Ah, the stories of Jacob’s life. What a life indeed! His life is full of strife and wonder, even from his mother’s womb. One could reflect a lifetime on the lessons to be learned from his various adventures: deception and lies to gain his brother’s birthright, visions of a ladder to heaven, wrestling with the angel of the Lord (pre-incarnate Jesus), romance, heartbreak, and so much more.
The chapter of Jacob’s life I want to focus on is the story Laban, his devious father-in-law, and the spotted/speckled sheep. Laban knew that Jacob was blessed by God; he was bound and determined to benefit from Jacob’s blessings. He took advantage of Jacob time after time. To be blunt, Laban was a crook. I love this story because Laban finally gets what he deserves. Despite his best efforts to rob Jacob yet again, Laban comes up empty handed. Believe it or not, another reason I like this story is because it is a perfect example of how to be transformed into the image of God.
(v. 25) “After Rachel gave birth to Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, ‘Send me on my way so I can go back to my own homeland.
(v. 26) Give me my wives and children, for whom I have served you, and I will be on my way. You know how much work I’ve done for you.’
(v. 27) But Laban said to him, ‘If I have found favor in your eyes, please stay. I have learned by divination that the LORD has blessed me because of you.’
(v. 28) He added, ‘Name your wages, and I will pay them.’
(v. 29) Jacob said to him, ‘You know how I have worked for you and how your livestock has fared under my care.
(v. 30) The little you had before I came has increased greatly, and the LORD has blessed you wherever I have been. But now, when may I do something for my own household?’
(v. 31) ‘What shall I give you?’ he asked. ‘Don’t give me anything,’ Jacob replied. ‘But if you will do this one thing for me, I will go on tending your flocks and watching over them:
(v. 32) Let me go through all your flocks today and remove from them every speckled or spotted sheep, every dark-colored lamb and every spotted or speckled goat. They will be my wages.
(v. 33) And my honesty will testify for me in the future, whenever you check on the wages you have paid me. Any goat in my possession that is not speckled or spotted, or any lamb that is not dark-colored, will be considered stolen.’
(v. 34) ‘Agreed,’ said Laban. ‘Let it be as you have said.’
(v. 35) That same day he removed all the male goats that were streaked or spotted, and all the speckled or spotted female goats (all that had white on them) and all the dark-colored lambs, and he placed them in the care of his sons.
(v. 36) Then he put a three-day journey between himself and Jacob, while Jacob continued to tend the rest of Laban’s flocks.
(v. 37) Jacob, however, took fresh-cut branches from poplar, almond and plane trees and made white stripes on them by peeling the bark and exposing the white inner wood of the branches.
(v. 38) Then he placed the peeled branches in all the watering troughs, so that they would be directly in front of the flocks when they came to drink. When the flocks were in heat and came to drink,
(v. 39) they mated in front of the branches. And they bore young that were streaked or speckled or spotted.
(v. 40) Jacob set apart the young of the flock by themselves, but made the rest face the streaked and dark-colored animals that belonged to Laban. Thus he made separate flocks for himself and did not put them with Laban’s animals.
(v. 41) Whenever the stronger females were in heat, Jacob would place the branches in the troughs in front of the animals so they would mate near the branches,
(v. 42) but if the animals were weak, he would not place them there. So the weak animals went to Laban and the strong ones to Jacob.
(v. 43) In this way the man grew exceedingly prosperous and came to own large flocks, and maidservants and menservants, and camels and donkeys.”
It took a long time for me to understand the meaning of this story. However, I had an ah-ha moment this week. My husband found some beaver branches that he peeled and sanded down to make walking sticks. They had spots and speckles on them; it’s the nature of the underlying wood. I learned that when Jacob placed the peeled branches in front of the watering troughs, he was causing the sheep to see speckles and spots. Here is the formula, for you type ‘A’ people like me: See speckles and spots= conceive speckles and spots. Every time those sheep would drink, which was often, they would continually see speckles and spots. As a result, when they mated before the troughs, they conceived speckled and spotted lambs. If that will work for a sheep, then it will definitely work for you and me.
My husband had a friend in high school that continually listened to music that involved drugs. Pink Floyd, Suicidal Tendencies, Dead Milkmen, Dead Kennedys, Misfits, Danzig etc., these are just a few examples of who he listened to. He put this music before his ears day after day, year after year. Not too long ago, we saw his face on the news. He was arrested for growing a sophisticated marijuana crop in his own back yard. It embarrassed and humiliated his family. Have you ever noticed that men who have committed sexual crimes, also have pornography addictions? These men become what they have put before their eyes. If this principle will work for evil, then how much more would it work for good?
My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. (Prov. 4:20-21)
When Jesus began to teach again by the sea. And such a very large crowd gathered to Him that He got into a boat in the sea and sat down; and the whole crowd was by the sea on the land. And He was teaching them many things in parables, and was saying to them in His teaching, “Listen to this! Behold, the sower went out to sow; as he was sowing, some seed fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate it up. Other seed fell on the rocky ground where it did not have much soil; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of soil. And after the sun had risen, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it, and it yielded no crop. Other seeds fell into the good soil, and as they grew up and increased, they yielded a crop and produced thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.” And He was saying, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” As soon as He was alone, His followers, along with the twelve, began asking Him about the parables. And He was saying to them, “To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God, but those who are outside get everything in parables, so that WHILE SEEING, THEY MAY SEE AND NOT PERCEIVE, AND WHILE HEARING, THEY MAY HEAR AND NOT UNDERSTAND, OTHERWISE THEY MIGHT RETURN AND BE FORGIVEN.” And He *said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How will you understand all the parables? The sower sows the word. These are the ones who are beside the road where the word is sown; and when they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word which has been sown in them. In a similar way these are the ones on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy; and they have no firm root in themselves, but are only temporary; then, when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately they fall away. And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word, but the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. And those are the ones on whom seed was sown on the good soil; and they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.” (Mark 4:1-20)
There are over forty-four verses in the New Testament that refer to God’s Word as seed. The Greek word for seed is sperma; this is where we get the English word sperm. Male or female, we all have spiritual wombs/gardens in our heart. When we put God’s Word before our eyes and meditate upon it day and night with great care and discipline, we too can produce abundant spotted and speckles lambs. I challenge you today, just as I have challenged myself, keep His Word before you day and night and keep His Words continually in your mouth.
Practical ideas for keeping the Word before our eyes and ears.
1. Audio Bible as you sleep
2. Worship music during the daily routine
3. Regular daily bible reading
4. Regular daily scripture confession-speaking God’s Word is powerful
5. Placing scripture around the house- above door frames, kitchen cabinets, bathroom mirrors
6. Triggers- make a habit of relating scripture to objects in your daily path. For example- every time you take a shower, thank the Lord that His blood cleanses us from all our sin. When you drink water, think of Jesus… Our living water. Have fun with it, trigger ideas can be endless. We just found out that a casino was being built near our home. Every time we drive by that location, that is my trigger to pray that God’s will be done on earth as it is on heaven- there are no casinos in heaven!
7. Audio sermons as you drive.
If you have a creative idea of how to keep God’s Word before your eyes and ears, please share!