Hall of Faith: Jacob, blessed by God

Jacob is the third generation of the great patriarch’s of the Old Testament and Israelite’s. He is the son of Isaac and grandson of Abraham.

Jacob is very different from his twin, Esau

Jacob means “holder of the heel” or “supplanter”. When he was born he reached out holding onto his twin brother’s, Esau, heel. Even when they were both in the womb we are told “the children struggled within her”. {Genesis 25:22}. The Lord told Rebekah she had two nations in her womb.

We are told that Rebekah loved Jacob and Isaac loved Esau. Can you imagine the friction this must have caused at times?

When they were still boys Esau sold his birthright to Jacob for a pot of stew. {Genesis 25:31-34}

Isaac blesses Jacob

So, when Isaac called to bestow the birthright, Jacob was claiming what he felt was rightfully his. Yet, he still dressed up as his brother and deceived his father. {Genesis 28}

Isaac bestowed a blessing upon Jacob that was unbreakable.

After taking the blessing, Esau hated his brother. Rebekah did not want her favorite son to marry the pagan women the same way her elder son had and Isaac sent Jacob to the land of Rebekah’s father.

On his way to Haran, Jacob had a vision of a ladder with angel’s going up and down. This

God blessed Jacob

is why we hear the term “Jacob’s ladder”. God spoke to Jacob and blessed him. When Jacob awoke, he swore his allegiance to the Lord. {Genesis 28}

“And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, and Jehovah will be my God, then this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.” {Genesis 28:20-22}

Jacob instantly loved Rachael and worked 7 years for her

When he arrives in Haran, Jacob first meets a shepherdess named Rachael, who turns out to be his cousin. He instantly falls in love with her and asked for her hand in marriage. Her father, Laban, agreed as long as he worked seven years for her.

We are told “These seven years seemed to Jacob “but a few days, for the love he had for her” {Genesis 29:20}.

Yet, things did not go as Jacob planned them.

Rachael had an older sister named, Leah, who

He was tricked into marrying Leah

was also not married. The only thing we are told about her is “Leah’s eyes were tender”. There are many theories that this means weak, but we do not know for sure. However, compared to the description of her sister Rachael she is perceived as being very homely or plain. We are told that “Rachel was beautiful and well-favored”. {Genesis 29:17}

When the wedding took place, Laban convinced Leah to take her sister’s place. When Jacob discovered the conceit the next morning, he was furious and demanded an answer from Laban. Laban insisted on seven more years of work from Jacob in return for Rachel’s hand in marriage.

The Lord blessed Leah’s womb

“He loved Rachel more than Leah…and Jehovah saw that Leah was hated, and he opened her womb, but Rachael was barren.” {Genesis 29:30-31}.

Things weren’t getting better for Jacob, only worse. He became a pawn between his wives. Leah continued to give him sons, but longed for his love. Rachael had his love, but longed to give him sons. Both women grew to resent what the other had.

Poor Jacob. On one hand you have to feel sorry for him. He must have felt as if he could never win at pleasing these women.

Then add into the mix that each wife gives him a handmaid, once Leah stopped having

Jacob was blessed with many sons and sheep

sons, and both handmaids gives him two sons each.

Eventually, Leah has six sons, two additional sons through her handmaid and a daughter. Finally, after all of these children and Rachael’s handmaid having two sons, Rachael gives birth to a son, Joseph. He became Jacob’s favorite son. {Genesis 30}

After Joseph was born, Jacob decides to return home to his family. He and Laban make a deal for the sheep, which becomes a shrewd deal on Jacob’s part and God richly blesses him. Tensions mount between Jacob and Laban.

The Lord eventually blessed Rachael with a son

When God tells Jacob to leave, he did so without informing Laban, who becomes angry. {Genesis 31}. Laban’s mood does not help that his idols have been stolen, but Jacob knows nothing of this and curses whoever took them. What he does not know was Rachael, his favorite wife, took the idols and is hiding them.

Imagine Jacob’s heartache when he learned that Rachael was the one to take these idols.

Jacob and Laban mend their relationship before parting ways.

He took his family and returned to his homeland

Jacob then prepares to meet his brother, Esau, whom he has not seen in approximately 20 years. {Genesis 33}

Before meeting with his brother, Jacob took time to worship the Lord. That night he wrestled with a man who touched his thigh. This would cause him to limp the remainder of his life. Jacob was given a new name, Israel, but when asked the name of the man but he was not told, although the man bestowed a blessing on him. “And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for, said he, I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” {Genesis 32:30}

His name was changed to Israel which means “God contended”. Contend is defined as a struggle to surmount a difficulty or danger. Jacob, now Israel, had wrestled with God.

Jacob then met his brother and made peace.

His wives and children left the only home they knew

Jacob would soon known great heartache.

1. His daughter,Dinah, was raped and his sons, Simeon and Levi, took matters into their own hands. {Genesis 34}

2. Rachael died giving birth to her second son, Benjamin. {Genesis 35:16-22}

3. His father died and he and Esau laid him to rest together {Genesis 35: 28-29}

4. His favorite son, Joseph, was believed killed {although in reality his brothers sold him into slavery}. {Genesis 37}

Jacob was reunited with his favorite son

We do not know much about Jacob in the following years, while we cover Joseph’s journey’s. One can assume that he raised and cared for his family and watched his sons grow into men and grandchildren enter the picture. He still had Leah, but we are not told if their relationship improved or not. One would hope Leah finally found the love she deserved.

Jacob did bury Leah in the Cave of the Patriarch’s with his parents and grandparents. To most scholars, this is believed to at least be a sign of respect for his wife.

Jacob and his sons where shepherds

The next thing we know of Jacob is when Joseph is reunited with his father many years later. However, not before he was tested and forced to send Benjamin to Egypt, not knowing if he would see him again. Imagine his delight when he discovered Joseph was alive and he still had Benjamin.

When Jacob learned Joseph was still alive we are told “the spirit of Jacob their father revived” and he said “ It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive: I will go and see him before I die” {Genesis 45:27-28}. Jacob would adopt both of Joseph’s sons and they would become part of the tribes of Israel.

Jacob was 147 years old when he died and his body was returned to the land of Canaan and the Cave of the Patriarch’s. He had twelve sons, one daughter and countless grandchildren and descendants. He blessed each of his sons before he died.

What can we learn from Jacob?

Jacob praised God

1. Jacob was not afraid to fight for what he wanted

2. God spoke to Jacob

3. God blessed Jacob

4. Jacob swore his allegiance to God

5. Jacob went from deceiver to being deceived

6. Jacob loved deeply, but also hated deeply

7. Jacob was a shrewd business man/Shepherd

8. Jacob wrestled with God

9. Jacob knew great heartache

The Lord blessed Jacob with many descendants

10. Jacob made peace with others

11. Jacob saw a right wrong before he died

12. Jacob’s name was changed to Israel {and he was the father of the 12 tribes of Israel}

Jacob’s story has many twist and turns in it throughout the years. We see him grow from an ambitious young man to a peaceful and wise older man. Jacob is not perfect, but he clearly loves God and seeks the Lord.

The Lord loved Jacob and blessed him greatly.

Jacob’s name was changed to Israel and he became the father of the 12 Tribes of Israel.

Life his grandfather, he was a man after the Lord’s heart. In the end, he was blessed by God.

How have you been blessed by God?


Images from FreeBibleImages.org

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