Jacob’s troubles “few and evil have been the years of my life”

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Poor, poor Jacob, he had a rough life.
When Pharaoh asked “How old are you?”,  Jacob replied;” “….. few and evil have been the days of the years of my life……..”. He was 130 years old at the time. Sure, he was wealthy, he was blessed in many ways, but he experienced a lot of pain and suffering in those 130 years. Despite his years of troubles,  God promised that He would always be with him.  It didn’t mean life would be perfect or without trouble, but in all he would go through, Jacob knew that the Lord was with him. There is much to learn as we study the life of Jacob. He suffered many hardships but God was always with Him. Life will not always be easy for us and some of us may feel like it’s been a never ending journey of sorrow.
 

Consider the first 130 years of Jacob’s life before he stands before Pharoah and says these words “few and evil have been the years of my life”

  • spends months fighting with twin brother before he’s born
  • grew up as 2nd best compared to Esau, Esau was Isaac’s favorite son
  • Hated- Brother wants to kill him – Jacob runs away from family in fear of his life
  • Deceived – Tricked by uncle Laban – Works 7 years for Rachel, the one he loves, only to be tricked by uncle Laban and wakes up with her sister, Leah, instead
  • Deceived – Forced to work another 7 years for uncle Laban for Rachel
  • Deceived- Uncle Laban changes his wages 10x
  • Not treated fairly -works 6 more years (20 in total) for uncle Laban for livestock
  • Affliction: Jacobs reply: There I was! In the day the drought consumed me, and the frost by night, and my sleep departed from my eyes.  Thus I have been in your house twenty years; I served you fourteen years for your two daughters, and six years for your flock, and you have changed my wages ten times.  Unless the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had been with me, surely now you would have sent me away empty-handed. God has seen my affliction and the labor of my hands, and rebuked you last night.”
  • Fighting -married to 2 sisters who are in constant competition, so much he gets angry with Rachel
  • Hated- by Laban’s sons and Laban seems extremely jealous and angry with him when Jacob leaves
  • Sorrow-Accidently curses his wife Rachel, the one he loves, to die
  • Pain- Gets in an all night wrestling match with the Lord/Angel of the Lord
  • Pain- Lord throws his hip out of joint, he walks the rest of his days with a limp
  • Fear- confronts his brother Esau in great fear, but his life is spared
  • Sorrow- Wife Rachel soon dies after the words spoken over her to die, as she gives birth to Benjamin
  • Sorrow- His father , Isaac, dies soon after Rachel
  • Disgrace/Humiliation-His first-born son, Reuben sleeps with his wife, who was Rachel’s servant. This was the ultimate disgrace to Rachel’s grave, an act by Leah’s family
  • Disgrace – His 2nd and 3rd sons Levi and Simeon deceive a city and ruthlessly murder all the males which greatly upsets and disturbs Jacob
  • Aggravation- His older sons bully his young son Joseph, by Rachel. You can imagine the constant fighting and upset between the 10 brothers against Joseph and the discord that Jacob had to endure.
  • Deep Sorrow- Jacob’s beloved son, Joseph, is killed by a wild animal – or so he thinks..His very own sons wanted to kill Joseph but decide to sell him as a slave
  • Jacob has lost the love of his life, his father and his beloved son-
  • Famine- at age 128-130 a great famine comes upon the land and he and all his family are about to die.
  • Deceived -at age 130 finds out that his sons lied to him and actually sold Joseph as a slave 23 years earlier
  • Death at age 147

Let’s be clear – Jacob’s life and some of his decisions weren’t so great. ( he stole, lied, deceived, his wife Leah was unloved so…., he also fought with God and man) However,  he was a man fully blessed by God even though, from our worldly view, he didn’t seem to be. God always protected him and was there along his walk of life.

 
Despite all these troubles in his life, he was blessed 2x by his father Isaac, his mother was given a prophecy over him before he was born, he received the birthright and the Lord visited him many times to tell him that He would always be with him. You would think that with all the worldly troubles and sorrow that Jacob faced, that his life was not blessed, but not so.
Words spoken as prophecy over him to his mother:

“Two nations are in your womb,
Two peoples shall be separated from your body;
One people shall be stronger than the other,
And the older shall serve the younger.”

His blessing from Isaac (stolen from Essau)

Let peoples serve you,
And nations bow down to you.
Be master over your brethren,
And let your mother’s sons bow down to you.
Cursed be everyone who curses you,
And blessed be those who bless you!”

After he’s been blessed by his father, he blesses him again before he leaves to see uncle Laban:
 “May God Almighty bless you,
And make you fruitful and multiply you,
That you may be an assembly of peoples;
And give you the blessing of Abraham,
To you and your descendants with you,
That you may inherit the land
In which you are a stranger,
Which God gave to Abraham.
Blessed by God on the way to uncle Labans house:

“I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac;
the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants.
 Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth;
you shall spread abroad to the west and the east,
to the north and the south;
and in you and in your seed
all the families of the earth shall be blessed.
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 spoken to you.”

God helps Jacob again:

Then the Angel of God spoke to me in a dream, saying, ‘Jacob.’ And I said, ‘Here I am.’  And He said, ‘Lift your eyes now and see, all the rams which leap on the flocks are streaked, speckled, and gray-spotted; for I have seen all that Laban is doing to you. 13 I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed the pillar and where you made a vow to Me. Now arise, get out of this land, and return to the land of your family.

and again before he meets Essau,
So Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him.  When Jacob saw them, he said, “This is God’s camp.” And he called the name of that place Mahanaim
 then again when he was alone before he met Esau:
   He wrested with God, demanded a blessing, was given a new name “Israel” for he struggled with God and men and prevailed. and the Lord Blessed him  there, in Peniel, for Jacob “saw God face to face, and my live is preserved”

God speaks to Jacob again:
Then God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there; and make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from the face of Esau your brother.

  Life won’t always be perfect, but we have a future hope that is perfect. Don’t let life’s problems bring you down or make you fee like God isn’t with you. Consider the life of Jacob, Joseph, Job, the prophets, Jesus, the disciples and many more- God was with them even in their troubles, sorrow, pain and affliction. God see’s- that’s what he told Jacob. Whatever you are going through, trust in the Lord. He is with you, let this hope give you peace and rest.
     Despite his tragedies, Jacob is reunited again with Joseph at age 130 and lives the next 17 years with his family to see Joseph’s sons. He learns the truth of what Leah’s sons did to Joseph but interestingly enough, during the final blessings/curses over the 12 sons, this sin isn’t mentioned by Jacobs as others are – like Rubens betrayal and the murderous acts of Levi and Simeon
 
Isaiah 40:27 O Jacob, how can you say the Lord does not see your troubles? O Israel, how can you say God ignores your rights?

Alas! For that day is great, So that none is like it; And it is the time of Jacob’s trouble, But he shall be saved out of it.

(Jacob – had Joseph when he was 88-91 years old. Joseph was 17 when his brothers sold him. Jacob saw Joseph again at age 130 and died at age 147. He was about 66-76 when he ran away from his brother Esau to go to Laban’s house.)

We, just as Jacob was blessed, have been blessed by the Lord in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.Eph 1:3

Unshakable Jeremiah 17:7-8

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Sometimes life throws a grenade my way….a bomb, ninja chucks– could be anything!  No matter what may come my way, I know that in whatever state I am in, I can always hope in the Lord.  And what is hope? Hope is knowing that I will be victorious NO Matter how many grenades are thrown my way.

 We can have peace and hope in our storms

 What are your thinking– doubt? Fear? Unbelief?  Philippians 4:8 tells us to FIX OUR THOUGHTS. God’s peace, which is beyond our understanding, protects our hearts and minds. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. It’s like a fortress of protection around you:  “ Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.

This protection is like an iron fortress around your heart and mind.

Consider this verse in Jeremiah1:18-19:  Today, I  am the One who has made you a fortified city, an iron pillar, and bronze walls against the whole land- against the kings of Judah, it’s officials, it’s priests, and the population. They will fight against you but never prevail over you, since I am with you to rescue you.

     I never considered this as a verse concerning my heart, but as I was talking to the Lord I understood.  I can see all the troubles that may or may not come my way- and I feel unshakable- I feel like an iron fortress has been set around my heart and mind. Maybe this verse has more than one meaning? Maybe we need to remember and know that the Lord is here to rescue each one of us – we can trust in Him, His Word and His promises. The Lord protects us through our faith and trust in Him- our faith is built up with each fiery trial we go through, that is why James tells us :   Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.  For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. James 1:3-4

What are you thinking? 

 We are told to fix our thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise  Then the God of peace will be with you. Phil 4:8-9

I am like a tree planted along a riverbank

Don’t be discouraged if you feel shaken, but remember that you can stand unshakable because the Lord is the source of your strength and the source of your righteous. Through Him, we can stand unshakable like the tree in Jeremiah 17:7-8 and Psalms 1:2-3

 “But blessed are those who trust in the Lord
    and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.
 They are like trees planted along a riverbank,
    with roots that reach deep into the water.
Such trees are not bothered by the heat
    or worried by long months of drought.
Their leaves stay green,
    and they never stop producing fruit

Oh, the joys of those who do not
    follow the advice of the wicked,
    or stand around with sinners,
    or join in with mockers.
 But they delight in the law of the Lord,
    meditating on it day and night.
 They are like trees planted along the riverbank,
    bearing fruit each season.
Their leaves never wither,
    and they prosper in all they do 

jeremiah17 004

 I dissected Jeremiah 17:7-8 and searched out the meaning of each word; this is what I found:

      Blessed are you mighty and strong man of valor because you have put your trust and hope in the Lord. You have found your confidence and security in the Most High God.  You shall be like a tree transplanted along the refreshing waters of the river that sendeth out its roots by the river.  Because you have put all your trust in the Lord and not put your trust in your own strength or wealth, you stand unshakable, for the Lord is with you.

           When heat or drought comes, you shall not be concerned or worried because you are always bearing fruit and your leaves will always be green. Attacks and storms may come your way, but not a branch shall be moved. You will prosper and flourish through all your storms, in drought, in valleys and through all the troubles that try to come against you. Even in times of drought or destitution, though the rain not fall for a period of time, you shall be unshakable, you will not be anxious or worried. You will prosper in perfect peace without fear. You trust fully in the Lord. You will not be sorrowful when troubles arise for you know that the Lord protects you. He is your rock and your fortress. Though these times come and go, you will never stop yielding fruit, you will accomplish all the Lord has planned for your life. You will always be provided for and your life will produce much fruit.

     You count it all joy when troubles come and you know that we are destined for such troubles. You can rejoice in your problems and trials for we know they help us and strengthen us. We can remind ourselves as David did “ I see that the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for He is right beside me.” 

 Shout it out: I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.  I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.  For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

   Jeremiah 17:7-8 Reminds me that no matter what is happening  or coming my way, I will not be knocked down. I can feel the arrows of doubt and disbelief trying to penetrate my heart to shake me up, but I sense a strong fortress, like iron, protecting me.  With each trial I go through, the Lord changes me and strengthens me.  I love Romans 5:3-4 (NLT) We can rejoice when we run into problems and trials because we know they develop endurance within us, this endurance develops strength of character, this strength of character strengthens our confident hope of salvation, and this hope of salvation does not lead to disappointment because we know God loves us because He has given us His Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love.

   It is easy to get shaken up when we hear bad news or doom ahead- finances, the what if’s….It’s truly amazing to know that the Lord has protected me during this time. I know He has a strong fortress around me as I trust in Him. He has put a strong fortress of protection around my heart and mind and that is how He has made me unshakable.  A few years a go I cried out to the Lord during a tough time, I felt like I couldn’t take it anymore and I cried out to the Lord. He heard me and as I prayed, He sent me a verse:  

 “I, yes I, am the one who comforts you.
    So why are you afraid of mere humans,
    who wither like the grass and disappear? Isaiah 51:12
 
 The Lord showed me that I wasn’t trusting in Him. I was trusting in the words I heard around me and allowed myself to fear. 
So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” Heb 13:6
   
 

 

Hear the Word of the Lord:

I wait quietly before God,  for my victory comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation,   my fortress where I will never be shaken. So many enemies against one man— all of them trying to kill me.To them I’m just a broken-down wall or a tottering fence. They plan to topple me from my high position.  They delight in telling lies about me.They praise me to my face   but curse me in their hearts. Let all that I am wait quietly before God,  for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken.My victory and honor come from God alone.   He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me. O my people, trust in him at all times.  Pour out your heart to him,  for God is our refuge. Psalm 62:1-8

Psalm 16:8 I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me
2 Corinthians 8:2-5 (talking about the church in Macedonia) “They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity. For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford, but far more. And they did it of their own free will.  They begged us again and again for the privilege of sharing in the gift for the believers in Jerusalem. They even did more than we had hoped, for their first action was to give themselves to the Lord and to us, just as God wanted them to do.”
Hebrews 11:6 “it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him”
1 Peter 1:7 You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls
 1 Peter 4:12  Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.
Joshua 10:25 “Don’t ever be afraid or discouraged,”  “Be strong and courageous, for the Lord is going to do this to all of your enemies
1 Corinthians 16:13 Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong
Isaiah 57:15 The high and lofty one who lives in eternity, the Holy One, says this: “I live in the high and holy place with those whose spirits are contrite and humble. I restore the crushed spirit of the humble and revive the courage of those with repentant hearts.
Psalm 27:14 Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.
Psalm 31:24 So be strong and courageous, all you who put your hope in the Lord!
Galatians 5:22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
Matthew 17:20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you
 Isaiah 28:16 Therefore, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: “Look! I am placing a foundation stone in Jerusalem, a firm and tested stone. It is a precious cornerstone that is safe to build on. Whoever believes need never be shaken
Psalm 31:24 So be strong and courageous, all you who put your hope in the Lord!
Psalm 23:4Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Psalm 27:1 The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?
Lamentations 3:25 The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;
Micah 7:7 But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.
Matthew 5:4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
John 14:1 Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.
John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper
; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord. Isaiah 54:17

 Isaiah 28:16 Therefore, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: “Look! I am placing a foundation stone in Jerusalem, a firm and tested stone. It is a precious cornerstone that is safe to build on. Whoever believes need never be shaken
 
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