Now Rebekah had a brother whose name was Laban, and Laban ran out to the man by the well. So it came to pass, when he saw the nose ring, and the bracelets on his sister’s wrists, and when he heard the words of his sister Rebekah, saying, “Thus the man spoke to me,” that he went to the man. And there he stood by the camels at the well. (Genesis 24:29-30)
Everyone has come across a Laban in their life. He appears to be kind and willing to roll out the red carpet when he thinks there is something to gain. The Bible specifically says that when he saw the jewelry given to his sister, he went to meet Abraham’s servant. Later we see that this tendency to be greedy is manifest even more in his mistreatment of Jacob.
While his name means “white” it is noteworthy that his name is related to the word l’benah or “brick.” That is interesting because of how bricks are introduced in Scripture. In Genesis 11, those who built Babylon used bricks to do it. In other words, Laban is thematically connected to Babylon and everything it represents and Babylon stands for everything God is against and visa versa. Likewise, Laban will prove to be someone who harasses, abuses and cheats God’s people, namely Jacob.
Yet it also becomes clear that God allowed Laban into the lives of His people and used him to test and temper His servant. Jacob had to endure much at the hands of Laban and his sons but it was through that trial that Jacob was transformed into the one God would call Israel. Likewise for us, God allows Labans into our life, not necessarily to reveal their wickedness, but to expose whether or not we will respond to them in righteousness. If we are to be the light in darkness, we must be equipped and trained to deal with the darkness — to expel the it rather than let it overtake us. So rather than despise the Laban in our life, let us learn to appreciate what God is doing in us by allowing these people into our lives.
Blessings and Shalom,