Genesis: The Beginning Of Heroes 4 - Jacob The Broken Hero
Text: Genesis 25, 27, 32
Jacob is the Bible's
first anti-hero. Do you know what an anti hero is? It is a person who doesn't
act like a hero but winds up being a hero in the end. Like Paul Newman's character in the movie Cool Hand Luke.
The Supplanter - Genesis 25:19-34
24 And when her days
to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb. And the
first came out red, all over like an hairy garment; and they called his name
Esau. And after that came his brother out, and his hand took hold on Esau's
heel; and his name was called Jacob: and Isaac was threescore years old when
she bare them. And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the
field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents. And Isaac loved Esau,
because he did eat of his venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob.
29 And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint: And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom. And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright. And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me? And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright.
It seems that from the very beginning of Jacob’s life he is not satisfied. There is something in his nature that drives him to want more than what he has. At his birth he is clutching the heel of his brother Edom as if to say you can’t be the first born.
Because of the birth his brother is name Edom which means red, while he is name Jacob the heel catcher, the supplanter. Edom and Jacob are twin but definitely not identical twins and the differences in their personalities, actions and attachments make Edom or Esau a favorite of Isaac, while Jacob hangs around the campsite with his Mom, Rachael and becomes her favorite. Esau is an outdoors man, a hunter, who bring home the bacon, or in this case the venison and his Isaac loves venison and he loves his strong son, a real man’s man.
Jacob meanwhile learns to be a good cook. Nothing wrong with that but he doesn’t go hunting, he like to hang out by the tents and stay close to Mom. And Rachael loves that as any Mom would.
The Bible gives us no other details. It doesn’t tell us if Isaac tried to take Jacob hunting, to install a bit more manliness into him, to temper his mother’s influence. We can only guess at those things. We only know what the Bible tells us and we can only see the outcome of the favoritism of the two parents.
I will say this much though. Parents and grandparents never pick a favorite, never. Love your children and grandchildren equally. Each of them must have you full time, must have your full attention, and your full devotion when they are with you. You may not think a young child can tell that you prefer one over the other but believe me they can and it will hurt them. It will affect them, it will often bend them and make them resentful and rebellious. I believe it is the source of the friction in the family of Isaac.
Way to Supplanting
The first sign of Jacob’s nature is his birth but the first conscious act of being a supplanter by Jacob is the buying of his brother’s birthright.
Esau came in from the field, perhaps he was not successful that day in the hunt. He walks by his brother’s tent, his brother that’s always near his tent and he smells some stew. The bible calls it pottage. Not sure what all is in it except some lentils, but it was colored red probably from the lentils or spices that Jacob used. Remember he’s a good cook.
Edom is hungry and he asks, “Feed me, I pray some of that delicious looking red stew. I’m really weak from being out in the field all day.” Now Jacob could have just fed him some stew. He could have been brotherly. He could have been hospitable, but instead he supplants. He advances himself at the cost of another. At this point in his life, Jacob is not a good guy. He is selfish and he is willing to take what is not his from his own brother.
Esau was the firstborn and that meant that he was the inheritor of the name and place of Isaac, but Jacob was the heel catcher and he wanted that birth rite. Now taking advantage of his brother’s hunger and his brother's nature, as someone who would rather be hunting than taking care of the family heritage, Jacob makes a very one-sided deal.
Genesis 25:31 And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright. Esau says, “I’m starving, I’m close to death. What do I need with a birth rite if I’m dead.” And he agrees with the deal. Genesis 25:33 And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob. Jacob even throws in some bread to sweeten the deal, cause he’s such a great guy who loves his brother.
Now God word is heard, it clearly adds this note. Genesis 25:34 thus Esau despised his birthright. What Jacob did was wrong but what Esau did was shameful. Jacob showed no hospitality, no familial love but instead saw an opportunity for selfish gain and he took it. But Esau, Esau sold his heritage, his responsibility, and his honor for a bowl of stew.
Working Our Nature
Now some would say
that Jacob was just doing what the prophecy that Rebekah his mother had heard
before the boys were born. Genesis 25:23 And the LORD said unto her,
Two nations are in thy womb, And two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.
And probably that is right, but I would argue that instead of wanting more and taking it at the first opportunity from his own brother, Jacob should have waited on the Lord, but instead he tries to do the Lord’s work and fulfill the prophecy himself. He should have trusted the Lord’s word and let God fulfill the prophecy, Himself. But that is not in Jacob’s nature.
And while I’m throwing rocks at Jacob let me also throw some rocks in our general direction. Jacob is a selfish, scheming sinner who thinks the best way to do things is his own way. That is his nature, and you know why we can so readily see these faults in Jacob? Because that is our nature as well.
Paul pulls spares no feelings when he describes our nature by quoting the 14th Psalms in the 3rd chapter of his letter to the Romans.
Romans 3:9-18 What then? are we better than they? (Are we better than Jacob or Esau?) No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes.
There is no difference in the eyes of God because we are all by nature sinners, rebels, and murderers. God’s pure nature of holiness can only see us in the full iniquity of our fallen nature of sin.
Mark 7:21-23 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.
Galatians 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like:
That is what God’s word says about us, about man’s nature that has been tainted and poisoned by the sin of this world. You may not be all these things. I’m very glad you’re not else you’d be in prison instead of in church, but you are guilty of some of these things and because of God’s holy nature you only have to be guilty of one to be guilty of all. It is our nature. It is who we are. It was who Jacob was.
Now Jacob has Esau’s birthright but even that isn’t enough, He also wants Esau’s paternal blessing.
The Schemer - Genesis 27:1-30
And it came to pass,
that when Isaac was old, and his eyes were dim, so that he could not see, he
called Esau his eldest son, and said unto him, My son: and he said unto him,
Behold, here am I. And he said, Behold now, I am old, I know not the day of my
death: Now therefore take, I pray thee, thy weapons, thy quiver and thy bow,
and go out to the field, and take me some venison; And make me savoury meat,
such as I love, and bring it to me, that I may eat; that my soul may bless thee
before I die. And Rebekah heard when Isaac spake to Esau his son. And Esau went
to the field to hunt for venison, and to bring it.
And Rebekah spake unto Jacob her son, saying, Behold, I heard thy father speak unto Esau thy brother, saying, Bring me venison, and make me savoury meat, that I may eat, and bless thee before the LORD before my death. Now therefore, my son, obey my voice according to that which I command thee. Go now to the flock, and fetch me from thence two good kids of the goats; and I will make them savoury meat for thy father, such as he loveth: And thou shalt bring it to thy father, that he may eat, and that he may bless thee before his death.
Plotting instead of Trusting
I’m not going to read the entire passage; you are familiar with it. Jacob and Rachael plot and scheme to steal Esau’s blessing after he had made a very one-sided deal for his birthright.
The Wycliffe Bible commentary sums this up very well and I’m going to quote it to save time. “It is difficult to imagine all the pathos, agony, and cruel disappointment wrapped up in this colorful narrative. The old patriarch, with blinded eyes and a tottering frame, now made plans to give the sacred blessing to his first-born son. But the crafty Rebekah, who listened to his directions to Esau, immediately set about subverting and frustrating his plans. Her favorite son, Jacob, already had the birthright; she was determined that he should receive the blessing, too, from the lips of the Lord’s representative, so that all would be well with the divine inheritance. She could not risk waiting for God to work out his plans in his own way. So she resorted to the most contemptible deceit to secure the blessing for her younger son. - Charles F. Pfeiffer, The Wycliffe Bible Commentary: Old Testament, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1962), Ge 27:1.
The result of all this plotting and sinful scheming is that Jacob lies directly in the face of his near death blind father and steals the blessing. Jacob and Rebekah have in their own minds and hearts, fulfilled the prophecy, but their scheme have nothing to do with the plans and paths of God. The immediate result of all family betrayal is outright war. Esau determines once his father is dead, he will kill Jacob. Rachael instead of begging forgiveness of her husband instead goes to him and lies once more, telling him to send Jacob away, not to save his life but to keep him from marrying one of the daughters of Heth. Genesis 27:46 And Rebekah said to Isaac, I am weary of my life because of the daughters of Heth: if Jacob take a wife of the daughters of Heth, such as these which are of the daughters of the land, what good shall my life do me?
It seems cooking was not the only thing Jacob learned at his mother’s knee. And so Jacob is sent by Isaac away to his uncle Laban. Genesis 28:5 And Isaac sent away Jacob: and he went to Padanaram unto Laban, son of Bethuel the Syrian, the brother of Rebekah, Jacob's and Esau's mother.
Rachael never sees her son again. The one person she loved above all others, more than her husband that she easily lied to and more than her son Esau who she seems to not care for at all. She loses Jacob, never sees his family, never holds her grandchildren. And never sees how God had a plan for Jacob all along. A plan that at best she delayed. Now God knew what Rachael and Jacob would do and because He is God their sin and mistakes would not prevent His plan for Jacob, and the nation that would come from Him, being put in place.
Patience Instead of Plotting
To me the lesson I should learn through the story of Rachael and Jacob’s lying and betrayal is that instead of plotting how to work my own plans, I need to patiently wait for God to work His plans.
Don’t we rightly go to Romans 8:28 so often? Romans 8:28-30 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
We go there because we need to remind ourselves of the truth of God’s eternal plan for His people, for his children, for his redeemed, forgiven and sanctified family.
God’s plan to save us from our sin through Jesus’ death on the cross. God’s plan to call us through the Gospel. God’s plan to work in us that we might be molded into the image of his son. God’s plan justify us. And praise His holy name, His plan to glorify us body and soul one day for all eternity.
That is a plan worth believing and worth patiently waiting for.
Rachel and Jacob’s schemeing did not bring God’s blessing to Jacob. It did not fulfill God’s prophecy in his life. Do you know when that finally happened? It takes year and year but finally at the lowest point of his life, when everything he possesses and everything he has taken is at risk, then Jacob finally seeks and finds God’s blessing. It take place in Genesis 32.
The Surrendered - Genesis 32:9-12, 24-32
And Jacob said, O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, the LORD which saidst unto me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee: I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands. Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children. And thou saidst, I will surely do thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.
Genesis 32:24-32 And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.
Brokenness instead of Brazenness
Jacob for all the wealth, possessions and power his own strength has secured finds himself powerless. His brother Esau has promised to kill him and now he is riding back toward that death and destruction. Jacob know he deserves Esau’s rage and revenge and he knows he is utterly unable to avoid it.
Now at his most vulnerable he prays and seeks God’s help. He has prayed before but never a prayer like this. Genesis 32:9-10 O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, the LORD which saidst unto me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee: I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy servant; … vs 11 Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him….
He prays and God begins to work His plan in Jacob’s life. Genesis 32:24 And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.
Jacob is alone except for a “a man” that he wrestles with, he struggles with. Jacob knows who this is just as later Moses knows who speaks from the burning bush, Joshua knew who the captain of the Lord’s host was, Gideon knows who orders him to fight the Midianites or Samson’s parents realize who has told them of the birth of the mighty hero of Israel. They all come to the same knowledge that Jacob does in Genesis 32:30 Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face,…
Jacob is struggling with God, we know that this is God the son, as yet unnamed, a name that will not be uttered until the angel tells the name to Mary. This is Jesus in a pre-incarnate, before flesh, before his birth appearing to Jacob as the messenger of God. Jacob truly had seen the face of God that night and it changed him from the core of his soul, it changed him.
Jacob wrestles, the word means to grapple with. Jacob in his physical strength grabs hold of The Angel of the Lord and will not let go. The Angel allows this last attempt of the supplanter to force his will, to take by force or cunning something that he desperately wants. God’s blessing.
Jacob continues to hold on and finally the Angel of the Lord touches his thigh and cripple him for life. If Jacob had been standing on his own two feet and his own power wrestling with the Lord up to this point, he no longer is standing. The sinews of his thigh are shrunken and Jacob has to go down to his knees perhaps even to his belly. And in that utterly broken state, without any hope now of winning a blessing from God he just clings to the knees or even to the feet of the Angel of the Lord, to Jesus.
Now the Lord says, “Genesis 32:26 “Let me go, for the day breaketh.” And listen to the answer of Jacob, “I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.”
This is not a man who has any power, plots or plans left this is a broken man unable to do anything but hold on to the Lord, His God. “I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.” Now Jacob in his brokenness knows that only God can truly bless, can truly save, can truly forgive.
Now the Lord speaks Genesis 32:27-28 And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob. And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob (the supplanter,) but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.
We usually translate the name Israel as A prince with God, a ruler with God, but its actual literal translation is “God prevails.” Yes Jacob now Israel had prevailed and found God’s blessing but it wasn’t through his strength it was through his surrender. It wasn’t by his brazenness or boldness but though his brokenness. God had now prevailed and Jacob was now truly blessed.
Brokenness to Blessedness.
Let me now state the most important part of this message if you are a child of God. What happened to Jacob in finding the blessing of God is a path that all of us must take. We must understand that God’s blessing begins with my own brokenness.
First my brokenness over my sin that God’s blessing of salvation my begin.
Then the brokenness of my own strength, my own will, my own plans that God’s blessing for my life may begin.
And one day the complete brokenness of this physical body at death so that God’s blessing of heaven my begin.
None of us seek brokenness, it more painful and debilitating than we can imagine because God only knows where we secretly have stored our strength in ourselves. Only God can then break us to the point that even that last store of strength is drained from us even as it was for Jacob.
The Bible contains this truth in book after book, life after life. We see it in Moses, as he flees Egypt, we see it Samson, standing blind between the pillars and calling out to God. We see it in Peter after denying his own Lord, bitterly weeping when the Lord come from judgment and looks directly at him. And Paul tells us of his own brokenness in 2 Corinthians.
The Apostle’s Broken Blessedness.
Paul who was blinded, stoned, imprisoned and ship wrecked. This great Apostle to the Gentiles, to us, was used so mightily of God because he was so utterly broken in his service to God.
2 Corinthians 12:5-10 I will not glory, but in mine infirmities. ... vs 7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
Paul understood God’s blessing are reached through brokenness. The greatest servants of the Lord both in the history of the Bible, in the history since the Bible was completed and in our own personal history of those we have know, the greatest servants are those who have suffered brokenness but in that brokenness found the true blessings of God.
Fanny J. Crosby’s Blessed Blindness
I just want to give you one more illustration of this truth in the life of Fanny J. Crosby. She was blinded at an very early age by a well meaning doctor or nurse who put the wrong medicine in her eye and took away her sight.
Once Fanny J. Crosby was talking to a well meaning preacher who said, “Oh if only the Lord would have let you have your sight.” She replied, “Oh I would not want my sight back now.” The preacher was shocked and asked her how she could say such a thing. She told him, “Because one day when I die and go to heaven, Jesus’ face will the first face I will have ever seen.”
She wrote this poem and called it her “Soul’s Poem” she recited it a Bible conference once and brought the audience to tears. ‘Someday the silver cord will break, and I no more as now shall sing; but O the joy when I shall wake within the palace of the King! And I shall see Him face to face, and tell the story—saved by grace!’ - Paul Lee Tan, Encyclopedia of 15,000 Illustrations: Signs of the Times, (WORDsearch, 2004).
If you are here this morning and you are broken. Broken in spirit, broken in hope, broken in health, broken in strength, then understand God turns your brokenness into blessedness. He can take what has defeated and destroyed and change it that which brings joy and jubilation. He can take up those broken piece of your plans and dreams and put them together in His power and plans and you will find His blessing now and for eternity.
Poem Chosen Vessel
The Master was searching for a vessel to use;
On the shelf there were many - which one would He choose?
“Take me”, cried the gold one, “I’m shiny and bright,
I'm of great value and I do things just right.
My beauty and lustre will outshine the rest
And for someone like You, Master, gold would be the best!”
The Master passed on with no word at all;
He looked at a silver urn, narrow and tall;
“I’ll serve You, dear Master, I'll pour out Your wine
And I'll be at Your table whenever You dine,
My lines are so graceful, my carvings so true,
And my silver will always compliment You.”
Unheeding the Master passed on to the brass,
It was widemouthed and shallow, and polished like glass.
“Here! Here!” cried the vessel, “I know I will do,
Place me on Your table for all men to view.”
“Look at me”, called the goblet of crystal so clear,
“My transparency shows my contents so dear,
Though fragile am I, I will serve You with pride,
And I'm sure I'll be happy in Your house to abide.”
The Master came next to a vessel of wood,
Polished and carved, it solidly stood.
“You may use me, dear Master”, the wooden bowl said,
“But I'd rather You used me for fruit, not for bread!”
Then the Master looked down and saw a vessel of clay.
Empty and broken it helplessly lay.
No hope had the vessel that the Master might choose,
To cleanse and make whole, to fill and to use.
“Ah! This is the vessel I've been hoping to find,
I will mend and use it and make it all Mine.”
“I need not the vessel with pride of itself;
Nor the one who is narrow to sit on the shelf;
Nor the one who is big mouthed and shallow and loud;
Nor one who displays his contents so proud;
Not the one who thinks he can do all things just right;
But this plain earthy vessel filled with My power and might.”
Then gently He lifted the vessel of clay.
Mended and cleansed it and filled it that day.
Spoke to it kindly. “There’s work you must do,
Just pour out to others as I pour into you.” -Unknown.
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