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This week: a very raw and genuine post on wrestling with God, motherhood as a mission field, the nasty word “fair,” and strong thoughts on honoring your wife from Driscoll.

Call Me Jacob

Call Me Jacob (by Sarah Clarkson, The Rabbit Room)

Our Jacob-like fight is is just one part of this glorious battle. As God lovers, we struggle toward light. We fight to keep faith alive. We don’t curse a faceless universe and stay alive out of spite, we have a goal, a marvelous light, an unceasing love that exists beyond the touch of any darkness. Toward that, we fight. For that good, we will grapple.

Motherhood as a Mission Field (by Rachel Jankovic)

The closer you get to home, the less intriguing the work of sacrifice seems. As someone once said, “Everyone wants to save the world, but no one wants to help Mom with the dishes.” When you are a mother at home with your children, the church is not clamoring for monthly ministry updates. When you talk to other believers, there is not any kind of awe about what you are sacrificing for the gospel.

Fair is a Four-Letter Word (by Ed Welch)

Look around. Any time you hear the word fair you will find broken relationships and other forms of nasty fruit. Guaranteed. In other words, during our fine dinner, I was actually turning away from Jesus Christ to utter some profanity – “this waiter should know better; this isn’t fair” – while my wife continued on her normal course of sanctification, except for when she tried to stab my hand.

How to Honor Your Wife (by Mark Driscoll)

So many guys who are Christians think “I pay for Christian school, I send the wife and kids to the Christian church. I’ve done my Christian duty.” No, you’ve abdicated your responsibility to others. It’s your job to love your kids. It’s your job to pray with your kids. It’s your job to teach the Bible to your kids. It’s your job to encourage your kids. It’s your job to discipline your kids.

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This post is a rough transcript of the message I had the privilege of giving on May 29th. Skip down to the bottom to watch.

Genesis 27 is a chapter with a familiar account to most of us. Jacob stealing the blessing from his brother Esau. The wearing of goat skins. A conspiracy to deceive a blind father. But there is a lot more there to this passage.

First Impressions

Read the whole chapter. What hits you? How hokey the deception is? I think about Jacob maybe trying to imitate Esau’s voice and  wearing those freshly killed goat skins. How hairy was Esau? Also, why was the blessing so important? Wasn’t it just a prayer? Let me call attention to one big impression that I had. What is missing from this chapter? Between these interactions, whose voice is missing?

Genesis 25: Rebekah feels the wrestling inside of her and inquires of God. God responds and speaks to her.

Genesis 26: God reiterates the promise to Isaac not once but twice. Isaac praises God.

Genesis 27: God’s voice is absent. No one inquires of God. The sin that pervades this chapter is not disconnected from this truth.

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” Proverbs 14:12

Genesis 27 breaks down into the 4 people you get a glimpse of: Isaac (v1-4), Rebekah (v5-17), Jacob (v18-29), and Esau (v30-40). The aftermath is then seen in v41-46.

Isaac (v1-4)

There are a few key truths to help us understand Isaac’s choices. First, he is most likely recently blind. He feels near to death. This affects how he responds to the deception as he is probably extremely disoriented. Jacob even asks him later to sit up – Isaac has simply been lying there. Second, he has to know of what God spoke to Rebekah in Genesis 25 – that the older would serve the younger, meaning that Jacob would receive the promise. Isaac knows this but ignores God’s word to his wife. He’s always preferred Esau – the man’s man, the outdoorsman, the avid hunter and man of strength. He’s never favored the homebody and momma’s boy Jacob. He knows Jacob should receive the blessing but doesn’t proceed that way. Everything from v5 on didn’t need to happen if Isaac obeys. Third, look at how often the words delicious, tasty, or game are used. In the ESV, “delicious food” is spoken 3 times. The NIV translates it: “tasty food I like” but “delicious food, such as I love” is more accurate. The word for like or love is a Hebrew word not typically used for food but for people! I love my wife or I love my kids. Isaac here says he loves this “delicious food.” On top of his preference for Esau and ignoring the word from God through Rebekah, Isaac is almost literally making this decision with his gut.

Rebekah (v5-17)

Had Rebekah already been thinking about her plan prior to Isaac’s words to Esau? I don’t know. Either way, she plans to subvert and deceive her husband and manipulate Jacob. Why would she do this? Maybe cause she thought she was right. She saw Isaac ignoring God’s word to her and felt the need to jump in. Her husband is intent on not listening to her or to God so she takes control.
Remember – Isaac is freshly blind and likely feeling very scared and untrusting of his senses. Rebekah knows this and completely exploits it. It is actually quite discouraging how much Rebekah knows exactly how to manipulate every single one of these men – Isaac, Jacob, and even Esau and does it.

Now let’s go back to Genesis 26. Isaac does the same thing his dad did. Now, many probably remember when John talked about the 2nd time Abraham does this – right before the birth of Isaac. Sarai’s faith and trust of her husband was unbelievable. Abraham sells her out a second time and then they leave and Isaac is born thereafter. Sarai seemed to be very forgiving. But I’m not sure with Rebekah. I think she struggled a bit. I think there might have been some carryover into this chapter of their life. In her conversation with Jacob she keeps calling him “Your father.” Three times she says it that way. Look at the interactions. Isaac and Esau. Jacob and Rebekah. Isaac and Jacob (who he thinks is Esau), Isaac and Esau, Rebekah and Jacob, then Rebekah in a very manipulative conversation with Isaac. Rebekah never speaks with Esau. Esau and Jacob never speak to each other. I think this is a very divided family and a stagnant marriage. Rebekah and Isaac are not not communicating.

Jacob (v18-29)

Let’s go back to v11-12 first. He is no innocent manipulated victim here. Jacob does not balk at the wickedness of the plan but merely points out a flaw and then points out the risk to himself. He has no issue with the deception, nor with lying to his father. Think about what they do here. Then and even now, it’s pretty disgusting how they just take advantage of a blind and not well man. Jacob tells him to sit up so he can eat – he’s just been laying down in a pretty rough state. They just use Isaac. Of anything in this chapter, that’s pretty reprehensible, let alone planning and carrying it out against your husband and father.

Now go to verse 20. Jacob says “The Lord YOUR God.” This is practically mocking God but it betrays Jacob’s heart also – Jacob has always been rejected by his father. He doesn’t know God yet but knows where Isaac stands. You know what also makes this stand out? This question: What do you think Esau would have said? I doubt he would have even mentioned God, as he never does.

Esau (v30-40)

If you take a look at all of Esau’s words from his birth to his reunion with Jacob, it’s very telling. Not one mention of God ever. In their later reunion, Jacob is profuse in his gratefulness to God, Esau almost seems to ignore his words. But that is later.

You really have to feel for Esau first though. He makes an “exceedingly great and bitter cry” and he weeps. He gets used just like Isaac does. He gets deceived and schemed against by his brother and mom. But is that all there is to it? Is his anger against Jacob fully justified? At the end of chapter 25, Jacob swindles Esau out of this birthright. I think part of why Esau tossed away his birthright is because he knew he had his dad’s favor and that the blessing mattered more. He shows it here – he thinks the two are disconnected. Are they? To answer that, we need to go to Hebrews 12:15-17.

See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace and he of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears. (Hebrews 12:15-17 ESV)

Indeed the birthright and the blessing are connected. Esau had no faith, married foreign wives – a direct insult to the legacy of his father, and he simply tosses away his birthright. Sorry. He’s not an innocent victim either. Esau wanted to be his own man. He didn’t need his father. He wasn’t riding anyone’s coattails. He was ultimately rejecting his father. He was despising his father’s dreams for him, his dad’s love, and ultimately his father’s God. Esau wanted the blessing, the prosperity without faith, without the responsibility. This is what Isaac blindly ignores. Esau wanted the blessing but not God. Genesis 27 is not the last of Esau but he never seems to have faith or turn to God.

What’s the point of Genesis 27?

Is the point of this story simply a few moral examples of a family that you do not want to be like? An example of a husband who passively ignores God’s word to him, a wife who subverts and circumvents him to get her way, an older son who could care less about his father and tosses it all away for pleasure, and a younger son who cheats and lies and will seem to do anything to have his father’s approval and blessing? Is that why God has given us this account? Is that why we have this text? Or is it to show that blessings are something that can merely be stolen?

Think about the aftermath in v41-46 and what happens moving forward. We never hear from Rebekah again. She is only mentioned inconsequentially 4 more times in this book, only once more after that in the book of Romans. That’s it. As far as I can tell, she would never see Jacob again. Isaac? He actually seems to repent. Think about his moment of trembling and I think it hit him in that moment that even though he’d just gotten lied to and tricked, he knew he was the one in sin for favoring Esau. At the beginning of chapter 28, he seems to understand and trust that God has chosen Jacob and that’s how it’s always been. Esau? He hates Jacob and wants to kill him. He never has faith, and never acknowledges God, even in coming to peace with his brother later.

What about Jacob? He was worried about taking on a curse for his actions. Isn’t that what happens? He has to leave home. He never sees his mom again. Death in the form of his brother is after him. He relegated to a pretty lonely existence of deceive or be deceived.

Is there one faith driven choice in Genesis 27? Sin seems to reign. However, absent God may feel in this chapter, there is a whisper, a spark that I believe begins to scream out. What is the most used word in this chapter? BLESSING!!!! It’s used at least 20 times in this chapter! Now think about it. All this scrambling. All of Jacob’s lying and deceit and theft. And guess what? Something didn’t change. THE BLESSING IS STILL HIS JUST AS IT WAS APART FROM THEIR SIN! AND YOU KNOW WHAT? IT’S OURS TOO.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,” (Ephesians 1:3 ESV)

THERE IT IS: BLESSING. Remember, what were God’s words to Abraham?

Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
(Genesis 12:1-3 ESV)

THERE IT IS AGAIN? NEED MORE? WHAT IS THIS BLESSING? GO BACK TO EPHESIANS 1 AGAIN. Remember – God said that he would use Abraham to bless the whole world. that was his legacy and the promise was passed on. Did it stop when they entered the Promised land in the book of Joshua? When Israel gained possession? No. Why? The whole world wasn’t blessed yet. yet. But who is Abraham’s grandson to 42nd generation? Jesus. And there it is. This blessing is offered to you and to me.

Jacob didn’t need to fret. It was promised. An inheritance. Legacy. Blessing through his life. A special relationship with God. It was his to receive. Just like you. We don’t have to live that way. We don’t have to fight for our best life now. The gospel is our promise that is there for the taking just as it was for Jacob. What’s that, you’re a sinner? Welcome. Remember – in spite of all of their scrambling the promise never wavered. The blessing never disappeared.

Now, some of us might be asking, Am I Esau? Is there no blessing left for me? Am I not chosen? God rejected him. God chose Jacob. What if God has rejected me? If you’re even asking that question, then it’s not too late and you are not rejected. You still have a choice. You can still seek him. You can still turn to Him. You can still ask him for the blessing. Think about Jacob. Think the blessing was conditional? No way.

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8 ESV)

because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9 ESV)

Why has God given us Genesis 27? Why does he want us to see this account? Because God is not limited by sin, because sin can’t defeat God, and because we need to see that the promise is ours in spite of our sin. It’s ours! We don’t have to scramble. We don’t have to hide. We don’t have to find ways to daily justify our existence. For that matter, I don’t have to sin. That doesn’t mean I won’t keep stumbling – our sin runs deep. But the blessing is now ours. The promise is ours.  It’s yours. Right now. Don’t scramble for it. Rest in it.

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Esau sold out long before Jacob suckered him out of his birthright. Do we really think it was an isolated momentary decision? I don’t think it was.

Once when Jacob was cooking stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was exhausted. And Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am exhausted!” (Therefore his name was called Edom.) Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright now.” Esau said, “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?” Jacob said, “Swear to me now.” So he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright. (Genesis 25:29-34 ESV)

Taking foreign wives

When Esau was forty years old, he took Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite to be his wife, and Basemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite, and they made life bitter for Isaac and Rebekah. (Genesis 26:34-35 ESV)

Esau knew how his parents came to be married. He knew that Grandpa’s (Abraham) trusted friend and servant had traveled a few hundred miles to find a wife for Dad (Isaac). He rejects this legacy in taking a foreign wife.

Rejecting his birthright meant rejecting his father

Esau despised his birthright before the stew and before he took the foreign wives. These instances likely just demonstrate where his heart was. Selling out is a slide not a mere doorway. I think Esau wanted to be his own man. He didn’t need his father. He wasn’t riding anyone’s coattails. He was ultimately rejecting his father. He was despising his father’s dreams for him, his dad’s love, and ultimately his father’s God.

See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears. (Hebrews 12:15-17 ESV)

Esau did make peace with Jacob and seem to throw off the anger but he never regained what he threw away. He tries to take “less foreign” wives but at that point is merely trying to appease and get it all back by religious works. Thank God we live in light of Christ, who redeems us and intercedes for us as a perfect brother, but let us not forget the lesson of Esau: Embrace your Father, trust Him, let Him lead you and bless you. Ultimately, you will find your true self in Him not on your own.

For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. (Romans 6:20-21 ESV)

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The line of Jesus Christ includes:

Jacob – Liar and cheat

JudahBetrayer and sexual pervert

Rahab – Canaanite gentile and prostitute

RuthMoabite gentile

DavidAdulterer and murderer

Bathsheba – Adulteress

Solomon – Promiscuous man-whore and apostate

ManassehBaby killer and murderer

What kind of King is this?

I just saw “The King’s Speech” last week and King Edward had to abdicate his throne simply because he wanted to marry a divorced woman! There is much more scandal in the line of Christ, severely tainted by sin and non-Israelites. Why would God choose this route? Why not choose Joseph over Judah and the child born through him sleeping with his daughter-in-law? If you’re going to bring Jesus through David, why not through another wife besides Bathsheba? Don’t bring the Son of God through the one he committed adultery with and then killed the husband. Why bring Christ through Manasseh? This man was so evil he was the final straw in the end of David’s Jerusalem, he even sacrificed his own sons in fire.  This is the lineage of son of God in flesh we’re talking about! God in the flesh!

Jesus ChristIllegitimate son born in a stinky manger, and poor carpenter

You use prostitutes, incest, infanticide, adultery, poverty, murder, and betrayal to bring your Son into the world. Then you bring your Son into the world as a poor illegitimate son who would become a simple carpenter. Why associate with such filth? Why associate with me, a lustful, cold-hearted, angry, selfish, self-righteous Pharisee? Because You are approachable! You are not a God far off! You are not afraid of my sin! You are a God who comes to us! You are a God who humbles Himself! You became unclean and tainted for us. How much more do I need to see of you to know that you are approachable? You are a God whose mercies are new every morning. You really do want us and love us.

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11 ESV)

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December brings a whole host of DVD releases as Hollywood tries to get as many into stores as possible prior to Christmas. Check out my thoughts on the movies I’ve seen or had reliable recommendations on. Again, if you want to know how I evaluate movies and media, check my Film & TV Mini-Manifesto.

Eclipse (Dec 4)


Twihards and TwilightMOMs will be stoked for this release in the battle of Team Jacob vs Team Edward with a nice battle tossed in at the end for the dudes including some dismembering and decapitation of various unnamed vampires. Definitely the best film of the series (yes, I’ve seen all 3) and probably the most fast-paced and least painful for bros. You know my thoughts on Twilight overall from “The Edwardian Conflict” and The Gospel According to Twilight” and, again, the movies can barely do the books justice. Look for the picture of glorified divinity in the good vampires and the concept of the eternal family. Ultimately, Team Jacob can only offer a finite relationship while Team Edward represents eternity and glory. Let’s move on.

Inception (Dec 7)


This is easily the best movie I’ve seen all year in a year of some really good ones (Shutter Island, Get Low, Crazy Heart). It’s a tour de force that you’ll have to watch multiple times. Nolan is simply phenomenal in how he doesn’t settle for some action flick with an original concept but pushes into the heart of man. I can’t speak highly enough of this film and how I see the gospel woven into the very framework. My post on the father themes in this movie is the most popular post by far of my blog (1/3 of the total hits in November!). Read it here. Read here for a fuller preview prior to viewing.

24: Season 8 (Dec 7)


I had to call this release out. Is this Jack’s last hurrah? Is it just a prequel for a big release movie? Season 8 became fascinating to me once I connected the dots that this was the final season of the series. No one is safe. No line is too far for Jack Bauer. I hated how it finished but I really loved it once I had a chance to think about it. Jack Bauer represents who we want to be while at the same time manifesting the darkness inside of us that we all know is there. My reflection on the series and finale are here: Part 1 and Part 2.

Salt (Dec 7)


I have not seen this film but felt like I should plug it simply because I have not heard a bad thing about it. The previews only show scenes from the first half of the movie and it looks like the previews way overplay the sex – from what I can tell it’s a very clean movie but for language. Watch James Harleman’s thoughts on the film below. I look forward to seeing this movie.

Other releases include the final installment (hopefully) of the Shrek saga (Dec 7), the highly rated (97% on Rotten Tomatoes!) war documentary Restrepo (Dec 7), the looks-disappointing A-Team (Dec 14), the heavily recommended
Despicable Me (Dec 14), and Wall Street 2: Greed Again? (Dec 21. The original was one of my dad’s favorite flicks).

UPDATE (1/3/11)

Salt: My wife and I enjoyed this film. By the middle of the film, I had no idea what to expect. I loved the husband and his humble confidence as well as his relentless pursuit after her to win her.  I loved how everything wasn’t necessarily tidied up at the end.

Restrepo: Simply incredible documentary that will enthrall you and break you. It follows a platoon of soldiers deployed in the insanely intense Korengal Valley of Afghanistan for a year. The scene in which one soldier is killed (off camera) and seeing the response of the other soldiers will change how you think about war. This is a must see documentary, very well done, very objective, and will increase your respect and honor for what our soldiers endure. Beware of the language if you’re sensitive to that, I’m not sure if I’ve heard more f-words in any movie (even Tarantino’s films) ever. This film is worth watching though, I highly recommend it.

Update (1/28/11)

Despicable Me: I enjoyed and laughed frequently in this movie. Steve Carell is so funny as Gru and Jason Segel is so over the top as Vector I laughed whenever he came on screen. The end is predictable and I appreciate how they don’t even try to explain the origin of the minions.

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If you have been following this blog for very long, you have likely figured at least one thing: I gravitate towards the Old Testament. From Jacob to Ahab to Job, I consistently get more encouragement from my time in the OT. I see real life there. I see the gospel and the foreshadowing of Jesus everywhere. I identify with sinners like Judah. I see hope for God to use me in the life of a man like Jonah. I grieve and learn with Job in his suffering and loss and wrestling with who this God really is. So when I saw this post from Tyler Kenney at Desiring God, I just had to highlight it and draw attention to it. Tyler’s thoughts:

It has been my experience, in talking with fellow evangelicals, that many of us are quick to equate the Old Testament to mean little more than what the Pharisees thought it meant in Jesus’ day. It is a book of Jewish religion, and if there is any Christian doctrine in its pages, it is veiled to the reader who hasn’t first become acquainted with the New Testament.

We tend the view the OT as outdated and not useful anymore. It’s too confusing; I don’t have to obey any of Leviticus anymore anyway, right? What relevance would 1st and 2nd Kings be to me? We’re not a nation anymore and besides, I would never do what those kings did and let all that happen. Ezekiel? Way too hard to understand.

So why not skip the OT altogether and just stick with the New?

That would make sense if mere doctrinal information is all we are after. If all we want from our Bibles is to learn Christian dogma in its most developed form, reading the NT alone would probably be sufficient. It practically teaches every doctrine covered by the OT, and then of course it adds some crucial material of its own.

But we want more from Scripture than just a systematic theology, don’t we? There’s a reason we don’t settle for catechisms and dissertations in our devotional lives. We want faith and hope and encouragement and love, not merely a catalogue of things we ought to believe. And how do we get those things?

How often is the Old Testament preached on in our churches? (The last 2 months, actually, in my church!) Most folks I know have not even read the entire OT and tend to avoid it. There’s definitely something to be said for understanding the New Testament and the gospel. But isn’t sin still sin? We tend to say that the God of the OT is different and harsher and more condemning? Really? Who talked more about hell and eternal punishment and gnashing of teeth? That’s right, Jesus, in the New Testament! The OT is full of seemingly harsh physical punishments and consequences but the NT highlights the even scarier doctrine of hell.

But there’s no grace in the Old Testament! Really? There’s no grace in how God blesses and pursues men like Jacob and Ahab? Take a closer look at Ahab’s life, a man proclaimed the most evil king ever. Take a look at Job’s life even and recognize how in the OT, God is still the same God who wants relationship with us, wants us to be satisfied in Him, and will eventually crush all sin by taking the punishment and guilt on Himself. Maybe His glorious grace is not completely or fully revealed there in the Old Testament, but it’s there. Look for it. The people of the OT were real. Those things actually happened. Read it that way.

The more I read the OT, the more I see how indispensable it is for fostering the encouragement and faith I need to thrive in my walk with God. And my challenge to you in writing this post is that you would approach the OT as a complete, competent, and relevant work for you in its own right.

The OT is not a deflated sail that needs NT air to get moving. Sure, there is more revelation beyond Malachi, and yes, we shouldn’t try to just forget the NT when reading the prophets. But let’s not use what we know from the apostles to reinterpret or silence what the prophets themselves have to say to us. They were writing for us in the first place, you know (1 Peter 1:12).

Don’t fear the Old Testament. Read it. Process it. See His steadfast love there. See people not that different from you and me there. Most of all see His glorious grace there.

Read Tyler Kenney’s full post here: “Thoughts on Evangelical Neglect of the Old Testament”

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A Pharisee would read about Jacob’s life and go, “Woah, that guy was wreck! Thank God I’m doing better than he did!” I definitely have walked away from reading about Jacob thinking that I wasn’t all that bad. But truthfully I am. For more about Jacob’s life and a little on why I even hope to be like him, see part 1.

Jacob’s deceive or be deceived lifestyle was isolating. Laban deceives him. His own sons deceive him. He tries to manipulate Esau when they meet again. Joseph even tries to get Jacob and the rest of his sons to lie to Pharaoh (end of Gen. 46). It never seems to end. He was not close with his dad, Isaac, Esau, his brother, or Laban, his uncle. His son, Joseph, was exiled to Egypt for most of his life largely because of Jacob’s outright favoritism. He was isolated by his struggle with being a deceiver and manipulator. God continually presses him, taking away his best friend in Rachel and his closest son in Joseph. Jacob was a lonely man. When I saw that, I really empathized with him. You could hammer him by saying that it’s his own fault but put yourself in his life with his flesh patterns. Would you do differently?

However, something happens during Jacob’s loneliest moments. God seems to show up. When he first leaves home and is on the way to Laban’s house, God speaks to him in a dream and promises to bless him. Next, when on the run from Laban, God works unbeknownst to Jacob speaking to Laban, essentially protecting Jacob. The night before he is to reunite with the brother he stole everything from; he’s all alone, separated from his family in total fear of what Esau will do. God meets Jacob in the form of a man. Jacob wrestles with God and is shown he has strength. When Simeon and Levi avenge Dinah’s rape, wiping out a whole village of men, Jacob is whining and fearful of retribution. God meets him almost immediately with gentle and kind words promising to protect them. In the midst of Canaanites, God again meets him, giving him a new name, the name of Israel. When Jacob is just about numb, without hope from the loss of Rachel, Joseph, and seemingly Benjamin, God restores his hope, gives him back Joseph, and meets him again in a dream. God steps in and meets Jacob every time he needs it. Does Jacob deserve this? Nope. Do we deserve for God to meet us in this way? Nope. Can we hope in God to meet us where we’re at as He met Jacob? Yes! Through Jesus!

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.” (Romans 8:31-33 ESV)

Jacob is a sinner, but God is completely for him. Jacob‘s life encourages me greatly. God blesses and uses Jacob out of no merit of Jacob’s. Jacob even grows to have a good relationship with God. How? This puzzles us because we think Jacob is a lying, passive, wussy, punting, male. Why should he be tight with God and receive His blessing, father the nation of Israel, have dreams God meet him in, wrestle with God face to face, or get his sheep multiplied like crazy? He is not very righteous… Wait.  Then it becomes clear. God blessed Jacob, in spite of him! He does that with me as well!

I think I identify more with Jacob than with any other Jewish patriarch. Abraham left his home at a command and was willing to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. We never really get to know Isaac that well, and Joseph fended off a very beautiful woman who was being very purposeful and strategic in trying to sleep with him. Jacob did not have a good relationship with his parents; it was run by sibling rivalry. He was taught to manipulate, so that is what he did. He was isolated and lonely and became the epitome of passivity. He took after his dad in the worst ways, he played favorites, was passive, and distant. In some ways, he’s not that different than me. But God uses him! In fact, God uses him almost more so than any of his seemingly more “perfect” fathers or sons. There is hope for me! There is hope! Even though my life can look much like Jacob’s, yet I can walk near with God and converse with Him as I am. Yes I need to grow (Jacob does seem to try) and yes I need to repent. I will be a sinner the rest of my life and yet I am free to know God in the closest way. That is pretty good news from Jacob’s life.

Another thing I love about God that we see from Jacob’s life is that God will be the decisive one to tell me who I am. Not my parents, not this world, not my friends, not Laban or Isaac or Esau or my wives! God alone tells me who I am. Pretty ironic that it is Jacob with whom God wrestles and gives a new name. Jacob, the “deceiver” is given a new name, a better name, by God. How can you not love that?

Abraham’s faith and willingness to nearly sacrifice his only son, David’s heart, Noah’s obedience, Joseph’s perseverance and forgiveness, make them like spiritual giants to me; much like men like Hudson Taylor, Jonathan Edwards, or John Calvin. The Pharisee I’m recovering from only sees Jacob as a man who just keeps messing up. A man that never could live up to those men who went before him. A man who never really got his life together and never really changes. As a Pharisee, I missed the profound change, a change Jacob may have never really seen: Jacob was a normal guy, impacted by his family and his circumstances, who struggles to rise above his sin. But Jacob walks with God and grows to see God as his God not just the God of his fathers. God loves Jacob deeply and speaks to Jacob. Just like me. Wow.

The Rest of the Series:

Learning to Stop Reading the Bible like a Pharisee

Learning to Stop Reading the Bible like a Pharisee: Jacob – Part 1

Learning to Stop Reading the Bible like a Pharisee: Saul

Learning to Stop Reading the Bible like a Pharisee: Ahab

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