24 But God [t]had come to Laban the Syrian in a dream by night, and said to him, “Be careful that you speak to Jacob neither good nor bad.” 29 It is in my power to do you harm, but the God of your father spoke to me last night, saying, ‘Be careful that you speak to Jacob neither good nor bad.’
When Jacob fled from his angry brother, Esau, he ran to Laban, his mother’s brother where he felt he would be safe. However, he exchanged one set of problems for another-an angry brother who wanted to kill him for a greedy and selfish uncle who wanted to use him. I am not sure which is worse, but I am definitely glad I was not in his shoes.
Have you ever had to deal with someone who takes you for granted just because he has the upper hand in the situation? They have a ‘take it or leave it’ attitude because they know you are desperate. That is what Laban did with Jacob. He knew Jacob could not go home just yet so he took maximum advantage of him.
Jacob wanted to marry Rachel, Laban dumped Leah on him without his consent and made him serve fourteen years to marry the two ladies. He kept playing games with him. He was like shifting sand. Jacob could not hold him to his word. He changed Jacob’s wages ten times. It was an endless game.
When Jacob decided to go back home, instructed by God, Laban was taken unawares. I don’t think he believed that Jacob would ever take that bold step to go home to face his brother Esau. It was three days before he knew what was going on. In his usual arrogant manner, he went after him. He just felt Jacob was now his slave and had no rights to leave. He caught up with Jacob after seven days. He slept off that night after setting his troops in array to further oppress Jacob as usual, when the Lord spoke to him, ‘Be careful that you speak to Jacob neither good nor bad’. In other words, don’t say a word to him.
I want to imagine what happened to Laban that night. He would have become scared of Jacob. He had done all sorts of evil to Jacob before now but he woke up recognizing, the game was up. ‘I can no longer treat Jacob anyhow I like’. He confessed to Jacob ‘It is in my power to do you harm, but the God of your father spoke to me last night, saying, ‘Be careful that you speak to Jacob neither good nor bad.’
The picture I see is that of a bully who keeps tormenting a little boy in school, until he meets the boy’s six feet tall older brother. He immediately backs off. That is what happened to Laban. He had to back off. He no longer had jurisdiction over Jacob. He no longer had the power to treat Jacob anyhow he liked.
While Jacob had Laban constantly trying to deny him of God’s blessing, in our dispensation, the devil tries to oppress us, take us on round about journeys that lead us nowhere. Like Laban, he acts as though he has ultimate power over us, but that is a lie. There in One who has given him instructions, ‘‘Be careful that you speak to Chinwe neither good nor bad’. Make sure you don’t touch her. She belongs to me. The devil knows there is just how far he can touch you. The question is, ‘do we know it?’.
In the recent events of my life, I have come to understand, that the enemy indeed cannot do as he pleases because he has instructions not to touch me beyond a clearly drawn line. There were too many opportunities he could have taken that he could not, because he had an instruction from my Father. I know it beyond any shadow of doubt.
I don’t know what the Labans of your life have thrown at you. Always remember, they have instructions not to destroy you. The devil is a liar. I don’t care how largely he looms over you, threatening to destroy you, he has been given an instruction by the Lord his Creator. He cannot do anything to you. He can see your big Brother even if you can’t. His skirmishes are only for a while. Only for a while, clearly defined by God Himself. He is watching to make sure the devil does not cross the boundaries that have been set.
For me, that knowledge make me lie down in peace. I know I am being watched by a caring Eye. I hope this brings you as much peace as it does to me. He truly loves us. Don’t mind Laban. It is only for a while. It is only for a while. Just trust Him. He never fails. CK