Jacob’s story is told in Genesis 25—50. He is also mentioned in Hosea 12:2–5; Matthew 1:2; 22:32; Acts 7:8–16; Romans 9:11–13; Hebrews 11:9, 20, 21.
Got the things he wants in life through deception
Genesis 27:36Esau said bitterly, “No wonder his name is Jacob, for he has deceived me twice, first taking my birthright and now stealing my blessing.
Jacob means “he grasps the heel”; this can also figuratively mean “he deceives.”
Jacob first deceived his brother into selling the birthright to him for a bowl of porridge. He then deceived his father into thinking that he was Esau and blessing him. Jacob knows what he wants in life and is not guilty of using deception to get it.
It may be God’s warning for us against using deception because the Bible records that Jacob himself was later deceived by his father-in-law, Laban. He worked seven years for Laban in return for Rachel’s hand in marriage but ended up with Leah, Rachael’s older sister.
The Bible warns us against judgment for the deceivers.
Psalms 5:6 You will destroy those who tell lies. The Lord detests murderers and deceivers.
As Christians we should not resort to deception to get what we want in life. Are you tempted to get something in life through deception? If so, ask God for strength to help you to overcome this temptation and to speak only truths.
Did everything with zeal and determination
Jacob did everything, both right and wrong, with great zeal. He deceived his own brother, Esau, and his father Isaac. He wrestled with an angel and worked fourteen years to marry the woman he loved.
Genesis 29:18 Since Jacob was in love with Rachel, he told her father, “I’ll work for you seven years if you’ll give me Rachel, your younger daughter, as my wife.” 19″Agreed!” Laban replied. “I’d rather give her to you than to someone outside the family.” 20 So Jacob spent the next seven years working to pay for Rachel. But his love for her was so strong that it seemed to him but a few days. 21Finally, the time came for him to marry her. “I have fulfilled my contract,” Jacob said to Laban. “Now give me my wife so we can be married.” 22So Laban invited everyone in the neighborhood to celebrate with Jacob at a wedding feast. 23 That night, when it was dark, Laban took Leah to Jacob, and he slept with her. 24And Laban gave Leah a servant, Zilpah, to be her maid. 25But when Jacob woke up in the morning—it was Leah! “What sort of trick is this?” Jacob raged at Laban. “I worked seven years for Rachel. What do you mean by this trickery?” 26″It’s not our custom to marry off a younger daughter ahead of the firstborn,” Laban replied. 27″Wait until the bridal week is over, and you can have Rachel, too—that is, if you promise to work another seven years for me.” 28 So Jacob agreed to work seven more years. A week after Jacob had married Leah, Laban gave him Rachel, too. 29And Laban gave Rachel a servant, Bilhah, to be her maid. 30So Jacob slept with Rachel, too, and he loved her more than Leah. He then stayed and worked the additional seven years.
Jacob knew what he wanted and was willing to pay the price to get it. He understood what it meant when we say “No pain, no gain.”
Are we willing to pay the cost to get what we want? Many people want instant success in life. People even want success in life in the spiritual arena. We pray for our loved ones only occasionally and expect them to have a change in heart about Jesus. We invite a person to church and expects him to accept the invitation the first time.
We have to be realistic that some things we want in life require a lot of time and energy. But if we want something so bad, we should be willing to spend that time and energy. Jacob loved Rachel so much he was willing to work fourteen years to have her.
What do you want? Do you want your loved ones saved? Do you want your backslided Christian friend walking with God again? How badly do you want those things? Can we do more to help the situation? Perhaps we can pray more or spend more time with that person. Better yet, come out with a concrete plan. For example, we can say that we want to pray everyday for this person and fast and pray once a week for him. We can also plan a schedule to call him regularly to keep in touch and to invite him to church.
Bargained with God
Genesis 28:20 Then Jacob made this vow: “If God will be with me and protect me on this journey and give me food and clothing, 21and if he will bring me back safely to my father, then I will make the Lord my God.
Was Jacob trying to bargain with God? It is possible that he, in his ignorance of how to worship and serve God, treated God like a servant who would perform a service for a tip.
Although God granted Jacob his request, we must not conclude that this is the best way to approach God. God did so out of His graciousness and mercy. We should not bargain with God. If we worship and show our love to God out of ulterior motives, how genuine can our worship be? If your spouse tells you that she will only show love to you if you give her $5,000 a month and lots of gifts, how excited can you be about this “love”?
God’s love towards us is unconditional and He showed that “by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners”. Our love towards Him should be no different.
Are we trying to bargain with God?
Trusted in God’s providence despite adversities
Genesis 31:4 Jacob called Rachel and Leah out to the field where he was watching the flocks, 5so he could talk things over with them. “Your father has turned against me and is not treating me like he used to,” he told them. “But the God of my father has been with me. 6You know how hard I have worked for your father, 7but he has tricked me, breaking his wage agreement with me again and again. But God has not allowed him to do me any harm. 8For if he said the speckled animals were mine, the whole flock began to produce speckled lambs. And when he changed his mind and said I could have the streaked ones, then all the lambs were born streaked.
Jacob was able to trust God to help him out even though the circumstances were not working for him. He could trust God because he has specific examples of how God had helped him in the past. In this case he remembered that after he agreed with Laban that the speckled animals belong to him, God caused the lambs to be born speckled so that they could belong to Jacob.
Without specific examples, it is difficult to carry ourselves through adversities and still keep our faith in God. The more relevant the example, the better. If you have difficulty trusting God to improve your job performances, has God helped you to improve your job performance in the past? If you can’t think of an example that specific, has God helped you in any area in your job in the past?
When we remind ourselves of what God has done, we will not forget that God will indeed work everything for good for those who love him despite the present difficult circumstances that we may be experiencing.
Reminded God of His promises
Genesis 32:9 Then Jacob prayed, “O God of my grandfather Abraham and my father, Isaac—O Lord, you told me to return to my land and to my relatives, and you promised to treat me kindly. 10I am not worthy of all the faithfulness and unfailing love you have shown to me, your servant. When I left home, I owned nothing except a walking stick, and now my household fills two camps! 11O Lord, please rescue me from my brother, Esau. I am afraid that he is coming to kill me, along with my wives and children. 12But you promised to treat me kindly and to multiply my descendants until they become as numerous as the sands along the seashore—too many to count.”
Jacob was in effect saying, “God, I am in this problem because I obeyed You. Therefore I would like You to take care of the problem for me.”
Jacob knew that because it was God who called him into this situation, God would have a way out for him. God does not lead people into dead-end streets. Are you in financial lack because you obeyed God’s call and went into full-time ministry? Then ask God to take care of it. Are you facing difficulties at work because you obeyed God and refuse to compromise you values? Then ask God to work out the situation for good.