The Delightful Demand of God’s Favor
Jacob was a success.
While working with his father-in-law, Laban, Jacob suffered from the delightful, demanding burden of God’s favor. He learned how heavy that burden could become when the politics of envy targeted him and he was surrounded by existential lies.
Laban had other offspring besides the daughters he tricked Jacob into marrying. Laban was a dirty rat who thought he could manage Jacob’s destiny. Laban finally felt the envy of others deeply enough to become envious of Jacob himself.
Laban’s attitude toward Jacob changed. Laban’s heart changed toward Jacob. Laban recognized that favor was the source of his success. Laban could no longer expect anyone to credit Laban for Jacob’s prosperity.
Before, Laban enjoyed Jacob’s success. He enjoyed taking credit for it. Then, the very reason for enjoying Jacob’s success became the motivation for envying Jacob’s success. Perhaps, Jacob was becoming too successful. Perhaps, Jacob was becoming so successful it no longer appeared that Laban was the source of his success.
Jacob says, “The God of my father prospers me.”
Not the god of Laban. “Laban is not my source,” Jacob says. Even Isaac is not Jacob’s source. But, the God of Abraham and Isaac is his source of prosperity. Jacob realizes that only God’s favor can and has prospered him. Jacob also feels the burden of that favor.
Laban had already cheated Jacob ten times. Laban gave Jacob the worst opportunities to prosper. Laban tricked Jacob into marrying the wrong daughter to maintain his indentured labor for twice as long as Laban had promised. Even this servitude could no deter Jacob from experiencing favor.
Laban thought that the animals would produce very few striped and spotted young. So, he gave these oddities–he supposed them oddities–to Jacob for his wages. Cheating Jacob into working twice as long was not enough for Laban.
Jacob was buying his two wives. Laban was selling his daughters. God was prospering Jacob in the process.
While Laban was attempting to cheat him, Laban himself was investing what he embezzled from Jacob poorly. Jacob was thriving in ways neither Jacob nor Laban could control. God’s favor was multiplying Jacob’s wealth, and the scoundrel’s choices were diminishing Laban’s.
The Place of Inheritance May Be Hostile
Relationships are necessary. Relationships are messy. Relationships are dangerous. Relationships are necessary—relationships mature character. Relationships reveal character.
“So Isaac called for Jacob, blessed him, and said, ‘You must not marry any of these Canaanite women. Instead, go at once to Paddan-aram, to the house of your grandfather Bethuel, and marry one of your uncle Laban’s daughters. May God Almighty bless you and give you many children. And may your descendants multiply and become many nations! May God pass on to you and your descendants the blessings he promised to Abraham. May you own this land where you are now living as a foreigner, for God gave this land to Abraham’” (Genesis 28:1-4).
Jacob forms a relationship with Laban to connect to the fullness of his inheritance. Jacob is where his father, Isaac, sent him. “Go there to get a wife. Connect with the generations.” I’m sure Jacob thought about that instruction from his father when he realized his source of inheritance connection was a dirty rat. I’m sure that connections that link Jacob to favor are filled with imperfections.
Principle: God already factored the imperfections of the people who connect us to our inheritance into His directional principles, designed processes, and demanding protocols.
You will always need to maintain integrity in relationships with imperfect people. You will not be given a perfect father, natural or spiritual. You may walk through seasons when the leaders in your life are scoundrels, failures, or even dishonoring. You will discover that injustice surrounds your connections, and you will be treated unfairly and suffer injustice.
Only after you have endured the season of favor on display before those God is challenging with your calling can you find release from that connection. Through that endurance, God will reveal the delightful, demanding burden of favor to you.
He will bring you into the future with inheritance connection, but cut off the residue of previous generations through endurance. Suffering and favor are not enemies, opposites, or hostile to one another.
Pride is Your Greatest Limiter
“So Jacob called Rachel and Leah out to the field where he was watching his flock. He said to them, ‘I have noticed that your father’s attitude toward me has changed. But the God of my father has been with me. You know how hard I have worked for your father, but he has cheated me, changing my wages ten times.
But God has not allowed him to do me any harm. For if he said, ‘The speckled animals will be your wages,’ the whole flock began to produce speckled young. And when he changed his mind and said, ‘The striped animals will be your wages,’ then the entire flock produced striped young. In this way, God has taken your father’s animals and given them to me.
“One time during the mating season, I had a dream and saw that the male goats mating with the females were streaked, speckled, and spotted. Then in my dream, the angel of God said to me, ‘Jacob!’ And I replied, ‘Yes, here I am.’
“The angel said, ‘Look up, and you will see that only the streaked, speckled, and spotted males are mating with the females of your flock. I have seen how Laban has treated you. I am the God who appeared to you at Bethel, the place where you anointed the pillar of stone and made your vow to me. Now get ready and leave this country and return to the land of your birth'” (Genesis 31:4-13).
Your pride may lead you to demand that God provide you with perfect leaders. Your pride may direct you to disengage with the very people with which God aligns you. Your pride will tell you that you deserve something better than a lying cheat like Laban as your connection point with inheritance.
God will always pair you with people and leaders who answer to your most profound personal need for transformation. God will send you to a situation to live in a relationship with a leader whose greatest strengths challenge your deepest weaknesses. God knows that leader does not need to be perfect for you to experience a confrontation at the point of your stubborn resistance.
Principle: Oswald Chambers said something like this: God will bring people into your life that treat you how you have been treating God.
Jacob was not reaping what he sowed by stealing Esau’s blessing as much as he was facing his heart condition. God had met with Jacob already about his low-life, cheating, double-dealing, conniving heart. Jacob is in the process of preparation for his life’s work, identity crisis, and contact with destiny.
Once your heart is changed, God sends you into relationships that put the change into practice. Jacob had learned to stop using his own strategies and apply the ones God revealed to him.
Case History and Personal Insights
During my very first encounter with Pastor John Kilpatrick of the Brownsville Revival, I found myself seated in the pulpit chair immediately to his right on the platform of a church in Jacksonville, Florida. Nothing moves but my eyes as I sit there rigidly, experiencing something completely new to me.
At one point, Pastor Kilpatrick sings in tongues in a falsetto and declares, “Holy Spirit just came into the room.” He calls a woman out into the center aisle and lays hands upon her. Then, she calls out her husband and lays hands upon him. When I see the man’s face, God tells me that this man will play a significant role in my future (and I don’t even believe in receiving revelation n this manner at the time!)
Later, I am a servant in this man’s ministry. It is a place of connection with my inheritance amid a paltry parceling of pettiness and predictable politics. It is a season to die for–literally–and I do. It is a time to be completely misjudge, misunderstood, and mishandled. It is a hell that requires Heaven to handle.
I endure. Yet, at the same time, favor prospers my kingdom calling. The connection made from that point of reference continues. They are not the connection points I could see or anticipate, however, as God does what He promised in a way completely baffling to my natural mind.
It is the enduring of things that produces the fullness of things. It is the relational dynamics in which you have to determine how to relate to imperfections that also reveal the weaknesses in you that require cleansing fire and overwhelming revelation. You walk in favor but you prosper by receiving the spotted and striped that no one else wants. Your rejection allows you to collect what others reject that God invests with honor and value.
And, the endurance changes everyone in the relational assignment.
Laban is revealed. His daughters are revealed. Jacob is revealed. The shift within the relationships becomes the pivot point for defining the relationships in a way that reconciles Jacob and his wives to their destinies.
God Works in Your Relationships
Jacob need not convince his wives to leave everything behind and join him in his kingdom assignment. They are done with Laban, their father, and the soul ties are cut off. No looking back or resistance to Jacob’s destiny remains within them. The change of heart comes because of relational dynamics.
This change takes time. Jacob serves Laban, the dirty rat, all the time this is going on. Jacob knows the vow he made at Bethel all the time. Jacob stays where his father sent him to learn how to live out what his father’s God put into him.
Jacob announces that the end of his relationship assignment with Laban has arrived. Endurance has given Jacob something that impartation could not. Receiving a changed heart is the first step in maturing the newness of spirit, and endurance is the stuff from which God creates developed character.
Remember, Jacob has not wrestled with God at this point but is headed back to Bethel. There, he will settle with Laban and Esau. There, God will change his name and bring him into his life’s work.
Jacob will be ready to wrestle with God because of this season of endurance. His wives are ready to get away from Laban.
Favor Follows the Faithful
“Rachel and Leah responded, ‘That’s fine with us! We won’t inherit any of our father’s wealth anyway. He has reduced our rights to those of foreign women. And after he sold us, he wasted the money you paid him for us. All the wealth God has given you from our father legally belongs to us our children and us, so go ahead and do whatever God has told you'” (Genesis 31:14-16).
God takes from the wicked and gives to the righteous in this scenario because of Jacob’s fathers’ promises from God. His relationship with Laban, a cruel cheat, is a restoration of inheritance to a kingdom Remnant. What one loses, another gains. The inheritance lost becomes the inheritance properly invested.
What God always meant for Jacob was temporarily in Laban’s hands. Laban could not see it purpose, but the intent of God was that Laban transfer it to his wives into the hands of Jacob. Laban could have benefited from this process but his own decisions caused him harm, not God.
Principle: Remember, there is plenty to go around when God is involved. God is a God of abundance. Favor upon one person does not mean a lack in the other, even when the other is wicked.
Laban is a loser because he is a cheat. Laban sows and reaps the harvest of his fraud. Laban could have been blessed by Jacob’s presence but decided to spoil his own future out of spiteful pride.
Jacob’s prosperity did not diminish Laban. Laban did that on his own.
God is Your Help, Not You
“I worked for you through the scorching heat of the day and through cold and sleepless nights. Yes, for twenty years I slaved in your house! I worked for fourteen years earning your two daughters, and then six more years for your flock. And you changed my wages ten times! In fact, if the God of my father had not been on my side—the God of Abraham and the fearsome God of Isaac—you would have sent me away empty-handed. But God has seen your abuse and my hard work. That is why he appeared to you last night and rebuked you!” (Genesis 31:40-42).
Can you see that Jacob, the trickster, is outraged with Laban now for doing the very thing Jacob was good at doing with Esau? Jacob learned to hate what he had loved. Jacob stopped doing things in his own strength and wisdom. Jacob learned how to prosper by resting in the delightful, demanding burden of God’s favor.
Principle: Transformation is a matter of the heart. It touches trust as a basis for passion. Passion touches submission as a basis for obedience.
Jacob was intended to have the firstborn blessing, but he went about getting it in the wrong way. Jacob was prophesied and promised what came to him, but Jacob schemed to get what God was going to give him anyway. Jacob planned to gain what Esau threw to the ground with disdain when Godd had already paved his pathway with favor. Jacob short-circuited favor by operating in his own capacities.
Jacob wanted to be a self-made man instead of a God-made man.
God’s favor can be frustrated by flesh. It does not disappear, but the delightful, demanding burden of God’s favor runs flesh into the wall with such force that the object of Divine passion is crushed by force of eternal purpose.
Relationship Resolution is Favor, Too
Finally, Laban and Jacob settle into an agreement that connects the generations without polluting the result. Jacob ends up with more than he thought. Laban gets ripped off in a very final way because he is part of the iniquity from the previous generations, not the redemption of the Remnant generation.
“Then Laban replied to Jacob, ‘These women are my daughters, these children are my grandchildren, and these flocks are my flocks—in fact, everything you see is mine. But what can I do now about my daughters and their children? So come, let’s make a covenant, you and I, and it will be a witness to our commitment.’
“So Jacob took a stone and set it up as a monument. Then he told his family members, ‘Gather some stones. So they gathered stones and piled them in a heap. Then Jacob and Laban sat down beside the pile of stones to eat a covenant meal.
“Then Laban declared, ‘This pile of stones will stand as a witness to remind us of the covenant we have made today.’
“‘Laban said, ‘May the LORD keep watch between us to make sure that we keep this covenant when we are out of each other’s sight. If you mistreat my daughters, or if you marry other wives, God will see it even if no one else does. He is a witness to this covenant between us.
“‘See this pile of stones,’ Laban continued, ‘and see this monument I have set between us. They stand between us as witnesses of our vows. I will never pass this pile of stones to harm you, and you must never pass these stones or this monument to harm me. I call on the God of our ancestors—the God of your grandfather Abraham and the God of my grandfather Nahor—to serve as a judge between us.’
“So, Jacob took an oath before the fearsome God of his father, Isaac, to respect the boundary line. Then Jacob offered a sacrifice to God there on the mountain and invited everyone to a covenant feast. After they had eaten, they spent the night on the mountain” (Genesis 31:43-54).
If you walk with God
- in steady, submitted endurance,
- following the assignment of your father,
- reconnect to preserved inheritance available to God’s Remnant,
- and maintain relational integrity when betrayed and cheated,
Principle: God can settle you into an undisputed claim upon your kingdom estate. The unreconciled and relational debris of the past will no longer taint your claim. And the residue will not follow you into your future.
The delightful, demanding burden of God’s favor moves you through connection points of opportunity. Those with whom you forge relationships can join in that favor by honoring yours or they can beat themselves bloody against favor attempting to steal away what they can never receive without favor. In Truth, favor is good for everyone everywhere it goes, but envy is as powerful in destruction as favor is in production.
The burden of favor burns the soul of pride and stands the spirit upon a foundation of trusting faith and dependency upon God. The self-made man can only enjoy what self can furnish. The altogether broken, dead man of trust can inherit all that the delightful, demanding burden of God’s favor provides.