Sunday, May 18, 2014

Sunday thoughts: Jacob

The text for the sermon at our church this morning was taken from the story of Jacob.  To me, the story of Jacob is interesting from the very beginning.  Isaac entreated God on behalf of Rebekah because she was barren.  Then when the twin boys were conceived and struggled within her womb, Rebekah, herself, inquired of the Lord what was going on.  I like reading that Rebekah inquired directly and God answered her directly!

Genesis 25:23
And the Lord said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.

Rebekah knew before they were born that the elder would serve the younger.  This is alluded to in Romans 9.  Jacob was chosen before he had done good or evil. This shows that God chooses us; we cannot earn God's favor by works.  I wonder if Isaac had knowledge of God's word to Rebekah.  Did he know that God had chosen Jacob and still try to pronounce the blessing over Esau that his brother would serve him, or was Isaac unaware of God's decree?  (The scripture doesn't say.)  In any case, Jacob lived up to the meaning of his name and supplanted Esau.  According to Strong's Jacob means "heal holder" or "supplanter."  (I'm not sure "deceiver" is a fair rendering of "supplanter," though supplanting is sometimes achieved through deceit as it was in the case of the blessing.)

Genesis 27:36

And he said, Is not he rightly named Jacob? for he hath supplanted me these two times: he took away my birthright; and, behold, now he hath taken away my blessing. And he said, Hast thou not reserved a blessing for me?
A word here about the birthright and the blessing--Esau had nothing to do with losing out on the blessing Isaac pronounced over his sons, but he was complicit in the earlier incident of giving up his birthright.  In fact, the writer of Hebrews uses this example of giving up a birthright for bread and lentils as the way a profane or sexually immoral person gives up what is eternal for something temporal.
Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.

In the incident where Jacob wrestles with the angel, Jacob is given the name Israel.  In one commentary I read, which I cannot find now, the implication is that Jacob will no longer be called only Jacob (since scripture continues to use both Jacob and Israel), but is also given the name Israel.
The incident of Jacob's wrestling has always been a bit of a puzzle to me, to be frank, and the explanations of it have not seemed quite to do the strangeness of it justice. 
I do remember singing the song which has the lines, "As Jacob in the days of old, I wrestled with the Lord, and, instant, with a courage bold, I stood upon His word.  I would not be denied..."  Again, that description of "wrestling with the Lord" doesn't seem to me to do justice to the promises we have under the new covenant (though I very much like the resolve to stand on His word).
Just mulling some things over.

What are your thoughts on Jacob?




  1. Hi, I just fugured out how to get his on my dash board.
    On the entry. I have always sympathized with Esau, I realize the scripture it right and true, but early as a boy, I liked Esau, and thought mama and Jacob were sorta crooked. LOL It ain't no fun when you cannot follow your instincts. LOL

    But in reality I know jacob was the good guy, just did not like the way they went about it. (smile)

    1. Yeah, I guess we are left to wonder what might have happened had Rebekah and Jacob not taken matters into their own hands, especially in light of the fact that God had already determined the elder would serve the younger and Isaac was getting ready to say the opposite.

      Also, it seems interesting that the blessing was so "set in stone"--once Isaac spoke it, there was no way to retract it.

  2. Came over from Jack's blog :) It is a fascinating story of Isaac and Rebekkah, Jacob and Rachel. I find it interesting both couples were barren (of course Jacob wasn't with Leah and the concubines :)

    I think Jacob got a taste of deceit in what later went on with Labran deceiving him, and he in turn getting the "best" animals in his method of breeding/mating.

    I'm not sure I would easily give my birthright away because I was hungry.

    It is an interesting story, like I said, and each time I read it I think I learn something new I hadn't learned before.

    good luck with your blog!


    1. Hi Betty, thanks for dropping in.
      You bring up another interesting element of Jacob's story, and that is his livestock breeding program. I've always been curious as to how those pilled rods worked to make the cattle produce ringstraked and speckled cattle.