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  • Writer's pictureKendall Ellis

Promise & Threat: Betrayal

This is a sermon preview for the ninth sermon in the “Promise & Threat” sermon series. To watch the recording of any of the sermons in this sermon series, visit our website.

When morning came, there was Leah! So Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? I served you for Rachel, didn’t I? Why have you deceived me?” –Genesis 29:15-28

#Barbenheimer has taken the box office and social media threads by storm. I admit: I am totally part of the storm!

Decked out in a shimmery hot pink dress, you better believe I was among some of the bright-eyed and pleasantly surprised viewers of Barbie last weekend. Thinking I was about to waste a couple hours on a goofy film, I somehow came out of the theater both laughing and in deep thought. Most notably–without giving any spoilers–I remember feeling Margot Robbie’s “Stereotypical Barbie’s” betrayal: betrayal acted by her towards Ken, betrayal against her by close friends, and ultimately, the betrayal of the world in how we’ve culturally accepted the maltreatment of one another.

As it turns out, betrayal has been threatening the promises of God in this world since Genesis. The story of Laban tricking Jacob into marrying Leah and working double for Rachel is a hard one to read. Jacob is clear in his negotiations to work seven years to marry his true love, Rachel (Gen. 31:18). How could Laban double cross Jacob by giving him Leah in marriage instead? The Biblical text never answers Jacob’s question. It answers a different question: Who is God in the midst of betrayal?

Lest we feel too sorry for Jacob in this story, let us not forget that Jacob has the reputation for being quite the deceiver himself!
  • In Genesis 27, Jacob dressed in animal clothes to deceive his blind father (Isaac) into giving him Esau’s blessing as the firstborn.

  • In Genesis 28, Jacob has to flee for his life because his mother fears that his deception will lead to someone murdering him.

  • And in Genesis 31, Jacob again deceives by working with Rachel to steal Laban’s property and flee with his family.

So yeah…Jacob gets the bad end of the deal when Laban tricks him with Leah. But it’s not like Jacob was totally innocent. Some might even sing the Chicago tune, "He had it coming. He had it coming. He only had himself to blame."

At the core of each betrayal story is some kind of jealousy. Someone wants something and they think the only way to get it is through their own deceptive means. Jacob wants Esau’s birthright. Jacob wants Rachel over Leah. Laban wants labor. Everyone wants something and tries to get it by their own hands.

In the face of betrayal, Genesis reminds us that we worship the God who resolves conflict–even conflict that seems impossible to overcome. I like how the NIV Application Commentary put it:

“Many Christians can compete with Jacob as master manipulators, making their own way through life and taking their destiny into their own hands. But that’s not God’s way. God wants to be recognized as the source of our success.”

In other words, as the children learned this week at Vacation Bible School, “When life is darkshine Jesus’ light! When we disagree with others, shine Jesus’ light! When life is good, shine Jesus’ light!

No matter what is happening in our lives or how others are treating us, we are called to shine the light of Christ and trust that God is the promise keeper who is the source of our success.

Reflection Questions:

  1. How can you end the cycles of betrayal in your life?

  2. How can you act in trust that God will be the source of your justice and success?


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