Scripture Reading: Genesis 30:25-26
“And it came to pass, when Rachel had borne Joseph, that Jacob said unto Laban: ‘Send me away, that I may go unto mine own place, and to my country. Give me my wives and my children for whom I have served thee, and let me go; for thou knowest my service wherewith I have served thee.'” (Genesis 30:25-26)
There always comes a time in one’s life when the call to freedom from bondage and servitude rings out so loudly that the heart, mind and soul of the person cries out, “Let me go!”
The Rabbis believe that fourteen years had passed since Jacob had first arrived in Laban’s household. They had been fourteen long years of struggle, disappointments, long nights in the fields, the dangers of wild animals, the cold of the winter and the burning heat of the summer sun. Although Jacob was a nephew to Laban, and a son-in-law he still was treated like an outsider, and he felt like a stranger.
How long can you endure being a stranger in the family into which you married?
If you were not accepted before you were married, it is quite likely that you will not be accepted after the marriage either. You will always feel that you are an unwelcome outsider. They will only put up with you for the sake of the grandchildren, or the financial contribution you make to the family by your work or your money. You are on the outside, and you know it. Especially when their conversation suddenly stops when you come into their presence.
Jacob wanted to go home — “Let me go!” was his heart’s cry. Although he had “paid” for his wives and his food by his many years of service, he, his wives and their children were in the legal power of Laban, and he could refuse to hand them over to Jacob (Genesis 31:43).
Still today, the children of Jacob cry out in the lands of their exile, “Let me go!” The miracle of their release from the former Soviet Union may not last long. They need to come home, but many have no way to leave. They need exit papers, money for tickets and help when they arrive in Israel. This is the time to help “Jacob” to get back home. The “Labans” of today will try to keep him in bondage, but God can do a miracle if you and I will sacrifice to set the bondmen free.
There will be some who will prefer to stay in their “house of bondage” because they feel they are more secure in the known present than in the unknown tomorrow. But still, we must do all we can possibly do to warn them that the time has come for them to return from their many years of wandering far from their father’s house.
There is an ancient Jewish belief that those who help the Jews to return to Israel in the last days will be included in the number when God counts His people.
“The Yalkut Shimoni asserts that even those forgotten Jews who had been captured, sold into slavery, and forcibly converted, will come back in the days of the Messiah. At that time he will tell them from which tribe they originally stem. The Yalkut refers to the prophetic vision of Isaiah, according to which the Gentile nations will bring their Jewish inhabitants to the King Messiah as a present. These Jews, because they will be skeptical about their Jewish origin, will not want to appear before the Messiah, and will prefer, instead, to go their own ways. At that point the Messiah will identify them individually, saying: ‘This one is a Yisrael, this one a Cohen, and this one a Levi!’ Moreover, according to the Midrash, the Messiah will also identify as Jewish many of the individuals who will bring the Jews back to him, thinking themselves as Gentile. He will identify their origins as either Cohanim, Levites or Yisraelites, and will even accept them accordingly for service in the Beth Hamikdah. This Midrash is based on Isaiah’s prophecy: ‘…and even from them I shall take as Cohanim and Levites, says God.”‘ (“A Matter of Return” by Rafael Eisenberg, page 138).
Even as God’s Spirit called Jacob to return to his land, so today, many years later, He is calling Jacob’s children to come home. And as we help them to come home, who knows — maybe some of us Gentiles will discover that we also are descendants of Jacob, and the Lord will even show us what tribe we belong to!
In the Beginning by Gwen Shaw
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