Jacob the Struggler
Character Study series
The Biblical Jacob was described by some as a con-artist, a liar, a manipulator, a deceiver, a grabber, and a struggler. He came from a dysfunctional family, a family wrought by favoritism, wrong decisions, and conflict. But despite this, God chose him, blessed him, and included him in His plan. Jacob’s story was an interesting one because it fits many of us. We all have lied, manipulated, deceived, grabbed, and struggled in life. From Jacob’s story, what lessons can we apply?
1. God knows our future.
“21 Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was childless.The Lord answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant. 22 The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, “Why is this happening to me?” So, she went to inquire of the Lord. “23 The Lord said to her, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other,and the older will serve the younger.”” Genesis 25:21-23.
· By His sovereignty, infinite knowledge God foreknew Jacob’s destiny.
· Jacob in Hebrew means “he grasps the heel” the idiom: “he deceives.”
· Two future founders of nations: Israel and Edomites. Also became enemies during King Saul’s reign (see 1 Sam. 14:47)
· Esau sold his birth-right for a mere bowl of red stew.
· The primogeniture is the right of the first born to have a double portion of his father’s inheritance.
Proverbs 19:21, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”
God has chosen people to carry out His divine program regardless of their choices in life.
2. God’s plan includes our struggles.
When Isaac was old and his eyes were so weak that he could no longer see, he called for Esau his older son and said to him, “My son.” “Here I am,” he answered.2 Isaac said, “I am now an old man and don’t know the day of my death… 4 Prepare me the kind of tasty food I like and bring it to me to eat, so that I may give you my blessing before I die.” Genesis 27:1-4. See the rest of the passage in Genesis 27:5-10.
· Struggles in Isaac’s family: favoritism, control, and deception.
· Favoritism in their family have caused conflicts and problems between the two sons.
· Jacob struggled against his brother to receive his bartered primogeniture from Isaac and his mother helped him get it.
· Isaac favoured Esau because he was intentionally overlooking the fact that Esau married a Canaanite that brought many problems to them and decided to still give the primogeniture blessing to Esau.
3. God is using struggles to teach us great lessons.
“So, Isaac called for Jacob and blessed him. Then he commanded him: “Do not marry a Canaanite woman. 2 Go at once to Paddan Aram, to the house of your mother’s father Bethuel. Take a wife for yourself there, from among the daughters of Laban, your mother’s brother… 16 Now Laban had two daughters the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 17 Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel had a lovely figure and was beautiful. 18 Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, “I’ll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel.” Genesis 28:1-4.
· Though God did not create their struggles, He allowed them to happen to teach them some important lessons.
· Instead of grabbing, Jacob learned to work and earn one’s keep.
· Their marriage custom practices allowed were different from ours.
· Their local custom dictates, the older (Leah) must marry first.
· Jacob learned the value of hard work.
· Jacob learned the hard way that rivalry (between two wives) creates a lot of struggles.
4. God wants you to encounter Him.
“22 That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two female servants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. 24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man.” Genesis 32:22-25
· His encounter changed him physically and spiritually.
· He was humbled because of that encounter with God.
· As God was gracious with him, Israel also displayed graciousness to his brother.