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Through the Whole Bible: Genesis 31

Jacob's life turns back toward Canaan in Genesis 31 (link) as we proceed through the whole Bible today. We find Jacob waking up one day and finding that Laban and Laban's sons have turned against him. The statement is that "behold, it was not as before." One might wonder how long it took Jacob to notice this. He's been with Laban about 20 years at this point and has acquired wealth from Laban as well as two wives. Assuming others thought Rachel as beautiful as Jacob did, one could guess that a mere seven years of labor was the low-end of what her brothers hoped to gain from her.

Jacob then hears from God: it's time to go back. Jacob heeds that instruction and goes back. After double-checking with his wives, that is, Jacob heeds the command of God. Let's pause there for a moment.

I am all for unity in the home and mutual decision-making between husbands and wives. I do not think that there has been a major decision since Ann and I married that we did not make together. Well, there were some that were made for us by others, but when we have been free to make decisions, we have made decisions together.

Except that we have not faced a situation where one of us wanted to obey God and the other one did not. Not, at least, in terms of major decisions. There have been times when one of us wanted to sleep in and skip out on our responsibilities of the day and Ann wanted to be obedient to the things we were supposed to do, but our moves, our job changes, our child-planning have all come about through cooperation.

So, I've never been quite where Jacob is with Rachel and Leah here. I can tell you this, though, based on observation and general experience: a home with divided loyalties will bring trouble. Obedience to God is not an option,but obedience in a divided situation is neither easy nor effective.

What do you do?

First, if you haven't started, start right. I am constantly amazed at people who are starting relationships with an eye toward marriage and have not even considered whether or not they can obey God together as a couple. Seriously, folks, think about this. If your priority is obedience to God and someone's cute but their priority is cheese you will have relationship stress and likely fracture. Or you'll have to give up God a little so you can share in the cheese.

I like cheese, but it's not worth it. And yes, your grandpa was saved because grandma guilt-tripped him into going to church and finally it sank in. He is the 1-in-10000 exception. You're only hearing the happy ending, though, aren't you? How long did it take? What was their marriage like before that happened? How did he treat her? Was she growing rapidly in faith before marriage and then lost pace when she married him? See, even when lightning strikes it still leaves a burn.

Second, if you are started, then do your best to grow together in obedience to God. That may mean spending a lot of time praying for your spouse to be saved. A lot of effort to show Galatians 5:22-23 in hopes of seeing redemption in your home instead of condemnation.

It may mean choosing to go to church together instead of separately. You might have been Baptist for decades and need to go Presbyterian with your spouse. Do it, so that you can grow together. Study the Bible together. Share what you are learning with each other.

It also requires that you share what you are thinking and planning. Don't come home and say "Honey, I've decided to pack us up and move to Montana." Not that I'm against going to Montana—I have considered it before and consider it a possible long-term option—but to do that without discussing it with Ann first? Not a good plan. By talking through how you are growing, thinking, and planning, you do not spring on your spouse a "We have to do this now to obey God, so cope with it!" situation. Those are bad.

There's more here in Genesis 31, about sneaking out, running away, stealing household gods, and drawing a "don't cross this line" line between you and your in-laws. That will have to wait until later, though.

Doug

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