We first read about Jacob prior to his birth. In Genesis 25:23-28, God tells Rebekah that “two nations are in [her] womb.” Nothing like that for a prediction of sibling rivalry! Isaac and Rebekah played favorites early, and what happens later reads like a modern-day reality show. Esau, Jacob’s brother, was like one of the Duck Dynasty brothers, and Jacob could have had his own cooking show on the Food Network! Even in the drama, there are several things we can learn from the life of Jacob:
You Are Never Right to Do Wrong
In Genesis 25-27 Jacob stole his brother’s birthright. God had revealed before the twins’ births that the older would serve the younger, so Rebekah helped him deceive his father. Isaac blessed Jacob instead of Esau. Esau made bad choices, living for instant gratification, but Jacob lied four times to his father. Esau was not sorry he lost the spiritual blessing; he was mad he had been had! Esau threatens to kill Jacob just like Cain killed Abel. Do you have a “get even” mentality like Esau? Like Jacob, do you lie when it would be easier to tell the truth? Do you, like Rebekah, not trust God and take matters into your own hands? Rebekah is doing the right thing the wrong way. God does not need our help.
You Will Reap What You Sow
Rebekah tells Jacob, “Now therefore, my son, obey my voice: arise, flee to my brother Laban in Haran. And stay with him a few days, until your brother’s fury turns away…” (Gen. 27:43-44). Sin never turns out the way you thought it would. Rebekah thought Jacob would be gone a few days, but it turns out she would never see Jacob again. Jacob also experienced the pain of deceit. Like he deceived his father, Isaac, with a garment and a goat, Jacob’s sons would later deceive him with both saying Joseph is dead. He was also deceived by Laban. In Genesis 29:18-25, we read that Jacob had worked seven years for Rachel to be his wife, but Laban gave him Leah instead. Jacob got out “Jacobed” by Laban!
You Married the Right Person
When Jacob realized that Laban had given him Leah instead of Rachel, he asked, “Why then have you deceived me?” (Gen. 29:25). He had married the wrong woman! They got off to a shaky start, but love is a choice. Even if you got off to shaky start in your marriage, you can have a strong finish! It is not just finding the right person but being the right person. You have to have the right attitude, daily prayer, and forgiveness. Jacob ends up with four wives (three too many!). While he loved Rachel, God used Leah. God selects what man rejects. Leah was unloved, unwanted, and excluded, but Jesus came from the line of Judah, one of Leah’s sons. Out of rejection came redemption! By Genesis 31, we see Jacob discussing with both Rachel and Leah what God had told him about moving back to the land of his father. They worked through their struggles and came out stronger.
You Must Agree to Disagree
In Genesis 31:17-18, we see Jacob take his family and head back to Canaan. He and Laban were never able to agree. Sometimes it is better to agree to disagree than to wage war. All the difficulties that you face will not be solved in this life. Leave it in God’s hands, who watches and is witness to it all. Make the best of a bad situation.
In both the Old and New Testament, God refers to Himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Ex. 3:6, Mt. 22:32). It is interesting that God did not use Jacob’s new name, Israel. It is as if God is reminding us that there are no perfect people, no perfect marriages, no perfect families, no perfect churches. Jacob was a liar, runner, cheater, and pretender, but God forgave him of his sins and used him to send Jesus into the world. He can forgive us and use us for His purposes as well.