Did you know that the first consequence of Jacob’s actions is that Esau vows to kill Jacob? Not really surprising since Jacob basically stole Esau’s blessing! Because of this, Rebekah sends Jacob to Haran to live with her family. Isaac never left the Promised Land, but Jacob has to flee for his life. Not only that, but Jacob tries to make a deal with God. He asks for God help and if that help is provided only then will he carry on the faith of his fathers! When he arrives in Haran, he meets his uncle Laban, and falls in love with Laban’s daughter, Rachel. Laban demands seven years of service before he will allow the marriage to take place. When the marriage takes place, Jacob discovers he has been tricked into marrying Rachel’s older sister, Leah. Jacob demands to know Laban has deceived him. Laban replies that the eldest should be given in marriage first. Laban also reminds Jacob of his own deceit when Jacob’s father was older and could not see well. So Jacob has reaped the deceit that he has sown! Jacob now must work for another seven years in order to marry Rachel. Rachel is the favored wife, but does not bear children. Leah bears sons, yet both women have their female servants be with Jacob so that even more children can be born. Finally, Rachel bears her first son, Joseph. Just like Sarah had her maidservant bear a child for Abraham, both Leah and Rachel follow her example. There is a constant rivalry between the two sisters for the affection of their husband. Interestingly, there is no judgment stated in Genesis about this practice, yet their actions will have serious consequences. Eventually, Jacob decides to leave Haran and return to the Promised Land.
Jacob is fearful about meeting his brother again, and sends messengers to ask for Esau’s favor. Still fearful, Jacob spends the night in prayer and meets a strange man with whom he wrestles. Jacob asks for a blessing and receives it, and then the man changes Jacob’s name to Israel, which means “he who wrestles with God.” The promise is made that Jacob’s new name will be the name of a new nation. The lesson here is that Jacob did not have to steal the blessing from Esau in order to receive a blessing! God would have granted it to him anyway! The next day, Esau welcomes his brother back, and Jacob offers Esau a gift. The Lord’s words to Rebekah when Jacob was born were, “The elder shall serve the younger”. Jacob’s life of theft, scheming and deceit was not what blessed him; the love of God is what blessed him. All Jacob had to do was put his complete trust in God and everything would have been all right. In the end Jacob prayed to the Lord and it led him back to his home, to the brother he had wronged. This lesson of brotherly love foreshadows the New Testament teaching that love of God and love of neighbor are intimately entwined. Putting our trust completely in God and following His will is what will bring us blessings and love. But we need to be people of honor and not deceit. Deceit and scheming and pride and envy only bring sorrow and suffering. Being faithful to God and trusting in His will, will bring us peace, love, blessings and comfort. Let us always live our lives in God’s will.
See you soon! Karen