Life-Study of Genesisby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
As we trace the history of Jacob, we see that in his life there were three pillars and one tower. Although Jacob set up pillars four times, he erected them in just three placesat Gilead, at Bethel, and on the way to Bethlehem (31:45; 28:18, 22; 35:14, 20). Because Jacob set up pillars in three places, twice setting up a pillar at Bethel, there were actually three pillars in his life as landmarks of his experience. In addition to these three pillars, Jacob also experienced a tower, the tower of Eder (35:21). We must believe that everything recorded in the Bible has a special significance. In this message we must consider, as a parenthesis, the significance of the three pillars and the one tower in Jacob's life.
The three pillars set up by Jacob were landmarks in his life. They divided his life into three sections. In the first section Jacob experienced God's care. From the day of his birth, he was under God's care. However, Jacob, a supplanter, a heel-holder, thought he was under his own care. Eventually he realized that he was not under his own care, but under God's care. If Jacob had been under his own care, he would not have been able to deal with his cunning uncle, Laban, or to confront his strong brother, Esau. Rather, he would have been totally defeated by Laban or absolutely destroyed by Esau. But because Jacob was under God's care, neither Laban nor Esau could harm him. Although Jacob did everything possible to take care of himself, he gradually learned that he was under God's care.
Recall how Jacob left Laban. He did not leave in a glorious way; rather he was afraid of Laban and stole away from him in a somewhat shameful manner (31:20-21). In doing so "Jacob stole the heart of Laban the Syrian" (31:20, Heb.). Thinking that he had to flee for his own protection, Jacob secretly stole away from Laban. Later Jacob realized that he was not protected by his skill, but by God's care. Although Laban did not know of Jacob's flight until three days later, he still pursued him until he caught up with him (31:23). The night before Laban overtook Jacob, God said to him, "Take heed that thou speak not to Jacob from good to bad" (31:24, Heb.). God seemed to be telling Laban, "Don't do anything to Jacob. You must leave him in My hands." Laban was unwise in relating to Jacob what God had told him the previous night (31:29). If Laban had not divulged this, he could have made a deal with Jacob. Jacob used what God had told Laban as the ground to rebuke him, saying, "Except the God of my father, the God of Abraham, and the fear of Isaac, had been with me, surely thou hadst sent me away now empty. God hath seen mine affliction and the labor of my hands, and rebuked thee yesternight" (31:42). As Jacob was rebuking Laban, deep in his heart he might have felt grateful to God for protecting him. God was sovereign over all his circumstances for his existence.
Laban then said to Jacob, "Now therefore come thou, let us make a covenant, I and thou; and let it be for a witness between me and thee" (31:44). Jacob responded to Laban's proposal by taking a stone and setting it up for a pillar (31:45). Although Laban intended to pile up a heap of stones, Jacob set up a pillar. This pillar was a testimony of God's care of Jacob. Jacob had come to see that his living was altogether under the care of God. Hence, he set up this pillar as a strong testimony of God's care for him.
Jacob was under God's care for more than twenty years. Although he was in Laban's squeezing hand for such a long time (Laban changed his wages ten times31:41), God was with him all the while, and His hand was upon him. Therefore, as Jacob was making a deal with Laban, he set up a pillar to testify that he was under God's care. This pillar was for Jacob's existence. Many of us have also set up such a pillar. If you consider your own Christian experience, you will see that the first stage of your Christian life was the stage of experiencing God's care. Even before we were saved, our intention was to have God's care. When we heard the good news of the gospel, our intention in believing in the Lord Jesus was to have His care. For many years we, like Jacob, have been under the care of our heavenly Father. At the end of the first stage of our Christian life, we need to set up a pillar testifying of God's care. However, if you have been with the Lord for quite a long time, it may be too late for you to set up this pillar. Rather, you need to set up the second pillar, the pillar at Bethel.
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