Genesis: The Foundational Story  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  42:12
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I’ve always been a bit of nerd.
Its important you understand that now, before we get to the heart of the sermon, because you might be skeptical of what I am about to say.
Bible Code
“Do I love you because you're beautiful? Or are you beautiful because I love you?” - Oscar Hammerstein, “Cinderella”
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
“Laid back, with my mind on my money and my money on my mind.”
“We were elected to change Washington, and we let Washington change us.”
What do all of these have in common?
They are all chiasms (Ki -as- ems). The definition of a chiasmus is the reversing of the order of words in the second or parallel phrases or sentences.
Matthew 6:24 ESV
24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
Looking at this verse, it conveys the thought that we must choose which master we will serve: God or Wealth. That is correct, it is saying that, but the question is, is that all its saying?
When we look at it from the viewpoint of a chiasm, then we begin to get a far more profound understanding of what Jesus is teaching.
Lets look quickly at this verse from the standpoint of a chiasm:
No one can serve two masters,
for either he will hate the one
and love the other,
or he will be devoted to the one
and despise the other.
You cannot serve God and money.
Explain Matthew 6:24 Chiasm
Note how the verses A and A′ have similar themes, as do B and B′, and C and C′. This chiasm uses three themes: serving one of two masters (God or wealth), hating one of the masters, and loving the other master. The theme in the middle portion of this text is called the center point – in this case, C and C′ are that center point. Most of the people that have studied the chiastic approach agree that the portion in the center usually contains a strong emphatic message. A second place of emphasis is at the beginning and end, what I call the first and last elements, A and A′. Therefore a chiasm is a way for the Holy Spirit to quickly convey what is important to Him in two separate locations.
In Western cultures, we are trained to look for the emphasis at the beginning and/or the end of the text. Therefore, we naturally believe that this verse is about serving either God or money. As I studied this chiasm, I saw two places of emphasis: the center point focuses on loving the right master and the first/last elements focus on serving that master. Immediately I understood that while serving God is good and proper, love and devotion to Him should be our driving force. Perhaps you have seen what I was seeing, that some people serve the Lord but never love Him. The application became most apparent to me: when we steadfastly love our God, serving Him is a natural outflow. Therefore, this chiasm reveals the dual emphasis: first love and devote yourself to God, and then the opportunity to serve Him becomes the effective result of that love.
Moving to Jacob
Now, you might be asking yourself, what does this have to do with Genesis?
The book of genesis is broken up into sections by the header “these are the generations of...” or “these are the offspring of...”
And the section of Genesis dealing with Jacob falls into the section beginning at
Genesis 25:19 ESV
19 These are the generations of Isaac, Abraham’s son: Abraham fathered Isaac,
with the next section beginning on
Genesis 36:1 ESV
1 These are the generations of Esau (that is, Edom).
Let me give you a summary of these chapters ranging from Genesis 25 - 36
In chapter 25 we find that Isaac has 2 sons, Jacob and Esau and that Esau sells his birthright to Isaac.
In chapter 26 we have the account of God promising to Isaac the same promise he had given his father Abraham and we also have the account of Isaac telling Abimelech that Rebekah is his sister and causing the same issues that his father before him had caused. Its here that we find that Isaac grows wealthy and ends up creating a covenant with Abimelech. At the end of the chapter we have Esau marrying two Hittites, which he was forbidden to do.
In chapter 27, which we covered at length last week, we have the story of Jacob deceiving his father Isaac in order to get the blessing. At the end of this chapter and spilling over into the beginning part of chapter 28, we see that Esau plots to kill his brother Jacob, and then he marries an Ishmaelite as if in an attempt to gain more favor with his father.
The middle of Chapter 28 is where the narrative shifts away from this highly dysfunctional family, and focuses in on Jacobs journey to Haran.
Lets read
Genesis 28:10–22 ESV
10 Jacob left Beersheba and went toward Haran. 11 And he came to a certain place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep. 12 And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! 13 And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. 14 Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. 15 Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” 16 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” 17 And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” 18 So early in the morning Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. 19 He called the name of that place Bethel, but the name of the city was Luz at the first. 20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “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, 21 so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God, 22 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.”
Here we see again that God is moving his promises forward. As with Abraham, and Isaac, now with Jacob the promise is given.
This is what we need to learn about our God:
The main point:
All of the events in our life reflect meaning which results in the outcome ordained by the Lord.

God's plan can't be stopped

From the very beginning, Satan has been deceiving the children of God, trying at every level to thwart God’s plan. And yet we see, through Noah’s drunkeness, through the lies of Abraham about who his wife is and the laughter of Sarai at God’s plan of giving birth to a son in her old age, through Isaac’s addiction to satisfy his belly with the Wild game of Esau, and even through Jacob’s deceitfulness with which he stole the blessing and the birthright, we see that God is moving forward his promise. It is this promise that will have its final fulfillment in the birth of Jesus Christ - Our Lord and Savior, and his death on the cross, that God is moving forward here in Genesis Chapter 28.
One of the beautiful themes of Genesis is that God is faithful to his promises. Are you struggling with that this morning? Have you wondered if God really is holding to his word? That he is keeping his promises for you? Friends, let this foundational story of God’s faithfulness to himself, of this promise of a blessing to All generations of the earth be the foundation on which your faith is built.
Chapter 29 Gives us the story of Jacob meeting Rachel at the well, he then stays with Laban and the family for a month before approaching Laban and asks to be able to marry Rachel his daughter. The agreement was that Jacob was to work for 7 years in order to marry Rachel. So after 7 years of what is apparently hard labor (which Jacob talks about in chapter 31) he approaches Laban and asks for Rachel:
Read it there with me
Genesis 29:20–30 ESV
20 So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her. 21 Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife that I may go in to her, for my time is completed.” 22 So Laban gathered together all the people of the place and made a feast. 23 But in the evening he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and he went in to her. 24 (Laban gave his female servant Zilpah to his daughter Leah to be her servant.) 25 And in the morning, behold, it was Leah! And Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? Did I not serve with you for Rachel? Why then have you deceived me?” 26 Laban said, “It is not so done in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn. 27 Complete the week of this one, and we will give you the other also in return for serving me another seven years.” 28 Jacob did so, and completed her week. Then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife. 29 (Laban gave his female servant Bilhah to his daughter Rachel to be her servant.) 30 So Jacob went in to Rachel also, and he loved Rachel more than Leah, and served Laban for another seven years.
So after working for 7 hard years, Laban deceives Jacob and gives to him Leah instead of Rachel.
A couple things to notice about this.
Number one which the text does not give us an answer on is, how could Jacob not know that he was being deceived? 3 things I think might explain this, 1) they must have used alot of veils. 2) it was dark (notice vs 23 says it was the evening) and number 3) there might have be copious amounts of alcohol- because in verse 22 we see that Laban gather all the people and made a feast. This would line up with what we see Jesus do as his first miracle in the Gospel of John where they ran out of wine so Jesus turned water into wine.
Other than that, Im not quite sure how Jacob could have been deceived
Number two is that I have always heard that Jacob served for 7 years, was given Leah and then had to serve another 7 years and was given Rachel, but notice that isnt how the text reads. In verse 28 we are told that Jacob completed the week Laban asked him to, and then he was given Rachel. Two wives in the span of 7 days, after which we at the end of verse 30, that Jacob served another 7 years.
Number three and final observation on this passage is the apparent sinfulness of the whole situation. Many opponents of the Bible will use this section of scripture as if in a way to promote and defend polygamy. They will say here we see God’s chosen man marrying 2 wifes, and as we will see in the next 2 chapters he will end up sleeping with their maidservants, totalling 4 women - and they say this is a defense of such a thing. But Christians and non Christians alike, where in this text do you see God saying this is ok? Where do you see God mentioned at all during this situation?
No friends, do not mistake God’s silence on this situation to be his acceptance and approval of it. Jacob’s sin of polygamy, David’s sin of adultery with Bathsheba, Jonah’s sin of pride, Peter’s sin of betrayal, are not put in the Bible as an argument for God’s approval of them. On the contrary, these are in the Bible to show the fact that

God’s grace is unmerited.

This should cause us to worship. Imagine if all of the characters in the Bible looked like Jesus. It would present to us a standard that we could never look up to. When we reach this foundational story, let us read it and relate. How often have we disregarded the plan of God in order to satisfy our own souls? Jacob had no right to be the chosen person of God, David had no right to be called a man after God’s own heart, Jonah had no right to preach and see the largest revival in the history of the world, Peter had no right to be the man would kick start the church on the day of Pentecost. And yet they were.
Friends, we have no right to be called the children of God. And yet
Galatians 3:26 ESV
26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.
God’s grace is unmerited.
Moving a bit more quickly now, we see the rest of Chapter 29 and through half of chapter 30 that God is the one gives life. God is the one who opens and closes the womb. Notice there in
Genesis 29:31 ESV
31 When the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren.
This then kicks off this story of conflict between the two sisters Rachel and Leah over the fight for attention and affection from Jacob.
We see that Leah gives birth to 4 sons, then Rachel gives her handmaiden to Jacob and she has 2 sons. Not to be outdone, Leah gives her handmaiden as well and she has 2 sons.
Then there is the account of the mandrake flowers, and Leah uses it as a bargaining chip to again sleep with Jacob. And Leah has 2 more sons and a daughter named Dinah, which we read more about in chapter 34.
Then Rachel ends up becoming pregnant and giving birth to a son named Joseph. Its at this point that Jacob decides its time to leave Laban and head back home.
He makes an arrangement with Laban to take the spotted and striped animals from Labans flock for his own to leave.
Read there with me
Genesis 30:37–43 ESV
37 Then Jacob took fresh sticks of poplar and almond and plane trees, and peeled white streaks in them, exposing the white of the sticks. 38 He set the sticks that he had peeled in front of the flocks in the troughs, that is, the watering places, where the flocks came to drink. And since they bred when they came to drink, 39 the flocks bred in front of the sticks and so the flocks brought forth striped, speckled, and spotted. 40 And Jacob separated the lambs and set the faces of the flocks toward the striped and all the black in the flock of Laban. He put his own droves apart and did not put them with Laban’s flock. 41 Whenever the stronger of the flock were breeding, Jacob would lay the sticks in the troughs before the eyes of the flock, that they might breed among the sticks, 42 but for the feebler of the flock he would not lay them there. So the feebler would be Laban’s, and the stronger Jacob’s. 43 Thus the man increased greatly and had large flocks, female servants and male servants, and camels and donkeys.
We see that Jacob actually starts to do some trickery of his own and is succesfull in having the spotted and striped animals reproduce as the stronger flock.
In Chapter 31 Jacob and his wives decide that the time has come to secretly depart from Laban, and on their way out, Rachel steals the household gods from Labans house. After a 3 days headstart, Laban finds out that his household gods are gone and pursues Jacob. After 7 days he overtakes them, but right before he does, God shows up and tells Laban not to say anything good or bad to Jacob. Laban shows up and demands to know why Jacob had stolen away in the middle of the night and also why they had stolen his gods. Jacob, not knowing that Rachel was the one who had taken them, says that if anyone is found with the things that they should be put to death. As Laban is searching through the things, Rachel hides them in the bag on her camel and sits upon them. As Laban begins searching the camels Rachel says she is sorry but that she cant get up because she was on her period. It should be noted that this is enough to say to any man to get them to back off, and it definitely plays out this way there.
Jacob and Laban end up making an agreement and a covenant at the end of Chapter 31 which basically says that they will not come across into each others land.
Chapter 32 we are told that angels of God meet Jacob, and that Jacob begins to get that gut wrenching feeling that comes when all kids know that after getting trouble in school, they are going to have to come home and face their parents. You know that feeling, that feeling of dread and despair. Remember the reason why Jacob left in the first place. It was because his brother Esau planned on killing him. So Rebekah sent him away, and then Isaac told him to find a wife.
So he splits his group up into two, in case one group is attacked, one can still escape. He also prepares these waves of presents that he plans on giving his brother Esau, in an attempt to please him.
The night before he is to face his brother, we have the account of Jacob wrestling with God
Genesis 32:22–32 ESV
22 The same night he arose and took his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 He took them and sent them across the stream, and everything else that he had. 24 And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. 25 When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. 26 Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 27 And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” 28 Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” 29 Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. 30 So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.” 31 The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip. 32 Therefore to this day the people of Israel do not eat the sinew of the thigh that is on the hip socket, because he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip on the sinew of the thigh.
This encounter with God and Jacob shows us that

God brings us to our breaking point so that we rely on him

Have you ever wondered why did the angel ask Jacob what his name was? Ever slow down long enough to ask that question?
Remember, the name Jacob means deceiver. He asked him what his name was so that Jacob would realize who he was. So that he would acknowledge who he was and see who it is that God is.
Up until this point, Jacob has limped on the inside—a cheater, a cunning manipulator and a deceiver. But now God has intervened. He who once limped on the inside now limps on the outside—a reminder of the man he used to be.
Here’s a crucial insight: Although Jacob limped for the rest of his life, he never once complained about it. He got the message loud and clear that this was God’s way of breaking him so he could be used by God
The breaking point in your life, where you feel that God is nowhere insight, and he isnt holding up his end of the bargain, and he is not being faithful to his promises for you - might be to show you who you are, so that you can have a clearer vision of who he is.
Chapter 33 we find that Jacob and Esau finally meet up.
Genesis 33:1–16 ESV
1 And Jacob lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, Esau was coming, and four hundred men with him. So he divided the children among Leah and Rachel and the two female servants. 2 And he put the servants with their children in front, then Leah with her children, and Rachel and Joseph last of all. 3 He himself went on before them, bowing himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother. 4 But Esau ran to meet him and embraced him and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept. 5 And when Esau lifted up his eyes and saw the women and children, he said, “Who are these with you?” Jacob said, “The children whom God has graciously given your servant.” 6 Then the servants drew near, they and their children, and bowed down. 7 Leah likewise and her children drew near and bowed down. And last Joseph and Rachel drew near, and they bowed down. 8 Esau said, “What do you mean by all this company that I met?” Jacob answered, “To find favor in the sight of my lord.” 9 But Esau said, “I have enough, my brother; keep what you have for yourself.” 10 Jacob said, “No, please, if I have found favor in your sight, then accept my present from my hand. For I have seen your face, which is like seeing the face of God, and you have accepted me. 11 Please accept my blessing that is brought to you, because God has dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough.” Thus he urged him, and he took it. 12 Then Esau said, “Let us journey on our way, and I will go ahead of you.” 13 But Jacob said to him, “My lord knows that the children are frail, and that the nursing flocks and herds are a care to me. If they are driven hard for one day, all the flocks will die. 14 Let my lord pass on ahead of his servant, and I will lead on slowly, at the pace of the livestock that are ahead of me and at the pace of the children, until I come to my lord in Seir.” 15 So Esau said, “Let me leave with you some of the people who are with me.” But he said, “What need is there? Let me find favor in the sight of my lord.” 16 So Esau returned that day on his way to Seir.
Jacob feared that Esau still held a grudge against him, and he must have been shocked to see the reaction of Esau who was happy to see his brother, so much so that he didnt even want take of the gifts that Jacob tried to give him.
At the end chapter 33, we notice that Jacob settles his family in shechem, which leads to the account we find in chapter 34
where Dinah, remember the daughter born to Leah, is taken and raped by Shechem the son of Hamor. These men then approach Jacob and his family and asks if Dinah can be married to Shechem. At this point Jacobs sons had learned of what happened to their sister and they deceitfully agreed to Shechem and Hamor under one condition. They would allow Dinah to marry Shechem if all the men of their city were circumcised. This seemed ok to Shechem, so all of the men of the city were circumcised, and on the third day, as all the men of the city were pain and in the healing process, Simeon and Levi enter the city and kill all of the men.
This is one of a handful of chapters that makes us quite nervous to even read or preach in church isnt it? Much like the story of Judah and Tamar which we will cover in the next 2 weeks, this story makes us feel uncomfortable. Its one of the stories that is most often skipped in children's bibles, and for good reason. And yet, we are not in children's church this morning are we?
What we see here again on display, is the out-workings of the effects of Sin on all of our lives.
Finally in chapter 35 we see that Jacob comes back to the place it all started by moving his family to Bethel. Here we read in verse
Genesis 35:9–15 ESV
9 God appeared to Jacob again, when he came from Paddan-aram, and blessed him. 10 And God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; no longer shall your name be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.” So he called his name Israel. 11 And God said to him, “I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply. A nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall come from your own body. 12 The land that I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you, and I will give the land to your offspring after you.” 13 Then God went up from him in the place where he had spoken with him. 14 And Jacob set up a pillar in the place where he had spoken with him, a pillar of stone. He poured out a drink offering on it and poured oil on it. 15 So Jacob called the name of the place where God had spoken with him Bethel.
We see that God’s blessing is still here. We see that God again reinforces the name change from Jacob to Israel.
We see the birth of Benjamin and the death of Rachel
Genesis 35:16–20 ESV
16 Then they journeyed from Bethel. When they were still some distance from Ephrath, Rachel went into labor, and she had hard labor. 17 And when her labor was at its hardest, the midwife said to her, “Do not fear, for you have another son.” 18 And as her soul was departing (for she was dying), she called his name Ben-oni; but his father called him Benjamin. 19 So Rachel died, and she was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem), 20 and Jacob set up a pillar over her tomb. It is the pillar of Rachel’s tomb, which is there to this day.
Friends, what then shall we say about this section of Scripture? What shall we say is God’s reason for including this in the Scriptures? Is there any application for us today? Perhaps another question Pastor Matt, why did you start the sermon by talking about literary structure and Chiasmus?
Well if you have your bibles, turn to
Genesis 30:22–24 ESV
22 Then God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her and opened her womb. 23 She conceived and bore a son and said, “God has taken away my reproach.” 24 And she called his name Joseph, saying, “May the Lord add to me another son!”
This statement about God remembering Rachel should sound familiar to you. This is the same thing that Genesis says about Noah
Genesis 8:1 ESV
1 But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the livestock that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided.
If you recall, there was a chiasm there in the Flood account as well, with the center piece being 8:1. And here again, we have this idea of God remembering Rachel.
SO Genesis 30:22 is the center point, or the hinge of the whole Jacob story. Now notice this, as we zoom out of the center, and see if it helps shed light on your observations, interpretation and application of this passage:
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