Jealousy can be a very destructive thing. Joseph was his father’s favorite and it showed. Joseph made things worse by telling his family about his dreams. So when opportunity presented itself the brothers sold Joseph into slavery. Then they lied to their father. But God had a plan to save Joseph and his family despite their sins. God has a plan to save us too. The plan centers on Jesus.
God gave Jacob a new name at Bethel, which means “House of God.” Jacob’s new name is Israel. We don’t know for sure what the name originally meant. But it became the name for God’s choosen people and for their nation. Jacob’s twelve sons were the first to be called children of Israel. We are children of God through faith in Jesus Christ.
One evil act doesn’t warrant another. Both the rape and the revenge reported in this chapter were terrible things. The Bible doesn’t give us an air brushed picture of people. It gives a true picture of real sinful people in need of forgiveness and a new life. Christians aren’t perfect. We rely on God’s love and forgiveness. With His help we try to do what is right.
Jacob expected the worst from his brother Esau. After all Jacob had been a pain in his brother’s side and stole his birth right. God was working to change both brothers. Repentance and forgiveness go a long way in restoring peace. Worked then. Still works today.
On his way back home Jacob wrestled with God. Genesis tells us about a physical wrestling match one night. But Jacob also wrestled internally, praying and trying to put his trust in God. I think we can do the same thing. We wrestle with our faith, with putting our complete trust in God’s word and promises. Wrestling in faith can be a way to test and strenthen our faith. A strong faith needs to be put into practice. Jacob’s faith grew and God kept His promises.
What a mess! Laban tricked Jacob and Jacob deceived Laban. No wonder they didn’t get along with each other. No wonder Jacob tried to escape when he could and Laban came running after him. They both were only looking out for themselves. Sin was at work, but God was ultimately in control. God was bringing Jacob and his family back to the land He promised to Abraham. But it would take a while before Jacob’s descendants would be able to call this land their own. Even when it takes a long time from our human perspective, God always keeps His promises.
It has been said that people who don’t know history are going to repeat the same mistakes. Jacod didn’t learn from the mistakes of Abraham and Sarah and had children by the servant women who served his two wives. And he wondered why his family was divided and disfunctional? It’s amazing how God uses weak, sinful people in His plan to restore and renew us through Jesus Christ. God can even bring good out of our mistakes because He loves us.
“What goes around comes around!” That appears to be the case with Jacob. The deceiver is deceived. He ends up working 14 years to get the wife he wants and one he doesn’t. That causes trouble all the way around. Polygamy is against God will. God said the two will become one. Disobeying God creates problems. The good news is God loves us even when we sin. That is no trick. It is a gift.
Neither Jacob nor Esau were upstanding characters. Jacob deceived his dad and stole his brother’s blessing. Esau rebelled against his dad and deliberately searched for a Cananite wife. But God was true to His promise to Abraham, appeared to Jacob at Bethel and promised to give to Jacob the blessings he gave to Abraham. What a contrast between sinful people and the Holy Lord God.
The history of God’s people is a revealing story about real people with real faults and real problems. Isaac was tricked into giving Esau’s blessing to Jacob. Jacob stole it from his brother. When Esau found out what happened he begged for a blessing. God wants us to be a blessing to others. He has given us the greatest blessing of all, forgiveness, faith and life in Christ. We are blessed to be a blessing.