Over the last month, we have been looking at different people from the Bible in depth, starting with Genesis, to see what lessons we can learn from their lives and how we can apply it to our own lives today. Thus far, we’ve taken a look at: Eve, Adam, Abel, Cain, Noah, Abraham, Lot, Sarah, Lot’s Wife, Abraham’s Servant, Rebekah, and Esau. For today, we’ll be taking a deep look at Jacob.
Straight out of the womb, Jacob grabbed Esau’s heel, and he was described in Genesis chapter 25 verse 27 as a mild man, dwelling in tents. Then, in verses 29 through 34, when Esau comes in weary and asks Jacob for food, Jacob asks Esau to sell his birthright.
Even though Esau said that he was about to starve, Jacob still pressed him until Esau gave in. This shows that he was more concerned with wealth and power within the family than his brother’s well-being. We aren’t too sure of his intentions because that isn’t directly mentioned here, but a concerned brother would have given Esau food without worrying about the birthright.
How many times do we concern ourselves with worldly things? Our work, how much money we have, the things we have—whether it’s decorations in our house, whether we have a house or not, how many cars we have, how many likes we have on social media, how many friends we have, what kind of clothes we wear, the makeup we put on, or any other number of worldly things. We think and dwell on those things and put our identity in those things… in how people see us. Do they see that we have a nice job, nice house, nice car, that we’re married with a nice family?
Especially today, we live in a world where everyone wants to be acknowledged and accepted. “Call me by this pronoun or that pronoun” is just another way of seeking our identity in other people and how they perceive us. This is a profound truth and you will never be happy with yourself until you learn it:
Your identity is not found in others—not in what they think of you, what they call you, how they look or see you. Whether they call you by the right pronouns, whether they like your latest social media post, whether they have more things or money than you… Your identity is not in that.
Just like Jacob’s identity wasn’t in his birthright. But he was so caught up in convincing Esau to sell it that he completely overlooked his brother’s personal needs. Likewise, when we focus too much on the world and when we put our identity in all the wrong places, we miss the opportunities and things God wants for us to do. The people He wants us to help or encourage, or the task He has set out for us to do.
But that’s not all that Jacob can teach us. In Genesis chapter 27, verse 11 and 12 is Jacob’s response to Rebekah’s plan to have Jacob deceive Isaac into blessing Jacob rather than Esau. It says, “And Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, ‘Look, Esau my brother is a hairy man, and I am a smooth-skinned man. Perhaps my father will feel me, and I shall seem to be a deceiver to him; and I shall bring a curse on myself and not a blessing.’”
At least the thought of deceiving his father gave Jacob pause. But he went ahead with Rebekah’s plan. He put the skin of goats’ kids on his arms and Rebekah dressed him in Esau’s clothes and made the special stew. Jacob went in, and fed it to Isaac and pretended to be his brother Esau. So, Isaac blessed him.
Needless to say, Esau was upset and hurt (justifiably so) when he found out what Jacob did. This essentially hurt Jacob’s life, in the sense that he was forced to leave his home because Esau was trying to kill him. After that, Jacob had to say with his uncle Laban. Along the way, God spoke to Him and promised to be with him, so Jacob says, in Genesis chapter 28, verse 20 to 22, “Then Jacob made a vow, saying, ‘If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God. And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.’”
And Jacob did. He worked for Laban and worked extremely hard. At the time, he wanted to marry Laban’s more beautiful daughter, Rachel, so he served Laban for seven whole years so that he could marry Rachel. But Laban gave Leah to Jacob instead. The man who had deceived his brother had been deceived himself. After that, he was willing to serve another seven years so that he could marry Rachel too.
Laban didn’t pay Jacob right, so eventually, God kept His promise to Jacob and allowed Jacob to return home and make peace with his brother, Esau.
God helped Jacob, despite his mistake and deception, and in turn, Jacob remained faithful to the Lord. As a result, the Lord blessed him with two wives, two concubines, many servants, flocks, herds, and wealth… and twelve sons that would eventually become the twelve tribes of Israel.
When we stop focusing on the world and choose to honor God, He blesses us. That shouldn’t be our motivations for serving and honoring Him—after all He has done for us, we should honor Him willingly, but receiving God’s blessing is still part of that. Life may get hard and He may allow us to come to uncomfortable places in life—Jacob didn’t want to leave his home all the way to Laban’s at first.
But in those times of life when we are anywhere else other than where we want to be—maybe not married with a family yet, or not at the position at work you want to have, or not in the health that you want, or in a bad place with friends, family, and other relationships—whatever place you’re in that you don’t want to be, God has a plan and purpose for you there. Just like He did with the Israelites in the wilderness and just like He did for Jacob here. Without that time at Laban’s house, Jacob never would have acquired so much wealth, his wives, and all his sons.
Focus on God, surrender to His will. Choose to honor Him and in the meantime, be patient during the difficult times of life. You are never alone, and God will bring beauty out of it in His way and timing!