S: Genesis 31:51-53 (AMP) And Laban said to Jacob, See this heap and this pillar, which I have set up between you and me. This heap is a witness and this pillar is a witness, that I will not pass by this heap to you, and that you will not pass by this heap and this pillar to me, for harm. The God of Abraham and the God of Nahor, and the god [the object of worship] of their father [Terah, an idolator], judge between us. But Jacob swore [only] by [the one true God] the Dread and Fear of his father Isaac.
(NET) “Here is this pile of stones and this pillar I have set up between me and you,” Laban said to Jacob. “This pile of stones and the pillar are reminders that I will not pass beyond this pile to come to harm you and that you will not pass beyond this pile and this pillar to come to harm me. May the God of Abraham and the god of Nahor1, the gods of their father, judge between us.” Jacob took an oath by the God whom his father Isaac feared. Then Jacob offered a sacrifice on the mountain and invited his relatives to eat the meal. They ate the meal and spent the night on the mountain.
1. The God of Abraham and the god of Nahor. The Hebrew verb translated “judge” is plural, suggesting that Laban has more than one “god” in mind. The Samaritan Pentateuch and the LXX, apparently in an effort to make the statement monotheistic, have a singular verb. In this case one could translate, “May the God of Abraham and the God of Nahor, the God of their father, judge between us.” However, Laban had a polytheistic world view, as evidenced by his possession of household idols (cf. 31:19). The translation uses “God” when referring to Abraham’s God, for Genesis makes it clear that Abraham worshiped the one true God. It employs “god” when referring to Nahor’s god, for in the Hebrew text Laban refers to a different god here, probably one of the local deities.
O: Uncle Laban was a polytheist -- he did not follow the One True God alone like his relatives Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. So when he made this treaty with Jacob, he invoked other gods. Jacob did not make an issue of this, but simply made his oath by the One True God.
A: We Malaysians live in a pluralistic culture and even in our own families as Chinese or Indian Malaysian Christians, we have people who follow other gods.
We have to make reasonable accommodations with them, while maintaining our own faith of following only the One True God. It is not winsome to throw our monotheism in their faces. We also see this example given by the apostle Paul, when he dealt with the Athenians in a culturally sensitive manner in the discourse of the Unknown God (Acts 17:16-34) and also in his letter to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 9:19-23)
We shouldn't needlessly offend people who have different beliefs from us.
P: Father, give us wisdom when we are faced with these situations. In Jesus' name, amen.
Picture credit: I found the picture at Bible Lessons for Kids blog, but the picture is actually from Sweet Publishing under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
Note: this is using the SOAP method. For more information, see this
page (not written by me.)