Animal husbandry is noted early in the Bible (Gen. 4:20). The most well-known Old Testament characters were keepers of livestock. Abraham (Gen. 13:5), Jacob (Gen. 37:12), Moses (Ex. 3:1), and David (1 Sam. 16:11, 19; 17:!5, 20) were all involved in animal husbandry. One of the most peculiar accounts in the history of the Patriarchs involves the animal husbandry of Jacob (Gen. 30). From this event in Jacob’s life, we learn the importance of a spotted, speckled, and ring-streaked faith.
After many years in the service of his father-in-law Laban, and now with a family of his own, Jacob determined to return to his own country (Gen. 30:25, 26). Through Jacob’s industry and the Lord’s blessing, Laban had greatly increased (Gen. 30:27-30). Laban invited his son-in-law to name the price for his years of service. Jacob’s response highlighted the bountiful blessings that come from a deep faith in God.
Separating the spotted, speckled, and ring-streaked (odd-colored and less preferred) animals from the flock, Jacob would tend to and breed the solid-colored (preferred) animals of his father-in-law for a time. Jacob’s wages would be the odd-colored animals born from the solid color flock. Unable to breed the odd with the solid, Jacob depended upon God for his increase. In the end, Jacob’s flock was superior in number and strength. The record concludes:
“And the man increased exceedingly, and had much cattle, and maidservants, and menservants, and camels, and asses” (Gen. 30:43).
From this account of animal husbandry among the Patriarchs, we learn many important lessons from Jacob’s faith in God. Let’s note three characteristics of a spotted, speckled, and ring-streaked faith?
A spotted, speckled, ring-streaked faith trusts in God. Knowing from past experiences he could not trust Laban (cf. Gen. 29:15-25), Jacob put his trust in God for his wages. “Thou shalt not give me any thing” was Jacob’s reply to Laban’s offer (Gen. 30:31). God had promised Jacob, “I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest” (Gen. 28:15). God had blessed Jacob with a great family (Gen. 29:32–30:24). The blessing of God upon the work of Jacob was evident even to Laban (Gen. 30:27). It was God in whom Jacob would trust for the reward of his labor.
A spotted, speckled, ring-streaked faith walks uprightly before God and man. “So shall my righteousness answer for me in time to come, when it shall come for my hire before thy face: every one that is not speck-led and spotted among the goats, and brown among the sheep, that shall be counted stolen with me” (Gen. 30:33). Jacob had always conducted himself righteously (uprightly or honestly) with Laban. When Laban deceived Jacob in the matter of his daughters (Gen. 29:21-25), Jacob maintained his integrity and fulfilled his word. When Laban deceived Jacob and changed his “wages ten times” (Gen. 31:7) for personal gain, Jacob walked uprightly maintaining a good and honest work ethic (Gen. 31:6). Walking uprightly, Jacob maintained his integrity in the eyes of man and fellowship with God (Ps 15:1, 2).
A spotted, speckled, ring-streaked faith is blessed by God. “And the man increased exceedingly, and had much cattle, and maidservants, and menservants, and camels, and asses” (Gen. 30:43). Jacob’s faith in God was rewarded with great abundance. Laban readily acknowledged that blessings of God were showered upon Jacob (Gen. 30:27). Rachel and Leah counted the increase of Jacob’s riches was taken from their father by God and given to Jacob (Gen. 31:16). But Jacob’s blessings from God were more than earthly possessions and riches; protection from enemies (Gen. 31:7) and faithfulness to his promise of restoration (Gen. 31:13) were also blessings of Jacob’s faith.
Jacob had a faith that both trusted in God and worked diligently (Gen. 30:37-43). Jacob used his knowledge and skill of animal husbandry to the best of his abilities and trusted God for the rest. Such faith is always rewarded by God.