Bio: Jacob, the third of the three Hebrew patriarchs, was the younger of the twin sons of Isaac and Rebekah. After wrestling with the Angel of the Lord, Jacob, whose name means “deceiver,” was renamed “Israel,” which means “he strives with God” (Gen. 25:26; 32:28). His family life was filled with trouble, caused by his acts of deception toward his father and his brother Esau and his parental favoritism toward his son Joseph (March 31). Much of his adult life was spent grieving over the death of his beloved wife Rachel and the presumed death of Joseph, who had been appointed by the Egyptian Pharaoh to be in charge of food distribution during a time of famine in the land. Prior to Jacob’s death during the blessing of his sons, God gave the promise that the Messiah would come through the
“The great Baptist preacher, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, was once approached by a woman distressed from her recent reading of Romans 9:13. “I cannot understand,” she said, “why God should say that He hated Esau.” “That is not my problem, madam,” Spurgeon replied, “My difficulty is to understand how God could love Jacob.”–Fr. Reardon, Touchstone.
The Lord’s favor is on those who are repentant. Esau was not repentant. Jacob knew he was a “deceiver”! Esau sold his birthright and was only sorry for losing it, not for the sin of doing so. As Luther commented that Esau was contrite because of punishment not because of the sin against God. God could wrestle with Jacob because Jacob knew his sin…Esau was on the sidelines waiting his due. The Lord can work with sinners as they know their sin, He changes them by His grace and providence…and with Jacob it took time…with us as well. Sin is a tangled web, as we see in Jacob’s family of origin and in his own family with his two wives, Rachel and Leah and his two concubines, Bilhah and Zilpah. Eleven of his 12 sons sold their brother Joseph into slavery in Egypt and then told their Father, Jacob, Joseph had been killed by a lion. Families have problems, many times grievous and perplexing beyond therapeutic help, yet God’s promise is for sinners and the Lord works through what we have called in our day, “dysfunctional families”. Jacob spent most of his life grieving for the death of his favorite wife Rachel and thinking his son Joseph dead. Eventually, the 11 brothers repented. As someone has commented: it took the Lord only 6 days to create the heavens and the earth but 33 years to redeem us…and when we factor in the great history of Israel: a lot longer, but He did so at the right time and He would do so again through Jacob’s son Joseph. And in the Son of Joseph, centuries, later, the Christ, the Son of God redeemed the world.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, scepter that rises out of Jacob, Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, rule our hearts through Your suffering cross and forgive us our sins, that we may become partakers of Your divine life; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.