We are covering a lot of ground on this one. Look for this story in Genesis 25 -31.
Church Saturday night. Pastor is talking about relational issues between husbands and wives, and tonight brings up Jacob. He, of course had to do the fast recap of who Jacob is and what “created” him. What I mean by created is the dynamics within his family that made him respond to situations the way he did. This equates to, in this case, a broken man, Jacob, that looks to a woman, Rachel, to bring him wholeness.
Here is a shocker! We are all broken and though we may not want to admit to it, most of us are looking for something that helps to dull the pain and take our mind off of it for at least a few moments. Sometimes, in the case of a man, it takes the form of a woman because she quiets the storm momentarily. If a man could be honest, he would tell you that there is little that takes away the hurt inside. Come on. Scripture tells us that all of creation is crying out for redemption, so how can you be excluded.
What we know about Jacob.
Esau was born first, and quickly becomes a very hairy man. Jacob of course was born second. At an early age this second child thing is not important to you, but, depending on how you treated in the home (For example: your father makes sure that you eventually understand the position that you do not hold; that the older will rule the family when father is gone, and the elder will get the lion’s share of any inheritance.) there may also be sibling rivalry and favoritism shown toward the elder. (That could work the opposite too, for often the eldest is held to a higher standard and takes more punishment for mistakes.)
Whatever the case is with these two we do not know, but we have some clues.
Gen 25:27 tells us: And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents.
What does that mean when it comes to Jacob? While one was constantly out being manly the other seems to have busy playing video games and cooking. In the eyes of a father that wants to pass on the family business Esau is the boy you brag about in the market place. This has to play a role in the character of Jacob.
Outside of speculation you do not know what made Jacob such a conniver.
Here is what we have next.
One day, Jacob was cooking some stew, when Esau came home hungry and said, “I’m starving to death! Give me some of that red stew right now!” That’s how Esau got the name “Edom.” Jacob replied, “Sell me your rights as the first-born son.” “I’m about to die,” Esau answered. “What good will those rights do me?” But Jacob said, “Promise me your birthrights, here and now!” And that’s what Esau did.
(Genesis 25:29-33 CEV)
While you probably do not pick up on a major attitude when you read most translations, there is no doubt that it is there.
Here is an example of attitude that Jesus told us about. The parable of the rich man and poor Lazarus. Both have died. Lazarus is now comforted and the rich man is now demanding, pretty much just as he had always done, that Lazarus be sent back to warn his family.
And he said, Father, it is my request that you will send him to my father’s house; (Luke 16:27 BBE)
This parable is another example that probably escapes most people because the interpreters of the bible, in order for words to make sense, inserted the word please, as though the man was now being polite. It was his custom to order people around, and he still thinks that he can order Lazarus around.
Esau, though probably not on the verge of death, is hungry enough sale his birthright to Jacob. Doesn’t this imply that the birthright issue has been part of Jacob’s thinking for a long time.
If you felt confident that you were going to be taken care of by your father then why would you steal what was not meant to be yours? Obviously Jacob did not feel very confident.
Okay, Esau sells his brother his birthright. Yeah right, only in cheap words, for Esau seems to have had no intent of giving up what was his. Besides that, how do you enforce an illegal sale, with a father who is the only one who has the right to give it, and who is probably not that fond of Jacob anyway.
If Esau had thrown away his birthright nonchalantly, then why go to the trouble of going in to his father in hopes of receiving the blessing?
As soon as Isaac had finished blessing Jacob, when Jacob had scarcely gone out from the presence of Isaac his father, Esau his brother came in from his hunting. He also prepared delicious food and brought it to his father. And he said to his father, “Let my father arise and eat of his son’s game, that you may bless me.” His father Isaac said to him, “Who are you?” He answered, “I am your son, your firstborn, Esau.” Then Isaac trembled very violently and said, “Who was it then that hunted game and brought it to me, and I ate it all before you came, and I have blessed him? Yes, and he shall be blessed.” As soon as Esau heard the words of his father, he cried out with an exceedingly great and bitter cry and said to his father, “Bless me, even me also, O my father!” But he said, “Your brother came deceitfully, and he has taken away your blessing.” Esau said, “Is he not rightly named Jacob? For he has cheated me these two times. He took away my birthright, and behold, now he has taken away my blessing.” Then he said, “Have you not reserved a blessing for me?” Isaac answered and said to Esau, “Behold, I have made him lord over you, and all his brothers I have given to him for servants, and with grain and wine I have sustained him. What then can I do for you, my son?” (Genesis 27:30-37 ESV)
Some time has passed, and personalities have not changed.
Now we get to add Rebekah into the mix.
And Rebekah heard when Isaac spake to Esau his son. And Esau went to the field to hunt for venison, and to bring it. And Rebekah spake unto Jacob her son, saying, Behold, I heard thy father speak unto Esau thy brother, saying, (Genesis 27:5-6 KJV)
It would seem that she knew about the deal that Jacob had made with Esau, and has decided that she is going to make this deception happen. There is little about what happens next even believable, but it does. Sheepskin, with all that hair, and the voice had to be decidedly different. Besides, Jacob was the cook not Esau.
The deception is pulled off, and now Jacob has to flee; an exile. He, in a sense, stumbles upon Rachel, and she is a vision of what a girl should look like. He wants her bad, and is willing to work for her to get her. There is an irony here in that Rachel, is not an accident by any means, for Laban, her father is Jacob’s uncle. (Consider: If Rebekah knew how to be devious it only makes sense that Laban would too.)
Jacob makes no effort to barter for her, but tells Laban that he will work seven years for her.
(That in it self may be significant on several levels. 7 is the number of perfection, and redemption, a theme that recurs throughout scripture.)
He does not do what desperate men do, raping her, he waits for the seven years. He then goes to Laban and demands that she be given to him for he has paid for her. Laban deceives Jacob just as Jacob had deceived and gives him Leah.
Laban makes a statement here, in response to Jacob’s shock and disappointment, that I never noticed before.
And Laban answered, It is not done thus in our country, to give the younger before the elder. Genesis 29:26 Brenton)
As pastor explained: “this had to cut Jacob like a knife“. This is precisely what Jacob and his mother had done to Esau. And Laban may well be aware of it. If not, it is amazing how the Holy Spirit puts words in your mouth.
Now the premise for all this is: that Jacob, a broken man, and I am not so sure he could understand that for a long time, pursues Rachel, the vision of perfection, in hopes that she would heal him and make him a better man.
While that may actually be happening in the back of his mind it is not directly noted. Sure, much smarter men than I have analyzed this scenario and concluded these things from the story, but is that necessarily the point that God is trying to make in sharing this with us?
One of the things that I see in scripture is that God is in control, regardless of how lousy the circumstances seem to be. Pastor said “that God gives us examples of people who are messed up so that we can know what not to do.” If that theory is true, then why would God tell Israel, explicitly, not to learn from the surrounding nations, for the surrounding nations were doing everything wrong, worshiping idols, and sacrificing their children to gods.
While I might argue that learning from my neighbor how to work with Iron could be a necessity that would allow my civilization to eventually create sewer pipes, there is always a hazard in close associations, especially for those not so grounded. As it can, and most of the time will cause us to be drawn away by the deviant and those used by Satan.
You shall make no covenant with them or with their gods. They shall not dwell in your land, lest they make you sin against Me; for if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you. (Exodus 23:32-33 AMP)
And you shall consume all the peoples whom the Lord your God will give over to you; your eye shall not pity them, neither shall you serve their gods, for that would be a snare to you. (Deuteronomy 7:16 AMP)
You didn’t merely live by their ways and act according to their disgusting practices, but in a very short time you acted more corruptly than they in all your ways. (Ezekiel 16:47 CJB)
Is it the person becoming the snare? Perhaps, but what we do know is that Satan will deceive you through any means possible. In some cases it might be an innocent, but attractive looking woman.
Yes, Jacob’s life is one big psycho drama. He is a liar, a cheat, and generally a mess; he does not even seem to slow down all those years later when he meets Esau. But there is a method to God’s madness. God seems to use broken people; he even seeks them out. He seems to find pleasure in lifting them up and healing them.
Our savior is a descendant of the line from Jacob.
My point: That no matter how messed up the story we can and should glean as much as we can from each one, for it is God’s story. Sure, you think it is yours, but it is never anything less than God’s plan, you just get to be a part of it.
“For I know what plans I have in mind for you,’ says Adonai,’plans for well-being, not for bad things; so that you can have hope and a future. ” (Jeremiah 29:11 CJB)