Vayetze (And He Went Out) B’resheet/Genesis 28:10-32:3
Haftorah Readings: Hosea 11:7-13:5
Today we read a Torah portion that covers a wide swath of Jacob’s life. It begins with Jacob leaving the Land and encountering angels going up and down a ladder between heaven and earth. It also ends with another incident of an encounter between angels and Jacob. The intervening years of Jacob’s life, between these two encounters, are filled with ups and downs.
An interesting question arises from looking at his story. Of all the people we have met and will meet, Jews trace their history as a people back to Jacob, not Avraham, not Isaac and not Moses. Why would this be the case? I believe, as we have seen in his life and will continue to see, he never gave up. He passed through many trials but continued on. In Genesis 29:1 we read this about him as he set out on his journey to Haran, “he went on his journey.” However, in Hebrew it would be translated as, “he lifted his feet and went on his way.” He never stopped moving ahead. For sure he passed some difficult tests but he kept going. If we look back at the history of the Jewish people we see the same trait. After every persecution they kept going, often reaching new heights. I pray this will speak to us all today. As believers G-d is with us. That doesn’t mean we will not experience difficult tests. It does mean G-d is with us and has a way for us. So as we look at this man’s life let this sink in, G-d has a purpose for whatever we encounter. He is with us.
Now let’s look at this portion and see how Jacob’s life can speak to us in our own spiritual experiences. To begin, read Genesis 30:25. This verse covers a confrontation between Jacob and Laban. Jacob says, “Send me away, that I may go to my own place, and to my country.” In this verse Jacob uses the Hebrew word, “Shalak.” If we look at Exodus 9:1 we see Moshe using this same word when confronting Pharaoh and telling him to, “Let my people go.” This is a strong word and is clearly understood by Laban.
It might help us to understand what is happening here on a social level as well. We can see Jacob came to Laban as something like an indentured servant. He had worked the prescribed number of years for each of his wives and now sought his freedom from Laban. We see him making this point to Laban. However he still needed the relenting of Laban to be truly free. Remember Jacob had not been purchased by Laban but had entered into something like a contract. Laban did not want to free him and made his own attempt at keeping him in Haran. At this point Laban had the upper hand so to speak.
Now, let’s look at what happened that gave Jacob the courage to stand up to Laban and make this demand to be released from his power. In Genesis 31:3 we read these words from G-d to Jacob, “Return to the Land of your fathers where you were born, and I will be with you.” In this verse G-d told Jacob to return home and He would be with him. Next we read of another encounter with G-d, but this time between G-d and Laban. In Genesis 31:24 we read, “G-d appeared to Laban the Aramean in a dream by night, and said to him, Take heed that you speak not to Jacob either good or bad.” Here G-d was telling Laban not to interfere in any way with Jacob. It took divine intervention to release Jacob from Laban’s clutches and control. G-d’s intervention enabled Jacob to get up and start home and compelled Laban to allow his release.
Now, I want to relate what happened here to Jacob to our own personal experiences as children of G-d. This is one of the main reasons I teach each week. I want each of you to understand and grasp how important it is to read and understand the Hebrew Scripture. It is the bedrock on which the Messianic scriptures stand.
Let’s look at few examples from the Messianic scripture that will show us how our Torah portion this week is used in the words of Yeshua and also Saul. In John 8:32 it says, “You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free.” They replied that they were sons of Avraham and had never been slaves, why would they need to be set free: Yeshua replied, “you have missed the point here, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.” (v 34) Saul explained how easy it was to be enslaved to sin, “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray. Slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy hated by others and hating one another.” (Titus 3:3) Saul is saying background or pedigree has nothing to do with being set free from slavery to sin. Philippians 3:5-6 sets this out beautifully. What had really set him free? Two things, a word and promise to Saul. “Arise and enter the city and you will be told what you are to do” Next a vision is given to Ananias, a believer who lived in Damascus, telling him where to go and what to do. Acts 11:12.
Here we see, like Jacob, it took divine intervention to release Saul from his slavery to sin. Each of us could add our own experience to what is shown in our portion and in the Messianic scriptures. We cannot work our way out of the power of evil. Only G-d can free us from sin. Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of G-d, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
Bless each of you this week with the spiritual freedom of being a child of the King.