The Fall of Mankind

By their disobedience of God’s comman, Adam and Eve fell into sin. That is, they became corrupt, dead in sin (that is what the passage “You shall surely die” in Genesis 3 means), possessed of a corrupt nature. This comes to us in three ways, the third being dependent on the first two.

Adam’s guilt is imputed to us. That is, we are reckoned by God as having sinned in Adam. He was our representative head. This can be proved by Romans 5, which says that through Adam’s sin, guilt was brought upon all. That is the punishment of death comes to us because of Adam’s sin. He must be our representative, then.

Secondly, Adam’s corrupt nature is passed on to us. This is like characteristics (such as blue eyes) that are passed on from one generation to the next. But no one is exempt from this sin nature.

Thirdly, these first two reasons are the reason why we actually sin. We are worthy of condemnation for all three of these reasons. We would have done the same thing Adam did. We might think, “Oh, but knowing how much pain and suffering his sin brought would have kept me from sinning.” But in order to determine whether you would have sinned, you would have to imagine yourself in Adam’s position, without having sinned. But Adam did in fact know what the consequences of sin would be. He knew that death would come. He chose death on purpose.

Sin is defined as breaking God’s law. It’s that simple. God said for to do (or not to do) something, and we disobeyed. Sin is not a sickness or a disease. It is a voluntary act of the will, when it comes to actual transgressions.

But our sin nature is itself worthy of condemnation as well. This is why we don’t have to commit a single sin to be worthy of hell. We are already worthy of hell, because we have that sin nature, and because Adam’s sin is imputed to us.

But thanks be to the Lord Jesus Christ! The way that Adam’s sin was imputed to us also points us to Christ’s righteousness, which is imputed to us when we come to faith-union in the risen Lord Jesus.

Furthermore, when we come to faith, God implants a new nature within us, and deals a death blow to our old nature. It’s still alive in believes, kicking and thrashing around. But it is dying every day by the power of the Holy Spirit.

And in the new heavens and the new earth, we will never sin. So all three of these sin problems are taken care of in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ applied to our souls. Jesus is the answer to all the world’s problems, since all the world’s problems are caused by sin.

The Great Escape

Genesis 31

There is a WW2 movie out there with the title of “The Great Escape.” The story is about how a group of prisoners of war in Nazi Germany escape from their prison. It is a tale of great drama, for there were many prisoners, about 200 of them. Of course, as soon as they escape, the German Gestapo starts looking for them. There are many parallels between that story and this one.

Jacob heard through the grapevine that Laban’s sons were accusing Jacob of stealing from their father. In verse 2, we have a classic understatement: Laban didn’t look with favor on Jacob like he did before! I wonder why.

However, Jacob was innocent of the charges that Laban’s sons had brought against him. Furthermore, during all this time, Jacob’s character has been tested, and it has improved. That is why God now thinks that Jacob is finally ready to go back to his own country. It is at this moment of lowest ebb that God finally speaks to Jacob. We should remember this that God often speaks to us through His Word and the Spirit right when we are at our lowest point.

Jacob wants to go out into the field to see if his wives are ready to go with him or not. We see in verse 5 Jacob talking with his wives. He gives God all the credit for his acquirements. He knows by now that he did not acquire Laban’s flock by means of the sticks that he set in front of the flock, but by the help of the Lord. This is spiritual progress on Jacob’s part.

Notice that Jacob is rather sure of his success with his wives, since he says that they surely know what he is talking about. This is in verse 6, where Jacob says literally, “You, you know this.” Jacob says that Laban has cheated him ten times. This is possibly the figure of speech called “hyperbole,” wherein the speaker exaggerates for the effect. For instance, when Jesus says that a servant owed a master ten thousand talents, that was certainly hyperbole, since no master of the time would ever have lent a servant ten thousand talents. We say the same thing when we say, “I’ve said it a hundred times.” The implication of Jacob’s statement here is that the change was always for the worse. Probably what would happen is that Laban would see that the flock was bearing sheep according to the specification (say, spotted). So then Laban would change the wages to striped. This occurred frequently.

In verse 9, we see a very interesting statement from Jacob. Literally, he says that God has delivered the sheep out of Laban’s hand into Jacob’s hand. The word “delivered” has the idea of salvation attached to it. Just as Laban’s sheep would be saved from the hand of a bad taskmaster, so also the Israelites would be saved from the hand of Pharaoh, king of Egypt. And just as the Israelites would be saved from the hand of the Egyptians, so also are we saved from sin and death by the work of Jesus Christ, the True Shepherd.

It is much easier to convince the family, if you have a dream from God Himself. God does not speak to us in dreams anymore. However, God did speak to Jacob in a dream, as He spoke to many people in the old times by means of a dream. This dream told Jacob why it was that Jacob was acquiring Laban’s flock: it was because of God’s intervention.

Rachel and Leah’s response to this dream is to agree with Jacob. However, they do not agree with Jacob because of how Laban treated Jacob, but because of how Laban treated them. Rachel and Leah here charge their father with violating the customs of their people. Any bride-price was to be kept in reserve for the benefit of the daughters, in case the husband should die. That is what Laban should have done. However, what Laban really did was to squander his daughters’ inheritance.

So, Jacob goes off, the great escape. He took advantage of the fact that his father-in-law/uncle was off shearing sheep. That was an enormously labor-intensive job, requiring several hundred men to do it. So Jacob would have plenty of time to get away. Rachel also takes advantage of the distraction to Laban in order to do a little fleecing of her own. What she does is to “godnap” the family idols!

Now, it is not certain why Rachel does what she does. I will just tell you what I think, also telling you that it is somewhat speculative, what I say. I would say that Rachel has some remnants of idolatry left, though those remnants are shortly to be destroyed. Also, I think she has a developed sense of vengeance. She wants to take back some of what her father had kept from her. In any case, what she did was obviously wrong, and will spell trouble later on.

However, even though she was wrong in taking those household idols, yet her actions still foreshadow later events. The Israelites would later plunder the Egyptians, though that time, it was at the command of God almighty. In the same way, Jesus was also plunder the stronghold of Satan, as Jesus said in the parable of the strong man. That strong man is Satan, and Jesus binds the strong man, in order to plunder his house. Notice here, by the way, that Jacob and Rachel are both thieves. Rachel steals the household gods, and Jacob literally steals the heart of Laban. That is, Jacob deceived Laban.

Now, Jacob’s deception here is evidence that he still has a way to go. What Jacob should have done here, since God had commanded him to leave, was to trust God to handle Laban, and leave openly. What we find out is that Jacob’s hasty and sneaky departure is unnecessary, and unavailing. However, even though Jacob lacks full faith, yet he does go when God tells him to go. Jacob’s leaving is parallel to Abraham’s leaving when God tells him to go.

Well, when Laban finds out that Jacob has flown the coop, he is frightfully annoyed, and he goes out in full force to catch him. The verbs used in verses 22-25 are military terms. Laban is here preparing for war with Jacob. Laban is so ticked off that God has to warn him in a dream not to harm Jacob. When God says, “Be careful not to say anything good or bad,” God means that Laban is not to hurt Jacob in any way. After all, Laban is about to say some rather abusive things to Jacob.

What Laban does say to Jacob is that Jacob is guilty of kidnapping, violating social custom by not allowing Laban to say goodbye, and theft of the family gods. Laban claims that there would have been a merry send-off if Jacob had done things openly. However, if you believe that, then, as one writer puts it, “I have some very nice oceanfront property investment opportunities for you in Arizona.” There is no way Laban would have sent Jacob off at all. Laban is up to some first-class lying. Notice also that Laban says, “the God of YOUR father.” Obviously, Laban does not believe in the God of Jacob. It is not true faith but a slavish sort of dread that keeps Laban from hurting Jacob. He is at heart a persecutor of the faithful.

Jacob responds with a two-fold reply. Jacob was afraid of the repercussions of Laban’s trickery. That was why he went off secretly. The second reply is an oath that the person who stole the gods will die. The text is very clear that Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen the gods. Nevertheless, Jacob’s curse is oddly prophetic, for Rachel will die shortly thereafter in childbirth.

Laban goes into the tents in order to find what he was looking for. He gets tricked by Rachel, who, I think, at this point in time, finally realizes how useful these false gods are. They are the equivalent of sanitary napkins. These gods can be stolen, hidden, and sat upon by a menstruating woman. Some gods! Moses is obviously making fun of these gods. We are supposed to laugh when we see Rachel carefully protecting these gods from her father Laban. Rachel winds up deceiving her father in very much the same way that Laban deceived Jacob on the wedding night so many years earlier. So Laban finally gets his comeuppance.

And does Jacob ever lay into him! Twenty years of frustration at Laban’s treatment of him come rushing out in this stinging rebuke to Laban. Jacob went above and beyond the call of duty, even giving what was not required. It was the case in ancient law that as long as the shepherd could produce the body of the dead sheep, then the shepherd would not have to pay the owner for the dead sheep. However, Jacob suffered all the losses from his own flock. He was honest in his dealing with Laban’s flock. Finally, Jacob accuses Laban of the very worst crime that an employee can commit: witholding of wages. He says that if Laban had his way, then Jacob would have worked for twenty years and have nothing but his wives and children, and even those Laban would have preferred to keep!

That is why Laban is so pitiful in his reply. He knows that he is beaten. And so he reminds Jacob of this legal fiction that everything belongs to Jacob. He tries to make himself magnanimous. But where he is really headed is the making of a covenant. Laban now recognizes that Jacob is his equal, indeed, superior. It is usually the inferior who makes a covenant with the superior. Notice how generous Jacob is here. He could have simply left Laban. But Jacob wants an end to all this. Even though he has been wronged for twenty years, he still wants to make up with Laban. We should take a lesson from that: it doesn’t matter how much or for how long we have been wronged by someone, we should still be more than ready, we should even be eager to make up with that person. Why can we do that? It is because God watches over us, and will make all things right in the end. We don’t have to pursue righting the situation ourselves. We can let God do it.

Verse 50 is highly ironic. Laban doesn’t want Jacob to commit polygamy, when in fact it was he who inflicted Jacob with polygamy in the first place!

I hope that we have seen how this passage points us to Jesus Christ. Our trust in Him should be independent of our own wit and skill in thrashing about for a solution to our difficulties. Our trust in Jesus Christ should be simple and implicit. In other words, we should let Christ accomplish His promises. We should be quick to reconcile.
We should not trust in phony idols that we have to protect. Money is just such an idol. We have to sit on it much like Rachel did. We have to guard it with all our might if we want it to stay with us, and even then, it can take wings a fly away.

We should be quick to reconcile with those who differ from us, even those who are not believers, much more those who do believe and are our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Flee to the Savior. Flee out from under the power of Satan. For Satan would never have done with you, if he had his way. That is the message for us today.