban rather clearly, “Send me away!” And what is the reason? “That I may go home” (30:25). And in verse twenty-six, Jacob continues rather clearly, “Give me my wives and my children!” And what is the reason? “That I may go home.”

But where is home? Jacob called it his own home and his own country. Where is it? Remember, Jacob had kept his eye on home by the bare Word of God. “Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you” (28:15). This land was a land that God had promised to give to Jacob and to his offspring. This land was where his father’s house was, a house that Jacob looked forward to returning to in peace (cf. 28:21). It was a promised land.

But what had Jacob been doing as he held onto God’s promise of going home to this promised land? Listen to Genesis 30:26. “Give me my wives and my children for whom I have served you, that I may go, for you know the service that I have given you.” Look ahead to Jacob’s words in verse twenty-nine. “You yourself know how I have served you.” Beginning with Genesis 29:15, up to this point the word served has been mentioned nine times. What has been the emphasis of Jacob’s fourteen-year journey? Servitude. Jacob the man to be served has served another man. And now he wants to go home to a promised land.

Laban Wants Jacob Stay

And Laban says, “Stay.” He actually says, “If I have found favor in your sight,” which is odd. It was a fawning way of addressing a superior and Laban is the superior![1] “Please stay!” And what is the reason? “I have learned by divination…” The word divination here is sometimes associated with sorcery and witchcraft. But I do not think that is what Laban means here. I do not think he means that he has learned something about Jacob through sorcery or witchcraft. The basic meaning is to observe the signs (cf. 1 Kings 20:33). Laban has observed the signs. The signs are that Laban’s station in life has only improved since Jacob began serving Laban. Laban has gone from having very little to now having very much. And what is the reason? “The Lord has blessed me because of you.”

And Jacob gives Laban an amen! “For you had little before I came, and it has increased abundantly, and the Lord has blessed you wherever I turned” (30:30). But the point to see is that the abundance is the Lord’s doing. Listen closely to the end of verse thirty. “But now when shall I provide for my own household as well?” In other words, Jacob is the one who after fourteen years has little. He came here with little and still has little. He has little to provide for two wives and twelve kids. And do not forget the point of Jacob and Laban’s conversation. Laban’s abundance was all the Lord’s doing. Why is that important? Because this chapter ends with abundance. Jacob goes from having very little to having camels! His prosperity increases abundantly! How could it be? It was the Lord’s doing.

Jacob’s Crazy Idea for Breeding Sheep

I only mention that because of Jacob’s crazy idea for breeding sheep. He proposes to Laban that he will continue to serve him, and his only wages will be sheep and lamb and goats. Whatever sheep and lamb and goats are striped and spotted and speckled will be Jacob’s flock. The more favorable looking flock will all be Laban’s. Laban agrees and then has all the striped and spotted and speckled removed a three days journey from Jacob. In other words, when Jacob returns to shepherd the flock all of what would be his flock are gone (30:31-36).

What will Jacob do? When the stronger of the flock will breed, and they always breed by the watering trough, he will put striped sticks in their drinking water. The thinking was that a vivid sight during pregnancy or conception would be reflected upon the offspring. And it apparently works! And once it works, Jacob kept doing this but only when the stronger of the flock would breed. The feebler got normal drinking water. The end result was that although Jacob’s flock were striped and spotted and speckled, they were strong. And although Laban’s flock was favorable looking they were also feeble. The point: Do not try this at home. It will not work. This only worked, and this is the only time in the Bible it worked, because it was God’s doing (30:37-42).

But Why Is This Too in the Bible?

But why is this too in the Bible? Did you notice when Jacob wanted to go home to the promised land after fourteen years of bondage? Listen to Genesis 30:25. “As soon as Rachel had borne Joseph.” Joseph is the turning point. Why?

The book of Genesis will end with Joseph, this Joseph, along with Jacob and all of Jacob’s sons in Egypt, some seventy persons (Exodus 1:5). Egypt is not the promised land. And while in Egypt over time, the people of Jacob also known as Israel were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them (Exodus 1:6). In other words, there were more than just seventy people of Israel, there were actually too many, too many for the people of Egypt. So, what does Egypt do? They set taskmasters over them. Jacob’s descendants are in a land not their own, a people who are to be served, but are at this time doing the serving. They are in bondage.

And they come to a point when they wanted to go home. Listen to Exodus 2:23-25. “During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery [the word slavery is the same Hebrew word as serve] and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.” This is like Genesis 29:31-30:24, of which we asked, “Why is this in the Bible?” There God saw and God remembered and God heard. In the next passage, of which we asked, “Why is this too in the Bible?” Jacob while in servitude wants to go home.

In Exodus, God will raise up a man. His name was Moses. It begins with watering a flock and then tending the flock of his father-in-law (Exodus 2:16-17; 3:1). This man will rescue Israel and lead them out of the bondage to bring them home. Very similar to Jacob in Genesis 30. He too will lead the sons of Israel out of the bondage to bring them home.

What is the point for us? There will come a descendant of Jacob of whom God will say, “Out of Egypt I called my son” (Matthew 2:15). His name is Jesus. He too is a servant, one who waters and tends a flock (cf. Philippians 2; John 10). And he too is one who leads people out of bondage just to bring them home. It is us. Our bondage is sin (Romans 6:20). But Jesus the Christ at his cross seeks to bring us out of slavery to sin, to never return and bring us home! “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going” (John 14:1-4).

[1] R. Kent Hughes, Genesis: Beginning and Blessing, page 383.

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