Jacob did not become successful because he was an empty cheat. He was an effective strategist. He worked to a plan.

What went into his planning? He used his observation skills well. All the while caring for Laban’s flocks, he would have acquired knowledge in animal husbandry. Today we talk of selected breeding and genetics. Jacob saw things going on and he was figuring out ‘concepts’ that lay behind the scenes.

In his strategic planning, his negotiation skills played a part. I think he expected Laban to put up a fight when he asked to leave. Laban’s prosperity had much to do with the fact that his nephew had charge of his flocks. He was not going to give that up so easily.

But Jacob was prepared for such resistance, and he presented his well thought out plan. He wisely secured Laban’s agreement. The man could not subsequently, in good faith, say that he had not entered into such a bargain. Jacob involved him in implementing the plan. Laban was the one who spaced out his flocks away from the starter herd that he allowed Jacob claim to.

And then Jacob worked his little “magic” with almond and poplar and plane rods in the watering troughs. Whatever validity was based on this “magic” I am pretty sure that Jacob had observed something concerning the effects of these rods. Or maybe he was using this as a decoy. He was shrewd  indeed. He was not going to play stupid. His future prosperity required him to use his grey cells well, and he did.

Do we recognise that intellectual ability, discernment, and the other traits make for success are part of our giftedness? Let us use our gifts, not for cheating, and not only for our advancement, but for the good of others too.

Lord, take my intellect, and use

every power as thou shalt choose.

Frances R. Havergal (1836-1879)

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