The Mercies of God: Jacob

Where is the god who can compare with you— wiping the slate clean of guilt, Turning a blind eye, a deaf ear, to the past sins of your purged and precious people? You don’t nurse your anger and don’t stay angry long, for mercy is your specialty. That’s what you love most. And compassion is on its way to us. You’ll stamp out our wrongdoing. You’ll sink our sins to the bottom of the ocean. You’ll stay true to your word to Father Jacob and continue the compassion you showed Grandfather Abraham— Everything you promised our ancestors from a long time ago.

Micah 7:19-20 MSG

The story

Jacob was a twin. Maybe you remember his story. Sometime after Isaac married Rebekah, they realized that she was barren. Isaac prayed for his wife, and the Lord answered Isaac’s prayer with twins. During her pregnancy, the babies jostled in her womb. Rebekah asked God to explain what was happening. And God told her she had two nations in her womb. He also told her then that the older twin would serve the younger.

Rebekah remembered those words when Isaac was ready to bless his sons. Isaac planned to give the firstborn, Esau, the typical familial blessing, but Rebekah believed that blessing belonged to Jacob. Rebekah and Jacob deceive Isaac, and Jacob is given the blessing that should have been Esau’s. In his anger, Esau plans to kill his brother. So Jacob leaves and runs away to live with his uncle Laban. While living with Laban, he falls in love with Rachel, but the deceiver is deceived and is given Rachel’s older sister as his bride. Jacob has to work for Laban for an additional seven years to get Rachel as his wife.

After a while, Jacob senses that Laban’s attitude is changing towards him, and he decides to leave. He deceives Laban, leaving in secret, taking Laban’s daughters and grandchildren with him.

God had told Rebekah that He would bless Jacob even before he was born, but Jacob lives as if this blessing depended on his own schemes.

So where’s the mercy

The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
    His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness;
    his mercies begin afresh each morning.

Lamentations 3:22-23 NLT

The name, Jacob, means deceiver, which is exactly what we see – deception running deep within his family. But God doesn’t abandon him. God, in His mercy, pursues him, even choosing to wrestle with him and wound him. The wounding reveals to Jacob that he is wrestling with the divine and doesn’t want to let go without a blessing. He becomes receptive to the blessing God always had planned for him, and he can’t scheme his way into this blessing! He has to tell God his name, admitting his deceitfulness. God accepts his confession and renames him, changing his character. In God’s mercy, he transformed Jacob, renaming him Israel. Israel fathered twelve sons who formed the basis of the twelve tribes of the Jewish nation.

Their ancestor Jacob struggled with his twin brother Esau while the two of them were still in their mother’s womb; when Jacob grew up, he fought against God—he fought against an angel and won. He wept and asked for a blessing. And at Bethel God came to our ancestor Jacob and spoke with him. This was the Lord God Almighty—the Lord is the name by which he is to be worshiped. So now, descendants of Jacob, trust in your God and return to him. Be loyal and just, and wait patiently for your God to act.

Hosea 12:3-6 GNT

Prayer of Gratitude

Father, we are grateful that You are so committed to us that You pursue us even in our deception and denial. We chase after success defined by the world, yet Your merciful plan has always been to bless us with Your presence and power in our lives. May we cease running, cease our deceptive ways, and seek to know You, the author of faith, the only One who can bring our faith to completion. Thank you again for your mercy and grace! Amen.

*You can read Jacob’s story in Genesis 25 – 36.

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