In these chapters, we see Jacob establish his own life and start a family.
Having been warned by his mother to put distance between himself and his angry brother, and having received instruction from Isaac not to take a wife from among the Canaanites, Jacob goes to live with his uncle Laban.
There, he falls in love with Rachel. After 20 years of living and working with Laban, Jacob ends up with four wives, twelve children, numerous servants, and abundant herds.
Jacob’s story in these passages shows us what it takes to prosper. If we want the Lord to bless us greatly like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, we have to integrate certain principles in our day-to-day living.
Jacob Wasn’t Afraid of the Long-Term Grind
When Jacob wants something, he’s willing to put in all the effort necessary to get it. No price is too high for the prize he sets his eyes on.
Jacob wants to marry Rachel. Her hand in marriage is all he requests in exchange for his labor. Notice that Jacob is the one who sets the seven-year condition (Genesis 29: 15-20). The fact that he didn’t offer just a year or two of work goes to show how much he valued Rachel.
Laban famously tricks Jacob into first marrying Leah, the elder daughter. He then offers Rachel in exchange for another seven years. Did Jacob back down? Of course not. He was out to get what he wanted even if it meant nearly another decade of employment.
If we want to prosper, we have to be willing to put in the long hours. There’s no other path to success. Whether that means years of studying or putting in a vigorous 9-5 to build your own business, real prosperity takes time. Anyone who gets discouraged after a month and calls it quits will never make it.
Jacob Put His Employer’s Needs First
We all work for someone. You either work for an employer or for your clients/customers. To be truly successful, you have to put others’ needs above your own.
Look at Jacob. He served Laban faithfully for 20 years. He respected the salary agreements they set, even though Laban was greedy and continually changed them to his favor. Jacob never took what wasn’t his, and he took responsibility over lost/stolen goods. He even lived in less than ideal conditions to avoid incurring unnecessary expenses. Here’s how Jacob himself describes it:
38 This twenty years have I been with thee; thy ewes and thy she goats have not cast their young, and the rams of thy flock have I not eaten.
39 That which was torn of beasts I brought not unto thee; I bare the loss of it; of my hand didst thou require it, whether stolen by day, or stolen by night.
40 Thus I was; in the day the drought consumed me, and the frost by night; and my sleep departed from mine eyes.
(Genesis 31: 38-40)
If you want to prosper, you have to give your clients or employer your all. You have to make a real difference in your company. Show you’re indispensable. That you’re absolutely committed to their success.
Employees who do so find the doors of promotion and raises opened to them. Business owners who do so enjoy return customers, upsells, and referrals.
Jacob Sought Financial Independence
Jacob fulfilled the obligations he had with his father-in-law, but he sought to establish his own house and property as Abraham and Isaac had before him.
When Laban asks Jacob what wages he desires, his answer is:
29 And he said unto him, Thou knowest how I have served thee, and how thy cattle was with me.
30 For it was little which thou hadst before I came, and it is now increased unto a multitude; and the Lord hath blessed thee since my coming: and now when shall I provide for mine own house also?
(Genesis 30: 29-30, text bolded for emphasis)
Jacob may be doing alright. He’s in a situation in which he’s providing for himself and his family. But he wants something more. He aspires to something greater. He isn’t going to be content spending all his life building someone else’s estate. He’s going to build his own.
We should all share this desire for economic independence. Even if you’re doing well with an employment, the wise course is to create your own estate with a side business or a good investment portfolio.
Jacob was Faithful to the Lord
This is the principle you can’ do without. Without this, nothing else will give fruit.
The single greatest reason Jacob prospered is because he was a righteous man and God wanted to use him for His divine purposes. Thus, God protected Jacob from surrounding dangers and stumbling blocks.
Laban repeatedly changed Jacob’s payment arrangement to try to get the better deal. But God blessed Jacob so that he always came out the more blessed. If Laban decided to give Jacob the speckled cattle, then mostly speckled would be born. If Jacob was to receive the ringstraked, then the cattle would birth ringstraked calves (Genesis 31: 7-9).
And when Jacob decides he’s had enough and leaves, God appears to Laban in dream and warns him not to harm his son-in-law (Genesis 31:24).
Jacob was living in alignment with the Lord’s will, as opposed to Laban, who as an idolater (Genesis 31: 19).
When we obey God and put Him before everything else, he blesses the labor of our hands so that it multiplies and grows.
Remember Jesus’ commission to “seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Genesis 6:33).