Lift Up Your Eyes And See

Stop focusing on meaningless things.

Genesis 31:1-13 (ESV)

Now Jacob heard that the sons of Laban were saying, “Jacob has taken all that was our father's, and from what was our father's he has gained all this wealth.” And Jacob saw that Laban did not regard him with favor as before. Then the LORD said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your fathers and to your kindred, and I will be with you.”

So Jacob sent and called Rachel and Leah into the field where his flock was and said to them, “I see that your father does not regard me with favor as he did before. But the God of my father has been with me. You know that I have served your father with all my strength, yet your father has cheated me and changed my wages ten times. But God did not permit him to harm me. If he said, ‘The spotted shall be your wages,’ then all the flock bore spotted; and if he said, ‘The striped shall be your wages,’ then all the flock bore striped. Thus God has taken away the livestock of your father and given them to me. In the breeding season of the flock I lifted up my eyes and saw in a dream that the goats that mated with the flock were striped, spotted, and mottled. Then the angel of God said to me in the dream, ‘Jacob,’ and I said, ‘Here I am!’ And he said, ‘Lift up your eyes and see, all the goats that mate with the flock are striped, spotted, and mottled, for I have seen all that Laban is doing to you. I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and made a vow to me. Now arise, go out from this land and return to the land of your kindred.’”

The surprise here is that God calls Himself “the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and made a vow to me.” Jacob thinks he’s done a brilliant job of working his deal with Laban. God trumps the whole thing by reminding Jacob of the other deal, the deal he made at Bethel.

Think about what a shock this must have been to Jacob. His breeding trick is working. His portion of the flock keeps growing. He thinks he’s some kind of genius negotiator/shepherd. Then …

Pop! The bubble bursts. It was all God! And the livestock were just props; Jacob’s deal with Laban was a sideshow. The promise Jacob made to God at Bethel is the only thing that matters.

Jacob has to feel like he’s been had. He got distracted from the original deal he made with God and was scoring points in a ballgame that didn’t count. Meanwhile, God checkmates him.

But the toughest pill of all is that this is all his fault. No one tricked him; he tricked himself.

His greed made him the ultimate sucker.

Everyone has had a wake-up moment where you realize that you were paying attention to the wrong thing. You’re worrying about a game on TV while dinner burns. You’re worrying about a burned dinner instead of preparing for an important meeting. You’re too engrossed in preparing for a meeting to pay attention to the signs of a heart attack.

One of the keys to growing in Christ is changing our focus. All our secular priorities aren’t what life’s all about. Jesus didn’t die for your 401k plan.

Always pray for your own sanctification. Ask God to grow your vision of the kingdom. Ask Him to teach you to see His priorities.

The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here:

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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