There’s an account of what God accomplishes with the body, soul and spirit of believers. His work with each of the three parts is represented by one of the three time periods that Jacob (the Holy Spirit) spent with Laban (our human heart).
The first period (seven years) describes what eternal results can be produced from this earthly body…
Laban was a poor man when Jacob came to him. During those first years Jacob significantly increased the size of Laban’s cattle herd so there were some physical benefits but nothing of eternal substance. It’s shown by the absence of children born (new birth) through his daughters. His life would come to a natural end and there would be no one to carry on his name. It’s to let us know that this earthly body can not receive eternal rewards –it can’t inherit the kingdom of God. Paul talked about it saying that we must be given an immortal body –we must be resurrected (Jesus said that we must be born-again ( ).) –and
The second period (also seven years) describes the results of the Holy Spirit’s work with our souls…
That’s when Jacob was joined with Leah and Rachel in marriage (and they brought their servants Zilpah and Bilhah). Each of their sons denotes a spiritual growth step. Eleven were born in that time –from Reuben (representing our being born-again) to Joseph (our selflessly letting Christ carry out His work in our earthly bodies). “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).calls this growth the renewing of the mind. The only credit that we can claim is submissively allowing God to do His work –John said
The third period seems to only be six years long…
It’s when Jacob told Laban that he would stay with him –but for his own gain, not Laban’s. He made it clear. His efforts would be focused on building up his own flocks –yet he would take care of Laban’s at the same time. It’s reminiscent of Jesus saying to not worry about the things needed in this world –rather “seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness and these other things will be added to you” ( ).
The lengths of the first two periods are seven years each –one period for the body, and the other for the soul– indicating that those will be completed here in our earthly lifetimes. But this last period is not. The year following that sixth one (to complete the seven-year period) is hinted at in various prophecies. It’s the time of His millennial kingdom when the New Jerusalem descends on a new earth (the seventh one-thousand years) –and when we are present with Him face-to-face.
That narrative about selective breeding –his taking only the speckled, spotted and striped and black lambs from Laban’s flocks– states a subtle fact. Jacob took the imperfect –the blemished. And he bred them to be strong and increase in number. Even Laban agreed that their imperfections would be a witness to Jacob being their owner.
Those identifying characteristics have a grand significance. It’s found in the meanings of their Hebrew words. Speckled means “punctured” or “branded.” Striped describes the removal of skin. Spotted is being covered in multiple colors. And black has to do with a prolonged exposure to the sun.
They relate to Jesus being pierced and marked for our transgressions. His skin was peeled through a Roman lashing. He shared this earthly life with us (under the sun). And He died to provide righteousness for all mankind (many colors).
The rods are important too. Jacob made his flocks face them when they came to drink and that’s when they mated. Rod means “a stick for walking , striking, guiding, divining.” One came from a poplar –meaning “white brick” (the same meaning as Laban). Another came from an almond –the same as Aaron’s rod which was in the ark. And the last was from a plane tree –meaning “beware, take crafty counsel, be prudent, deal subtly.” And strong means “bound” or “joined together.” Each of those rods had some of its bark peeled away to expose it.
God has revealed three facts to us (stripped away their coverings). By nature we have lived (used rods –walking sticks) according to the selfish desires of our hearts (the poplar rod, Laban). We have seen God’s law which describes His plan of salvation (the almond rod). Now we know that His way for our lives (the plane rod) is totally different that the ways of the world. Having believed Him we now can trust Him to strengthen us and complete the work that He began (we faced those rods).
This and all of the other articles on this site are intended to provoke you the reader to search the Bible and find what God has to say to you. If your curiosity has been piqued such that you begin a conversation with Him, my hope has been accomplished. He is the author of all truth and His desire is for you to totally trust Him.
Note: The time periods were derived from “The Chronology And Birth of Jacob’s Children By Leah And Her Handmaid” by Charles L. Zimmerman.”.