God with us in our families -the story of Jacob and family challenges.
George Methodist Church 3rd February 2019
8am and 10 am Genesis 25 – 36
I have wrestled with the story of Jacob for the whole week and somehow after having a conversation with Debbie I had a bit of an aha moment and it came together.
It’s interesting that I am sharing on the story of twins today Esau and Jacob and my son Luke did a YouTube video which was about twins and the challenge of his boss Dan Mace and Lisa swopping jobs and trying to do what the other one does with great diﬃculty.
The story in a nutshell is of Isaac and Rebekah having two twin boys. Esau is born first and then Jacob and his name means both heel catcher and deceiver.
They grow up very diﬀerently and Esau is more of a hunter and Jacob more of a farmer gatherer.
Esau comes back after being very hungry and his father Isaac is very old and blind. His mother Rebekah plots a plan to make Jacob look like Esau by preparing a meat meal for his dad and putting goats hair on his arms because his brother Esau was a hairy man.
The aha moment for me was when I realised that Esau has a throwaway line which implies that he is not that interested in his birthright and is willing to sell it to his brother. We need to remember that when Rebekah inquired of the Lord about her sons he said to her : Genesis 25: 23 “Two nations are in your womb,
and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other,
and the older will serve the younger.”
This happens and through deception Jacob gets the birthright but then has to pay for it. He goes out with nothing and works for his uncle Laban to win the heart of his daughter Rachel. He deceives
Jacob and gives him Leah and also a slave girl and ultimately returns home being deeply humbled.
One night he wrestles with God and through this his name is changed to Israel which means wrestles with God. Out of this there is a transformation of heart and he reconciles with his brother Esau who forgives him and puts things right. God is not able to bless us if we have unforgiveness and have not put things right in our own lives and in the lives of others.
Through the three wives which he has and in spite of being a deceiver God sees that his life has changed and blesses him with 12 sons and a daughter Dinah, who are the 12 tribes of Israel.
Esau becomes the father of the Edomites and sadly they split up and become two nations which are still at war to this day !!!!
We know that it was these people who ultimately took Joseph in and restored relationship with Jacob when he comes back from the famine but that’s a story for next week and so I want to concentrate this morning on some of the life lessons for us as we unpack this story and there are four R’s that we are going to look at Right’s and birthrights
Return and reconciliation Results
1. Rights and birthrights Genesis 27: 13 – 29
Many of us sitting here can often feel quite hard done by with the portion that we have in a family. We can often feel that a family member got a better deal than us and it seems so unfair because they didn’t seem to deserve. I think Jacob born as the heal catcher was challenge for Jacob. He becomes deceitful and tricks his father into giving him the birthright and his mom is in with I’m on the deal. Esau is seriously bitter about this and wants to kill his brother and so Jacob has to escape for his life. It’s interesting that a much as the story begins in such a mess, it ends as we shall see in God working all things together for good. How often have we found in our own lives that we really may not have started out well and have struggled with our lot in life, however, God is working for good something much deeper than we can initially see.
2. Restitution. Genesis 29
It’s pay back time for Jacob because he has to leave his country and home and goes to Padam Aram and before he goes his father blesses him with these words – Genesis 28:3,4.
He meets Rachel, Laban’s daughter (his uncle Rebekah’s brother ). He kisses her on the first date !!!! I wonder who did that ???? ( I kissed Debbie on our first date and knew she was my wife to be when I first met her- wow 34 years later and God has blessed us so much )
He serves Laban for seven years for his daughter Rachel and in the end he gets Leah instead !!!
He then serves another seven years (talk about restitution) and ultimately gains Rachel as a wife.
After Laban being really angry that Jacob had once again fled (Genesis 31:22 -55) he blesses Jacob and he returns to his land but remember that angry Esau is there and he has to confront him. So often when we have done something wrong as much as God will use it for good there is still a need for restitution. I am sure in your life you have had this happen where it is payback time and it is not easy. When you come through this there is still more work to be done and that is the third R.
3. Return wrestling and reconciliation Genesis 32 – 33
So the story continues and Jacob finds himself pleading for the Lord’s help Genesis 32: 9 – 12 read.
He sends a gift to his brother Esau and he then Jacob wrestles with God. In deep humility there is a wrestle with a Man of God and a change of name. For all of us there is that moment when we have to confront ourselves and our own agenda and then turn and face the reality that maybe even we need a “Name Change” which will relate to our character. Saul became Paul and Peter etc… We need to sometimes wrestle with God and find ourselves in the place of limping knowing it’s about his authority and not ours. To reconcile
with someone often takes us deeply out of our comfort zone but it is God’s recipe for success. So many people live with unforgiveness and sadly this is what cause much pain and disease in our world.Revisit some of those uncomfortable places and restore the relationships you need to restore.
Last and certainly not least the results of all of this was the fulfilment of God’s covenantal promise both to Abraham and Isaac and now to Jacob. Eleven sons and one daughter had been born to the three woman who were Jacob’s wives and now a twelfth son is born in much pain and while she is giving birth to him she names him Ben-Ben-One (son of my trouble). His father later named him Benjamin (son of my right hand) even he was renamed. Genesis 35: 16 -22.
12 sons and 12 tribes became the one’s we know so well and yet even to this day we know that through turmoil and trauma on 2 of those tribes survived – Judah and Benjamin and the Lion of Judah, the Lamb of God is the result of Jacob’s birthright, his restitution and return and reconciliation with his brother and finally the result of the HIS -STORY we know today.
“He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.” Phil 1:6