OceanSide church of Christ

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Genesis 31

Victor M. Eskew


I.           The Title of Genesis 31


A.   Jacob Flees from Laban


II.         The Key Verse of Genesis 31:  Genesis 31:20-21


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.


Why this verse?  God had commanded Jacob to flee (Gen. 31:3, 13).  Jacob was obeying God.  This verse also tells us that his departure was unknown at first to Laban.


III.       The Outline of Genesis 31


i.               The Secretive Parting (Gen. 31:1-21)

ii.              The Steady Pursuit (Gen. 31:22-42)

iii.            The Solemn Pact (Gen. 31:43-55)


IV.        The Lessons from Genesis 31


A.   Over the course of time, our relationships with people can change (Gen. 31:2).


And Jacob beheld the countenance of Laban, and, behold, it was not toward him as before.


1.     Six years have passed between Genesis 30 and Genesis 31.

2.     Laban had desired for Jacob to stay with him (Gen. 30:27).

3.     Due to all that transpired with the flocks, Laban’s countenance was no longer toward Jacob.


B.    God’s hand continues to be in the narrative of Jacob’s life.

1.     God commands him to return to Canaan (Gen. 31:3, 13).


And the Lord said unto Jacob, Return unto the land of thy fathers, and to thy kindred, and I will be with thee.


2.     God did not allow Laban to hurt Jacob (Gen. 31:7).

3.     God was involved in the cattle production (Gen. 31:9-10).


C.   A godly person will be a diligent employee (Gen. 31:6).


And ye know that with all my power I have served your father.


1.     This lesson was taught to Christian slaves of the first century (Eph. 6:5-8; Col. 3:22-25).

2.     Parents need to teach this lesson diligently to their children.

a.     It is not just about a paycheck.

b.    Christians should be concerned about the type of work they provide an employer.


D.   There are dishonest employers in the world (Gen. 31:7).


And your father hath deceived me, and changed my wages ten times…


E.    God will often protect His faithful from the evil doers (Gen. 31:7b-9).


…but God suffered him not to hurt me.  If he said thus, The speckled shall by thy wages; then all the cattle bare speckled:  and if he said thus, The ringstreaked shall be thy hire; then bare all the cattle ringstreaked.   Thus God hath taken away the cattle of your Father, and giveth them to me.


F.     The angel of God refers to himself as “the God of Bethel” (Gen. 31:11a, 13).


And the angel of God spake unto me in a dream…I am the God of Bethel…


G.   The actions of one in the home can negatively impact the other family members.  Laban’s actions impacted the inheritance of his daughters (Gen. 31:14-15).


And Rachel and Leah answered and said unto him, Is there yet any portion or inheritance for us in our father’s house?  Are we not counted for strangers?  For he hath sold us, and hath quite devoured also our money.


H.   It appears that Rachel was still attached to the family’s idols (Gen. 31:19).


…and Rachel had stolen the images that were her father’s.


I.     Distrust and fear within relationships causes family members to act in ways that are not normal.

1.     Jacob is said to have stolen away from Laban, carrying away his daughters “as captives take with the sword” (Gen. 31:26).

2.     Laban was not allowed to kiss his sons and daughters (Gen. 31:28).

3.     The normal departure would have involved mirth, and songs, tabret, and harp (Gen. 31:27).

4.     Why did Jacob leave as he did? (Gen. 31:31).


And Jacob answered and said to Laban, Because I was afraid:  for I said; Peradventure thou wouldest take by force thy daughters from me.



J.    Jacob appears to be a righteous man.  When accused of stealing the gods of Laban, he pronounces the death sentence upon anyone found with them (Gen. 31:32).


With whomsoever thou findest thy gods, let him not live:  before our brethren discern thou what is thine with me, and take it to thee…


K.   It is possible for family members to conceal sins from other family members (Gen. 31:32).


…For Jacob knew not that Rachel had stolen them.


L.    Not all sin will be uncovered in this life (Gen. 31:35).


And he searched, but found not the images.


M.  False accusations can insight anger in the one accused (Gen. 31:36-37).


And Jacob was wroth, and chided with Laban:  and Jacob answered and said to Laban, What is my trespass?  What is my sin, that thou hast so hotly pursued after me?  Whereas thou hast searched all my stuff, what hast thou found of all thy household stuff?  Set it here before my brethren, that they may judge between us both.


N.   Jacob sincerely believed that God had intervened in his life because of Laban’s evil treatment of him.

1.     Jacob had always treated Laban correctly (Gen. 31:38).

a.     No goats every miscarried

b.    Jacob did not eat of the rams of the flock.

2.     Laban had mistreated Jacob (Gen. 31:39-41).

a.     He required Jacob to bare the loss of all the torn animals.

b.    He was required to replace everything that was stolen.

c.    Difficult labors by day and night

1)     Heat of the day

2)     Frost of the night

3)     No sleep

d.    Changed his wages ten times

3.     Therefore, God intervened (Gen. 31:42).


Except the God of my father, the God of Abraham, and the fear of Isaac, had been with me, surely thou hadst sent me away now empty.  God hath seen my affliction, and the labor of my hands, and rebuked thee last night.


O.   Problems between brethren must be confronted properly if there is going to be resolution.

1.     Parties must speak only about the facts.

a.     Laban (Gen. 31:26-29)

b.    Jacob (Gen. 31:38-42)

2.     Both parties must be willing to come to an agreement (Gen. 31:44).

3.     The Lord needs to be part of the agreement.

a.     Genesis 31:49


…the Lord watch between me and thee…


b.    Genesis 31:50b


…see, God is witness between me and thee.


c.    Genesis 31:53a


The God of Abraham, the God of Nahor, the God of their father, judge between us…


4.     Both parties must be committed to no harm (Gen. 31:52).


This heap be witness, and this pillar be witness, that I will not pass over this heap to thee, and thou shalt not pass over this heap and this pillar to me, for harm.


P.    How good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity (Gen. 31:54-55).


Then Jacob offered sacrifice upon the mount, and called his brethren to eat bread:  and they did eat bread, and tarried all night in the mount.  And early in the morning Laban rose up, and kissed his sons and his daughters, and bless them:  and Laban departed, and returned unto his place.