In a very real sense, the rest of Genesis presents the life of Jacob, including his trials with Laban, Esau, and his own sons. The story of Joseph is actually a part of Jacob's history.

Jacob traveled about seventy miles from Beersheba to Bethel, a three-day journey. The transfer of the birthright from Esau to Jacob had been validated by Isaac, and now God gives Jacob the assurance that henceforth he is to be recognized as the vehicle of promise.

The first 77 years of Jacob's life were spent in Canaan. He spent the next 20 years in Haran, some 400 miles northeast of Canaan. Jacob's mother had been raised in Haran and his grandfather, Abraham, had been there years before. While in Haran, Jacob began to reap some of the sin he had sown. He suffered years of hardship. A wife he did not want was forced on him by deceit, just as he had gotten his father's blessing by deceit. Jacob spent some 20 years of toil, trial, and testing with his Uncle Laban. God used Laban and the difficult circumstances of life to discipline Jacob and prepare him for the tests that lay ahead.

In chapter 30 Jacob, the schemer, is again at work. Instead of trusting God to meet his needs, Jacob again used his own plan. Once again this is a picture of flesh striving against the Spirit. After all Jacob had been through, isn't it strange that he had still not learned that God was in control of every situation? The flesh may derive plans that look successful, but true success comes only through God's divine plan for our lives.

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