After Bethel, Jacob resumes his journey to find a bride. He travels to the east, a land associated with man’s fall, Cain, and Babel. Abraham left the east by faith. Spiritually, it is the land away from the Son (Gen. 25:1-6).
When Jacob arrives in Haran, shepherds are gathering sheep near a well covered by a stone. Jacob tells the shepherds to water the sheep and send them to graze. But the shepherds say, “We can’t until all the flocks have been gathered and the stone is rolled from the well’s opening. Then we will water the sheep” (Gen. 29:8). Soon after, Rachel approaches with the last flock. Jacob rolls the stone away, and water flows to all the sheep.
This story gives a particular view of Christ’s burial and resurrection. God made His covenant with Jacob. Jacob shows us the covenant Son, Jesus. Jesus rolled the stone from His tomb just as Jacob rolled the stone from the well. The living water of resurrection issued from Christ’s tomb as from the well.
Genesis 29 provides a unique focus on the oneness of Christ’s work. The stone could not be rolled away, and the sheep could not be watered until they were all gathered. Similarly, all who were dead in, and yet to be born dead, in Adam, were gathered into the tomb of Christ. All were raised in Christ: “Having been buried with Him in baptism, you were also raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead” (Col. 2:12). We died with Him, we raised with Him–one New Man (Eph. 2:15).
Experientially, we come to the work of Christ by faith at different times. But it is not to separate works we come. We come to the one work of Christ. We do not live or die to ourselves (Rom. 14:7-9). There are not deaths and resurrections. There is His death and resurrection.
The fact that Rachel (Jacob’s future bride) brings the last flock adds another aspect: the bride of Christ. As we stray sheep turn from our ways and are gathered into Christ’s tomb and resurrection, we become one bride, engaged to one Husband (2 Cor. 11:2). Jacob found this bride in the east—the land of the fall. It is from the fallen world that Jesus gathers His bride as well. Crowds of individual sheep are folded into one bride; the one bride becomes one flesh with her Husband, the one New Man.
This gathering into One happened from all times (even times yet to come) and places. The old testament saints were not raised on their own before the cross, just as the first sheep were not watered before the other sheep were gathered. All saints–past, present, and future–received living water from the tomb of Christ when He was raised. “All these were approved through their faith, but they did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, so that they would not be made perfect without us” (Heb. 11:39-40). That “something better” was Christ–one death, one tomb, one resurrection for all people of all ages.
There is something of God’s nature reflected in this. God is one. Monotheism is, perhaps, less about substance than character. God is no respecter of persons. He doesn’t prefer one over another. To say “God is one” is the same as saying “God is love.” That is why the famous declaration, “Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One” is followed by, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength” (Deut. 6:4-5). God is one, God is love. He is pure relationship. Love Him, not because you have to, but because that’s who He is and how you can relate to Him. God is one, God is love, so love Him and be one with Him.