HIS BIRTH AND FAMILY LIFE
The Bible has a lot to say about Jacob between Genesis chapter twenty eight and forty nine. We read about his birth in the 25th chapter. He is the younger son of Rebecca and Isaac. His grandparents were Abraham and Sarah. Jacob was a fraternal twin. His brother was Esau. The Bible says that Jacob held on to Esau’s heel when they were born (Genesis 25:26). The name Jacob means “usurper or deceiver.
Jacob had 2 wives, Rachel and Leah (who were sisters, and first-cousins of Jacob), and 2 concubines, Bilhah and Zilpah.
Twelve sons were born to Jacob and his wives and concubines: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulan, Joseph, Benjamin, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher (Genesis 29:31–30:24 & 35:16-20). He also had a daughter, Dinah.
Early on in his life Jacob was a schemer; and spent parts of his life deceiving other people. He took advantage of Esau's hunger to steal his birthright for a bowl of soup (Genesis 25:29-34). He also deceived his father Isaac into passing Esau’s inheritance to him instead of Esau.
Jacob traveled to his uncle’s (Laban)'s home and fell in love with his daughter, Rachael. Laban and Jacob agreed that Jacob would take Rachel as his life in exchange for Jacob working seven years for Laban. However, Laban deceived Jacob by switching Rachael’s older sister (Leah) as Jacob’s bride. After another agreement between the two men, Jacob agreed to serve an additional seven years for Rachael.
A pivotal point in Jacob’s life came when he left Laban and had to face his brother Esau. They had not seen each other in 20 years. Esau had threatened to kill Jacob because of his deception concerning the birth right (Genesis 32:11). Jacob sent messengers with gifts for Esau and told them that he would be coming later. When he went to sleep that night, he got into a wrestling match with God (Genesis 32:22-31). His reunion with Esau was not as bad as Jacob thought it would be.
“That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two female servants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered. Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.” But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there. So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.” The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel and he was limping because of his hip.”
GOD’S COVENANT WITH JACOB
God confirmed the Covenant that he made with Abraham and Isaac with Jacob.
“There above it stood the LORD, and he said: “I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Genesis 28:13-15
God confirmed his covenant with Jacob again
“And God said to him, "I am God Almighty; be fruitful and increase in number. A nation and a community of nations will come from you, and kings will come from your body. The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I also give to you, and I will give this land to your descendants after you.” Genesis 31:11, 12
WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM THE LIFE OF JACOB?
No matter how weak, guilty, or helpless we feel, when we put our faith and confidence in God he will circumvent our situations and make us victorious.
“but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31
Strong character comes from life’s experiences. If we have hope and faith in God, He will give us the wisdom to change our lives for the better.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5
“Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.” Psalm 51:6
“He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.” Daniel 2:21
God loves us in spite of our faults and gives us time to repent and make things right in our lives.
“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9
God keeps his promises.
“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23
"Having therefore these Promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (2 Corinthians 7:1).