Yesterday we talked a bit about Esau and his attitude toward the things of God and his birthright. Today we will look a bit closer at his brother Jacob. First off the name Jacob actually means “trickster” which is why Isaac said “Is he not rightly named” in these chapters. God blesses Jacob greatly during his life although Jacob is a liar, a cheat and a trickster. God had mad a promise to Abraham and fulfilled it in Jacob, not due to his attitude or his actions but according to the promise of God. This is a picture, in my mind, of us in Christ; Although I am a sinner and a liar by birth, arrogant and self serving I am still considered a child of God. I am in favor with God the Father by way of His Son Jesus Christ, not by my actions or attitudes. God’s work in us for His kingdom is not based on our righteousness, but on our relation with His Son. When we begin to think that we have the favor of God due to our own actions or attitudes we are greatly mistaken.
As we looked today in Genesis chapter 28 we see Jacob’s true heart toward God. Look at these verses once again as we dissect them together: (Genesis 28:20-21)
“Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going,and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God.”
Jacob enters into a self made contract with God that so many people still do today. Sadly it is even preached by many popular so called “Christian leaders” today. This is the beginning of the “prosperity gospel.” Jacob makes a vow that he will allow God to be his God if God were to meet all of his self serving stipulations. Jacob demands:
#1 Bread to eat #2 Clothes to wear #3 An ending destination #4 Peace in life
Jacob has it all figured out being the trickster that he is. We so often have this view of God today as we say “God, you owe me because I have called you my God!” as if we were entitled to anything at all! The most chilling part of this self made covenant is found in the very beginning of his statement “If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going.” What Jacob is saying is “Don’t even try and change me. I will do what I will do and no one will tell me different; I am my own man!” So many people think that they can come to God, accept a free gift of salvation and demand that there is no change in their life. This, my friends is a false, evil perversion of salvation and it leads to destruction. This attitude is as if we are doing God some kind of favor by claiming His name but refusing to repent of sin. Jacob then, in the following verses adds, a little something to sweeten the pot and offers ten percent back “to all that you give me.” Boy I bet God was so excited at this deal that Jacob offered up. It sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? But how many have we seen who have made an unspoken agreement with God that is just about the same: I will show up once a week to worship services and allow You to be my God. You then , will meet all my needs and my comforts. If you do this God, I may even throw twenty bucks in the plate (well, if I am not on vacation or home watching the game). But leave me in “this way that I am going!”
Jacob in later chapters has a rude awakening as to the character of God and to his own personal shortcomings. At this point in Jacob’s life, he has become religious but has not obtained a faith that can be described as saving faith.