In Genesis 31, after having spent twenty (20) years with Laban his uncle, who, although he had worked tirelessly for him throughout those years, had tried all he could to outsmart, deceive and exploit him, an angel of God spoke to Jacob in a dream, telling him to leave that place and return to the land where he had come from.
In verse 3, it states, “And the Lord said unto Jacob, Return unto the land of thy fathers, and to thy kindred; and I will be with thee.“
In recounting the incident, Jacob, who had wanted to leave years earlier but had been persuaded by Laban, for his own selfish motives, to stay longer, stated:
- “And the angel of God spake unto me in a dream, saying, Jacob: And I said, Here am I. And he said, Lift up now thine eyes, and see, all the rams which leap upon the cattle are ringstraked, speckled, and grisled: for I have seen all that Laban doeth unto thee. I am the God of Bethel, where thou anointedst the pillar, and where thou vowedst a vow unto me: now arise, get thee out from this land, and return unto the land of thy kindred.”
The instruction was clear. There was no room for ambiguity. Jacob understood what God wanted him to do and so he did not need to consult with his uncle Laban to get his consent or to find out how he felt.
As Laban later accused him, Jacob sore longed after his father’s house and whereas this was meant as an insult, one could not blame Jacob. For, in his father’s house was a place of security, peace, stability, godliness, genuine concern for his welfare and unconditional love. He had toiled tirelessly for twenty (20) long years at Laban’s abode but in his father’s house, he would finally be able to rest. He would be safe there and unconditionally loved, whereas Laban’s abode represented lies, deception, envy and exploitation.
Of all the affliction he went through, his hard labour and the injustice meted out to him despite his faithfulness to Laban, Jacob later told Laban:
- “This twenty years have I been with thee; thy ewes and thy she goats have not cast their young, and the rams of thy flock have I not eaten. That which was torn of beasts I brought not unto thee; I bare the loss of it; of my hand didst thou require it, whether stolen by day, or stolen by night. Thus I was; in the day the drought consumed me, and the frost by night; and my sleep departed from mine eyes. Thus have I been twenty years in thy house; I served thee fourteen years for thy two daughters, and six years for thy cattle: and thou hast changed my wages ten times.”
Jacob had even painfully overhead Laban’s sons, who would have benefitted from his hard work, on one occasion, badmouthing him, in envy for how God had blessed him. He had also observed that Laban’s countenance had changed toward him, he no longer being as welcoming as he had been in the beginning.
The Word of God states of Jacob, right before the Lord told him to return to his father’s house:
- “And he heard the words of Laban’s sons, saying, Jacob hath taken away all that was our father’s; and of that which was our father’s hath he gotten all this glory. And Jacob beheld the countenance of Laban, and, behold, it was not toward him as before.”
After informing his wives therefore, Jacob packed up and left suddenly, in obedience to God’s call. The Word of God says he fled, which denotes danger. Jacob did not feel safe where he was at Laban’s and so with extreme urgency, the term “fled” also suggests that he departed with great speed.
Yet, although he was within the perfect will of God and had been told by God to leave and therefore did exactly that and courageously, when Laban realized that he had left, he was not at all pleased and so he and his brethren pursued after him.
Verses 20 to 23 state:
- “And Jacob stole away unawares to Laban the Syrian, in that he told him not that he fled. So he fled with all that he had; and he rose up, and passed over the river, and set his face toward the mount Gilead. And it was told Laban on the third day that Jacob was fled. And he took his brethren with him, and pursued after him seven days’ journey; and they overtook him in the mount Gilead.”
While Jacob was on his way out in obedience to God therefore, Laban and his brethren pursued with the intention of overtaking him, so as to stop him and keep him from getting further. They also most likely intended to hurt him in some manner and to bring him, his family and all his possessions back by force, to the land of suppression, oppression and affliction, where Laban resided. Such was their determination, that they pursued him for seven days and aggressively, so as to finally overtake him in the mount Gilead.
Thankfully, God did not allow Laban to have his way though and although he was sorely opposed to Jacob being separated from him because of what he could get from him, Jacob made it out and back to his father’s house safely.
Something similar occurred with the Israelites, God’s people, when they were in bondage in Egypt and God willed them to leave. As God had said in Genesis 15:13 to Abraham years earlier would happen, the Israelites had lived in Egypt as strangers, as the land was not theirs and had served them, experiencing affliction for four hundred (400) years.
When God was good and ready though, just as he informed Jacob that it was time to leave Laban’s place which represented oppression, suppression and affliction, he sent Moses, along with Aaron his brother, with one message: “Let my people go that they may serve me.” (Exodus 9:1).
After much opposition on Pharoah’s part and God showing himself mighty on behalf of his people, Pharoah was finally forced to give in, as he realized he was no match for the true and living God. He allowed them to leave. However, as they had left Egypt and in obedience to God’s call were making their way out, en route to the Promised Land, lo and behold, Pharaoh and his army pursued after them!
Exodus 14:5-10 states:
- “And it was told the king of Egypt that the people fled: and the heart of Pharaoh and of his servants was turned against the people, and they said, Why have we done this, that we have let Israel go from serving us? And he made ready his chariot, and took his people with him: And he took six hundred chosen chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt, and captains over every one of them. And the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued after the children of Israel: and the children of Israel went out with an high hand. But the Egyptians pursued after them, all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, and his horsemen, and his army, and overtook them encamping by the sea, beside Pihahiroth, before Baalzephon. And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched after them; and they were sore afraid: and the children of Israel cried out unto the Lord.”
God on the one hand, wanted his people to be free from Egypt, which represented bondage, pain and affliction, so that they could serve HIM but Pharoah, much like the world today wanted the Israelites to remain in Egypt so that they could serve him.
As they fled therefore, Pharoah pursued them, just like Laban did Jacob with the intention of overtaking them.
Once again though, although the sight was frightening, God intervened, as he did with Jacob and Pharoah’s intention was brought to nought. He could NOT thwart God’s plans, even as Laban could not.
These accounts remind me of what happens even today. As a Christian, you may be within the perfect will of God and have obeyed what he told you to do (even if it was not easy) and you are therefore taking the path that he wants you to take, even if you are not sure where it is going to lead and don’t have the blueprint for your life. Yet, people, opposition, rear their ugly heads as commissioned by the enemy of your soul, the intention being to pursue and overtake you, not with any good or noble motive.
I have experienced this personally in my life, where, in seeking to do what God told me to do and in taking the path that he directed me to take, in faith, as I left where he wanted me to leave, en route to wherever he had purposed for my life, the enemy raised up people and put it into their hearts and minds to come after me, to pursue, to oppose, to overtake, so as to thwart God’s will and purpose.
What has been quite hard for me to deal with in this ordeal, has been the fact that some of these people were not those you would expect to find in the world, who you know hate you. No. Sad to say and disappointing even, they were people who have professed Christianity (whether genuine or not, God knows).
Such people have come after me, pursued after me relentlessly, aggressively and wickedly with malice in their hearts, unprovoked, many a time, so as to laugh, ridicule and consider what little they knew of my story, as entertainment. They have pursued after me, seeking to undermine and condemn me and have tried their best to make me feel foolish, bad, a failure and to inflict a great deal of hurt. They approached me and tried to overtake me, so as to fulfill their evil purpose, shocking me by their behaviour, as they operated as if something had driven them to do so. I remained silent, even as they taunted, mocked, teased and provoked, like Shimei did David and Peninnah did Hannah.
They took delight in putting me down with their words and why? Because I courageously left what God wanted me to leave in faith, a place that represented affliction, oppression, worldliness and bondage, even if disguised as a life of comfort, with much so-called “leeks and and onions” and was humbly making my way out, taking the unknown path, as HE had guided.
Yet, I resolved despite all the pain I felt, to leave all of it in the hands of almighty God. He intervened with Jacob to deal with Laban and with the Israelites, to deal with Pharoah. In the same vein, those who opposed my steps, as if my life belonged to them and they had authority to will me back into what God wanted me out of, will NEVER prevail over his purpose for my life, which trumps all!
They tried really hard, yes but they were bound to fail because although I am far from perfect, when I’m walking in obedience, God is on my side and when one walks in obedience, God will not allow any person who has positioned himself or herself wickedly, as an enemy of his child and who has pursued his child relentlessly so as to overtake him or her, to thwart his purposes for such a life.
I am always reminded of the perfect example set by the Lord Jesus Christ, when he was being accused and afflicted by those who positioned themselves as his enemies and without a cause. The Word of God says that “…when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously.” (2 Peter 2:23).
The situation is therefore in God’s hands, who has seen EVERYTHING. I need only continue walking courageously in obedience to his call and to guard against the temptation to become bitter and unforgiving, for the level of injustice which was meted out to me during those difficult times.
(Written on 4th and 5th July, 2023)
Dear Reader, if you found the above Article to be interesting, informative, beneficial or edifying, you may also be interested in reading the following:
- Note 12 – ‘Stressful Attacks – How David, Jehoshaphat and Hannah Handled It’
- Note 15 – ‘Why The Enemy’s Attack Is My Cue To Sing’
- Note 47 – ‘Silencing The Naysayers’
- Note 59 – ‘I Will Trust God With My Enemies’
- Note 63 – ‘After They’ve Done Their Worst, Yet Still I Rise’
- Note 67 – ‘What The Enemy Is After’
- Note 103 – ‘Fifteen Things I Love About God’s Character’
- Note 106 – ‘They Can Think Whatever They Like – God Will Do Whatever He Pleases’
- Note 171 – ‘Dear Peninnah’
- Note 173 -‘Showdown In Egypt – God’s Power Trumps All’
- Note 174 – ‘Grace And Glory – The Lord Will Help Me’
- Note 183 – ‘The Beauty Of Being About The Father’s Business’
- Note 187 – ‘Stirring Up The Gift – Getting God’s Work Done’
- Note 188 – ‘Opportunity To Rejoice Or A Reason To Tremble?’
- Note 244 – ‘Stay In Your Lane’
- Note 251 – ‘Fixated On Me? Focus On Him!’
- Note 252 – ‘Working For The Lord’
- Note 274 – ‘Life’s Mad Rush – Slow Down!’
Also, under the ‘SINGLE Daughters’ page:
- Note 179 – ‘What I Have Learned About Obeying God’s Call In Ministry‘
- Note 189 – ‘Dear Sanballat and Tobiah…’
- Note 299 – ‘Foxes, Grasshoppers And The Spirit Of Discouragement’
Additionally, under the ‘BROKEN Daughters’ page:
- Note 53 – ‘Character Assassination’
- Note 54 – ‘Afflicted And Tossed With Tempest’