So, many of you know that I am a lover of books.
And I do frequently skirt the edges and do a lot of research in a bunch of divergent theological and philosophical streams, not the least of which (but pretty close to that) is Reformed theology.
I own an ESV Reformation Study Bible, mostly because of the reputation of R.C. Sproul, founder of Ligonier Ministries. Now, I am not at all a Calvinist, but I do at times like seeing what others have to say.
In the Bible, as I was reading the account of Laban’s introduction, I came across the following footnote for Genesis 24:29:
Laban takes responsibility for the family, probably because Bethuel is incapacitated.From the footnotes on page 50, Reformation Study Bible, Reformation Trust.
Now, I can kind of see the argument of what is being staged here. Laban might genuinely be taking care of his family with some measure of the attitude of a protective son.
That said, I do not think this is the whole picture, because if you read the context of how Laban continues to act such as in 24:30-31:
As soon as he saw the [gold] ring and the bracelets on his sister’s arms…. He said , “come in, O blessed of the Lord. Why do you stand outside?”
And later in 30:35-36:
But later that day, Laban removed the mail goats that were striped and spotted, and all the female goats that were speckled and spotted, every one that had white on it, and every lamb that was black, and put them in charge of his sons. And he set a distance of three days journey between himself and Jacob, and Jacob pastured the rest of Laban’s flock.
thus removing anything that Jacob could have used genetically to increase the size of his profits,
And in 31:7:
Yet your father has cheated me and changed my wages ten times
And in 31:14:
Then Rachel and Leah answered and said to him, “Is there any portion or inheritance ledt to us in our father’s house? Are we not regarded by him as foreigners? For he has sold us, as he has indeed devoured our money.
We can clearly see that Laban’s motives are pretty questionable, given time. It does not appear that Laban is interested, when he said “Come in, o blessed of the Lord!” with anything other than “how can I get a piece of this?”
Dude appeared to be drooling over those camels, and over that gold, and appeared to want a piece of what belonged to Jacob.
I think, as we read these notes and thoughts written, as others will doubtless point out some flaw when they read my thoughts as well, we need to be careful to read the context for a given verse and not just assume that part of the picture = the whole picture.
Laban may have had some altrusitic reason for being present, or he may have been partially a scoundrel. We understand that Jacob, in a couple of places, was a scoundrel. And in the matter of the birthright (Genesis 25:29-34), Jacob was NOT a scoundrel, but just a good businessman who took advantage of an opportunity handed to him to PURCHASE, NOT STEAL, his brother’s birthright, a thing his brother despised, which partly fulfilled the prophecy given to his mother.
And instead of looking at Esau as a brother who was robbed, perhaps looking at him as a soulish individual who did not deal with or heed the Spirit’s prompting would provide a fuller picture of him.
The bottom line is that we need to be able to see the whole picture, warts and all, and learn the lessons that come in those pictures.
And, in our reading, I think, as people with an overdeveloped sense of fairness, we need to, instead of casting judgment on God’s decision-making process, see why God responded to Esau the way He did.
And, back to our topic, why God responded to Laban the way he did.