Genesis chapter 31 verses 17 and 18, verses from 21 to 29 and verse 31 gives the account of Jacob fleeing from the house of Laban, his father-in-law with his family (wives and children) and possessions (camels, cattle, and all his goods) to go to Isaac his father in the land of Canaan. The Bible says that Jacob fled with all that he had.
When Laban his father-in-law found out about Jacob’s fleeing, he pursued him for seven days and caught up with Jacob. But God divinely intervened in a dream and came to Laban in the night and warned him to be even keel with Jacob. When Laban confronted Jacob, he expressed that he had the power to hurt Jacob but because the God of Isaac (God of Jacob’s father) had appeared to Laban and warned him, he restrained himself from hurting Jacob. Laban questioned Jacob as to why he had fled in secret and told Jacob that he had acted foolishly.
To this Jacob responded that he was afraid – afraid that Laban would take his wives (Laban’s daughters) away from him by force.
Jacob fear is evident because he feared man instead of fully trusting in the Lord God who had promised him that he would be with him (Genesis 31:3). Had Jacob trusted completely that God was with him as he said he would, he would not have had to flee in secret.
Points to ponder:
Before we go about passing judgment on Jacob, let us realize that many a times, we also fear men, because we fail to take and trust God at his word.
The opposite of fear is not courage but instead it is faith in God. When the disciples feared for their lives in the storm, Jesus did not question them by asking them “Where is your courage?”. Instead, he asked, “Why they were so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith? (Mark 4:40) Faith that is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen (Hebrews 11:1). By faith, we can see the protecting and providing invisible hand of God in all of life situations and that is all that is needed to dispel fear – the fear of man and not act foolishly. Fear of men vs. Faith in God.
Jesus said, to all who are in his flock, “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20) and we can take him at his word. This is what will make us bold to be able to say, “even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil” (Psalm 23:4) for God (Jesus) is with me, (as he promised he would), always.
Genesis 31:17-18, (KJV)
17 Then Jacob rose up, and set his sons and his wives upon camels;
18 And he carried away all his cattle, and all his goods which he had gotten, the cattle of his getting, which he had gotten in Padanaram, for to go to Isaac his father in the land of Canaan.
21 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.
22 And it was told Laban on the third day that Jacob was fled.
23 And he took his brethren with him, and pursued after him seven days’ journey; and they overtook him in the mount Gilead.
24 And God came to Laban the Syrian in a dream by night, and said unto him, Take heed that thou speak not to Jacob either good or bad.
25 Then Laban overtook Jacob. Now Jacob had pitched his tent in the mount: and Laban with his brethren pitched in the mount of Gilead.
26 And Laban said to Jacob, What hast thou done, that thou hast stolen away unawares to me, and carried away my daughters, as captives taken with the sword?
27 Wherefore didst thou flee away secretly, and steal away from me; and didst not tell me, that I might have sent thee away with mirth, and with songs, with tabret, and with harp?
28 And hast not suffered me to kiss my sons and my daughters? thou hast now done foolishly in so doing.
29 It is in the power of my hand to do you hurt: but the God of your father spake unto me yesternight, saying, Take thou heed that thou speak not to Jacob either good or bad.
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.
Genesis 31:3 (KJV)
3 And the Lord said unto Jacob, Return unto the land of thy fathers, and to thy kindred; and I will be with thee.