Track 1: Dishonesty
Jacob had tricked his brother Saul our of his birthright. Not only that, he had stolen his Father Isaac’s final blessing. In today’s reading from Genesis we see that he has met his match in his Uncle Laban:
Laban said to Jacob, “Because you are my kinsman, should you therefore serve me for nothing? Tell me, what shall your wages be?” Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. Leah’s eyes were lovely, and Rachel was graceful and beautiful. Jacob loved Rachel; so he said, “I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.” Laban said, “It is better that I give her to you than that I should give her to any other man; stay with me.” So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her.
Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife that I may go in to her, for my time is completed.” So Laban gathered together all the people of the place, and made a feast. But in the evening he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob; and he went in to her. (Laban gave his maid Zilpah to his daughter Leah to be her maid.) When morning came, 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?” Laban said, “This is not done in our country—giving the younger before the firstborn. Complete the week of this one, and we will give you the other also in return for serving me another seven years.” Jacob did so, and completed her week; then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel as a wife. (Genesis 29:15-28)
Laban was deceptive. He was dishonest. But notice his easy it was for Laban to justify his actions. Is not this like most deceptive people, if they are cornered in their lie.
God the Father hates lies. We read from Provers:
Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord,
but those who act faithfully are his delight. (Proverbs 12:22)
Jesus honored those who were truthful:
When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” (John 1:47)
Why do we lie? To understand that we need to go back to the very beginning = the time when the first and worst lie of all was told. From Genesis:
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die; for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. (Genesis 3;1-6)
Jesus said that Satan is the Father of lies. He was a liar from the begging (John 8:44).. His specialty is deception and twisting the truth of God’s Word. Satan tries to convince us that we do not need God. We can go it alone, beause Satan has imparted wisdom to us. Jacob wanted to go it alone and prove himself. Laban wanted to do the same. This does not breed cooperation and harmony.
The Apostle Paul wrote:
The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Corinthians 4:4)
But life teaches us that we cannot go it alone. We are made in God’s image. We must live in partnership with God. Jesus has come to reestablish that partnership. He paid a great price that we might. It is up to us, however, to hold on to that truth.
We live iu an age of great deception. Politicians assure us that they are telling the truth, when the truth is far from them. The news media tells one lie father another. When they are caught they never apologize. Even Church leaders misleads us and attempt to manipulate us. Now, more than ever, we need to seek the truth of God’s Word. Only that will set us free. Jesus said:
Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8:30-32)
Let us continue to be the light of Christ in a very dark world.
Track 2: The Pearl at Great Price
Jesus taught in many parables. This is one of my favorite from today’s Gospel reading:
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.” (Matthew 13:45-46)
What does this parable tell us about the kingdom of heaven? It tells us that the kingdom is available to us. But, like the merchant, we must want it and search for it. From the Prophet Jeremiah:
Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, (Jeremiah 29:12-13)
From the Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew’s Gospel:
Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:31-33)
There is a price involved on our part. The merchant sold all that he had to purchase the pearl of great value. The kingdom is of such high value that it is more valuable than anything we might have. I( we do not value the kingdom then we may miss it. But when we find the kingdom we will never want to lose it. The psalmist wrote:
Your decrees are wonderful;
therefore I obey them with all my heart.
When your word goes forth it gives light;
it gives understanding to the simple.
I open my mouth and pant;
I long for your commandments.
Turn to me in mercy,
as you always do to those who love your Name.
Steady my footsteps in your word;
let no iniquity have dominion over me. (Psalm 119:129-133)
We are living in a very dark time. In fact, the darkness is increasing. Now, more than ever, we need God. The Prophet Isaiah wrote:
Seek the Lord while he may be found,
call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake their way,
and the unrighteous their thoughts;
let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. (Isaiah 55:6-7)
God is drawing near to us, The final harvest will soon be upon us. Where do we stand? Have we found the kingdom? Have we found the Lord? If so, what price do we bring to him? He has given us his all. He has redeemed us by the blood of his Son Jesus. He is ready to reconcile us to himself: The Apostle Paul wrote:
So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. (2 Corinthians 5:17-19)
Are we in Christ today? Today is the day of salvation. Today beings the kingdom of heaven for all who believe and embrace the Lord Jesus. He is the treasure. He is the kingdom.