What Is the Good News of Yeshua? (Part 7)
Before he died, Abraham found a wife for his son from among the people of his father. He was determined to maintain his line’s distinction while still sojourning in that promised, yet foreign, country. Isaac loved Rebekah, who, like Sarah, had been barren. But Isaac prayed to God, and his prayers were abundantly answered—Rebekah conceived, and had not one child, but twins. From the womb, the two boys contended with one another, for God, indeed, had already made His plans. Esau, ruddy and hairy, came out first; and clutching his heel was relentless Jacob, the supplanter.
Isaac was partial to Esau, the hunter and man of the field—and, as the firstborn son, heir apparent to the promise. Yet Esau could not see past the needs of his present circumstances. Despising his birthright, he sold it to his younger brother for a mere saucer of stew. Then, when Esau was ready for marriage, he took foreign wives who brought a bitter spirit to Isaac and Rebekah. But despite the misery this created in Isaac’s house, Isaac loved Esau and intended to pass on his blessing to him.
So when Isaac grew old and had become blind—knowing that death drew ever nearer—he asked his beloved son Esau to hunt some fresh game, prepare it for him, and then receive his blessing. Rebekah, however, was partial to Jacob, and devised a plan to undermine her husband and take matters into her own hands. With her concerted assistance, Jacob disguised himself as his wooly, aromatic brother, and—bearing Rebekah’s most delicious meal—took the blessing reserved for his elder brother.
When the truth came to light, Isaac was visibly and violently shaken, and Esau was overt in his intentions to kill his deceptive brother. Rebekah and Isaac, realizing that Jacob was in imminent danger, urged him to run away. Seeing that God’s will was for his second-born—as it had also been for him—Isaac instructed Jacob to find a wife only from among their own people, and blessed him with a covenantal blessing: that God would bless Jacob, and make him fruitful, and give him the blessing of his father Abraham, and cause him—the son of the birthright—to carry on the covenant, and possess the promised land.
That night, as Jacob laid down to sleep, a dream came to him in which he saw a stairway reaching up to the sky, with angels of God ascending and descending upon it. When he looked, he saw Adonai standing at the top of the stairs, calling out to Jacob, saying,
“I am Adonai, God of [your father]. The land on which you are lying, I give it to you and to your seed… [I] will cause you to return to this ground. For I will not leave you….” (Gen. 28:13-15, mjlt)
Though Jacob had bargained for the birthright of his brother and deceitfully taken the blessing of the firstborn, God made no mention of it, nor spoke any chastisement against it, but readily joined Jacob to the covenant of his fathers. Undoubtedly, Esau had rejected his legacy, caring only for the blessing of prosperity and power—which he ultimately lost. God, it seems, prefers a faithful supplanter to a self-centered, wayward son.
When Jacob awoke, he made a vow before the God of Abraham and Isaac: because God promised to be with him, to guard him, and to one day return him home, then Adonai—the God of Promise—would be his God. A changed man, Jacob the deceiver became Jacob the shrewd, and he honored his parents by finding a wife he loved among his father’s kin. Finally, after twenty years and eleven sons, God told Jacob it was time to return to his father’s land. He set out, full of fear about his return, but God would soon prove to him the man he had become.
One night on the journey home, having prayed and having sent his flocks and family on ahead, Jacob remained alone. Suddenly, Jacob found himself intensely wrestling with a mysterious man for the remainder of the night. As dawn was breaking, so was Jacob, for the man—seeing he could not prevail against Jacob—touched him and injured him. But stubborn Jacob would not let go, holding out—once again—to be given a blessing. In reply to Jacob’s fears, the struggle revealed to him the truth and tenacity of his character. That morning, Jacob the supplanter was reborn as Israel the relentless, for he had “persevered with God and with men, and prevailed” (Genesis 32:28, mjlt).
The God of Salvation had given the world a second chance through Noah; now the God of Promise began to repave the way to life as the covenant God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. By faith, Abraham believed the promise; Isaac, too, by faith, blessed Jacob “regarding the coming things” (Hebrews 11:20, mjlt). And in Jacob, God bore abundant fruit—choosing not just a man, but, one day, a nation to change the world—so that all the families of the earth could find faith, and find Him, through the peculiar people of the promise.
The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob opened the door to life through inconceivable, unbelievable faith, “bringing the dead to life, and… calling the things not being as being” (Romans 4:17, mjlt).