By birth order, Jacob is no starter. The one born first would have a double portion in the inheritance and that is Esau his twin brother. Of the two, Jacob is the younger. His name does not do him any favors either. Having been seen to be holding on to his brothers heel at birth, they called him Jacob, meaning supplanter, or trip up from below.
The boys are growing and now while Esau is busy with the more masculine acts such as hunting and loving the outdoors Jacob is staying home and cooking stews. Esau has his life cut out, Dad is pleased with him. One day he comes home hungry. Jacob sells him a bowl of soup for a birth right. Who needs a birth right when you can make a living and are good at it? Maybe Esau wasn’t as stupid as some have made him up to be.
Years have gone by, Esau has testosterone. He’s gotten himself a good looking girl, but as you will well agree, girls love a man of action – another girl couldn’t resist this hairy guy. Esau has two wives and Jacob is still in Mom’s kitchen. No sign of wedding bells, not even remotely.
Then the twilight comes for Isaac. He is counting days before his exit from the life scene. His eyes are dim – not much to look forward to but his taste buds wish for a memorable venison treat and he wants to hand over the baton. Esau is the obvious choice. He is called in by his father and the instruction pretty simple, one that befits an ardent and skillful hunter.
Then he said, “Behold now, I am old. I do not know the day of my death. Now therefore, please take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me. And make me savory food, such as I love, and bring it to me that I may eat, that my soul may bless you before I die.”
Look at Jacob. Mom overhead the Father and son conversation and now she’s going to get Jacob bringing in the meat first from the domestic animals. Jacob will have the meat cooked by his Mom. He will be dressed up for the occasion by his Mom
Then Rebekah took the choice CLOTHES of her elder son Esau, which were with her in the house, and PUT THEM ON JACOB her younger son. And she put the skins of the kids of the goats on his hands and on the smooth part of his neck.
Talk of a mamas boy. I can’t stop imagining him looking like a rehearsal for kindergarten end of year play character.
And even after all this costuming, the guy couldn’t even fake his brother’s voice.
Isaac said to Jacob, “Please come near, that I may feel you, my son, whether you are really my son Esau or not.” So Jacob went near to Isaac his father, and he felt him and said, “The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau.”
Talk of a looser. Mom has orchestrated the whole thing and now the blessing has fallen on Jacob. Esau is angry and the only way to save him lif is by sending him away to a distant land where he can be kept by relatives. The guy can’t even make up a living on his own.
Arriving in Padan Jacob was under instructions to get a wife. Now when Mom has to send you to get a wife…… We call you a looser, ha ha ha. A real guy initiates his own search when the “feeling” hits.
The first girl he meets happens to be a relative, Rachel. And if first impressions count, I don’t think Jacob managed the date very well. It was tears at first sight.
Then Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice and wept.
Who wants to marry a teary groom?
Jacob gets into the employ of his uncle as a shepherd and a month later he has a golden opportunity to discuss the contents of his employment contract, remuneration and benefits. The lad is naive! Love has finally set in and all he asks for is a wife in exchange of seven solid years of labor under the hostile dessert-like conditions of the Middle East.
Genesis 29:15, 18
Then Laban said to Jacob, “Because you are my relative, should you therefore serve me for nothing? Tell me, what should your wages be?”
Now Jacob loved Rachel; so he said, “I will serve you seven years for Rachel your younger daughter.”
No, salary, no benefits, how was he going to sustain and support the family – all of that was not known to Jacob. Talk of a looser.
Seven long years have past and Jacob hands in a reminder to his boss to deliver the seven year long dream
Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife, for my days are fulfilled, that I may go in to her.”
A party was organized, and a wife delivered that night. In that first night of passion Jacob did not notice anything of concern. To his shock and disbelief when he woke up from the most awaited day of his life up to this point, he was lying next to a wrong wife, Leah.
Now it came to pass in the evening, that Laban took Leah his daughter and brought her to Jacob; and Jacob went in to her.
……. I suspect someone must have spiked Jacob’s drink at the party. You know they say when guys are tipsy anything goes as ‘ hello my darling’
And Laban gathered together all the men of the place and made a feast.
When Jacob tried to sheepishly protest, he was hit by a new contract, seven more years for the bride of his choice. With no one to defend him, I’m sure this was one of the lowest points in Jacob’s life! He was going to live with Rachel for the next seven years on credit.
Fulfill her week, and we will give you this one also for the service which you will serve with me still another seven years.”
So altogether Jacob works fourteen years to get the woman of his choice, and the complications that ensued as these women in his life competed for his attention and using some low blows to get at each other, such as giving their slaves to Jacob for him to make babies through them. Where is that purity and honor he once personified by working for seven years without touching a woman when he now gets to be tossed to the highest bidder even bought for mandrakes.
Now Reuben went in the days of wheat harvest and found mandrakes in the field, and brought them to his mother Leah. Then Rachel said to Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.”
But she said to her, “Is it a small matter that you have taken away my husband? Would you take away my son’s mandrakes also?”
And Rachel said, “Therefore he will lie with you tonight for your son’s mandrakes.”
When Jacob came out of the field in the evening, Leah went out to meet him and said, “You must come in to me, for I HAVE SURELY HIRED YOU WITH MY SON’S MANDRAKES.” And he lay with her that night.
I’m sure Esau on the other side never had to work so hard to get a wife and never with so many complications.
What took Isaac, Jacobs father one day to get, a wife and settlement in the home – it took twenty years for Jacob!
BUT JACOB IS COUNTED AMONG WINNERS
1. ALTHOUGH THE BIRTHRIGHT WAS BOUGHT FOR A BOWL OF SOUP FROM ESAU – IT WAS SUSTAINED.
No matter how insignificant spiritual matters maybe to the tough and seemingly progressive – fight to be well positioned. Be prayed up. Prioritize church attendance. Honor GOD with your first things – it’s the stuff that makes winners
Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God. And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.”
2. ALTHOUGH HIS PILLOW ON THAT FIRST NIGHT OUT OF HOME WAS A STONE – JACOB HAD ANGELIC COMPANY
So Jacob came to a certain place and stayed there all night, because the sun had set. And he took one of the stones of that place and put it at his head, and he lay down in that place to sleep. Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.
And behold, the Lord stood above it and said: “I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants.
Beyond the inconveniences and complications of daily existence, GOD’S Presence and Prophetic assurances are what sets a man apart.
3. THOUGH A LATE STARTER HE CONTRIBUTED IMMENSELY TO THE PROMISE
When we count people who have been instrumental in the coming of the Messiah, Jacob is never left out
It was through his son Joseph that the family posterity was spared in the time of a severe global recession.
It was through his son Levi that a descendant called Moses would bring the Law that would touch the whole world.
It was through his son Judah that the Messiah would come.
When our work on earth is done, the only things that will count are our contributions to the eternal purposes of GOD such as the Salvation of souls and building of strong churches to support and sustain the great commission.
GOD loves people, He paid the ultimate price for their redemption. And since the process of bringing them into the fold includes efforts of those who willingly yield themselves to the call and commission, we would do better to prioritize those!
No mater how slow, or late your life may seem, take stork of the acts and moments that translate to eternal significance and take solace in knowing they are never in vain
1 Corinthians 15:58
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
4. ALTHOUGH HIS NAME WAS UNFORTUNATE – A CHANGE HAPPENED ALONG THE WAY
Jacob did not choose his name, but it followed him. It defined him. It became his character. A supplanter, a deceiver. But GOD who is rich in Mercy Blessed Him with a moment of eternal significance – the night he wrestled with a figure who was undoubtedly stronger and Jacob knew it.
If only by a touch he could change Jacob’s “walk” forever, surely this was a supernatural encounter
Jacob saw it! He asked for the thing he knew had brought him through thick and thin, the Blessing. This figure did not refuse him, only this time the price of the Blessing would include a question asked Twenty years earlier ….. What is your name? His answer ushered in redeeming love
So He said to him, “What is your name?”
He said, “Jacob.”
And He said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.”
When asked the same question twenty years earlier he answered Esau. And seemingly got away with it. twenty years on he is living in fear, not knowing what will happen when he meets the man he swindled out of the Blessing.
But GOD who is rich in Mercy, changed his name and Blessed him forever
Blessing is essential But beyond Blessing we need our lives changed. Jacob did. He was a picture of things to come through Christ.
The Blessing of the LORD that makes rich and adds no sorrow should be the desire of every living human being. Yet beyond that and of even incomparable importance is a changed life. Look at how the LORD JESUS describes it
For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?
Jacob was changed from Jacob to Israel. A Prince with GOD.
Prince is first! May you be first in GOD as you put HIM first in your life!
5. ALTHOUGH JACOB HAD LIFE THREATENING MOMENTS
ENCOUNTERS WITH GOD WERE TIMELY AND REASSURING.
5.1. When Laban heard that Jacob had unceremoniously left without – he had in mind to harm Jacob – GOD came through for Jacob and muzzled Laban with a strong warning:
And Laban was told on the third day that Jacob had fled. Then he took his brethren with him and pursued him for seven days’ journey, and he overtook him in the mountains of Gilead. But GOD HAD COME TO LABAN the Syrian in a dream by night, and said to him, “BE CAREFUL that you speak to Jacob neither good nor bad.”
5.2. When the negotiations for a salary finally reopened after many years- an angel showed Jacob a strategy to succeed quickly
And Laban said to him, “Please stay, if I have found favor in your eyes, for I have learned by experience that the Lord has blessed me for your sake.” Then he said, “NAME ME YOUR WAGES, AND I WILL GIVE IT.”
For what you had before I came was little, and it has increased to a great amount; the Lord has blessed you since my coming. And NOW, WHEN SHALL I ALSO PROVIDE FOR MY OWN HOUSE?”
Let me pass through all your flock today, removing from there all the speckled and spotted sheep, and all the brown ones among the lambs, and the spotted and speckled among the goats; and these shall be my wages. So my righteousness will answer for me in time to come, when the subject of my wages comes before you: every one that is not speckled and spotted among the goats, and brown among the lambs, will be considered stolen, if it is with me.”
5.3. When he was about to meet his twenty year old fear – Esau GOD appeared and gave him a new name
So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: “For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.”
5.4. When he first ran away from home angels met him ascending and descending and an assurance was given by GOD that he would come back safely
Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.”