“Then Jacob continued on his journey and came to the land of the eastern peoples. 2 There he saw a well in the open country, with three flocks of sheep lying near it because the flocks were watered from that well. The stone over the mouth of the well was large. 3 When all the flocks were gathered there, the shepherds would roll the stone away from the well’s mouth and water the sheep. Then they would return the stone to its place over the mouth of the well.4 Jacob asked the shepherds, ‘My brothers, where are you from?’‘We’re from Harran,’ they replied.5 He said to them, ‘Do you know Laban, Nahor’s grandson?’‘Yes, we know him,’ they answered.6 Then Jacob asked them, ‘Is he well?’‘Yes, he is,’ they said, ‘and here comes his daughter Rachel with the sheep.’7 ‘Look,’ he said, ‘the sun is still high; it is not time for the flocks to be gathered. Water the sheep and take them back to pasture.’8 ‘We can’t,’ they replied, ‘until all the flocks are gathered and the stone has been rolled away from the mouth of the well. Then we will water the sheep.’9 While he was still talking with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep, for she was a shepherd. 10 When Jacob saw Rachel daughter of his uncle Laban, and Laban’s sheep, he went over and rolled the stone away from the mouth of the well and watered his uncle’s sheep. 11 Then Jacob kissed Rachel and began to weep aloud. 12 He had told Rachel that he was a relative of her father and a son of Rebekah. So she ran and told her father.13 As soon as Laban heard the news about Jacob, his sister’s son, he hurried to meet him. He embraced him and kissed him and brought him to his home, and there Jacob told him all these things. 14 Then Laban said to him, ‘You are my own flesh and blood.’ After Jacob had stayed with him for a whole month,”NIV
First of all…some random thoughts/musings from years of reading this passage:
- My experience of church life seems to say to me that people will gather where there is refreshment (2);
- Love changes everything. It causes people to do heroic things. It can fill the heart with an unexpected vitality and strength. Consider Jacob single-handedly moving this stone. It was probably quite a feat for one man. (I wonder, was there something of a testosterone-filled bravado going on???);
- The stone has been rolled away, as someone said, ‘not to let Jesus out, but to the let the church in’ to the truth and experience of resurrection life. How we are ‘’watered’’ at the well of Christ’s empty tomb (10)! Whenever I read these verses, I can’t get away from a sense of resonance with the first Easter stories. There are surely faint echoes of it here, even centuries before the actual events?
But here’s what I really want to focus on. It’s a point made by Warren Wiersbe in ‘With the Word’, p. 36: ‘God’s providence brought Jacob to the well just as Rachel was arriving. (See Gen.24:27).’
Again and again in the Christian life we are made aware of these ‘God-incidences’. Sometimes they may lie in the realm of our own experience. Other times we read about them, or hear about them happening to others. But they do occur uncannily often. I feel it’s part of the romance and adventure of the Christian life. It’s too much for co-incidence.
Wiersbe also points out a couple of other matters worthy of our attention:
- Abraham’s servant found a wife for Isaac, but Jacob had to find his own. God works with us personally and individually. We are not mass-produced. His plans for people differ;
- It seems that, typical of Jacob’s scheming nature, he tried to get rid of the shepherds so he could have Rachel all to himself!
‘The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and we have a special claim on his guidance in our matrimonial alliances – the most solemn and momentous step of all.’ F.B.Meyer: ‘Devotional Commentary’, p.25.