Chapter 31:1-16 (ESV) - Now Jacob heard that the sons of Laban were saying, “Jacob has taken all that was our father's, and from what was our father's he has gained all this wealth.” And Jacob saw that Laban did not regard him with favor as before. Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your fathers and to your kindred, and I will be with you.”
So Jacob sent and called Rachel and Leah into the field where his flock was and said to them, “I see that your father does not regard me with favor as he did before. But the God of my father has been with me. You know that I have served your father with all my strength, yet your father has cheated me and changed my wages ten times. But God did not permit him to harm me. If he said, ‘The spotted shall be your wages,’ then all the flock bore spotted; and if he said, ‘The striped shall be your wages,’ then all the flock bore striped. Thus God has taken away the livestock of your father and given them to me. In the breeding season of the flock I lifted up my eyes and saw in a dream that the goats that mated with the flock were striped, spotted, and mottled. Then the angel of God said to me in the dream, ‘Jacob,’ and I said, ‘Here I am!’ And he said, ‘Lift up your eyes and see, all the goats that mate with the flock are striped, spotted, and mottled, for I have seen all that Laban is doing to you. I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and made a vow to me. Now arise, go out from this land and return to the land of your kindred.’” Then Rachel and Leah answered and said to him, “Is there any portion or inheritance left to us in our father's house? Are we not regarded by him as foreigners? For he has sold us, and he has indeed devoured our money. All the wealth that God has taken away from our father belongs to us and to our children. Now then, whatever God has said to you, do.”
Question to consider: What was the vow that Jacob made to God at Bethel?
Bethel (which means House of God) was the name Jacob gave to the place where he had seen the ladder to heaven with the angels ascending and descending. In Jacob’s dream God reminded Jacob of the vow he had made when he set up the pillar of stones in remembrance of God. Jacob said in Genesis 28:20-22, “If God will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father's house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God, and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God's house. And of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you.”
God did more than provide bread to eat and clothing to wear. He made sure that Jacob received an abundance and did so in a way that left Laban in the same state he was in when Jacob arrived. Instead of repenting and worshiping the God of Jacob, Laban tried to change the rules of their agreement. Each time he did, God blessed Jacob and cursed Laban. Now Laban acted in a way that led Jacob to believe he meant him harm, and God told him that this was a good time to return to his homeland.
This appears to be the first time that Leah and Rachel were in agreement with one another that Jacob should listen to God and leave immediately. For they recognized that their father had begun to treat them as strangers as well, and it was no longer safe for them to remain.
Dear heavenly father, we praise You for the times You have kept us from harm and danger. Help us to be faithful to You as You have been faithful to us, for we know that it is only through Christ’s work and Your Holy Spirit that we have been set free to do good works. Amen.