Biblical Lesson From The Story Of Jacob
BIBLE TEXT: GENESIS 25:19-34, 27:
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Jacob was the son of Isaac and Rebecca; and the twin brother of Esau. Going through our Bible text, we can see that from the beginning, Jacob has always wanted to take the place of Esau, his brother. Scripture testifies that the two twins, born of Rebekah, represent two opposing nations (Genesis 25:23). Jacob’s descendants became the Israelites while Esau’s descendants became the Edomites.
The meaning of his name is supplanter or wrong doer or one who grabs the heels. He has a track record of deceiving people to get what he wants. Twice he deceived his brother Esau. First, he cunningly collected Esau’s birthright in exchange for a plate of porridge. Second, through the help of Rebecca their mother deceived Isaac to collect Esau’s birthright blessings.
In Genesis chapter 29, he also met a master deceiver, in the person of Laban, his uncle. Laban deceived him for twenty (20) years, Jacob served him for fourteen years for his two daughters and six years for his flock. In this twenty years period, Jacob was deceived by his wages ten times.
All the life of Jacob had been a life of personal struggle, but one night he had an encounter with God that changed his name from Jacob to Israel. His life was transformed from a deceiver to a believer.
Jacob was an imperfect man, even right from birth. However, God can use our imperfections, our strengths, our weaknesses, our experiences, and even our past to fulfil His purpose for our lives.
But most times, we want God to use our strengths and victories, while we resent our weaknesses, pains and failures. Interestingly, God wants to use it all. We just have to accept how God created us and who He is shaping us to become, just like Jacob did.
As God’s children, are there times we question God “why” as He is shaping us, or do we approach Him with “awe and wonder”, knowing fully well that He has a great plan for us? We can be assured that there would be some times in the life of Jacob when he did not understand God’s way of shaping him to become who he was meant to be.
Just like God is shaping us, the world also wants to add to the design. This is why it is important for us to know when we are being shaped by God or by the world.
LESSONS TO LEARN FROM THE STORY OF JACOB
Are there lessons to learn from the life of this great deceiver and cheat? Obviously the answer is yes; because his name was mentioned among the great heroes of faith in Hebrews 11.
So, here some lessons from his life:
- Favouritism: Jacob came from a family of parental favouritism. The scripture says Isaac loved Esau, while Rebecca loved Jacob. The parents stoke the fires of rivalry between the two boys by placing one child over the other. Just as we might wonder what it may have looked like if Jacob and Esau had worked together, we might also ponder what their relationship might have been if Isaac and Rebekah had loved their children equally. Jacob also embodies this favoritism toward his own children. Jacob loved his wife Rachel more than Leah, and thus favored Rachel’s children over Leah’s. Jacob’s ultimate expression of favoritism was toward Joseph displaying this physically in the gifting of a multi-colored coat. Joseph became hated by his brothers, who eventually, sold him into slavery.
- Law of cause and effect: Galatians 6:7 tells us, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” This is applicable to everyone and Jacob is no exception. We have seen in the life of Jacob how this law operates. Jacob has planted the bad seed that will later yield a bitter and unpleasant crop. As cunning as Jacob was, he met his match in the person of Laban, his mother’s brother. For about 20 years, Laban has outwitted Jacob and turned him into a servant. Just like Jacob who used deceit to take advantage of his father Isaac and Esau, Laban also used craftiness and trickery to take advantage of Jacob. In addition to this, Jacob was also deceived by his own children when they faked the death of their brother, Joseph.
Christians are also subject to the law of cause and effect. Every action you take, be it good or bad, will eventually yield an effect. The effect would greatly depend on the actions you take. However, we must also realize that the consequences of our bad decisions would potentially remain in our lives even after we have remorsefully repented and regretted our actions.
We must persevere until the very end: Jacob is popularly known as the man who wrestled with God. The Bible said that a “Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day” (Genesis 32:24). Jacob refused to give up, he persevered until the very end and he received his blessing.
Jesus Christ who was the man that wrestled with Jacob could have easily won the match. However, the point of the whole wrestling match is not about who will win or not, but to test the faith of Jacob. At this point in time, Jacob now knows that it is only God who will be able to give him genuine blessings. As God’s children, we must also persevere till the end if we must receive our blessings from God and reign with Him on the last day.
- God has a plan for each of us: In Genesis 28:10-22, God confirmed the Abrahamic covenant to Jacob. The plan of God for Jacob spans through many generations, and is being fulfilled today through the modern-day descendants; of which Israel is an example. Irrespective of who you are, God has a plan for you. This plan has been laid out even before the world was created. God created us in His own image because He is reproducing Himself. You are not an accident or afterthought. God has a plan for you. However, you must key into this plan by believing in Him and having faith that He will fulfill His plan for your life.