What practical key life learnings can we glean from the life of Jacob?
Context (Genesis 25-50): Jacob was a very complex man and there is much we can learn from him. He was the younger son of Isaac and he had 12 sons who became the 12 tribes of Israel. His name means “he grasps the heel, or he deceives” because much of his life was characterized by deception.
Jacob came into life grabbing the heal of his older brother Esau. Then he deceived his brother into giving Jacob his birthright and then deceived his father, Isaac, into giving Jacob the oldest son’s blessing.
He was deceived by his father-in-law, Laban, into working for 7 years for a wife he didn’t want and then another 7 years for the one he did want.
He struggled with God by the Jordan river and God changed Jacob’s name to ‘Israel’ meaning ‘he struggles with God’.
Finally he listened to God and moved his whole family to Egypt during a famine so that God’s People would survive and be prepared by hardship to carry out God’s will.
Key Life Learnings:
- Reconciliation can overcome treachery (Genesis 33:1-17). A beautiful picture of reconciliation can be found between Esau and Jacob. Ever since Jacob deceived his brother Esau and stole his birthright, Jacob had been deathly afraid of Esau. But when they finally did meet years later and both had families and great wealth, Esau welcomed Jacob and forgave him and Jacob was actually able to give a blessing back to Esau (Gen 33:11). What a sweet picture of God’s never failing love for us.
- Favoritism leads to deception and despair (Genesis 37). Joseph was the favorite son of Jacob and he even gave Joseph a special mutli-colored tunic just to prove it. Joseph’s 10 brothers hated him for it and went so far as to sell Joseph to some desert nomads and then told their father Jacob that Joseph had been eaten by wild animals. Jacob was devastated by this news. How sad that Jacob’s own favoritism had created so much jealousy in his sons that led to their deception of the deceiver and Jacob’s despair.
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