This week, I am writing a three part series on the life of Jacob. The portion of the biblical narrative devoted to Jacob consists of several chapters in the book of Genesis. He becomes a central figure in the life of the Israelite nation, as well as in the line of the promised Messiah. Taken together with his grandfather Abraham, and his father Isaac, this triad of patriarchs dominate most of the story in Genesis. Even though these three men were fathers of the faith and worshippers of God, they were also imperfect. I have heard it said that the Bible does not flatter its heroes, which serves as an internal evidence of its divine inspiration. Man likes to make himself look better than he really is, but God tells the truth. None of their imperfections stand out more than those in Jacob’s life.
To begin with, Isaac and Rebekah have twin sons–Jacob and Esau. Though they came from the same womb and shared the same birthday, they could not have been any more different. Esau was the epitome of “worldly” masculinity, the killin’ and grillin’ type that you often find in beer commercials. Jacob was more of a momma’s boy, the kind that was perfectly content to stay indoors while the rest of the men folk were out in the woods hunting. But what Jacob lacked in physical prowess, he more than made up for in cunning. In fact, his nickname was “deceiver.” Even before birth, he and his brother had contended with each other as Jacob grasped onto Esau’s heel. This was taken to mean that Jacob would trip up his brother and take advantage of him, which would indeed prove to be true. It would begin by securing his brother’s birthright, as well as deceiving his elderly father Isaac into giving him the blessing of the firstborn. Jacob was living up to his nickname for sure. Even though the story of Jacob has a scandalous beginning, he will eventually show remarkable faith and trust in God. The Lord God will prove His grace in Jacob’s life. Thus, we learn from Jacob that bad beginnings do not always guarantee bad endings. God will eventually change his life and give him a new name!
If you feel like your life got off to a rough start, and you constantly live with the stigma of bad choices made at a different time in your life, be encouraged by what the Bible has to say about Jacob. Our Savior is full of mercy and grace. Through His death and resurrection, He paid the price for sin and won the victory so that I could have a brand new beginning. The man or woman who trusts in Christ, regardless of what they have done or where they have been, he or she is a brand new creature. Old things have passed away, and all things have become new.