We have talked about Abraham and Isaac and now we need to take a look at Jacob. Jacob was one of Isaac’s sons, he was a twin, his twin brother was Esau. And while Esau was the older of the two, he was not the one God had chosen to carry on the promise that He had given Abraham about multiplying his offspring and making them numerous as the stars. Which would cause quite a struggle between the two brothers that seemingly started in the womb. Scripture tells us that Jacob was born grasping Esau’s heel. I read that there is a significance to this in that day in that the idea of a “heel-catcher” gave the notion of trickster or a con-man.
Esau was the older of the two, however even when Rebekah felt the struggle going on in her womb and she asked God about it He let her know that the older would serve the younger. This goes against Jewish tradition however, it speaks volumes of God’s sovereignty.
This story of Jacob and Esau and Isaac and Rebekah has some tragic twists and turns though. First as the boys grew there continued to be a struggle between them. Esau was the hunter type and was favored by Isaac and Jacob was the milder of the two and was favored by Rebekah. However, in this case milder is not considered weak. One of the first significant things that happens in this story as the boys grew was the day Esau gave away his birthright for some stew. Jacob was cooking a stew as Esau came in from hunting and was hungry. Jacob instantly sees Esau’s hunger as an opportunity and when Esau asks for food Jacob says sell me your birthright and I’ll give you the food. Now before we go judging Jacob for asking we also realize that Esau didn’t have to give it away at this point. Esau was all about instant gratification with no thought as to what the consequences would be so yes he sold it. Jacob was a schemer but Esau did not put the value on his birthright.
In later years as Isaac was getting older and more feeble, the time came for him to give a blessing to his son. So Isaac calls for Esau and asks him to hunt for him and prepare him a meal so that he can bless him. Rebekah, still favoring Jacob and wanting the blessing for Jacob instead of Esau calls on Jacob to deceive Isaac and to get the blessing from him. Rebekah helps her son as she has Jacob go get two goats and she would make food for Isaac that he could take in to his father to deceive him into giving him the blessing. But it doesn’t stop with just the making of the food. She also puts the hair from the skin of the goats on Jacob’s hands and his neck so that when Isaac reaches out and touches Jacob he will think he is touching Esau who is a hairier man than Jacob. Because Isaac’s eyesight is failing him their plan works and Jacob receives the blessing that would have been reserved for the firstborn, Esau as well as his birthright.
When Esau discovers this deception he vows to kill Jacob. Rebekah who was instrumental in this whole plan realizes that the only way to save her son is to send him away so she asks Isaac to send him away so that he can find a wife from their relatives rather than from the surrounding Canaanite women. One tragedy here is that Rebekah may have saved her son’s life by sending him away but she would never see him again.
After Jacob leaves his family he finally has an encounter with God. Jacob came to a place to camp all night and he takes a stone and places it where it could serve as a pillow for him and lays his head down to sleep. Jacob then has a dream. In this dream there is a ladder reaching from heaven to earth and there are angels climbing up and down this ladder. And at the top of the ladder was the Lord and he gives Jacob a promise.
“At the top of the stairway stood the Lord, and he said, ‘I am the Lord, the God of your grandfather Abraham and the God of your father, Isaac. The ground you are lying on belongs to you. I am giving it to you and your descendants. Your descendants will be as numerous as the dust of the earth! They will spread out in all directions – to the west and east, to the north and the south. And all the families of the earth will be blessed through you and your descendants. What’s more I am with you, and I will protect you wherever you go. One day I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have finished giving you everything I have promised you.’” Genesis 28:13-15
Jacob woke up from his sleep and he knew that this was even more than a dream.
“Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, ‘Surely the Lord is in this place, and I wasn’t even aware of it!’” Genesis 28:16
God’s promises are sovereign. God’s promise that he had made to Abraham, and to Isaac would be carried on through Jacob. Can we go ahead and say that Jacob had done nothing to deserve to be a part of the promise as he had deceived and tricked his brother and his father. Can we recognize that even though God had ordained for the promise to be carried on through Jacob, the family may have gone about it all the wrong way? Yet and still God kept His promise to Abraham and Isaac and He appeared to Jacob to reiterate the promise to Him. I know there have been times in my life where God has blessed me in spite of myself. It wasn’t something I deserved. I am so grateful for the times that God has shown me His kindness and blessing even when I didn’t consult with Him about the way I should go.