Birth… Genesis 25:21-26a
Isaac & Rebekah were expecting their first child… a difficult pregnancy… TWINS! This was before sonograms – a complete surprise!
Esau was born first, then Jacob… as different as night and day… Gen. 25:28.
Esau was a man’s man; the outdoor type, an extrovert, his father’s favorite. Jacob was a mama’s boy; clever, spoiled, his mother’s favorite.
Birthright… Genesis 25:29-34
God had already said the older would serve the younger (Gen. 25:23). This wasn’t the norm; the eldest usually received the birthright, the authority under the father, a double-portion of the inheritance.
Blessing… Genesis 27:1-4
Isaac was going to pass his blessing on to his oldest son, Esau. But, Jacob and his mother plotted to make sure Jacob got that blessing; Genesis 27:5,15-29.
Isaac, nearly blind and nearly senile, was tricked. And, when Esau found out, he was furious! He promised to kill Jacob as soon as their father, Isaac, was dead.
Gen. 27:41; Jacob ran for his life… for what he thought would just be a few days, but would end up being more than 20yrs.
Gen. 27:43,44; Jacob’s mother, Rebekah, would die… and he would never see her again.
Dream… Genesis 28:12-15
His first night on the run, Jacob had a dream. He saw a ladder… and angels going up and down the ladder, to and from Heaven.
Jacob thought when he ran away from Isaac & Esau and that whole ugly situation, it meant he was running away from God, too. It didn’t.
Jacob was frustrated with God; God hadn’t done things the way he thought God should. The birthright didn’t bring him instant success… or even satisfaction. Jacob was far from God spiritually. But, God was letting Jacob know that, even though Jacob was a schemer and a conniver and a trickster, trying to run from God… God wasn’t finished with him yet.
This experience made an impression on Jacob, but he couldn’t help but try to bargain with God; Gen. 28:20,21. He was bargaining for something God had already promised him… but Jacob felt better when he felt he was on control. It would only cause him more misery.
Jacob went to Haran, where his mother sent him… to Uncle Laban. The trickster Jacob met the trickster Laban. Laban quickly noticed God’s blessing on Jacob, and kept Jacob close to get the spill-over blessing.
Jacob met, and fell in love with, his cousin Rachel… love at first sight; Gen. 29:11. Uncle Laban saw his leverage in his daughter, Rachel. He struck a deal with Jacob; Jacob would work for Laban for 7yrs for the hand of his daughter; Gen. 29:20.
At the end of those 7yrs, was the wedding… at night; Gen. 29:23. His bride had a veil on… and, when Jacob woke up the next morning, he discovered he’d actually married Rachel’s older sister, Leah; Gen. 29:25!
Laban explained it was customary for the older daughter to be married before younger daughters, but, he struck another deal with Jacob the dealer… he could have Rachel, too, right now – 2 wives at once – if he would agree wot work for Laban for another 7yrs.
So, 7yrs for Rachel; 7yrs for Rachel; 6yrs to get the sheep back that belonged to him… 20yrs. What started out as a visit intended to be a few days of refuge, turned out to be a 20yr stay… all because Jacob was trying to manipulate his way to getting what God had already promised him!
It was time for Jacob to go back home. He left with his wives, the many children born to him in that 20yrs, his huge flocks of sheep and many possessions. He was tired of being tricked… and of being a trickster. But, God wasn’t finished with Jacob yet. His spirit was not tamed yet. He still thought of himself as self-sufficient… and was arrogant.
When Jacob got closer to home, he sent his servant on ahead… to let Esau know he was coming; Gen. 32:3-5… “my lord Esau”, “your servant Jacob”. The last time he’d seen Esau, Esau had threatened to kill him.
The messengers returned to Jacob with some bad news; Gen. 32:6.
Jacob was sure Esau was coming for revenge; Gen. 32:7. He was conceding half of all he had; when Esau attacked one, the other might be able to escape.
Gen. 32:9,10; this was Jacob’s turning point! Sometimes we have to be brought to the end of our rope before we finally look to God. For the first time, Jacob acknowledged himself as a sinner… that he needed help beyond himself.
Jacob sent his family away, so he could meet his brother, Esau, first. Maybe Esau would just kill Jacob… and spare his family.
DeathMatch… Genesis 32:24-30
God had to cripple Jacob… physically and spiritually… to get him to the place he could use him.
“Jacob” = ‘heel-grabber, trickster, conniver, deceiver’
“Israel” = ‘ruling under God’
The struggled was over. From here on out, Jacob would learn to depend on God.
His reunion with Esau… Gen. 33:1-5.
His 12 sons would become the leaders of the 12 tribes of Israel. And, still today, Jews refer to God as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Jacob’s relationship with God was mostly a struggle.
If we were to look at Jacob’s life in 3 phases, which phase would find yourself in?
– “Early Jacob”
Trying to get your own way… trusting in your own ability… living by your own wits and common sense… and struggling.
If you’re “early Jacob”, you don’t think you need God except in emergency situations! And life can be miserable when you try to leave God out.
– “Living-with-Laban Jacob”
Is God having to allow you to go through trials and testing in order to get you in shape? he’s in charge… but He’ll allow you to go through the “School of Hard Knocks” to learn that.
If you’re “living-with-Laban Jacob”, life is tough… because God is constantly having to prune away the dead wood. He’s chipping away the excess stone.
– “Wrestling-with-God Jacob”
Are you fighting with God about something in your life? He can wrestle with you a lot longer than you can wrestle with Him!
God wants you… regardless of the stage of life you’re in… to say as Jacob said, “My will is stubborn, and I don’t want to let go. But, I surrender, God. Do in me what needs to be done in order that You can bless me.”
Jacob walked with a limp for the rest of his life as a reminder of his dependence on God. What might it take to get your attention?
You can read Jacob’s story in Genesis 25-33.