Jacob was far from being a perfect man, but there is a rich lesson to be learned from his life about the grace of God. It is not long in the biblical narrative before we read of how the “deceiver” got a dose of his own medicine from Laban. Jacob had worked seven years for Laban in order to secure Rachel’s hand in marriage, only to wake up the next morning beside her sister Leah! (Imagine that one.) Then, after working a total of 20 years for Laban, he is taken advantage of and treated in a spiteful way by Laban. Think of the irony we see in Jacob’s life. He begins by running from Esau to Laban, and then by running from Laban right back into Esau. The decisions we make in life often come back to hound our steps. It is foolish to think that we can escape our problems by running from them.
By this point in his life, Jacob has learned something about the character and faithfulness of God. In Genesis 32, we find him on his knees in prayer and submission before the Lord. He appeals to the truth of God’s Word and the promise of divine blessing. Then, we see him wrestling with God until the break of day. The pain he had experienced in life had driven him to his knees in dependent faith. It is at this moment in his life that his name is changed from Jacob to Israel. The one who had spent so much of his life striving with man had learned to walk with God. Imagine what this did to his faith when he was greeted in kind by Esau rather than by violence? It only made it stronger.
Jacob’s story shows us how God meets us at whatever level He finds us in order to lift us up to where He wants us to be. That is grace. Instead of running from our problems and trying to scheme our way through life, Jacob teaches us to run into the gracious arms of our Savior.