If there was ever a shady character in the Bible that God redeemed in a big way it was Jacob. The guys name literally means "deceiver" if that tells you anything. Today, we will take a look at this man who started out as a cheater and ended as the father of a nation.
Abraham, who we looked at last week, had a son named Isaac, who had two sons named Esau and Jacob with his beautiful wife Rebekah. The two sons were twin brothers born seconds apart, which is where it all started.
Jacob came out of his mother's womb clasping at the heel of his older brother Esau. From that point on, Jacob was not content to be who God had birthed him to be. He wanted the birthright and blessing that belonged to the firstborn, his older brother. In Genesis 25 Esau comes home from a long day of hard work starving. Jacob has stew but when Esau asks for some, Jacob says that if Esau wants some stew he has to sell his birthright to him. Aside from the fact that Esau made a dumb move, Jacob shows pretty lousy character here. I mean the guy is willing to let his brother starve for a birthright--something that belonged to Esau--which is incredibly manipulative.
It gets worse.
In Genesis 27, as their father Isaac lies on his deathbed, Jacob deceives his father into thinking he's Esau in order to steal the blessing. He dresses up and talks like Esau; he even flat out lies to his father when asked who he is. Who does that?!
Rightly so, Jacob fears for his life upon stealing Esau's blessing and he flees. But this is the start of God 's transformation in Jacob's life. Over the next few chapters and decades, God teaches Jacob who is in control. Interestingly enough, Jacob himself ends up being deceived by his future father-in-law, Laban. As it happens, Jacob fell in love with a beautiful woman named Rachel and worked seven years to marry her, only to be tricked into marrying her older sister Leah and having to work another seven years for Rachel. That's a tough season and situation, and one that I'm sure taught Jacob a valuable lesson about deception and manipulation.
Jacob ends up facing many more trials over the years but God moves mightily in his life. In fact, he ends up restoring the relationship between Jacob and Esau. Perhaps the most transformative moment in Jacob's life took place in Genesis 32 over one restless night. Heading back to Esau with his growing family Jacob wrestles with God one night and by the end of the experience, God renames Jacob to "Israel," which means, “God strives,” “God rules,” “God heals,” or “he strives against God.”
At this pivotal point, Israel is forever changed after his experience with God almighty. After the blessing again, he refuses to go away from the experience without the blessing of God. He leaves forever changed in more ways than one: spiritually, emotionally, and physically (walking away with a limp as a reminder of his experience).
If there is one thing that really echos from Jacob's story to today is the transformative power of God. Jacob was a deceiver who eventually became that father of God's chosen people, Israel. God birthed HIs nation from a manipulator who was willing to deceive his own family. This is incredible!
Maybe lies, deception, and manipulation mark your past? Or perhaps altogether your past "you" feels like another person? The good news is we can be renamed, renewed, and restored! 2 Corinthians 5:16 declares over us,
God can metaphorically rename you once you've wrestled with Him and declared a new way of life His way. He can and wants to transform you and your life completely! It's okay if you wrestle with Him to get there. Ultimately He reigns and prevails, changing your life like no other can (not even yourself!).
God used the old Jacob to birth a new nation...how will He use you!
- Is there a past deceit or lie that could be redeemed by God if you laid it at His feet? What is it? Take time to do that now.
- What is God speaking to your heart through this message and series?