Jacob is a man who likes to get his own way, always likes to be ‘on the top.’ He has always gained the upper hand by being crafty even devious, not to say downright dishonest!. He tricked his brother Esau into swapping his inheritance for a bowl of soup! (Genesis 25:29-34). Even more despicable, having pressurised his weak mother, he tricked his elderly blind father into granting him a blessing that was intended for Esau (Genesis 27:1-29).
To say Jacob was a little devious is certainly to understate the case! But if you are like me, what is hard to swallow is that Jacob’s trickery worked for him. He goes on to benefit and to prosper. Although he had to flee before Esau exacted revenge, Jacob enjoyed the benefits of his deviousness. One American commentator, Buechner, writes:
… the shrewd and ambitious man who is strong on guts and weak on conscious, who knows very well what he wants and directs all his energies toward getting it, the Jacobs of this world, all do pretty well.
Jacob is the man at your workplace who gets ahead on the backs of his co-workers. The man who isn’t afraid to sacrifice others on his way to the top.
That truth can affect us cant it. We can take the attitude as it were, ‘To do unto others before they do unto me!’
But it is essential for us to remember that such trickery will only get us so far. To put it bluntly, such a way of living will not get us into heaven!
Look again at Jacob’s wrestling match with God. The battle goes on for the entire night. Though Jacob struggles in all his might he is unable to get the advantage. He battles and battles until God finally reaches out and cripples him by simply touching the socket of his thigh. One can only wonder why God didn’t do this from the beginning. Why did God allow the wrestling match to wage for the entire night when He could win so easily.
WE all wrestle with God. We all want our own way.
If we keep on wrestling, in the end we will end up limping. But God will wrestle with us – that in itself is message we need to hear. God does not simply cut us down
Perhaps that was the greater lesson for Jacob to learn. And we must learn it too. It takes us back to the parable of a couple of weeks ago – the wheat and the weeds. The landowner, God, allows the wheat and the weeds to grow together until the time of harvest. We can wrestle all we want with God – but in the end he will win.
God’s blessings are a gift and they reach a crescendo in Jesus Christ “… that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). We cannot trick, demand, or force our way into eternal life – we must humble ourselves and accept the free gift of Jesus Christ.
Not in our strength, but His. Must be our motto.