In the beginning, we are told, God formed the man out of dirt, and breathed his own Spirit into him. And then the Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. In other words, the man was designed to work the earth, build and expand the garden, until the whole world was filled with life and worship.
But we know what happened: the man rebelled, and lost the garden God had given him. He still had the job of bringing creation to life and order — but now, in the wilderness outside the garden, the earth would resist his efforts. He would struggle to grow plants, he would struggle to cultivate the wild animals, he would also struggle to maintain healthy relationships with others.
And so far, Jacob’s life has been exactly like that: it has been a life of painful toil and sweat, a life of conflict with his brother, with his father, with his uncle, with his wives — especially over the last fourteen years since he sold himself into slavery.
But now, as we catch up to Jacob, we find that he is coming to the end of that fourteen year contract. When Jacob was young and free he worked only for himself. For the last fourteen years he has been forced to work for his uncle. And so now, as Jacob regains the freedom he once lost, we have to wonder: what is he going to do with his freedom? Is he going to return to his old ways? — or has he actually learned something?
Let’s find out:
 After Rachel gave birth to Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, “Send me on my way so I can go back to my own homeland.  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.”
Jacob is basically asking Laban for a severance package.
Fourteen years before this, he had arrived at his uncle’s house without any money, without any way of building a future for himself. And so Jacob had sold himself into seven years of slavery in exchange for a wife, because in those days, in that economy, a man really needed a wife if he was going to expand his family and his business.
And, of course, we know how Laban managed to double the length of that contract in exchange for a second wife.
But now those fourteen years are over. Jacob is free, free to take his wages — his 4 wives and his 12 children — and go home.
Except that he can’t, because even after fourteen years of labour in his uncle’s house, Jacob still has no money.
So Jacob is asking for a severance package. And, really, Laban should give him one. It was customary — and, later on, it was the law — for an employer to send a good employee away with a nest egg, some start-up capital of his own.
 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.”
Mmmmmm. Well, it’s nice to see that some people don’t change, I suppose: Laban’s number one goal in life, even after all these years, is still filling his own pockets. Clearly he does not worship Jacob’s God, but he is happy to keep Jacob around if it means that Jacob’s God will continue to make him richer.
So  he added, “Name your wages, and I will pay them.”
Oh! Uncle Laban is offering Jacob a job. A real job this time! With money! And Jacob gets to set his own salary!
Isn’t that nice?
But we remember that Laban made this exact offer to Jacob fourteen years before this: Laban is asking Jacob to continue as an employee in the family business. He is asking Jacob to sign another seven year contract.
But Jacob is not going to fall for that again:  Jacob said to him, “You know how I have worked for you and how your livestock has fared under my care.  The little you had before I came has increased greatly, and the Lord has blessed you wherever I have been. But now, when may I do something for my own household?”
Jacob does not want to continue as a wage-slave, an employee in Laban’s family business. Jacob wants to start his own family business. But he does need to earn some start-up capital somehow.
“Okay,” Laban says,  “What shall I give you?”
“Don’t give me anything,” Jacob replies.
— in other words: “I am not going to be in debt to you for anything ever again!
“But here is my counter-proposal…”
And Jacob suggests that he take all the multi-coloured sheep and goats out of Laban’s herd for his wages.
Now, in that part of the world at that time, most sheep were white, and most goats were black. But a very small percentage of sheep were not pure white, while a very small percentage of goats were not pure black.
Jacob is asking to take that small percentage, and separate them out into another independent flock that will belong to Jacob alone. Then Jacob will continue to care for Laban’s large flock while he also cares for his own small flock. That way Jacob will actually be making money for himself, instead of trusting his uncle to support him.
And it is very interesting to notice, in verse 33, that Jacob appeals to his own honesty, he says, “My honesty will testify for me in the future.” Young Jacob was not a very honest guy, he did not have a reputation as an honest guy, and Jacob knows that. And Jacob also knows that his uncle is not a very honest guy. So Jacob is deliberately setting up a transparent system so that he can prove that he has changed, and so he can avoid getting robbed by his uncle again.
 “Agreed,” said Laban. “Let it be as you have said.”
And right away, Laban robs his nephew:  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.
Nice. Very nice, Uncle Laban.
Now, when Laban hands his flock over to Jacob’s care, Jacob will find only pure black goats, and only pure white sheep. This leaves Jacob with nothing to begin his own flock with.
 Then he put a three-day journey between himself and Jacob, while Jacob continued to tend the rest of Laban’s flocks.
But Laban has been just a bit too clever for his own good. He moved three days away in order to keep Jacob from tracking down the missing animals — but, by moving three days away, he has also left Jacob unsupervised.
Which goes to show, actually, that Jacob has proven to be an honest employee over the last fourteen years. After all, if Laban did not trust him, he would not have left Jacob alone with the rest of his family’s flocks.
So Laban has left Jacob unsupervised because he believes there is no way now for Jacob to cut into the family profits, and no way for Jacob to go into business for himself — at least, not anytime soon.
 Jacob, however, took fresh-cut branches and made white stripes on them by peeling the bark and exposing the white inner wood of the branches.  Then he placed the peeled branches in all the watering troughs, so that they would be directly in front of the flocks when they came to drink. When the flocks were in heat and came to drink,  they mated in front of the branches. And they bore young that were streaked or speckled or spotted.
Now, we understand that even the black goats of Laban’s flocks carried a recessive gene for non-black goats, and the white sheep carried a recessive gene for non-white sheep. And so we understand that, even in flocks of purely black goats and purely white sheep, a few striped animals will be born every season. And no doubt Jacob — and Laban — also understood this. Laban knew that, eventually, Jacob would still be able to build a flock of his own; it would just take forever!
But Jacob practices some genetic modification here: he tries to increase the percentage of striped young by exposing the parents to these striped branches.
And it works!
So Jacob takes that first crop of young animals and sets them aside, forming his own flock, separate from Laban’s flocks.
And then he just rinses and repeats, using his many years of experience as a shepherd to make sure that every time the stronger females were in heat, they would produce striped young, but when the weaker animals were in heat, they would produce plain black or white young. So the weak animals ended up in Laban’s flocks, and the strong ones ended up in Jacob’s flock.
And  in this way the man grew exceedingly prosperous and came to own large flocks, and female and male servants, and camels and donkeys.
For the first time in his life, Jacob is turning an honest profit. He is not cheating his uncle, he is not stealing from anyone, he is simply doing what God designed men to do in the first place: he is using the wisdom and experience God gave him to cultivate plants and animals and bring life out of the earth.
But certain other people have a different interpretation of these events:  Jacob heard that Laban’s sons were saying, “Jacob has taken everything our father owned and has gained all this wealth from what belonged to our father.”  And Jacob noticed that Laban’s attitude toward him was not what it had been.
 Then the Lord said to Jacob, “It is time: go back to the land of your fathers and to your relatives, and I will be with you.”
When Jacob’s mother, Rebekah, sent him away to save him from his brother’s rage, she told him it would only be “a few days” before she sent Jacob a message saying it was safe to come home.
That message never arrived. Apparently, sometime during Jacob’s “few days” away, Rebekah died. So Jacob does not know if his brother Esau still hates him or not, he does not know if it is safe to go home.
But now the Lord himself has told Jacob that it is time to go. He has not told Jacob that it is safe — but he has told Jacob that, whatever happens, “I will be with you.”
 So Jacob sent word to Rachel and Leah to come out to the fields where his flocks were, so they could have a private meeting away from Laban’s house.
 He said to them, “I see that your father’s attitude toward me is not what it was before, but the God of my father has been with me.  You know that I’ve worked for your father with all my strength,  yet your father has cheated me by changing my wages ten times. However, God has not allowed him to harm me.  If he said, ‘The speckled ones will be your wages,’ then all the flocks gave birth to speckled young; and if he said, ‘The streaked ones will be your wages,’ then all the flocks bore streaked young.  So God has taken away your father’s livestock and has given them to me.
“But, there’s more:  In breeding season I once had a dream in which I looked up and saw that the male goats mating with the flock were streaked, speckled or spotted.  The angel of God said to me in the dream, ‘Jacob.’ I answered, ‘Here I am.’  And he said, ‘Look up and see that all the male goats mating with the flock are streaked, speckled or spotted, for I have seen all that Laban has been doing to you.  I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and where you made a vow to me. Now leave this land at once and go back to your native land.’”
Jacob has a bit of a problem: the Lord has commanded him to leave his uncle’s house and go home. But he has married his uncle’s daughters — and they may not want to leave their father’s house.
So now he must persuade them that it is in their best interest to cut themselves off from their father’s household and join themselves completely to Jacob’s household.
So he makes two points:
First, that his God has taken care of him, and has actually worked against their father.
Second, that his desire to leave is actually obedience to his God’s command, which means God will continue to take care of him.
Basically, Jacob is trying to convince his wives that they will be better off with him than if they stay back with their father.
But at this point Jacob finds out that his wives are already convinced:  Then Rachel and Leah replied, “Do we still have any share in the inheritance of our father’s estate?  Does he not regard us as foreigners? Not only has he sold us, but he has used up what was paid for us.”
These are some resentful daughters!
It turns out they did not appreciate how their father arranged their marriages: they felt like they were sold for a profit.
But okay, they made the best of a bad situation, they settled into their family life with Jacob — but then their father actually wasted the profit he made from their sale instead of setting it aside as an inheritance for them like he was supposed to.
So: double insult!
And next Jacob finds out that he does not need to teach his wives anything about how God has been at work, they have been paying attention and they know what is going on:  “Surely all the wealth that God took away from our father belongs to us and our children. So do whatever God has told you.”
So what we are seeing here is that — despite all the tension, despite all the conflict, despite all the back-biting behaviour — these women are the right women for Jacob, just as Rebekah was the right woman for Isaac, just as Sarah was the right woman for Abraham.
 Then Jacob put his children and his wives on camels,  and he drove all his livestock ahead of him, along with all the goods he had accumulated in Paddan Aram, to go to his father Isaac in the land of Canaan.
And it turns out next that this is sheep-shearing season for Laban’s flocks.
Sheep-shearing season is the time every year when shepherds harvest the wool from their sheep, cutting it off with hand-held clippers. And this is very hard work. When I was a boy I got to watch my grandfather shearing his sheep in New Zealand, and even with 10 or 20 men all working together with dogs and fences and electric clippers, it was a major operation to shear just a few hundred sheep. And ancient records tell us that, back in Laban’s day, this task required 300 or 400 men. Basically, every man in town had to work together to help shear one another’s flocks.
So what this means is that Laban is completely preoccupied, along with most of the men in the area. Which means this is a good time for Jacob to leave, if he is hoping to avoid a confrontation.
So Jacob gathers up everything that belongs to him, and leaves behind everything that does not belong to him. He does not want to give his uncle any good reason to chase after him, and he wants to be far away by the time Laban hears that he is gone, so there will be no profit in chasing after him.
Unfortunately for Jacob, Rachel stole her father’s household gods.
Now, these ”household gods” were idols. Some could be quite large, as big as a person, but they could also be quite small. But the important thing for us to realize is that they were usually covered with gold and silver and precious stones. So they were not just spiritually valuable, they were also physically valuable.
We are not sure why Rachel did this. Some have thought that her faith in Jacob’s God was not complete, so she brought her father’s gods along just in case. But, based on what she does with these gods next week, it does not seem likely that she actually had any faith in them as gods.
But we do know, from verse 15, that Rachel was upset that her father essentially wasted her dowry. She and Leah had complained that their father had no plans to give them an inheritance. So most likely, while they were packing, Rachel looked at those gold and silver gods and thought, “You know what? Dad owes me. That is my share of the family fortune.”
But Moses does not tell us why exactly Rachel took them, because the main thing he wants us to realize is that now Laban has a very good reason to chase after Jacob.
But that is not all:  Moreover, Jacob deceived Laban the Aramean by not telling him he was running away.
In other words, Jacob has made Laban lose face. He has made Laban look bad.
So now Laban now has two reasons to chase after Jacob: to get his gods back, and to get his reputation back.
 So Jacob fled with all he had, crossed the Euphrates River, and headed for the hill country of Gilead.
Jacob has crossed the Euphrates River. He has officially left the lands of the east, and that is good! But he has not yet crossed the river on the other side, into the lands of his fathers. He is neither here nor there, he is between the worlds, and that can be a dangerous place to be!
So, we’ll have to come back next week to find out what happens.
But in the meantime, as we can see, Jacob has regained his freedom. And at the start of all this we were wondering what he would do with his freedom. We were wondering if he would just return to his old ways, or if he has actually learned something.
And so, looking back over this episode, we see that he was definitely wiser after he had finished his fourteen years in slavery: when his uncle asked him to continue on as an employee, Jacob refused.
And then, as Jacob went into business for himself, we saw that he was honest. Clever! — but honest.
And then, when it became obvious that it was time to go home, we saw that Jacob was much kinder to his wives: instead of ordering them to come with him, he worked hard to persuade them, to win them over.
In this, we see that he has grown beyond his own mother’s example. We remember how Rebekah used her authority to order her son to flee. Jacob could have done the same thing here with his wives — but he did not.
But the biggest change we see — the most foundational change — is in the nature of Jacob’s faith.
As a young man, Jacob’s faith was invested in himself, in his own ability to reach out and take what he wanted. But during his fourteen helpless years as a slave to his uncle, he learned that this ability is an illusion. All good things a man receives are a gift from God, nothing more, nothing less.
And this is why, in the end, we hear Jacob tell his wives that it was God who had build their family fortune. The young Jacob would have boasted about how it was his clever use of scientific principles that had increased the percentage of multi-coloured animals. But he knew — and we definitely know! — that his trick with the sticks actually had nothing to do with anything: God alone is the Lord and Giver of Life.
Okay. That is all very nice for Jacob, of course.
But what are we supposed to learn from this?
Well, as we noticed last week, Moses often structures his writing very carefully in order to deepen and strengthen concepts he is teaching. And the story of Jacob’s life is no different. Until now, every episode has been a further descent into the valley of the shadow of slavery and death. But last week we reached the turning point at the center of the story, when God remembered Rachel and she gave birth to a messiah for the family. And so, from this point on, every episode is going to be a step by step climb back up out of the valley into the sunlight on the other side.
And what we are going to notice is that each episode in Jacob’s life from this point on is actually a mirror image of the corresponding episode on the other side of the story. Every new problem that Jacob created as he stepped down into the valley will now be resolved step by step, in reverse order, as God leads Jacob back up out of the valley.
It is so cool!
Now, I realize that I am geeking out over this literary stuff, and you are all thinking, “Wow, how did this guy ever get a girlfriend?” But I promise you, this is relevant! Because this means that this episode here is the mirror image of last weeks’ episode: we are meant to realize that this episode is designed to resolve problems that showed up last week.
If you remember, last week’s episode was about a conflict between sisters: their efforts to win their husband’s love and affection. And as the story went on, it became clear that their conflict was actually with God: it was a story about their efforts to win their Heavenly Father’s love and affection. And in the end, they both discovered that they do not need to win their Father’s love — they already have it, no matter what happens.
But even more importantly, as the story went on it also became clear that their husband was actually a major part of their problem. If Jacob himself had understood that God’s love is a gift, then he would have been better able to give his love as a gift, instead of forcing his wives to compete with each other to earn it.
Well, this week’s episode fixes that problem.
Last week’s episode was about a conflict between women, and their efforts to win God’s love and blessing. This week’s episode is about a conflict between men, and their efforts to win God’s love and blessing. And by the end, we find that Jacob has learned that he does not need to win his Father’s love and blessing — he already has it, no matter what happens.
So now, at last, Jacob believes. God has finally shattered his heart of stone, and replaced it with a heart of repentance and faith. And from this point on, everything in his life, his family — and in the history of the world — begins to change.
And so, what we are learning is this: last week Moses showed us how women are central to God’s plan to redeem the world; this week he is showing us how men are foundational to that plan.
See, women were designed to produce life, but men were ultimately designed to protect it. Right from the very beginning, the Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it — literally, to guard it. To protect it. The woman’s job was to fill the earth with human life; the man’s job was to turn the earth into the kind of place that would support human life. And by working together like this, the man and the woman were going to fill the whole world with beauty and order and worship.
And this is why the bible holds the man alone responsible for our loss of the garden. Yes, the woman ate the fruit first. But she only did so because the man failed to do his job: he failed to protect the garden from the disorder of the serpent’s false teaching. And, as every woman knows, it is impossible to produce and maintain life without a safe space to raise it in.
And ever since that day, we men have lived with an intuitive awareness of our failure to protect those who are most precious to us. Just as the woman was designed with a profound biological drive to produce life, the man was designed with a profound biological drive to protect and support life. And the exercise of that drive was meant to be a central source of joy and fulfillment for him, a joy that the woman could not completely participate in.
That joy was critically damaged when our father Adam allowed death to enter the process — and yet the profound biological drive remains. And so men are born knowing that we want to work for and protect those we love, and we are born knowing that we will not ultimately succeed. But this frustration does not lead us to put down our tools and weapons and lift our hands to heaven for help. No: we simply use it as fuel to drive ourselves even harder.
And so, essentially, every generation of men from Adam until today have dedicated their lives to atoning for that ancient failure. We dig deeper into the earth we were called to cultivate; we build higher toward the heaven we were supposed to touch; and we do it all because nothing gives us more satisfaction than serving and defending those we love. We dig because we want to support life; we build because we want to protect —
But always, always, our work grows up to choke those we are trying to feed, and the safe places we build for protection turn into centers of oppression instead.
And so the bible teaches us that Eve’s main problem was not actually the serpent, it was the man God put there with her. Rachel and Leah’s main problem was not actually each other, it was the husband God gave them. Men are the main stumbling-block in the way of God’s plan to fill the world with eternal life, because no matter how much life women may produce men are always there to destroy it by their very efforts to preserve it! — and this is true both biologically and spiritually.
Which means that, if God is going to complete his plan to redeem the earth, he is going to have to redeem men first. If the eternal life that women are destined to produce can only truly flourish in a safe space, then God is going to have to teach men how to rebuild that safe space, how to work it properly, and how to protect it from all disorder and death.
And that is what is beginning to happen in Jacob’s life. God redeemed Jacob’s wives last week, so that they could begin to produce the nation that will one day produce the Messiah. This week he redeemed Jacob, so he could begin the task of working and protecting and making sure God’s nation survives past infancy.
And what do we see? What does a redeemed Jacob look like?
Is he any less aggressive? Is he any less driven to work hard and succeed?
No. He still works hard. The difference is this: he is no longer working for himself. When he was young he took on these wives for his own sake, to build his own future: they were a means to an end. But through those fourteen years of slavery, and through those seven intense years of conflict between the sisters, God taught Jacob that his wives were not producing children in order to serve Jacob’s ambitions, but to serve God’s — and that it was therefore Jacob’s job to serve that same plan by working the earth, protecting his family, and leading them back to safety in the Garden of Eden
Okay. So Moses is showing us that Jacob was an essential element of God’s plan, because he worked and protected the nation that produced the Messiah that is now saving people from every nation.
But how are we supposed to apply this to our lives?
Well, the main point Moses has been making through Jacob’s whole descent into slavery is that a man cannot repent of his selfish ambitions unless God tears him down and rebuilds him from the inside out. Now, that sounds scary! but that is actually Good News: God does this work in a man’s life; it is God who makes repentance possible. And God does this for every single one of his sons.
And the bible makes it clear that the only way for a man to receive the benefits of God’s discipline is by joining himself to Jesus Christ through baptism. A baptized man is a son of God; a son of God is disciplined by God the Father; and the Father’s discipline never fails to lead his sons to repentance.That is Good News!
But now, as Jacob begins his long climb back up into the light, Moses is going to be making a further point: when God does bring a man to repentance and turns him back to the values of the original garden of Eden, then God begins to fulfill that man at the very core of who he was designed to be: he works the earth and produces abundance without choking on it; he builds his house and his family grows up in peace without oppression from him or anyone else.
Now, that is a pretty bold promise. And many of you guys are looking at me and thinking, “Mmmmmm, yes, that sounds good. But I am baptized, and I do not feel like I am experiencing much of this fulfillment you are talking about!
“So, seriously now: how does coming to Jesus fulfill me as a man in any real sense?”
This is how Paul explains it in the New Testament: he says, “don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”
Brothers, the woman was designed with a profound connection to life: she was formed out of the living man with her hands reaching upward to the ultimate source of life. And so her deepest fulfillment comes when, through Christ, she produces the life God has designed her for. But the man was designed with a profound connection to death: Adam was formed out of the dead soil, with his hands reaching back downward into the earth in order to draw more life out of what is lifeless. And so our deepest fulfillment comes when, through Christ, we experience the privilege of spending our lives so that others might live.
Women are born knowing that the only way to fill the earth with life is to live and to produce more life. But men are born knowing that the only way to fill the earth with life is to die.
And we are both right.
And this is why our experience of Christ, as men and women, can sometimes be so different; and this is why the bible uses so many different rich images to describe our Saviour and our faith to us. For women, Christ is offered up as the eternal husband who produces life through them. For men, Christ is offered up as the eternal brother who goes ahead of us into the valley of the shadow of death. He knew that the path to life leads through death, and the bible tells us that, when it was time, he set his face to go. He fixed his eyes upon the joy that awaited him on the other side, and he went.
Brothers, what Paul is saying is that, in Christ, we are given the same Spirit, the same resolve, and the same joy. When we follow our brother into baptism, we follow him into death. We have been crucified with Christ, and we no longer actually live, but Christ lives in us. And just as our Father raised Jesus back up to life, so he is also raising us.
And it is only as we follow our brother back up out of the valley that we begin to see just how foolish and silly and self-centered our ambitions have been. As the first grey light of the new world begins to gather around us, we begin to see that all the things we thought we were doing for others were actually done for ourselves. We begin to realize that this burden of atonement for the sins of our fathers is not ours to carry. We have nothing to prove to anyone because we are the sons of God! — and if he approves of us, if he is for us, then who can stand against us?
And brothers, this is the knowledge that sets us free, that sets us on the path to fulfillment. It is only when a man realizes he has nothing to prove that he is finally able to lay down his tools, his weapons, his life. It is only when a man realizes he has nothing to prove that he is finally able to take up his tools, his weapons, his life, and use them safely.
What our brother, Jesus, shows us is that the path to life for a man leads through death; the path to strength for a man leads through servanthood. We all want to find our way past the frustration and the futility of life. Our broken intincts tell us that the path to fulfillment lies through power, but Christ shows us that it lies through service.
So, very practically speaking, guys, if we want to experience that fulfillment that our Father has promised us, we have to begin as Jacob did: as a servant, as a slave.
And if you are thinking, “Oh, I don’t know, man, I don’t think I can bring myself to do that…” — don’t worry! If you are a true son of God, our Father will make sure this will happen to you one way or another: you will end up in a career that is not as fulfilling as you thought it would be, you will end up in a marriage that is not as much fun as you thought it was going to be, you will end up in a church with people you don’t really want to be related to…our loving Father has about a billion different ways to tackle us and bring us down to where we have to decide — really — who are we going to serve: myself? or someone else?
The second step toward fulfillment is this: once we find ourselves in that position where we have to serve in ways we did not expect…serve. Settle in for the long haul. Do not spend your time plotting your escape, do not spend your time day-dreaming about freedom. Serve! It is through service that we learn to work the earth for another’s benefit, that we learn to fight for another person’s rights, that we learn to die to ourselves.
And if we do this for long enough? — then comes the harvest: our great Father sets us free to go into business for ourselves, because he knows now that we are not going into business for ourselves! — we are going into business for our family, which is Christ’s household. When we work, we work for the life of his Church; when we build, we build for the protection of his people. Whatever we do, whether in word or in deed, whether married or single, whether father or uncle or brother, we do all for the glory of God, we live for the glory of God, we lay our lives down for the glory of God.
And the really Good News for us about all this is that, in this most fulfilling of all tasks, we are guaranteed success. I’m going to close with the words of Isaiah here: “Brothers: if, in Christ, you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk,  and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.  The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.  Brothers: you will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.”
What a promise!