What Goes Around Comes Around

Genesis 27-37

Yesterday's article Goats discussed the eternal pattern set up by some of the difficult to understand incidents in Jacob's life. Today's article will look at those incidents and another, each of which casts light on how God orders His universe. I hope we will find this intensely practical for us today.

First let's follow up on goats. We remember that Jacob used the flesh and skin of a goat to fool Isaac into giving him Esau's blessing. (Ge 27:16) If we then move forward ten chapters and more than forty years, we find that Joseph's brothers dip his coat into the blood of a goat to deceive Jacob into believing that his son had been torn by an animal. (Ge 37:31)

So we have two cases where a son uses a goat to deceive his father. First Jacob does it to his father and then his sons do it to him. Payback.

Consider next the swap of Leah for Rachel on Jacob's wedding night. This is reminiscent of the goat skins on Jacob's hands and neck. In both cases the one being fooled was blind. Isaac was literally blind and Jacob, in the dark of the bridal chamber, was also 'blind'.

But consider that the human behavior makes no sense at all. What girl in her right mind would think she could pass for her sister on her wedding night? Surely after seven years in Laban's household Jacob could tell the sisters apart. Further, what girl would not find some way to tip off the man she loved and hoped to marry that he was about to be tricked?

We begin to see what's going on when Laban says, "It is not so done in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn." (Ge 29:26) So we see this as payback for Jacob's tricking Esau out of his birthright.

In at least two cases Jacob is repaid measure for measure for his deceit. Does this mean that God was angry with him and withholding the blessing? Clearly not. Yet the scales balance even when it makes no sense on human or motivational terms.

To help us understand the spiritual dynamics, it might help to consider an engineering example. In the early days of space flight NASA sent up an unmanned satellite which was designed to spin about its long axis like a football. Inexplicably, several days into the mission, the satellite started to tumble and became useless. The best minds at NASA puzzled over this for quite a while because they could see no reason for the change. After all, it was floating through space with nothing touching it. They needed to solve this before they could send up another satellite.

Finally someone had an idea. The satellite had fuel on board so that it could be maneuvered. As the satellite spun, the fuel sloshed around in its tank. This sloshing gradually drained energy from the spinning satellite. At some point, the energy in the satellite dropped below the point where 'football' rotation was stable. At that point the satellite simply dropped to a rotation mode (tumbling) that was compatible with its lower energy state.

Nothing touched the satellite, there was no control input, it was simply impossible for it to continue rotating football fashion so it didn't.

God is showing us the same principle in Jacob's life as well as in our own. The scales must balance - always. When the situation looks really weird and makes no sense, we must look to the spiritual. Somewhere there is a balance, we just have to find it.