Would you rather have your son a boy of strong character with vicious tendency or a weakling with harmless, virtuous inclinations?
JACOB’S TRAINING IN THE SCHOOL OF EXPERIENCE.
Jacob’s experiences as a fugitive well illustrate the homely proverb, “The way of the transgressor is hard.” He who deceived and cheated his brother soon became the victim of deception and fraud. Most painful of all was the ever-haunting sense of fear because of the consequences of his wrong acts that followed him even in his life as an exile and, like a spectre, confronted him as he returned again to the scenes of his boyhood. These painful experiences were probably essential to the development of Jacob’s character. Are there any other ways in which men of this type can be led to appreciate that their ambitions are wrong? Was Laban any more unjust or tricky in his dealing with Jacob than Jacob had been with Esau, or than Jacob was with Laban? Note the grim humor running through these stories. They are the type of stories that would be especially appreciated when told by shepherds beside the camp fire.
The most significant point in these stories is that they declare that Jehovah’s care and guidance followed the selfish deceiver even as he fled the consequences of his own misdeeds. Why should that divine care shield him from the consequences of his misdeeds? Do we find such instances to-day? How do you explain them? What is the meaning of the story of Jacob’s vision at Bethel? What promising elements did Jehovah find in Jacob’s character? What practical lessons did Jacob learn during his sojourn in Aram?
Was Jacob really a hypocrite, or did he in fact fail to see any inconsistency between, his trickery and meanness and his worship of Jehovah? A man may be sincere in his religious worship on Sunday and yet cheat a neighbor on Monday. Analyze carefully the nature of his religion.
THE INVINCIBLE POWER OP AMBITION AND PERSEVERANCE.
History and modern life abound in illustrations of what can be accomplished by the combination of ambition and perseverance. Cyrus, the king of a little upland province, through a remarkable series of victories became the undisputed master of south-western Asia and laid the foundations of the great Persian Empire. Julius Caesar, who transformed Rome from a republic into an empire, and Napoleon the Corsican, are the classic illustrations of the power of great ambition and dauntless persistency. Far nobler is that quiet, courageous perseverance which led Livingston through the trackless swamps and forests of Africa and blazed the way for the conquest of the dark continent. Equally significant is that noble ambition, coupled with heroic perseverance, that has enabled settlement workers to bring light to the darkest parts of our great cities.