THE STORY OF JACOB
There was a man called Jacob who was the son of Isaac and the grandson of Abraham-a man of God who is also called the friend of God. The meaning of Jacob is impersonator, liar, thief. Jacob really was a very clever man and a deceiver and thief and swindler. He tricked his elder brother into selling his birthright to him for some food. And then he put on his brother’s clothes when his brother was gone hunting for his father’s favourite food, deceived his father by bringing food that his father liked and stole the blessing which his father wanted to give to the elder brother. Such was Jacob. Jacob got into trouble after he deceived his father and took the blessing meant for his elder brother, Esau. Esau said that he stole my birthright and now he has stolen my blessing. The time will come when my father passes away and I am going to kill my brother Jacob the same day. So, Jacob said good-bye to his parents (he did not know, he would not see his mother again) and ran away to his maternal grand-parents’ house in another country.
The Lord made it clear, He did not like Esau. Esau was a bad and unpleasant man. He was given to bitterness. He had married two women from the people living around his father’s house, although his father had, following his father Abraham’s directions, refused to settle down with the people around them and married Rebekah who stayed in the far country among Abraham’s relatives. And later, when Jacob ran away after grabbing his birthright and blessing, with instructions to settle down there, and he saw that his parents did not like the women he had married, the women who had made life difficult for them, he married two more. In fact, a prophecy had been spoken about him that the elder brother would serve the younger brother. But, instead of coming to a need, he had acted wickedly and made life difficult for his parents and the people around him. Even later, the nation of Esau (also called Edom because he liked red meat) are among the enemies of Israel (Jacob) and God has to destroy them because they were against the Jews who are God’s people.
Jacob, when he woke up from the dream, on his part promised the Lord, if you will do all this for me, then you shall be my God and I will give you a tenth share of all that I have. (This was a tradition that his grandfather, Abraham had set when he gave 10% of the spoils of war when the Lord gave him a victory in a very difficult situation where he went and fought and defeated a number of kings to rescue his nephew and others who had been kidnapped and defeated them). So Jacob went to the house of his maternal uncle, Laban.
A lot of things happened when Jacob went to his uncle, Laban’s house. I believe God let these things happen as Jacob was called to be a prince of God. He deceived his uncle telling him that I am Rebekah’s son. He did not mention the elder brother. The uncle welcomed him. Jacob was a very smooth talker, but he was willing to work hard when necessary and the uncle loved him. Jacob knew how to get along with people. So he did the right acts-helping his cousin at the well right at the time he arrived in the locality and doing other things and gained his uncle’s confidence. And the uncle went to the extent of giving him both his daughters in marriage.
Even there, Jacob loved the younger sister, Rachel but did not love the older sister, Leah.But the uncle also took advantage of him, because it was obvious to him that Jacob would be willing to pay any price for Rachel (the younger sister). He tricked him into marrying both the daughters and made him work hard for seven years for each of them. And, afterwards, fourteen years later, when he had about 10-12 children, Jacob told his uncle, “It is time I provided for my own house” and there also the uncle struck a hard bargain trying to pass on left-overs to him. But there was a plan in this also. God was with Jacob and He blessed him in everything he did. Also, Jacob was very clever and able and Jacob’s wealth increased well while his uncle’s wealth did not increase so much. Laban kept changing the contract they had made trying to get back his wealth, but did not succeed. His uncle started looking askance at him seeing how things went, that Jacob became richer and he did not have much and even Laban’s sons’ hated him. Jacob began to realise that his uncle is not happy with him and God was making it clear, it is time to leave.
So, he called his wives out to the field and explained what was happening to him. Leah and Rachel were also unhappy. They said, “Our father has sold us to you for fourteen years of hard labour to increase his own wealth and provide for our brothers and not even given us any share of the property. You have earned so much and given him, but he has given us nothing. He has kept us empty-handed and does not even pay you properly. They knew that their father had ill-treated his son-in-law and tried to keep all the income and property for himself and they also wanted to leave. So, without informing his uncle, Jacob ran away with his children and wives. The uncle pursued them, but God appeared to him in the same night and told him, “Don’t do anything to Jacob, otherwise I will punish you.” Laban understood that he had acted wickedly in trying to grab everything while his son-in-law was working day and night and he sent them in peace.
The story does not end here. Jacob knew what he had done to everyone. He knew he was a swindler and cheat and deceiver and he had continued like that even when he went to his uncle’s house. He also remembered Esau’s words when he ran away from Canaan (his parents residence). So, while going back home, he sent a message to Esau, his elder brother, that I am coming back home and I have got many flocks and herds. The news came back that Esau had started with two hundred men. Immediately, Jacob was afraid. “Now he is going to kill me, he has not forgotten all that happened” and he became very afraid. So he prayed to God in much need and prepared an elaborate gift for his brother and sent it all ahead in several groups led by his servants, then the two maids with the children they had borne him, then Leah and children and Rachel with her son, Joseph, in order to soften him.
That night, a man is fighting with Jacob. They go on fighting all night, but nobody wins. In the morning, the man is telling him, “Let me go, the day is breaking.” Jacob knows it is the Lord and he says, “I will not let you go till you bless me.” Then, the Lord touches the socket of Jacob’s thigh and he is limping, leaning on his staff. As we see later on, this breaking is essential. A vital change takes place and Jacob is broken and humbler. Jacob knows he is in need and also that he is in trouble. He has two wives and many sons and a daughter and his brother is coming with two hundred men and he knows, unless God intervenes, he may be killed today. So the Lord asks Jacob, “What is your name?” Jacob answers, “I am Jacob.” And the meaning of Jacob is: deceiver, supplanter, schemer, thief, impersonator. “Okay, from now your name will no longer be Jacob, it will be Israel, because you have prevailed with God – and with men!” and the Lord blesses him there, an able, strong man who is blessed of God. When Jacob met his elder brother, he honored him saying that I am your servant, bowing repeatedly to the ground in his presence, acknowledging that seeing him is like seeing the face of God.
And he had already sent a lot of gifts to him earlier. When Esau asks Jacob, why have you sent all these gifts, Jacob answers that God has blessed me with much and so I am giving to you also. Esau did not want the gifts, but Jacob gives him acknowledging his seniority and superiority and authority as the elder brother (whom he has wronged). The Lord saved Jacob from his brother Esau’s hand.
Many other things happened to Jacob, which are related in the the first book of the Bible: Genesis. He ends a broken man, a thigh broken during the fight and learns to worship God, leaning on his staff and praying, but a blessed man able to bless others.
Now let us go into this matter, what is this episode? How is it that a schemer, deceiver, impersonator, supplanter, thief, liar etc. is blessed? And his older brother gets nothing. One thing becomes clear here. A bad man who wants to change. He wants to leave his sinful way of life and become a good man, such a man is blessed by God. He will forgive the man his sins and bless him. We also see, how Jacob acknowledges his need and the Lord blesses. When we come to Jesus saying that we need forgiveness, we need help, we need salvation, we need a blessing, we need a good life, Jesus blesses us. Jesus gave His life for us on the cross, paying the penalty of death for our sins.
To know more about Jacob, I suggest you read the book, BEAUTY FOR ASHES by Zac Poonen. You can get a free download of the whole book along with other good articles, books, audio and video messages, all free from the website, www.cfcindia.com
A direct link for the book: http://www.cfcindia.com/ebooks/Beauty_For_Ashes.pdf
We all work hard to have a good living, even going to serious extents like Jacob to make ourselves comfortable and well to do. But, Jesus said that no one can serve two masters, you cannot serve God and Mammon (wealth). Either you will love the one and hate the other or hold to one and despise the other. I knew the Lord, but went after money to make myself comfortable. The Lord was kind to me and spoke to me in my heart not to make a mess of my life and I repented of going after money, sinning to get it and gave my life to the Lord again. I can sincerely say that I have seen that money is not everything and living for the Lord is lasting and satisfying to a much greater extent. Living under an open heaven is any day better. The Lord does provide for me, He is faithful and, as the Bible says:
Psalm 37:24-26New American Standard Bible (NASB)
24 When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong,
Because the Lord is the One who holds his hand.
25 I have been young and now I am old,
Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken
Or his descendants begging bread.
26 All day long he is gracious and lends,
And his descendants are a blessing.
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So I invite you to come to Christ and commit yourself to Him. Repent of your sins (that is turn away from that kind of life). Jesus gave His Life for us on the cross and took our place as we are all under the death penalty (eternal separation from God in a Lake of Fire which burns forever) and bore our punishment. The unblemished Lamb of God had to take our place. But, He rose again on the third day, never to die again and now lives forever and is our Advocate before the Father and our Saviour and Redeemer. Those who repent and believe in Jesus become the Children of God and live under an open heaven where the Lord hears our smallest, most silent prayer spoken in our heart. We also receive the Gift of the Holy Spirit who comes to be with us and in us – leading, teaching, guiding and giving us an assurance of God’s love fur us.
If you haven’t received Jesus into your life, you can do it now. Just kneel and pray this simple prayer:
“Lord Jesus I acknowledge that I am a sinner, I have sinned much and I need forgiveness and I want to change and live according to what you have shown to me. You have paid the penalty for my sins by shedding your blood for me on the cross. Please forgive my sins. Please come into my life, I accept you as my Saviour and Lord and Master and I will follow you in everything. Thank you Jesus for forgiving my sins. And now, please give me The Holy Spirit that He may come and be with me, guide me into a new life. Thank you Jesus. Amen”
The Lord Jesus will come into your life. You will become a child of God. The Bible says that as many as received Him, they became (had the right) to be the children of God. May the Lord bless you and we will be praying for you. Amen (it means, it shall be so).
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