If people were able to look down the road and see what would happen to them following crucial decisions, certainly, they might not make those choices. Life, for them, might turn out very differently. Sometimes, crucial decisions don’t seem so crucial at the time. They are made in an instant without thinking at all about the long-term ramifications.
Over the last couple of days, I have had four conversations with family members about decisions they have made in the past and the consequences that have resulted from them. These are people that I love. I want to shield them from the painful unintended consequences of their own decisions. This is hard to come to grips with, but I can’t.
Forced to flee from his brother’s fury, Jacob arrived in Haran the home of Laban, his uncle. Most of us are familiar with the story of Jacob falling head-overs-heels in love with Rachel, Laban’s youngest daughter. The two men agreed to the bride price, a common custom of the Middle East at that time. Jacob would work for Laban as a shepherd for seven years. The time flew by for the smitten one.
The day finally arrived and the wedding week began. It was a seven day affair. On the night of the seventh day, Jacob took his new bride into his tent and they became one. The next morning? Surprise! Laban had performed a switcheroo, giving Leah the older daughter to Jacob instead of Rachel, his beloved. As they say, the deed was done. What was Jacob to do? He had been had!
Two old sayings come to mind concerning the unintended consequences Jacob experienced after he deceived his blind father and stole the blessing that belonged to his older brother.
You can run, but you cannot hide.
It had been seven years since Jacob had left home under dubious circumstances. Working hard, Jacob had made a new life for himself and his future looked bright. Maybe he had gotten to the point where he seldom remembered what he had done to Esau and Isaac. Jacob’s wedding night brought it all back.
A recurring theme of the Bible is the deeds of darkness. Isaac was virtually blind, living in darkness. Jacob took advantage of the darkness of Isaac’s world to steal what did not belong to him. Laban, a master deceiver in his own right, took advantage of the dark of night to deceive his future son-in-law.
For our transgressions are multiplied before You, And our sins testify against us; For our transgressions are with us, And we know our iniquities. – Isaiah 49:12
The Bible is clear. Sin, those things done in the dark, will be exposed in the light of the day.
What goes around comes around.
After accepting Leah as his first wife, Jacob paid a price for his own sin. He worked another seven years for Rachel, the love of his life. Over the span of twenty years, Jacob worked for Laban, and God prospered him. He gave him many sons. His family was large. Jacob became very wealthy in his own right. Jacob had likely started to believe that his old life was behind him, nothing but blue skies and clear sailing ahead. But, God had bigger plans for Jacob.
The promises made to Abraham rested with Jacob. The land Jacob was working on did not belong to him. It was not the land of promise. Jacob had to go home. And who was there? Esau!
Esau would have to be dealt with, there was no escaping that fact. Jacob returned to his homeland a changed man. Nonetheless, there were consequences for what he had done that had to be addressed. While he would have much rather ignored his brother, that was not to be.
Sometimes, the consequences of what we do haunt us until we are forced to come face-to-face with the results of our own personal sin. It’s painful. We don’t want to go through it. But, as people who are changed by faith, God is more concerned about eternity than he is with our present circumstances. If we refuse to deal with it on our own, God may force us to. That is exactly what happened with Jacob.
Jacob had thought that he left his old life behind. But, he could not move on to God’s best for his life until he dealt with the unintended consequences of the worst of his life.
Talk About It
What have you been running from that must be dealt with in the light of day?
Who has suffered because of your own sin and what should you do about seeking reconciliation and relationship with?
How long are you going to wait to see if God is going to force you to do what you should have done on your own?
Is there anyone you love that you are trying to protect from the necessary consequences of their own decisions?