Family Transitions

A message from
Pastor Josh Laxton

Genesis 29-30 (NIV)


Genesis 29-30 (NIV)

Genesis 29

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 of 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."

Jacob Marries Leah and Rachel

After Jacob had stayed with him for a whole month, 15 Laban said to him, "Just because you are a relative of mine, should you work for me for nothing? Tell me what your wages should be." 16 Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 17 Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel had a lovely figure and was beautiful. 18 Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, "I'll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel."

19 Laban said, “It’s better that I give her to you than to some other man. Stay here with me.” 20 So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed only like a few days because of his love for her.

21 Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife. My time is completed, and I want to make love to her.”

22 So Laban brought together all the people of the place and gave a feast. 23 But when evening came, he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and Jacob made love to her. 24 And Laban gave his servant Zilpah to his daughter as her attendant.

25 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?”

26 Laban replied, “It is not our custom here to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older one. 27 Finish this daughter's bridal week; then we will give you the younger one also, in return for another seven years of work."

28 And Jacob did so. He finished the week with Leah, and then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife. 29 Laban gave his servant Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as her attendant. 30 Jacob made love to Rachel also, and his love for Rachel was greater than his love for Leah. And he worked for Laban for another seven years.

Jacob’s Children

31 When the Lord saw that Leah was not loved, he enabled her to conceive, but Rachel remained childless. 32 When Leah became pregnant and gave birth toa son. So she named him Reuben, for she said, "It is because the Lord has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now."

33 She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Because the Lord heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too.” So she named him Simeon

34 Again she conceived, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” So he was named Levi.

35 She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “This time I will praise the Lord.” So she named him Judah. Then she stopped having children.

Genesis 30

When Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she became jealous of her sister. So she said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I’ll die!” 2 Jacob became angry with her and said, “Am I in the place of God, who has kept you from having children?”

3Then she said, “Here is Bilhah, my servant. Sleep with her so that she can bear children for me and I too can build a family through her.” 4 So she gave him her servant Bilhah as a wife. Jacob slept with her, 5 and she became pregnant and bore him a son. 6 Then Rachel said, "God has vindicated me; he has listened to my plea and given me a son." Because of this she named him Dan.

7 Rachel’s servant Bilhah conceived again and bore Jacob a second son. 8 Then Rachel said, "I have had a great struggle with my sister and I have won." So she named him Naphtali.

9 When Leah saw that she had stopped having children, she took her servant Zilpah and gave her to Jacob as a wife. 10 Leah's servant Zilpah bore Jacob a son. 11 Then Leah said, "What good fortune!" So she named him Gad.12 Leah’s servant Zilpah bore Jacob a second son. 13 Then Leah said, "How happy I am! The women will call me happy." So she named him Asher.

14 During wheat harvest, Reuben went out into the fields and found some mandrake plants, which he brought to his mother Leah. Rachel said to Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.” 15 But she said to her, “Wasn’t it enough that you took away my husband? Will you take my son’s mandrakes too?”

“Very well,” Rachel said, “he can sleep with you tonight in return for your son’s mandrakes.”

16 So when Jacob came in from the fields that evening, Leah went out to meet him. “You must sleep with me,” she said. “I have hired you with my son’s mandrakes.” So he slept with her that night.

17 God listened to Leah, and she became pregnant and bore Jacob a fifth son. 18 Then Leah said, "God has rewarded me for giving my servant to my husband." So she named him Issachar.

19 Leah conceived again and bore Jacob a sixth son. 20 Then Leah said, "God has presented me with a precious gift. This time my husband will treat me with honor, because I have borne him with six sons." So she named him Zebulun.21 Some time later she gave birth to a daughter and named her Dinah.

22 Then God remembered Rachel; he listened to her and enabled her to conceive. 23 She became pregnant and gave birth to a son and said, " God has taken a way my disgrace." 24 She named him Joseph, and said "May the Lord add to me another son."

Jacob’s Flocks Increase

25 After Rachel gave birth to Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, “Send me on my way so I can go back to my own homeland. 26 Give me my wives and children, for whom I have served you, and I will be on my way. You know how much work I've done for you." 27 But Laban said to him, “If I have found favor in your eyes, please stay. I have learned by divination that the Lord has blessed me because of you.” 28 He added, "Name your wages, and I will pay them."

29 Jacob said to him, “You know how I have worked for you and how your livestock has fared under my care. 30 The little you had before I came has greatly increased, and the Lord has blessed you wherever I have been. But now, when may I do something for my own household?"

31 “What shall I give you?” he asked.

“Don’t give me anything,” Jacob replied. “But if you will do this one thing for me, I will go on tending your flocks and watching over them: 32 Let me go through all your flocks today and remove them from every speckled or spotted sheep, every dark-colored lamb and every spotted or speckled. They will be my wages. 33 And my honesty will testify me in the future, whenever you check on the wages you have paid me. Any goat in my possession that is not speckled or spotted, or any lamb that is not dark-colored, will be considered stolen."

34 “Agreed,” said Laban. “Let it be as you have said.” 35 That same day he removed all the male goats that were streaked or spotted, and all the speckled or spotted female goats (all that had white on them) and all the dark colored lambs, and he placed them in the care of his sons. 36 Then he put a three-day journey between himself and Jacob, while Jacob continued to tend to the rest of Laban's flocks.

37 Jacob, however, took fresh-cut branches from poplar, almond and plane trees and made white stripes on them by peeling the bark and exposing the white inner wood of the branches. 38 Then he placed the peeled branches in all the water troughs, so that they would be directly in front of the flocks when they came to drink. When the flocks were in the heat and came to drink, 39 they mated in front of the branches. And they bore young that were streaked or spotted. 40 Jacob set apart the young of the flock by themselves, but made the rest face the streaked and dark-colored animals that belonged to Laban. Thus he made separate flocks for himself and did not put them with Laban's animals. 41 Whenever the stronger females were in heat, Jacob would place the branches in the troughs in front of the animals so they would mate near the branches, 42 but if the animals were weak, he would not place them there. So the weak animals went to Laban and the strong ones to Jacob. 43 In this way the man grew exceedingly prosperous and came to own large flocks, and male and female servants, and camels and donkeys.

Worship Focus

Today, we worship God for His love. As we face change and process transitions, we can know that God loves us with an eternal love that never dies or diminishes. When we love, we are most like God.

Digging Deeper

THIS WEEK'S Bible study


Transitions: Family Transitions

Last week, we followed Peter’s inner transition as he struggled through a crisis of faith. Jesus, the One who knew Peter’s faith story from beginning to end, guided him through times of confidence and despair into a deep faith that would carry him through his life. This week, we’re shifting to some relationship transitions as we observe a family in transition, both within their relationships and their relationship with God. We’ll see three ways women and men can transition into thriving worshipers of God via the relational transitions they face.

How to Use This Guide 

Thank you for taking the time to do this Bible study. When we dig deeper into God’s word, He promises to bless us. We follow in the footsteps of King David, who wrote in Psalm 119:105: “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

This guide will provide a weekly framework for spiritual conversations with friends or family. We encourage you to reach out to a friend or two, pick a time to get together each week, and work through this guide together. This Bible study can also be a good tool for families, perhaps coordinated with mealtimes.

What does the Bible say?

In Genesis 29-30, the narrative follows Isaac and Rebekah’s son, Jacob, as he transitions into adulthood and gets married. Jacob moves from his parent’s home to a different country, where he meets the two sisters who will become the mothers of his children. He also meets his match in his uncle, Laban, his mother's brother, who would become his father-in-law. With the promise of God to his father, Isaac, and his grandfather, Abraham, ringing in his ears, Jacob struggled in his family relations throughout his life and strived to attain the blessing of God by his means. Jacob’s story is full of twists and turns where change is painful and difficult. But, God is steady and faithful throughout the ups and downs of Jacob’s life. His love extended to Jacob’s family, and through this flawed family, God’s love reached out to the whole world through their descendent, Jesus Christ.

Read Genesis 29-30.

How does Jacob meet Rachel? What made her attractive to him? According to the story, how does Jacob meet Leah? What did Jacob find unattractive about her? How would you describe Jacob’s relationship with his father-in-law, Laban? What do you think of this family and their relationships with each other? Their story is quite dramatic, almost as if it were a soap opera! How successful do you think their lives together would have been if you knew these people?

One thing holds this family together: God and His promise of blessing. God’s presence and faithfulness guide and protect the story of His people in all times and places. In this particular story, God intervenes in the family dynamic to bless Jacob, Leah, and Rachel at various times. Underline or circle the times God appears in the narrative. How many blessings can you count from the story? Make a list of them. 

In this story, difficulties arise from in-laws, sibling rivalry, first and second wives, insecurity and pride about physical appearance, infertility, surrogate mothers, and business competition/schemes. Do these things sound familiar? Have you experienced problems in these areas? We can trace the activity of God in the lives of Jacob, Leah, and Rachel and see how He used the hardships of their relationships to steer His will and bring each one to greater faith in Him. In so doing, God expanded this family and fulfilled His promise to bless the entire world through them. Reading this story today, we see that these Old Testament figures played a part in a much bigger plan. God can work the same way in our lives and families too. Have you seen God bless others through your family? Can you think of a time when you wanted to give up on your familial relationships because they were too hard? If you stayed together, did you experience growth in your faith?  

The changes in Leah’s relationship with God are marked by the names she gives to her children. Write down their names and what they mean. What clues do you see in the progression of her faith in God? Her transition into a life of faith emerged out of the rejection she experienced because of her physical appearance. This led to frustration and emotional pain because she did not feel her husband's love. She also competed with her beautiful sister and endured the physical pain of childbirth. 

His direct encounters with God mark the changes in Jacob’s relationship with God. Jacob was the only one in the family who encountered God in person. These meetings provided the foundation for his faith and belief that God intended to use him to bless the world. Jacob and his mother believed God’s promise that God had chosen to bless Jacob, the younger of her twins and his line, and not his older brother Esau (Genesis 25:23). Their faith in this promise was incomplete, however. They believed in the promise but did not have enough faith to trust God to fulfill it for and through them. And so they conspired to lie and scheme to get Jacob his rightful blessing. In spite of this huge misstep, God continued to bless and meet with Jacob to confirm His promise. In fear of his brother Esau’s wrath, Jacob fled to his mother’s family back in Harran (Genesis 27:41-28:5). On the way, God met him at Bethel, and Jacob worshiped God (Genesis 28:10-22). There God established a relationship with Jacob and promised He would go with Jacob, bless him, and safely bring him back to Canaan. When God spoke with Jacob next, He told him it was time to return (Genesis 31:3). So, along with his wives, concubines, and children in tow, they went. 

Rachel’s transition involves moving away from a dependence on the men in her life who mediated her relationship with God to know God for herself. We meet Rachel when Jacob arrives in her hometown. Her father, Laban, didn’t let her stay home and live a life of luxury. She took care of his sheep. Laban seems to have prized Rachel for the benefits that her beauty and body could bring to him, and so he allowed Rachel to be the wages of Jacob’s labor for seven years. Laban didn’t keep his part of the bargain and tricked Jacob into working another seven years for him when he switched his daughters on Rachel’s wedding night. Laban controlled the destinies of his daughters. So Rachel got married and became the second wife of a man who loved her more than her sister. But, as with many women in the Bible, she could not become pregnant. She had to watch while her sister had four sons. She complained to her husband and demanded him to help. This angered Jacob, who understood that God was behind her barrenness. Rachel then started a one-upmanship with her sister that involved their maids as surrogate mothers. Rachel’s jealousy of Leah and her vindictiveness bear themselves out in the names of the sons her maid gave Jacob. But then God deals directly with Rachel. After Leah gave Jacob 10 sons, in Genesis 30:22, we read that God remembered Rachel. He listened to her and enabled her to have a son. Rachel was grateful, but she wanted more sons, perhaps to match her sister’s brood. When Jacob told them about God and the promises made to him for His blessing, Rachel and Leah left with him to go back to Canaan. But, Rachel stole her father’s household gods and brought them along with her. We don’t hear from Rachel again until Jacob and the family are back in Canaan. Rachel died giving birth to her second son, Benjamin (Genesis 35:16-19), at a place called Bethlehem. We know this town because it is where our Lord Jesus was born. Rachel’s faith journey involved frustration, tears, being mistreated as a sexual object, pain, and death. Much of her sad story was caused by the men in her life. But, in the end, God was faithful to her and helped her live out her purpose.

Under the guise of wanting to see God’s promises fulfilled, the members of this family scheme, manipulate, and try to receive God’s blessing with all their might. God blesses them in spite of themselves. The prerequisite for His blessing is that they would choose Him as their one God. Throughout, the primary mover and designer of blessings is God, who writes the story of this family, warts and all, into the story of His people, Israel. We learn from this story that God uses and even blesses women and men who were not necessarily very good husbands, wives, parents, or business people. If they had only waited for God to accomplish His work instead of running ahead with their schemes and answers, they would have saved themselves a lot of heartaches. From our standpoint now, however, we can learn that God uses flawed people to accomplish His purposes: people like you and me. May we wait for Him and trust Him before we act. 

Prayer: God, thank You for including ornery people like Jacob and his family in Your story. Help me learn from their mistakes. May I trust You and wait for Your promises and blessings to come in their own time. Help my actions and decisions to line up with the timing You have set forth in the big story of Your kingdom coming on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.

About This Sermon Series

Transitions, as we know, are part of life. We experience personal, familial, vocational, cultural, national, and even organizational transitions. In fact, Northland is a church in the midst of change and transition. We have called our new lead pastor, Dr. Josh Laxton. Interestingly, while we experience a myriad of transitions in a lifetime, there is a difference between change and transition. Change is situational whereas transition is psychological. In other words, transition involves processing the change.


Transitions, as we know, are part of life. We experience personal, familial, vocational, cultural, national, and even organizational transitions. In fact, Northland is a church in the midst of change and transition. We have called our new lead pastor, Dr. Josh Laxton. Interestingly, while we experience a myriad of transitions in a lifetime, there is a difference between change and transition. Change is situational whereas transition is psychological. In other words, transition involves processing the change.

After experiencing a change and transition, we can look back and see that we were changed—or better yet transformed. And who you became, the kind of transformation that occurred in that transition was the direct result of how you processed or didn’t process the change.

In this series, Transitions, we will take you on a journey through Scripture looking at various transitions in the life God’s people as well as various passages that deal with how we should process changes in our life. Our hope and prayer in this series is that you will learn how to process the various changes in life and allow the Holy Spirit to use transitions to conform you more into the image of Jesus.

Upcoming Weekends

» May 14-15
TRANSITIONS | Transitions for Leaders and Followers |
Discipleship Pastor Gus Davies

» May 21-22
TRANSITIONS | Cultural Transitions: From Monoethnic to Multiethnic |
Governing Elder Vince Taylor

Upcoming Worship Services

» May 14-15
TRANSITIONS | Transitions for Leaders and Followers |
Discipleship Pastor Gus Davies

» May 21-22
TRANSITIONS | Cultural Transitions: From Monoethnic to Multiethnic |
Governing Elder Vince Taylor

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Not Everyone Can Foster But Everyone Can Care

Sunday, May 15 at 11 a.m.

In as little as a couple of hours a month, you can make a significant difference to those families that care for foster children. This short class will explain the challenges of fostering and describe a way for you to become part of the solution.


Matthew West: “The Brand New Tour” with Cain and Hannah Kerr

Thursday, May 12 at 7 p.m.

Matthew West is a five-time GRAMMY® nominee, a multiple ASCAP Christian Music Songwriter/Artist of the Year winner and a 2018 Dove Award Songwriter of the Year (Artist) recipient.

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Stewardship Update

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Stewardship Update

Northland Tithes & Offerings
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As of 5/4/2022
If you'd like to learn more or have questions related to finances at Northland, contact our finance team at FinanceTeam@NorthlandChurch.net.