They called me “The Deceiver” at birth. And yes, I have lived up to the name. But others have deceived me as well. I guess butting heads with people is just something I’ve always done. They say my twin brother and I even wrestled inside our mother’s womb.
Esau was born just a few minutes before I was. He was dad’s favorite. I was mom’s. Even though we shared the same birthday, Esau had certain rights as the first born. For some reason, he didn’t value the privilege. There was this time when he came in from hunting and I been preparing lunch. Some say he sold his inheritance for a bowl of soup. Truthfully, I actually sold him a bowl of soup for his inheritance.
That was just the beginning. One day, our mother Rebekah came to me with a command, not a suggestion. She wanted me to outright steal Esau’s blessing from our father Isaac. He was old and almost blind, so we worked out a scheme. It worked better than I imagined.
He spoke words over me that God had spoken over my grandfather Abraham. The same words spoken by God to my father also: “People will serve you. Nations will bow down to you. Those who curse you will be cursed. Those who bless you will be blessed.”
Now Esau was not very pleased when he found out that I had parlayed a bowl of soup into a direct blessing for my future. He hated me. But a word is a promise and my father stuck to his word. He blessed me and sent me back to our homeland to find a wife. And again my father Isaac gave me the blessing of Abraham.
So I went and I’m thinking this life of treachery is paying off. I like it.
One night, on my way to the lands of our ancestors, I had a dream. I saw angels on a ladder to heaven. And then God himself declared to me words in the vision I had heard often in our family: “Your descendants will be like the dust, spread out in every direction on earth. And you will be blessed.” When I awoke I made an altar and a vow: If God takes care of me, then He shall be my God.
So, as I journeyed further I met a beautiful woman named Rachael. She was a shepherdess and I was determined that she was to be my bride. And I worked for her father for seven years to earn his trust and her hand. But it was my turn to be deceived as her father Laban, my distant relative, forced me to marry her older sister Leah first. So then I worked another seven years for Rachael. And Laban and I did not get along well. He forced me to work another four years. And during this time Leah gave me six sons and a daughter. I fathered four other sons through servant girls and Rachael gave me Joseph.
After many more struggles with Laban, thankfully, we finally reconciled, and I took my wives, my sons, my daughter, my sheep and cattle. And I knew it was time to meet up again with my estranged brother Esau. Last I knew he hated me. And I couldn’t blame him.
God said He’d take care of me. Yet, I felt I wasn’t worthy to receive His mercies. I sent my family and the gifts of many heads of cattle on ahead of me hoping it would impress my brother, even soften his heart for our first meeting together in over 20 years. I remained back in a solitary spot by the Brook of Jabbok.
That was yesterday. And you wouldn’t believe what has happened since.
Last night, I couldn’t sleep. The air was crisp and the moonlight bright. I tossed and turned as I began thinking about my family, my life, who I was and how the promises of God would hold true for me. Wondering if I deserved His grace? Anxiety and fear filled my mind as I imagined what would happen today when I met my brother.
I stared up at the stars, pondering the words of my grandfather that our family would be as many as those twinkling lights. A man approached in the shadows of the night. He challenged me. Threw me to the ground. Wrestled with me. This continued for hours. I would not be defeated. We tumbled down the banks and splashed into the water. And then rolled up again to the camp. He grabbed the socket of my hip and it hurt with intense pain. And as the new day began to dawn this very morning He commanded me to let go and concede defeat.
I’ve been wrestling with people since the womb, I would not let go. In fact, I told Him so. I said the only way I’d release my grip would be to receive His blessing. He asked my name and I said: “Jacob.” The Man replied, “From now on, your name is Israel. For you have wrestled with God, and with man, and have prevailed.” I have wrestled with God? What was He saying?
At that moment, I released my grip on the Almighty Himself. And He blessed me. As promised, God has dealt graciously with me!
When I looked up, I saw my brother Esau across the way. He and 400 men. I thought to myself, “this can go one of two ways.” With great humility, I bowed low before my brother. It was the moment of truth. He would either embrace me or murder me. He jumped on me and grabbed my neck! And then he kissed me. We wept together. We are reconciled! As I am with God.
I introduced Esau to all my children and Rachael and Leah. And all the cattle… the flocks and the herds. We are journeying home now. He’s gone up ahead. We’re a little slower with the children and all.
God has blessed me time and time again. With my all sons, I believe we will soon be those people… those whom will be blessed to be a blessing to all the world.
And even though, because of the overnight struggle, I’ll likely walk with a limp the rest of my days, it’s good to be home. It’s good to be home.
Some of the words, actions and thoughts perhaps of Jacob, the son of Isaac the son of Abraham. As recorded in Genesis 25-35.