The Jacob Discrepancy

I am not talking about the guy on lost. I am talking about the guy in Genesis who was one of the patriarchs and who got the name Israel after wrestling and angel. I have had a hard time understanding Jacob over the last few years. First there is the Jacob side of the equation:

  • His name means deceiver.
  • He trips up his brother even at birth.
  • He gets his brother’s birthright by near extortion.
  • Jacob tricks his father into giving him the patriarchal blessing.
  • Then his father gives him the covenant blessing.
  • He wrestles an angel and demands another blessing!
  • To top things off, Jacob swears an oath to God that if God will do everything God said he would do Jacob would give him a tenth in return.

Then there is the God side of the equation:

  • God appears to him in a way that we hadn’t seen since Abraham.
  • God blesses him
  • God give him a covenant blessing.
  • God makes his lineage the lineage of the covenant when by right it would have been Esau.

The apparent discrepancy between those two lists is what has thrown me in my study of Jacob. I can’t get over the fact that he seems like such a scoundrel. I have asked myself on several occasions why would God use such a deceiver and trickster in His master plan? A couple of things hit me this time around that may help answer that question that I would like to share.

First, the reason God did use such a trickster in his master plan may be the same reason Rahab and Tamar share with him the lineage of Christ. God uses the foolish to shame the wise and shows that the good He is able to do in our lives in not dependent upon our getting it right every time.

Second, Jacob didn’t have 2000 pages of scripture and the end of the story detailed out in front of him to put his faith in. He just had the promises and those promises had been on the table for some time but they still didn’t possess the land (Gen 28:4).So this is a story about faith and God is able to work with him to build his faith even though he doesn’t perfectly understand all God is up to.

Third, the New Testament also makes it clear that Jacob is the exemplar of God’s sovereign choice,

10 Not only that, but Rebekah’s children had one and the same father, our father Isaac. 11 Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: 12 not by works but by him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

14 What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! 15 For he says to Moses,

“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,
and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”

16 It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.”

– Romans 9:10-16

These three things help me to see there is more to Jacob’s story than meets the eye. It reminds me that God can and will work through my imperfections to bring Him glory, build my faith, and pass on the faith lineage to others. This story now makes me more and more thankful for God’s grace and sovereignty.

About mattdabbs
I am a minister, husband, and father. My wife and I live and minister in Saint Petersburg, Florida. My primary ministry responsibilities include: small groups, 20s and 30s, involvement, and adult education.

3 Responses to The Jacob Discrepancy

  1. Ken Sublett says:

    Trusting that space is free?

    Third, the New Testament also makes it clear that Jacob is the exemplar of God’s sovereign choice,

    “10 Not only that, but Rebekah’s children had one and the same father, our father Isaac. 11 Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: 12 not by works but by him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

    14 What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! 15 For he says to Moses,

    “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,
    and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”

    16 It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.”

    None of these speak of a pedestination to heaven or Hell: God made certain that the Seed of Abraham (Jesus) would be preserved down through the ages: He had the right to guarantee that bloodline (even from Eve) without condemning innocent children to burn in hell.

    In Genesis 49 both Simeon and Levi are excluded from that bloodline and we were told NOT to attend the assemblies of Levi or join in their Covenant.

    He leapfrogs the Monarchy (imposed as a curse and forced to worship the starry host) and now the “pattern” for saying God commanded him through “a spirit” to impose instruments. Jacob looks all the way down to the Messiah who would come out of Judah so Jesus didn’t exist until he was born.

    Of Esau “god loved less” but he was not to be used in preserving the blood line of The SEED (singular) or Abraham: Jesus Christ. Jesus had free will but proved His “sonship” by obeying what he heard from the ONE GOD THE FATHER Who “breathed” Words into Jesus as the personified Word.

    Genesis 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.

    Gal. 4:22 For it is written, that Abraham had two sons,
    ……the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman.
    Gal. 4:23 But he who was of the bondwoman
    …… was born after the flesh;
    ……but he of the freewoman was by promise.

    Gal. 4:24 Which things are an allegory:
    ……for these are the two covenants;
    ……the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.
    Gal. 4:25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia,
    ……and answereth to Jerusalem which now is,
    ……and is in bondage with her children.

    Rev. 11:8 And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city,
    which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.

    When God picked Pharoah he “preserved his life” to use him to carry out His Will. We MUST give God the right to select his agents to carry out His will to SHOW MERCY without ever thinking that God CHOOSES to send some to heaven and some to hell. We don’t know that Pharoah went to hell.

    Sovereignty is a Calvin-invented Word: if He is Sovereign then He CAN give us all free will. No one can find a name of an individual consigned to hell: Sin entered into the WORLD and not into Adam. We are not controlled: that would deny that God has the power to create mankind with a mind of its own. God says human imagination is evil continually.

    • mattdabbs says:

      Ken,

      Sovereignty is not a bad word. Some of misused and abused it but that doesn’t mean we toss it out. God is sovereign because God has authority. That point is made all over scripture. It doesn’t mean God co-opts our free will. Our free will doesn’t diminish God’s sovereignty. The term and concept pre-dates Calvin.

  2. It is a good reminder that we as followers of Christ should dole out mercy generously… forgive generously, love generously.
    Not always easy – but if I remain in Him, may I bear much fruit (for His glory, not mine) – bear much, is to share much right?

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