God tells Jacob to return to his homeland. But when Laban finds the idols missing from his home, he chases down Jacob and his wives.
So Jacob put his wives and children on camels, and he drove all his livestock in front of him. He packed all the belongings he had acquired in Paddan-aram and set out for the land of Canaan, where his father, Isaac, lived. At the time they left, Laban was some distance away, shearing his sheep. Rachel stole her father’s household idols and took them with her.
While Jacob was living with his father-in-law, he always did more than was expected of him. When his flocks were attacked, he took the losses rather than splitting them with Laban. He worked hard even after several pay cuts. His diligence eventually paid off; his flocks began to multiply.
Leaving home was not difficult for Rachel and Leah because their father had treated them as poorly as he had treated Jacob. According to custom, they were supposed to receive the benefits of the dowry Jacob paid for them, which was fourteen years of hard work. When Laban did not give them what was rightfully theirs, they knew they would never inherit anything from their father. Thus, they wholeheartedly approved of Jacob’s plan to take the wealth he had gained and leave.
Jacob certainly had a complicated relationship with his in-laws. Even though Jacob manipulated the breeding of the flocks (Genesis 30:37-43) and snuck away with his family while Laban was gone (Genesis 31:17-19), Jacob was nevertheless a hard worker who brought wealth to his dishonest father-in-law. More importantly, Jacob was beginning to realize that whatever blessings he received were the gift of God, who was watching over him in the midst of his family turmoil.
Some of life’s most challenging relationships can be with family members. What relative do you have a complicated relationship with? Ask God to show you what you can do to honor him and that person.