Jacob the lying robot or man?

We know Jacob as a man who in his selfishness convinced his older brother to sell his birthright to him for a bowl of soup.  If it was Enron or Citibank or some other spited organization convincing the public of such an unbalanced manipulated trade, there would be pitchforks.  But this is what Jacob did.  He treated his brother evil for his own personal gain.  He definitely did not consider his brother in the deal, except how he may steal from him.

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.[1]

The deception didn’t stop there.  Rebekah told Jacob to obey her and do exactly as he was told.  She convinced Jacob to dress in Esau’s clothes and to wear the fur of animals so he can take the meal that Isaac asked of Esau in order to obtain blessing.

Now therefore, my son, obey my voice according to that which I command thee.[2]

So after a lot of lying and playing Isaac for the fool, Rebekah and Jacob pull off a risky stunt, to not do an uneven trade, but to out right steal what they had no right to.  What  they did was so wrong that Isaac, when he found out he had been lied to, shook violently.

Yet right after this, even in all his anger, Isaac blesses Jacob openly and without manipulation.  How is it now Isaac could bless his deceptive son without reservation?  What changed?

Believe it or not, the clincher of this story is God, even with all of man’s manipulation and free will to disrupt things, sees that His will done.  It is not that God desired His people to conduct themselves in such reprehensible ways, but God can and does use reprehensible people.  This story of lying, cheating, scheming and steeling is really a story about how God in all things works our His purpose in man.  Even though it appears that man is always making a mess of things.  Rejoice, for this speaks of our lives too!

God called one man, Abraham, by calling him out of the nation he and his family had dwelt in into a land of strangers.  God called him to the land of Canaan.  God made a covenant with Abraham that was to extend to all of Abraham’s descendants.  The covenant God made with Abraham was for God to be their God and they were to be His people.

And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.[3]

This covenant was sealed with sign in the flesh that all the male descendants of Abraham were to have on their bodies.

And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.[4]

Paul speaks of this very sign in the flesh when he says it was a seal of the righteousness that was imputed to Abraham.  He also expounds how this righteousness might be imputed to others to.

And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also:[5]

We see in scripture that God has chosen one man and his descendants to be a priestly example to the gentiles in order for God to reveal Himself through the descendants of this one man.  It wasn’t to the people of Canaan or any other people that this covenant was given, but to a select linage that God wished to demonstrate His covenant of imputed righteousness.

This is why Ishmael was not part of the covenant.  He was not to be part of the vessel of God’s demonstrated grace and revelation to the world.  Now this is where we see Esau entering on the stage.

And Esau was forty years old when he took to wife Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Bashemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite:[6]

Now imagine being Isaac who had the covenant of his father Abraham confirmed to him by God.  Imagine Isaac who understands that God called his father to be special people that is set apart from the rest of the gentiles.  Now understand that Esau, as your oldest son, has brought into this covenant the people of the land that God has not called to be the vessel of His demonstrated grace of imputed righteousness.

How would you have responded knowing your son has not married within the bloodline of your family as Isaac himself was required?  Imagine your oldest son getting married to not one but two local gals.  In the eyes of man this has thrown the plan and covenant of God into turmoil.  Hittites are now going to be part of the covenant that God made with Abraham.

But man’s free will to sin and be sinful does not thwart God’s plans.  He shows His sovereignty not by, making us do His will in forced determinism (He makes us do everything He wants and we have no say, as if we are robots.)  Instead He lets us be us and He is so great and so sovereign that He still gets His will done.

Back to the story.  What would you do if your oldest son has blown it for the covenant and your youngest son is a manipulator and a thief?  And what ever would become of the covenant? 

After his anger passes, Isaac possible could have seen that God in all things still works our His will.  I think when he saw how it changed the failed situation of the covenant, I personally think he just accepted it.  He didn’t like what had happened but he understood it in context to the covenant and the uniqueness they were to have as a people, so he blessed Jacob.  Then he told him not marry any local girls but to marry from their family just as he was commanded to do by his father, Abraham.

[1] Genesis 25:30-31

[2] Genesis 27:8

[3] Genesis 17:7

[4] Genesis 17:11

[5] Romans 4:11

[6] Genesis 26:34

One thought on “Jacob the lying robot or man?

  1. Please don’t take the following as confrontational. I don’t intend that at all. You have written the traditional take on Jacob and the birthright. But scripure is clear that God intended that the seed come through Jacob. Esau was the liar. He never intended to make good the deal he made with jacob…birthright for lintels. Esau was like Cain. Cain did not value the need for a blood sacrifice…as ordained by God. He carried the works of his own hands…fruits and veggies. Esau did not value the ‘birthright’ and what it represented. He desired to fill his belly more than he cared for the birthright. The birthright belonged to Jacob from birth. God had told Rebecca that the ‘elder shall serve the younger.’

    Ge 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.

    Tradition and man’s doctrines err when we judge and accuse God’s chosen prophets and people. Abraham didn’t lie concerning ‘she is my sister.’ As God’s prophet, he prophesied the future two events concerning Sarai…and both came to pass. Likewise, Jacob didn’t lie. Both he and Rebecca were performing the will of God. Rebecca BELIEVED the Lord concerning Jacob and the birthright. Esau was fleshly, vain, and self-serving.


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