Deceiver or Overcomer?

Last week we looked at Joseph.  This week let’s look at his father Jacob. The name Jacob means supplanter, or one who replaces or displaces. So from the beginning, his name gives us a clue as to what will happen between Jacob and his twin brother Esau, who was born first.  Plus scripture also tells us that before they were born, God revealed His will by telling their mother Rebekah that the younger will serve the older (similar to Joseph and his brothers). So did Jacob get a bum rap by being known as the deceiver by stealing both Esau’s birthright and his blessing? Well, let’s look at the birthright. It doesn’t appear that it took much convincing for Jacob to persuade Esau to give him his birthright. Scripture tell us that Esau had no regard for his birthright to have traded it for a bowl of stew so it meant little to him. No amount of hunger should have caused Esau to regard his birthright so casually.  And let’s look at the blessing. It would seem that the entire scheme was Rebekah’s. Jacob was doing exactly what his mother told him to, although he lied to his father when Isaac asked him several times who he was.  It would seem that Rebekah was the deceiver. But Rebekah, just as Joseph did with his dream, did not forget what God had told her about her sons, that the older would serve the younger.  So this gives some insight into her motivation. In Jacob’s adult life, the deceit we read of was perpetrated against Jacob, not by him.  Was Jacob really a deceiver?  That may be for you to decide, but God knows what it takes to carry out His purposes.  And birth status isn’t the most important requirement to God, as we saw with Joseph  and even with Isaac and then later with King David. God knew us all before the womb and His plans for us were set long before we breathed our first breath. He knows who is best for His purposes. God changed Jacob’s name to Israel which means: one who struggles with God and humans and overcomes. Jacob may have started out a deceiver, but he ended up an overcomer.

23 And the LORD told her, “The sons in your womb will become two nations. From the very beginning, the two nations will be rivals. One nation will be stronger than the other; and your older son will serve your younger son.” Genesis 25:23 (NLT)

34 And Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils; then he ate and drank, arose, and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright. Genesis 25:34 (NKJV)

16 Make sure that no one is immoral or godless like Esau, who traded his birthright as the firstborn son for a single meal. Hebrews 12:16 (NLT)

5 “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5 (NLT)